Match Report -
Desperately unlucky
By Debbie Taylor

More bad luck dogged Celtic as they faced high flying Dagenham and Redbridge.

To start with, they lost the toss, and were forced to kick into the sun.

That said, they had the opening they needed, with Peacock racing through only to be upended near the penalty box. He took the free kick, putting it right into the path of Courtney, but the striker could only head wide of the post. Moments later, Peacock again fed Courtney with a lovely through ball that Courtney looped into the box. Though it looked deep, it reached Scott on the far side, who's drilled shot was blocked by the keeper for a throw. Scott threw the ball himself, to Peacock, who crossed first time, which Courtney and Rooney both stretched for, the Dagenham man's leg being the slightly longer granting Celtic the corner as it was pushed just wide of the post. Peacock put the ball out to Steve Wood, who dropped it over the defenders into the path of Courtney, who was unceremoniously shoved off the ball to allow the keeper to scoop up the ball.

Dagenham responded to this early pressure, with a long ball up field which Brennan chased. He beat Ward to the ball, and crossed in. Fish caught the cross easily enough. The Daggers immediately switched play to the opposite corner, and Shipp turned inside Scott, and squared it to Terry. Terry laid it back to Brennan, running in, who hit it sweetly from 35 yards, but his shot ballooned over the bar.

Parr almost put Courtney through when he got onto Fish's goal kick, nodding it through to the striker. However, Courtney was being well marshalled by Rooney, and the defender made a well timed tackle to knock the ball back to Roberts in the Dagenham goal to be cleared.

Celtic soon had the ball back again, with Scott threading through defenders to get to the by-line, when he whipped in a decent cross to Peacock. Peacock's shot was deflected wide for a corner, which was cleared far too easily, but only as far as Bushell, who shot from distance, only for it to be blocked by the keeper on his six yard line out to Parr. Smith crashed into Parr, failing to get the ball, but the penalty appeal was ignored.

A similar offence by Rooney minutes later saw Wood take the free kick (granted this time) quickly. Parr, rushing in at the back post, saw his powerful header scratch the outside of the post.

Parr's head was again involved, when Fish booted it far up field, for Parr to nod down to Courtney. Courtney turned his man, and fired in a cross, returning it to Parr, who just couldn't get there ahead of Rooney. Bushell picked up the clearance, and played a one-two with Peacock to feed Courtney. Courtney played a defence splitting pass that Parr raced onto, only to be pulled back for an incorrect offside decision.

Dagenham continued to play the ball into the corners for Heffer and Shipp to run onto, but Celtic were reading the situation well, and stopping these attacks in the bud. Even so, during one such break, Crookes received the only yellow card of the match, dragging Janney back as he raced through to follow up when Heffer reached the ball into the corner.

Futcher was on hand to head clear the free kick before Fish could be troubled.

Another of Celtic's eight corner's came as Peacock and Bushell combined to feed Courtney, but his shot was blocked on the line by Smith, for a corner. As the ball came in, the referee was alone in seeing the keeper fouled, surprising even Roberts, who nevertheless took the proffered free kick.

When Scott won a corner on the opposite side, the Dagenham defence struggled to clear. Scott cruised into the box, brought down the ball, and shot, forcing a save, albeit a comfortable one, from Roberts.

The keeper kicked quickly and long for McDougald to chase. Futcher, aware of the danger, headed the ball back towards Fish. Fish had not been expecting the ball back, allowing McDougald to nip in, but his header just looped over the bar, sparing the tall defender's blushes.

Futcher made amends moment later when a fine Heffer ball in beat Fish, and Crookes stopped the ball on the line. Futcher reacted the quickest, at the expense of a Dagenham corner. Heffer should have done better with the cross in, heading wide of the post, without troubling Fish.

Dagenham continued to press, earning another corner, this time off Scott, but again Futcher was there to clear.

Dagenham were getting no joy with the crossed balls in as Futcher dominated their forwards, and Crookes' pace and ability was denying the Daggers anything through the middle.

As the half time whistle approached, Celtic started to turn the pressure back towards the Dagenham end of the field, aided and abetted by Fish's magnificent long punts. Courtney showed great class controlling one with one touch, beating a defender with his second, and forcing a great reaction save from the keeper as he lined up his third, when Robert's smothered the ball at the striker's feet.

It was more Celtic pressure that resulted in Woods being fouled by Vickers near the corner flag. Despite protestations about Shipp's closeness to the ball, the referee waved play on. Shipp blocked the ball for the corner, and again stood too close. Despite that, the corner was met by Parr, who headed into Robert's hands.

With no way through the defensive line up, Dagenham took to shooting from distance, and this almost paid off when Terry's shot was deflected onto the bar, the hasty clearance was only as far as Shipp, who put the ball in for Ferdinand look-a-like Vickers to head over the bar.

Dagenham were finishing the half the stronger of the two, but still restricted by a fine Celtic off-side trap to shooting from way out.

Even so, when Vickers laid off Brennan, his shot looked dangerous, but went wide.

Fish risked injury when a ball came in from a throw level with the Celtic penalty area, and he missed the original cross in, but as the ball was headed down to the feet of McDougald, Fish smothered the ball.

Fish again missed a cross seconds before the half time whistle, deep into stoppage time. Jones raced onto a corner ball, and crossed first time. Fish came for the cross, and was left stranded as he misjudged it. Terry nodded the cross down, and despite Shipp being pressed by the home defence, he managed to bundle the ball across the line.

1-0, against the run of play, really.

The Celtic half time team talk must have been about missed chances, and it is a shame that Futcher jnr was not listening to his dad. However, the rest of the team were, and came out with all guns blazing.

Courtney managed to stay on the ball despite Vicker's attentions, and thread it through to Scott. Scott knocked it past Rooney, who stepped into the path of Scott, bouncing the midfielder onto his backside. Nothing wrong with that, said the ref. Goal kick.

Peacock got in on the action moments later, making space for himself at the edge of the box, and bringing the best out of Roberts. Robert's blocked the shot and recovered quickly enough to smother the ball at Courtney's feet.

Event Robert's could not stop the wonder goal of the afternoon. Scott got to the by-line, and cut back to Courtney, who crossed first time into the six yard box. Despite a loud shout from Roberts, Brennan headed a clearance out. The ball came to Peacock who wasted no time in volleying a delicate lob over his own shoulder and the keeper's head into the back of the net.

Celtic had got the goal they had been working towards for fifty minutes.

Celtic went for their second straight off the kick off, and Peacock fed Bushell with a first time ball after Courtney had beaten his man to feed him. Bushell and Vickers both stretched for the ball, and Bushell reached it first, steering it goal bound, but the lanky defender's leg stopped the certain goal, out for a corner.

Celtic got just desserts off the corner, as Peacock whipped a good ball in that fell to Steve Wood. His drilled shot produced an excellent save from Robert's pushing the ball onto the post and cross bar. Courtney reacted first, stooping to head home a simple goal.

As a reaction, Dagenham took off the ineffective McDougald and brought on Hazelden.

His first job was to cross a thrown ball into the box, which Fish claimed easily, and without pressure.

Fish launched up field, and Courtney's first time lob over the approaching keeper also cleared the bar.

Dagenham were still struggling to break down the solid looking Celtic back three, with Futcher and Crookes linking well.

But they tried.

Janney's ball in from the wing was met by Terry, who produced a reaction block from Fish. The ball fell kindly to Hazelden, but he somehow struck the bar from five yards, and Crookes hoofed it clear. It landed for Rooney, but his shot, despite being on target spent so long in the air, Fish had time to complete a crossword before catching it.

Then came the substitutions that changed the game. Celtic took off Crookes and put on Perkins, despite Crookes excellent form.

Dagenham responded by swapping Terry for Lock.

Perkins first clearance almost put Celtic in trouble as it hit Parr on the back, putting it back into the danger area. Futcher beat Lock to the ball, heading over the bar.

As Dagenham could find no way through the defence, Futcher decided to give Murphy a game, taking off Steve Wood and bringing on Ged Murphy.

Murphy got into the thick of the action straight away, feeding Parr, who looped an immediate ball in to Courtney. Courtney and Vickers both made a diving header for the ball, with Vicker's longer body giving him the edge. Even so, it was almost an own goal by the defender.

Parr beat Courtney to the corner, but headed over.

Celtic's bad luck returned in one five minute spell with a vengeance.

Vicker's brought the ball just inside the Celtic half, and looped the ball into the box, aiming for Hazelden.

The ball struck Matt Woods on the shoulder and careered in over the helpless Fish for the first own goal, but creditted to Vicker's.

Celtic were stunned.

But not for long. Murphy fed Parr, who forced some good defending from the highly fortunate Vickers, to get a throw. The throw came to Murphy, who fed Parr. Parr used Peacock to get the ball back, and squared it back to Murphy with space near the penalty box. Murphy's shot was scuffed, and trundled harmlessly wide.

Then the curse struck again.

Hazelden was going nowhere under the cover of Futcher, and fired a square ball across the six yard box though nobody was coming in.

Perkins tried desperately to get out of the way, but the ball struck his backside and went in past a flying Fish.

The second own goal, this time given as an own goal.

Celtic were now shell shocked, and allowed Dagenham to press them.

Vickers heaved a ball into the box, and Futcher only just managed to get it clear.

With the sand running out on the game, Dagenham employed time wasting tactics, subbing Shipp for Forbes and holding the ball in the corners. Despite that, Celtic still managed to work two more chances to draw level, both of which fell to Futcher.

The first came from a free kick, which Futcher headed to the far top corner, only to see the keeper valiantly stretch and keep it out.

The second came when Parr received Ward's quick throw and raced into the box. With the keeper approaching, and two defenders on his back, Parr saw Futcher unmarked on the far post. He squared a beautiful ball to the out-of-position defender, but Futcher's side foot shot lacked conviction and power, allowing Roberts to scramble back across the face of his goal, and reach out a fingertip to put it for a corner.

Futcher could have been the hero, instead, he was the villain.

Again, Celtic had the best chances in the match, and again some bad luck denied them any points.

Two own goals, and a defender where a striker should be left Celtic rooted to the bottom of the table.

Ben Futcher will be blamed for the loss, despite some sterling work in the heart of the defence. Celtic could have found themselves in real trouble on a number of occasions when Dagenham crossed in, had it not been for Ben. However, he was the wrong man in the wrong place for Parr's square ball. A striker would have wellied it and given the keeper no chance. He is not a striker. Celtic were desperately unlucky, and played Dagenham off the park. And still lost. The results have to start rolling in soon, before the gap between the bottom three and fourth from bottom grows to big.