Match Report -
Jekyll and Hyde
By Debbie Taylor

Though Celtic scored in the second half, it was the first half in which they played the best football.

Despite this, Telford came out of the blocks steaming towards the Celtic goal, and it took Fish to be alert to deny Telford the early goal. A free kick just inside the Telford half started their move, which Pickford knocked back out, but only as far as Smith, who lobbed the defence into the path of Edwards. His shot from the corner of the box was well stopped by Fish, making it look easy.

Celtic came right back at them though, and Kelly's blistering pace looked from the outset to cause Telford problems. In the usual fashion, a defender hauled him back, being unable to catch the forward. Peacock's curling free kick skimmed past the upright, with Courtney sliding in, and missing. Price, the Telford keeper, was caught completely flat footed.

Deciding against a flowing game, the referee would blow frequently throughout the match, and he did so seconds after Price kicked up field.

Futcher and Fowler rising together seemingly fairly. Telford's free kick in was well defended by Scott, to deny Edwards, but it was Futcher's foot which cleared the Celtic lines. Futcher's clearance landed at the feet of Palmer, who played the simple ball square to Richard Scott. Their Scott saw an opening, and blazed netbound. Again Fish was alert, and barely had to move to claim the ball.

Kelly and Bushell probed the Telford back line, winning a fair few throws, but crosses in found Hanmer on excellent form, to head clear. It was Hanmer again, who closed Courtney down with incredible speed as Kelly chested a Peacock crossed ball into Courtney's path. As the striker was about to pull the trigger, Hanmer nipped in and denied the easy opening.

When Scott was brought down just outside the box, Woolliscroft was first to the free kick in, but could only clear as far as Murphy. Murphy spread the ball across field to Bushell, who, aided by Pickford, managed to get a second cross in. Unfortunately, in his haste to get to the ball, Kelly was adjudged to have climbed over Hanmer.

Moments later, Kelly was found by a delicate lob over the defence by Peacock, and his shot was headed over the bar by Hanmer. Still the keeper was untested.

The travelling contingent had something to cheer about, despite being surrounded by Telford fans, when Kelly used Bentley to earn Celtic a corner out of nothing. Peacock's precision corner found Courtney with a little bit of space at the edge of the box, but Courtney's snap shot cleared the bar. It took just a couple of minutes before Peacock could try again, when Fowler brought Kelly down near the corner flag. Futcher was the target man this time, and his header down was well cleared a foot from the goal line by Woolliscroft. Telford broke down field. Under pressure from Woods, Edwards put a ball into the path of Richard Scott, who shot before he needed to really, and sent the ball well wide of the post.

Celtic brought the ball back into the Telford end, and won several throws to get level with the six yard box. Bushell threw the ball out to the corner of the box, where Peacock controlled it expertly, before being ploughed into from behind by Woolliscroft. The ref had no hesitation in booking Woolliscroft. Peacock took the free kick himself, curling it round to Futcher's head. Finally the keeper had something to do, but instead of claiming, feebly punched it clear. It came out to Pickford, who tried to lay off Kelly, but Hanmer stole in, and Kelly clumsily tackled the defender to get the ball back.

From the free kick, a long ball was put into the Celtic box, and Futcher's long legs were the only thing between Edwards and goal.

Despite the attacking moves, it was a mistake by the Celtic defence that almost let Telford open the scoring. Murphy's back pass was too short, forcing Fish into radical action. His half clearance fell to Fitzpatrick, and despite acres of net unguarded by Fish, his shot whistled past the post.

At the other end, Kelly was being denied a run on goal by fair means or foul, but mostly fouls. Hanmer got just reward bringing the lithe striker down level with the penalty box as he was about to whip a cross in. Again the ref reached for the yellow card.

Fortunately for Price, Davies was on hand to keep the scores level when Price came for Peacock's free kick and messed up horribly, as the ball was soaring into the bottom corner, Davies threw himself at it, diverting it by inches around the post. Edwards got his head to the ball first off the corner, and Price finally claimed a ball as he plucked it out of the air with an acrobatic dive to save the own goal.

The first of two overhead kicks from Celtic came when Murphy's whipped in ball sailed towards Kelly with his back to goal. Despite the acrobatics he missed the ball.

Kelly brought the ball all the way to the edge of the box before sheer weight of numbers forced him to lay off Pickford. The volley was sliced, and fortunately landed at the feet of Bushell. Bushell knocked it back to Pickford, who lobbed the defence allowing Courtney to break into the box, but Courtney was watching the ball, not the net, so his volley sailed over the bar.

Futcher was on top of his game at the other end, working with both Scott and Woods to deny Edwards any route to goal. Edward's foot was on the trigger when a long leg robbed the ball off his foot, and fed Scott, who cleared up field.

Richard Scott added to his teams yellow card collection when Kelly danced around him and laid off Peacock. The midfielder upended Kelly, despite the ball being long gone. Celtic would have loved a bit of advantage play on this one, as Peacock had a clear view of goal. However, Peacock got to take the free kick instead. Courtney met it on the back post, nodding it just wide.

Price remained relatively untested despite a powerful header from outside the box, when Kelly latched onto a Pickford cross field ball, from thirty yards out. He had power, and accuracy, but the keeper was well placed to simply stop the ball.

Kelly continued throughout the half to create chances, but they just would not fall.

But at the other end, the Telford forwards were causing equal problems for the defence, despite not getting their shots off. Futcher stopped both Edwards and Smith in the space of minutes, and Murphy got in on the act, sliding in on Smith inside the box to rob the striker. Telford's primary route to goal was denied, and it obviously was frustrating the front pair.

Pickford led by example, and this was never more apparent than when he was brought down level with the penalty box, and still whipped in a cross though he was on the floor. Courtney could not reach it, and Hamner headed clear.

Crosses and shots rained into the Telford box throughout the half, including a fine effort from a narrow angle which curled around the keeper, and just went wide of the far post.

Telford were their own worst enemies as well, after seeing Edward's head back to the keeper narrowly kept out of his own net, Woolliscroft's header back almost went for a throw, but earned Celtic a corner. Woolliscroft defended the corner well, but at the expense of a second corner. Peacock this time found Courtney. His shot through the crowd took several deflections, and went for a third corner. This time, it was punched clear by Price, as far as Wood. Wood returned it to Peacock, who crossed first time.

Futcher and Bushell both went for the header, clashing and letting the ball roll loose.

As the half drew to a close, Telford battled their way out of their own half, and earned a free kick five yards from the box. Richard Scott knocked it in, and Edwards and Smith both hurled themselves ineffectually at the cross in. Goal kick.

Smith received the ball moments later near the edge of the Celtic box, he turned Futcher, then dodged Scott into the box, but his shot was wild, and wide.

Another free kick near the box, this time for apparently nothing, was an easy catch for Fish.

Telford started the second half as they had started the first, racing towards the Celtic net. This time it paid off. Fitzpatrick raced into the box, and let loose with a powerful right foot shot, that Futcher blocked.

The ball landed kindly for Hanmer, who wasted no time in burying his shot well out of reach of the scrambling back into position Fish.

Between the two early Telford goals, Kelly picked up a yellow card for supposing elbowing Hanmer when they both jumped for the same ball.

A Palmer ball over the defence started the chain of events that led to the second goal. Fitzpatrick latched onto it and produced the very best out of Fish as he put it around the post for a corner. Palmer headed the ball down to Fitzpatrick. Matt Woods blocked the shot, and it was put around for second corner. Bentley climbed above Futcher (how!) to reach the corner, and headed it goal ward, it took a deflection off Kelly and past the despairing Fish.

Two down inside of the first ten minutes. Celtic were under the cosh. And it showed.

With Celtic heads bowed, wondering how they had let the initiative slip, Telford continued to press. Edwards beat Futcher to a crossed ball, but his header took no deflection and was an easy catch for Fish. Edwards again tested Fish, when he raced into the box, and fired off from eight yards, but Fish caught down at his near post.

When Celtic did get forward, it looked a little half hearted. Peacock ran three quarters of the pitch before stumbling near the by line, a throw was returned to Bushell, level with the box, but he hesitated a fraction too long and was robbed.

In what might have been a harbinger of good omen, the linesman who had been catching Kelly and Courtney off side, gave up the ghost of trying to keep up with Kelly's darting runs, and was substituted for the fourth official.

Celtic earned the second of their three yellow cards when Bushell complained about a clash in the centre circle stopping play.

Fowler and Price got away with murder when Peacock's through ball to Kelly was stopped and passed back to Price by Fowler. Despite Fowler calling the keeper's name prior to the pass, the keeper picked it up. Fortunately, the referee decided that this was not a back pass. Probably because it would have resulted in the indirect free kick being on the goal line.

Pushing for a way back into the match, McNeil replaced Courtney, though a replacement of a midfielder, or a defender, may have been a better option given hindsight.

McNeil's first job was to push Celtic forward, and he won a throw level with the penalty box. Bushell through to Pickford, who controlled and laid off to Peacock. A first time ball in was met by Wood, but his shot was into a crowded box, and Telford scrambled clear.

McNeil produced a better overhead kick than his counterpart, when Steve Wood crossed into the box, however, the shot lacked conviction and power, and Price caught easily. At least Celtic were regaining some kind of initiative.

Bushell sent another cross in, for Kelly to try and latch onto. Price became more active, and cut out the cross. Celtic were slowly gaining ground, pressing Telford back.

Kelly robbed Richard Scott in the centre circle and fed the ball out to Andy Scott. Scott raced down the line, reaching the ball fractionally ahead of Davies. His cross in was missed by McNeil, but the defenders had gone with McNeil leaving Peacock alone at the edge of the box. Alone and with the keeper out of position, Peacock buried his shot in the back of the net.

The keeper's first real test, and he failed.

Celtic hearts saw some hope, and pressed harder for the equaliser.

Peacock again crossed in minutes later, but Bentley was able to flick it just out of the path of McNeil, but only as far as Scott. With his way to goal blocked, he spread the ball across the field to Peacock, who was unable to keep the ball in play. Pickford was the next to be unable to keep the ball in play, as Peacock robbed Richard Scott, and played a one-two with Bushell, before feeding through the defence to Pickford.

Although he had been quiet for a while, a Kelly burst of speed left Fitzpatrick flatfooted, and the midfielder unceremoniously hauled Kelly back, and off his feet. I would love to see Kelly make it past all the defenders without any of them fouling him, just to see if his result is as good as his promise.

However, this was to be the end of a promising spell by Celtic which had lasted a mere 12 minutes out of the half. And Telford again finished the stronger.

They underlined this point by ending Celtic's superiority with a goal. A seemingly for nothing free kick was launched long into the box. Edwards managed to nod the ball into the danger area, despite pressure from Futcher, and Bentley bundled the ball over the line, stabbing it past Fish as the Celtic number one tried to smother the ball. A cruel blow, but the lack of concentration at the back let Edwards get his header in.

Celtic did try to respond, but were unable to find accuracy, power or both.

First Scott tried to curl a free kick in, but without the pace to beat Price who strolled over to collect it, then Murphy had a blazing shot from thirty yards which went agonizingly past the far post. For a heart stopping second it had looked in.

But Celtic were having trouble getting up and down the field, to keep the pressure on Telford.

Futcher stopped Edwards from causing more trouble by heading behind for a corner, and Richard Scott almost added insult to injury when he received the ball off the corner, and hit it low and hard. Fish got down well, and blocked the initial shot, recovering quickly and gathering before it could roll over the line for an embarrassing goal.

As the half began its decline, Celtic were granted a life line when Bentley headed for a corner, despite no pressure, and Pickford flicked on the corner to McNeil. McNeil hesitated over the ball, and the keeper swept in and claimed. Kelly persistence won another corner, again off Bentley, this time the Keeper cleared as far as Bushell, who squared to Peacock. His shot struck Hanmer on the elbow - not deliberate - and came back to Bushell, who flicked it up to Kelly. Kelly could not get the power on his header, and Price had an easy catch.

Yet another corner was won as the time ran out, as Kelly raced past two defenders (both on yellow cards who did not dare touch him) and into the box. His shot looked set to beat Price who was woefully out of position and should have been guarding the near post. However, Hamner slid in and diverted the ball for a corner. Kelly could not keep his volley down when he received Peacock's corner, and put it into the stand.

Well into stoppage time, Celtic won a free kick which Scott took. Everybody had piled forward, leaving Murphy and Woods on the half way line. Dangerous.

Telford cleared the ball and sent it a long way down the field into the Celtic half, for substitute Martindale to run onto. With Celtic looking for an offside that never would, Martindale had a good ten yards start on the Celtic defensive duo. Fish came off his line, and met Martindale at the edge of the box, but the sub danced around Fish, leaving him stranded and the net gaping open.

In came Woods and Murphy one to the goal line, the other to the man.

Suddenly from an empty net, Martindale was outnumbered. his snap shot was blocked halfway into the box by Woods, for a corner. McNeil headed the corner for a corner. Futcher intercepted the second corner, for a third corner. In the dying moments Celtic were again under the cosh.

This time, they went short, but before Richard Scott could control it, Pickford had steamed in and was off running up the field. Telford had committed too many men, and Pickford soon found his way blocked. He squared to Peacock, and carried on his run. Peacock's chip over the top back to him was put out for a throw in, which Celtic barely had time to take before the ref blew for half time.

In the first half, Celtic had been the stronger, with some good chances on goal. But, apart from a spell of ten minutes in the second half and a spell of two minutes later, Celtic never looked like winning the game. They lacked oomph after going two down inside the opening ten minutes and took too long to get back into it. The goal gave them a lift, but Telford regained the initiative with too many lapses of concentration at the back. This combined with a seeming inability to hit the target is what cost Celtic the game. Fortunately, Telford are not an incisive team, and were unable to punish Celtic more.

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