Match Report -
Stunning game sees Celtic sweep the points
By Deborah Taylor

A phenomenal game that had everything had to end with a winning penalty, and it did.

Celtic had to come from two behind when Widnes blasted out of the box, pressuring the Celtic back-line inside the first minute. Unable to clear their lines, Jack McGowen slid the ball sideways and Stephen Milne pounced to open the scoring. Less than two minutes later, with Celtic still reeling from the early goal, and Brendan O’Brien’s cross found the head of James Steele, unmarked in the middle of the Celtic goal-mouth, the midfielder making no mistake.

A corner gave Celtic a way back into the match, and Cole Lonsdale’s curling far-post corner found Max Leonard, who smashed his header into the back of the net to half the deficit. Ethan Vaughan almost had a dream debut when he threw himself at Aaron Dwyer’s excellent cross. Had the fullback not had a haircut, he’d have reached it. Widnes looked rattled, conceding a silly corner.-Up stepped Lonsdale, swing in the cross and there was Leonard again, with the same result and Celtic came level. Greg Wilkinson almost nudged Celtic in front with a forty-yard effort, but equally, Luke Hewitson pulled off a stunning flying save to deny Matty Rain to keep the scores level.

The second half saw Max Leonard get his hat-trick goal, only for a truly bizarre offside decision. Three players on the line and Leonard’s header bulged the back of the net. The assistant’s decision even confusing the referee, but after a consultation, ruled the goal off. Celtic almost immediately rued that decision when Milne swept in on a corner at the Celtic end, but again Hewitson pulled off an almost impossible one-handed save to keep the scores level. With fifteen minutes left, a stunning free kick from Cole Lonsdale curled from an acute angle into the top corner, finally giving Celtic a deserved lead.

It lasted less than ten minutes. With four minutes left on the clock, Connor O’Grady and Sean Miller leapt for a ball in the box, the ball striking O’Grady’s arm. Deemed deliberate, penalty and Miller put the visitors on terms with only stoppage time looming.

After ninety minutes of being pulled and pushed in and around the box, Will Bell pulled Ntumba Massanka over in the box: penalty! With Max Leonard having limped off to join the rest of the Celtic defence on the treatment table, Lonsdale stepped up and claimed his man of the match trophy by adding a second goal to his two assists. There was even time for Dwyer to try his luck from sixty yards, but he missed.

1Terry, Cameron  
2OBrien, Brendan   
3Coulton, Lewis  > 17
4Byrne, Jack  
5Bell, WillYellow Card 
6Hadjari, Fisnik  
7Irwin, SteveYellow Card 
8Steele, James  > 82
9McGowan, JackYellow Card > 83
10Miller, Sean  
11Milne, Stephen  
12Rain, Matty  < 17
14Hassall, George  
15Isherwood, Louis  
16Wright, Lewis  < 82
17Battersby, Nial  < 83