Match Report -
Two rare errors
By Debbie Taylor

It had to happen. Celtic's unbeaten run at home in the League which stretched back to March 18th 2000 (when Frickley won!) came to an end to lowly opposition Leek Town. This result may have put a dent in the path of promotion for the Celtic boys, but the season still has 9 games left and everything to play for.

Leek may not have come to the 'Fold expecting a win, but they were handed both their goals on a plate, whilst defending by putting bodies on the line paid dividends for them at the other end.

This game plan was evident from the off, as Celtic's opening volleys were blocked on the line by defenders, first from Parr, and then from Jones.

Playing a 5-3-2 formation, Leek's defensive line cleared the ball up field as quickly as they could, hoping that Whittaker and Bott could make something of the long ball. On their first attempt, the ball was moved into the Celtic box, where Filson and Ingham clashed going for the same ball. The loose ball fell to Whittaker, and though the defenders closed him down quickly, his snapped shot was possibly the easiest goal he will ever score.

Celtic slipped into a higher gear, and the equaliser looked a certainty for 20 minutes, as Leek defended like demons, with some heavy tackling, and collapsing players to attempt to break up Celtic's flow. However, it was their goal-mouth defending which was unbreakable. Filson's header was blocked on the line from one of Celtic's innumerable corners, then from one of a long string of penalty box level throws, Jones' miscued his shot, letting Leek off the hook for the umpteenth time.

Twenty minutes in, and Evans broke through. His first touch lofted the ball high, and his second cleared the keeper, but was travelling too slowly to be considered a shot. McNeil steamed into the box millimetres ahead of two defenders, his shot looked a certain goal, but bounced back off the inside of the post. Ward crossed it back in, and a Leek head put it for a corner. Ward put the ball in, and again a Leek head got their first. Ward reached it first to cross in, the ball went for a throw, which Locke through into the danger area, for Filson to blast goalwards, attempting to break through the bodies on the line - unsuccessfully. Though both Rose and Doherty attempted to double Leek's advantage, Crookes and Locke were on hand to save Ingham from making the save.

The half ended much as it had progressed with Celtic pressure forcing a free kick thirty yards out. Without Bauress out, Scott curled a ball in, that just cleared the bar.

In one of the half's crunch tackles, Jones picked up a slight knock and was replaced by Vicary at the restart. He proved a great asset on the left wing, but his first attempt was a lob over the keeper, that also cleared the bar.

McNeil flicked Evans through past the defence, but the striker was off balance and could only steer the ball onto the wrong side of the post.

The equaliser was coming, you could see it in the Celtic build up play, but when it came, it was a bizarre goal. A corner came in, and Parr knocked it goalwards, only to see it come back off the bar. Bentley between the Town sticks, was midair when the ball came down, hit him on the back, and went in. The comeback was on.

Until first Whittaker forced a good save out of Ingham, before crossing in, to see Ingham clash with Crookes, managing to tip the ball away, only as far as a Leek player, who put it back in for Doherty to head into an empty net.

The 600 fans were silenced. Again.

Filson was moved to the front line, to get onto crosses, and Evans was removed to make space for him, with Williamson filling in at the back. The last quarter of an hour was end to end, but with the Celtic goal rarely threatened. But at the other end, Celtic must rue the missed chances, as Filson saw his shot clip a Celtic player, that took the pace off, and allowed it to be cleared, then Parr and Filson were blocked by defenders in quick succession, Parr headed just past the post, and Filson put it past the other after strongly winning the ball at the edge of the box. Bentley finally made a save, when with the final whistle approaching, McNeil headed it into the keeper's hands.

After the game had finished, Bentley incensed the crowd by shouting for Emley - unsporting behaviour since his side had just made a massive coup.

The season is by no means over. There are nine games left. If we win them all, we'll go up, as one of the games is with Emely. We did not play poorly, we just did not take our chances.

Some of the build up play was breathtaking. Leek came with the intention of putting bodies on the line, and hoped to snatch goals. There tactics worked last night. On another night, they may have been punished.

Celtic sorely missed the presence of Sullivan, for it seemed at times that Leek had the freedom of the right wing, and without the inspirational Jones in the second half, and with Pickford carrying a knock, perhaps the long season it beginning to take its toll.

Celtic can still win the league, and the task is the same as it was before. Win the remaining games.

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