Match Report -
Another late goal robs 2 points
By Debbie Taylor

For the second time in two home games, a late, late goal stole Celtic's thunder.

Barnet started brightly, looking to punish Celtic with an early goal, obviously having done their homework. However, when Essandoh crossed in Brown could only volley it harmlessly wide, while Fish watched it without needing to move.

But Barnet hadn't finished yet. The impressive Gower crossed in a lovely weighted ball, which Brown latched onto. His headed ball was blocked well by Fish, but the predatory Brown stabbed it back towards goal, and it took Andy Scott to clear off the line.

But Barnet were not helping their cause at the other end. This was immediately apparent when Pluck too casually tried to pass the ball out of defence, allowing Peacock to steal it away, turn inside the intended recipient, Gledhill, before unleashing a powerful grass skimming ball into the opposite corner from the keeper. Naisbitt, covering for Harrison, made sure of a start in the next game by scrambling across and stopping the ball well.

It was Barnet's strike force that was the strongest element of their team, and Andy Scott was forced into a defensive header, when Gledhill swiped a ball into the six yard box. The corner was met by the lurking Heald, who headed wide.

Kelly, dangerous as always, created a golden chance, when he ran into trouble and took a throw in level with the penalty area. Scott whipped the ball into the box, for the hopeless Pluck to try and clear. As Kelly pounced onto the poor clearance, Essandoh back into defensive duties blocked the shot, and cleared up field.

Celtic got another chance to probe the dodgy defence, when Peacock laid off Bushell, whose first time ball in was headed back to the keeper by Pluck, though Naisbitt was not in a position to take cleanly, and saved his team-mate's blushes by plucking the ball off Kelly's head.

Moments later, Kelly latched onto a perfectly weighted Peacock through ball, he knocked it past the defence, but slightly too far, allowing Naisbitt to smother the ball at Kelly's feet. From the clearance, Gower had a run through onto goal, but Scott shepherded him wider and wider until Gower shot out of frustration, well wide of the mark.

A second Barnet corner was won when Futcher bravely challenged Purser in the box. Heald was again lurking at the back post, and again headed wide.

Pluck again made a poor pass, this time Kelly latched onto it, racing into goal. Just inside the box, trigger poised, Pluck made amends by pulling off an excellent tackle.

Heald was busy covering for Pluck at the other end. Scott and Wood interchanged before Scott fed Kelly with a nice cross, and Kelly squared it off to Peacock. Peacock easily turned Pluck, but Heald was there to deny him a scoring opportunity.

Purser latched onto the clearance, shooting from the edge of the box, and though he was on target, the shot was well blocked by Fish. Fish again was on hand, this time to deny Essandoh, who made a good run down the wing before cutting inside Scott, and shooting from a narrow angle.

Parr and Heald went for the same Fish punt, Heald holding Parr down just outside the box. Peacock took the free kick, reaching Futcher. Futcher was unable to direct his header accurately enough, allowing Gledhill to clear. It fell as far as Wood, who fed Kelly, but Heald was there to rob the striker, and clear the Barnet lines.

The incident was repeated at the other end, when Futcher held Brown. Celtic had less trouble clearing it though, when Murphy headed well out of danger.

Heald was beginning to prove a headache for the Celtic front men, robbing Peacock. after his initial touch let him down from Scott's cross in, then nipping in to intercept Kelly's square ball to Peacock, after Kelly had humiliated three defenders.

Just before the end of the half, Futcher and Essandoh clashed heads, with the tall defender coming off the worse, and forced into a rather comical bandage that would have looked more at home on a devout Muslim. When play restarted, Naisbitt proved he had not been asleep. Bushell squared to Pickford, but Pickford let it run to Parr, running in from the midfield. The strike was phenomenal and produced the best save of the match from Naisbitt, top corner, top draw.

At half time, Brown was replaced by Purches in an attempt to break through a stalwart Celtic defence.

Kelly's never give up attitude was revealed yet again when he lost the ball to Pluck, but immediately regained it, and laid off to Bushell. Bushell let in Parr, but the angle was hard, and the defenders were closing. He squared off to Pickford, but Syd couldn't keep his shot down, and it sailed over the bar.

Matt Woods took a free kick just inside the Barnet half, which Futcher tried to control, but Heald tackled well to put the ball out for a corner. Peacock's excellent cross in eluded Futcher, Woods, and the entire Barnet defence, but did not elude Kelly, who stopped to nod past the despairing Naisbitt, let down by his defenders and punished.

Barnet roared out of the centre circle, and it took Murphy twice to deny them. On the first instance, he headed clear Gower's cross, but only as far as Purches, who danced past two defenders, but not past Murphy. His second clearance fell to Gower, whose shot from forty yards almost sailed out of the ground.

Kelly almost got the better of Heald, but Heald pulled the striker back, granting Celtic a free kick forty yards from goal. The free kick was half cleared, and eventually fell to Pickford. His shot produced a second great save from Naisbitt, tipping the ball over the bar. Pickford couldn't do it twice on the trot, and when he latched onto Peacock's corner, he cleared the stand as well as the goal.

Kelly went close moments later when an inspired free kick from Scott sailed across the field to Bushell. His cross in was met by a Kelly volley, but it scrapped the wrong side of the post.

Barnet started pushing for the equaliser, and left themselves exposed when Kelly latched onto a clearance after a Barnet throw, and raced three quarters of the length of the field with the whole of the Barnet team on his heals. He shot from just inside the box, and looked to have beaten the keeper when Flynn finally caught up with him, and slid in to put the ball around the post. The corner was punched clear by Naisbitt.

They were caught flat footed again moments later, when Bushell latched onto a long clearance, and fed Kelly. Kelly knocked it back for Parr, who's powerful header clipped the crossbar on it's way out of play.

Scott gave Barnet a corner, after Gower knocked the ball past Futcher, and it took a fantastic save from Fish to deny Purser's bullet header.

Barnet continued to press, but a little more cautiously. First Futcher blocked Essandoh, then Scott blocked Gower's effort, clearing the ball up the line for Kelly to race onto. With no support, Kelly used Arber to win a throw.

Peacock and Bushell traded passes, before the final ball in was put out for a corner by Heald. Futcher met the corner, and forced Naisbitt into an acrobatic save, tipping the ball over the bar for a second corner, which was wasted as Heald sent it far down field.

Scott acted as sub goalkeeper for the second time in the game, when Pickford allowed Barnet to have a corner, and the lurking Purser headed it past Fish, only to see Scott reach it first - this time.

While Futcher received a change of bandages, Parr and Kelly both had shot's blocked in the box, after Bushell whipped in a lovely cross for Parr to head goalbound. Flynn's foot blocked it but allowed Kelly to shoot of the rebound, but the keeper parried well, and Barnet nervously cleared.

With mounting Barnet pressure as time ran out, Williamson replaced Bushell.

Williamson's first job was to put into the box a Woods free kick, for Pickford to latch onto, but Pickford couldn't get any power on the ball, and the keeper claimed easily.

Kelly won a corner after racing twenty yards, and trying to cut inside past Arber, but the defender managed to block the nutmeg at the expense of a corner. Parr met the corner, thumping it just past the foot of the post.

Murphy intercepted a lax clearance, and laid off to Peacock. The ball was about twenty yards away by the time Flynn came sliding into Murphy lifting him off his feet. Now doubt about it, a yellow card. Nobody complained.

A second yellow was handed out, this time to Pickford, after he went in heavily on Essandoh. The striker reacted badly, and Pickford foolishly retaliated, raising his arms.

Williamson had a chance to put some clear air between the two sides, when Woods lofted a ball over to Kelly, and Kelly nodded it square to Pickford. Pickford laid off Williamson, and his good shot was matched by a good save.

Al though there were no shots raining in on the Celtic box, it was palpable that Barnet were hungry for the equaliser, and they were pressing Celtic constantly as stoppage time approached.

Scott gave away a corner, blocking Flynn's shot from Gledhill's throw. On this occasion, Purser headed wide, but the Celtic should have taken note that Purser was continually getting into unmarked positions inside the box.

Barnet brought the ball back upfield, forcing another corner off Scott. Williamson cleared, but only as far as Flynn, who laid off Gower. Gower won another corner, this time off Murphy. The ball was floated in, and once again Purser was there. He made no mistake this time, putting the ball past the flying Fish, into the bottom corner.

And though there was a minute left on the clock, even Kelly was not quick enough to grab a late winner. Though he should have had a corner after Arber knocked the ball off his feet out for a goal kick, the Barnet pressure had proved to much, with the numerous corners at the death, eventually giving them a share of the points.

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