It took some time for Celtic to get going, but their opening game finished with fireworks after goals from Aaron Dwyer and Max Harrop sealed a 2-1 away win.
The opening half hour contained half chances for both sides, Jake Twyford getting closer with his second attempt than his first. At the other end, Aaron Dwyer created a perfect opportunity for Matty Bryan cutting a low cross across the six-yard box. Adam Whitehouse was alert, getting low to push the ball through a crowd of legs. The first goal came from some chaotic Celtic defending. Joel Stair got his head on a pinging ball in the box, looping his header over Elliot Wynne, who could only watch it sail over his head. Celtic eventually found some kind of cohesion. Moments after Aaron Dwyer curled a shot wide and moments before the interval, Matty Bryan put the perfect through ball to split the Hanley defence. Dwyer latched onto it, taking it in his stride to go one-on-one with Whitehouse, smashing his shot past the stranded keeper.
More chances fell to both sides in the second half. Former Celt Josh Green headed wide, as did Obua Mugalula for Celtic. But then Celtic hit their stride. Michael Brewster fired narrowly over, and Dwyerâ€™s shot required an athletic tip over the bar at the expense of a corner. Which Bryan headed into the side netting. Celtic kept coming, until James Askey tripped Bryan in full flight, giving the visitors a penalty. Max Harrop took it, sending Whitehouse the wrong way to give Celtic the edge going into the last few minutes. Dwyerâ€™s free kick could have made the game safe, instead whistling past the post.
Celtic almost gave the win away when Brewsterâ€™s back-pass to Wynne left the Celtic keeper in a race to the ball with Louis Dodds. Dodds got there first, and Wynne slid through him. Wynne saw red for the late challenge and Connor Oâ€™Grady went in to goal to face a free kick. Alex Morrisâ€™s free kick was a good one, requiring an exceptional save for Celticâ€™s stand-in keeper. Louis Dodds then tested Oâ€™Grady from outside the box, but again Oâ€™Grady denied him. Eventually, Celtic cleared their lines and full time came, after ten nerve wracking additional minutes.