Match Report -
A fair result
By Debbie Taylor

Considering that Celtic are at the opposite end of the table from Yeovil, the two teams battled for a draw, and in the end, this was the result that the balance of play would have suggested.

In a drizzly rain landing on a soaked pitch made for a slick, soft pitch underfoot, but this did not seem to trouble either team overmuch. Celtic were also fielding three league debutantes: Beesley, Batty and Clemments.

With three new players to bed in, it was always going to take a short while to get to grips with each other. Despite Beesley's commanding presence, Yeovil took advantage of the new line-up by being quicker of the mark.

Batty was called into action almost immediately when McIndoe had a run down the wing, and crossed in a good ball, only to see Batty palm the early effort across his box for Murphy to clear.

Celtic responded in kind, with sprinting Clemments latching onto a ball that Tonkin assumed would just run out of play. He cut it back for Courtney - who was brought up short for offside!

Batty again showed his alertness, when Murphy granted a free kick half way into the Celtic half, which Tonkin lobbed into the box. However, Yeovil were pressing in the opening minutes, and they spoon had the ball back into the Celtic third, and Celtic learned that Schram's could chuck a throw-in an awful long way. Johnson flicked on the throw near the six yard box, but Alford could only head it over the bar.

Within the minute, Yeovil won a corner, when Crittenden's shot from outside the box was deflected wide for a corner by Scott.

Batty punched the ball clear through a press of players at the near post, but only as far as Alford, who put the ball back into the danger area, which Peacock stuck round the post for a second corner. Again Batty punched, but only as far as Johnson, who lobbed the ball into the box for Skiverton to bring down, to Alford at the edge of the box, who rifled his shot throw the crowd. Batty saw it late, and could not quite get across the width of his goal to keep the blaster out. Yeovil were celebrating.

But not for long. Clemments scared the life out of the Yeovil defence when he sprinted past them all to get onto Peacock's lob into the box. Weale was quick off his line, and despite having only a fifth of the distance to cover, they arrived at the ball at the same time, with Weale collecting bravely off Clemment's feet. The nervousness that Weale must have felt at Clemment's runs was evident moments later when a slow pass back from Skiverton saw Clemments race towards it. Weale panicked and was content to see the ball go for a throw. The throw went to Murphy who put a first time ball into the box. With his back to goal, Peacock went for the acrobatic, only to see White in the Yeovil defence use his chest to block the overhead.

Seconds later Peacock threaded a ball through the defence for Bushell to run onto, but he didn't reach it in time, allowing Yeovil to clear, but only as far as Scott, who fancied his chances from thirty-five yards - but his shot went wide of the mark.

Due to the referee's diminished stature, when Futcher clashed with Turner in the Celtic third, the referee assumed he'd climbed, and granted Yeovil a free kick. Scott cleared the free kick as far as McIndoe, but he wasted his opportunity by giving it to Crittenden in and offside position.

Again, Clemments showed his pace, by putting Skiverton under pressure from nothing. Skiverton passed the twenty yards back to Weale, but before Weale could think what to do, Clemments was on him. Again Weale was reduced to hoofing it out for a throw. The throw came to Bushell, who tired to set Courtney against the defence, but Tonkin was there to clear.

Schram's long throws would cause problems for the Celtic defence all afternoon, and it took a world class save from Batty to deny Crittenden's headed effort from two feet away when the New Zealand international smothered the ball.

With his speed, Clemments was always going to be a problem for the Yeovil defence, and Skiverton responded by crashing into the back of him as he sprinted towards the box. He received a yellow card, and Celtic received a free kick in a dangerous position, but Peacock blasted into the wall. The rebound fell to Steve Wood, who crossed in first time, but his ball was just too high for Futcher, but Scott managed to keep the ball in play, lobbing it back into the danger area for Skiverton to head for a throw. The throw went to Peacock who used a silky turn to beat three defenders and get into the box. A direct route to goal blocked by Weale, but Clemments unmarked on the six yard line meant Peacock squared to the debutante. Weale read it well, and cut out the ball. Yeovil could breathe again.

With a bizarre decision, when a Yeovil player slipped near the Celtic box, Scott was adjudged to have fouled him, despite being easily a yard away. Fortunately Alford could only head over.

But it was definitely Stalybridge's period, with some slick one-touch passing to break through the Yeovil team. Peacock almost drew Celtic level when Courtney laid him off, and he had enough space to curl a beautiful ball just over the bar. Even so, Yeovil were not sitting back, and their team was pacy on the break. Giles moved the ball upfield and it took alert defending by Beesley to knock the ball for a throw. But this was dangerous with Skiverton in a Yeovil shirt. It took astute defending from Futcher to slide in and deny Alford, but at the expense of a corner. Batty punched at the near post above a crowd of players, and Scott sent it clear for Courtney to chase. The striker was going nowhere, but managed to win a throw off Schram, which came to nothing.

Celtic were wising up to Schram's long throws, and defended them better and better as the game wore on. Futcher granting him a second opportunity to get it right just past the half hour, he didn't, so Beesley gave him another chance. Clemments cleared up field instead, but only as far as Tonkin, but his ball in was poor, and Celtic cleared easily.

McIndoe received the clearance, and fed Skiverton who is not a striker so can be forgiven for the wild shot.

A good shout for a penalty was waved away when Batty's goal kick fell to Bushell, who cut inside, and had a shot from the edge of the box. White made an excellent save to push the ball around the post - with his hand. The referee didn't even glance at the Celtic players as he waved away their penalty appeals, and gave the corner.

White used his head to clear the corner, but only as far as Bushell, who put it back towards the corner for Peacock. Peacock crossed in, only to see Johnson head out as far as Bushell. Bushell's delicate chip was headed with some force by Courtney, but he couldn't keep it down, and it cleared the bar.

Turner, easily Yeovil's most skilful player, evaded two challenges from Bushell and Woods, making space for the shot, but Batty read it well, and barely had to move to catch comfortably. Which is also the description for the save off Alford's shot moments later from distance.

Celtic got a double throw attempt, when Murphy threw into the box, for Clemments to flick on, but White headed back out for Murphy to throw in again. Peacock cushioned a header in a press of bodies to Courtney. Courtney squared to Futcher in the corner of the box, but the defender could not control his shot, and it sailed over the bar. Skiverton was feeling generous though, and as the first half ground to a conclusion, he nodded out for a throw, despite no pressure. Bushell received the ball, and on hearing Peacock's shout, put the ball over to him, which White intercepted. Bushell could possibly have had a shot himself.

Scott and Clemments interchanged just inside the Yeovil box. Scott's shot was blocked by Skiverton, allowing Yeovil to break. Alford and Crittenden traded passes to beat the Celtic back line, and Crittenden brought the best out of Batty at the near post from close range.

Peacock won a corner off Tonkin, and put it out to Bushell. Bushell's shot was blocked but fell to Clemments, who turned and shot. Though it hit the side netting, the ref decided that Clemments had handled it first. Just before the half time whistle, Clemments was fed with a beautiful ball from Courtney, nutmegging Skiverton. To add insult to injury, Clemments showed great skill to turn and nutmeg Skiverton again before trying to click the ball over the advancing Weale. Unfortunately, his ball went over the bar.

Despite the handful of Yeovil breaks, Celtic finished the half the stronger.

This continued into the second half, as Celtic pressed for an equaliser. They immediately attacked, and won a throw level with the box before the first minute was up. Yeovil cleared this time, and when Turner turned inside Woods, a late foot from the defender earned him a yellow card. He made amends by clearing the free kick up field.

Celtic advanced with intent into the Yeovil third, and rained crosses into the box, which Yeovil struggled to clear. When Clemments received the ball, he turned, and shot on the turn, forcing Weale into a full stretch dive to his bottom corner, tipping the ball out for a corner. Peacock's ball in was too close to Weale, and he cut it out, allowing him to send McIndoe on a run. His ball in was cut out by Batty in an end-to-end start to the second half.

With Celtic still mainly in the Yeovil half, Batty's ball easily found a Celtic shirt, and Wood fed Courtney at the edge of the box. The scoring opportunity was slight, but Courtney took it, the ball ricocheting off White out to Scott. Scott whipped a ball back into the box, which Courtney put a glancing header onto, just wide of the post.

Moments later, Scott switched play with a long diagonal ball which peacock laid off to Courtney at the edge of the box. Courtney immediately put it past the entire Yeovil defence for Clemments rushing in from outside the box. Clemments snapped his shot off, producing a fine save from Weale.

The goal that had been coming since three quarters of the way through the first half finally materialised after some extraordinary passing resulted in Courtney receiving the ball at the edge of the box. He turned White inside out to make some space, and again threaded the ball through the entire Yeovil back line. This time it was Bushell rushing in. Bushell latched onto the ball, touched it once to confuse the keeper, then sent it skidding underneath Weale's despairing dive. Celtic had justifiably equalised!

Yeovil were shocked into action, and immediately won a corner, when Crittenden smashed the ball onto Woods for a corner. Batty missed the ball in, allowing Alford to get a header in. Peacock was there, on the line to knock clear the ball, keeping the scores level.

A second bizarre decision by the referee at the other end of the pitch saw Courtney cutting inside to beat White, only for White to take his legs away from behind with a dangerous swinging tackle. Despite the obvious agony, the referee waved play on, and Yeovil cleared. When it was obvious that Courtney was not getting up, Scotty put the ball out to allow Ged to receive the treatment he needed. In obvious embarrassment at having his mistake rubbed in his face, the referee ordered Courtney off the pitch once his treatment was complete, and did not allow him back on, until play had restarted.

Celtic continued to probe the Yeovil defence as the half wore on. Peacock earned a throw level with the box off Tonkin, but his ball across the face of goal after receiving the ball off Murphy's throw, was missed by everybody, and Scott could not keep it in play.

A tactical switch by Yeovil saw Lockwood come on for Turner, shuffling the Yeovil team around. This bolstered the midfield, and immediately won Yeovil a corner. Futcher cleared, but only as far as Schram, whose shot was weak, and from distance. Beesley trapped the ball and sent it up field for the strikers to chase. Bushell raced onto the clearance, taking it further up field. He dropped the ball inside to Peacock, who cut inside, into the box making a fool out of White and making space for the shot. Despite having Courtney, Clemments and Bushell waiting for the cross, Peacock produced a wonderful save out of the keeper instead, palming the ball over the bar at full stretch.

Celtic continued to rain crosses into the Yeovil box, exposing some dodgy defending by the league front runners. They ended the pressure by crashing onto Bushell just outside the box, blocking Peacock's free kick and breaking up field. Alford laid off Schram, but Schram's shot cleared the bar, and the stand. Batty didn't even bother to move. However, he did move moments later when a Schram long throw (which is what he's in the team for) was headed out by Futcher, but only as far as White, who threaded the ball through the Celtic defence to Alford who snapped off a shot, which Batty saved at point blank range.

The referee then missed another two fouls. The first was after a throw into the box when Skiverton put both knees into Courtney's back sending the striker sprawling. With play waved on, Scott raced to the by line and slid to keep the ball in play. Skiverton then kicked Scott in the head despite the ball being five feet ten inches away at Scott's feet. Only the fact it was a head injury stopped play - the referee seeing nothing wrong with an assault of this nature.

Whilst Scott received treatment, fortunately nothing serious, Yeovil replaced Alford and Giles with Grant and Ramsey. As Turner and Alford had easily been Yeovil's best two, this last substitution must have come as somewhat as a relief to the Celtic bench.

Grant's first job was to back into Woods and earn Celtic a free kick.

Celtic took a slight advantage out of the redesigned Yeovil formation, and Scotty forced a defensive header out of White with a 40 yard free kick into the box. Then Peacock won a throw level with the box off Skiverton, which he then received off Murphy to curl netbound. Again Weale produced a top draw save to deny Peacock, unable to hold onto the powerful strike. He recovered and pounced on the bouncing ball as Clemments raced into the six yard box like an express train. When Clemments was hauled over by White outside the box, Peacock tried something different, feeding out to Courtney, who put in a great weighted ball for Clemments, only to see the keeper gather at his feet.

With 15 minutes remaining, McNeil was brought on for Clemments, who was feeling the effects of the knock moments earlier. With McNeil's future at the club secured, he looked the player he was, chasing the balls all over the park, and showing the skill he showed last season.

McNeil's first job was to lay off Bushell when Peacock thread the ball through to him at the edge of the Yeovil box. Bushell's mishit cross turned into a shot which had Weale scrambling to the near post to keep the ball out.

Thwarting a Yeovil break, Futcher tried a rather unconventional ball, sending it the full diagonal of the pitch to the far corner flag, for a throw to Yeovil. It paid off as Courtney robbed the defender, squared to McNeil, who turned and saw Peacock in space. But Peacock's shot was deflected for a throw - this time in Celtic's favour.

Courtney was fouled on receiving the ball, and Peacock's free kick was curled into the six yard box, which White put for a corner under the attentions of Woods. Futcher flicked on the near post corner, and the Keeper had to climb through a press of Yeovil and Celtic bodies to claim the ball, but he held onto it, despite almost stumbling over his own line.

Futcher saved Batty's blushes as the game entered the last ten, when Celtic's keeper came for a McIndoe cross, missed it, allowing Crittenden to nod it towards goal, only to see the longest leg on the field keep it out.

Courtney, Peacock, Bushell and McNeil wound intricate patterns around the Yeovil back line, with McNeil's final ball to Courtney in the six yard box being the only bad pass among them - slightly to far ahead of him.

Lockwood, who had not done much up until then, proved his worth, intercepting McNeil's excellent through ball to Bushell, and then sending Yeovil on another break as Celtic legs began to tire. Wood brought it to a halt with a misplaced tackle by the centre circle. Woods cleared the long free kick. McNeil, back in defence for the free kick, gave a closer free kick just outside the penalty box. Futcher cleared this time, but only as far as Johnson. Johnson's lob into the box was too close to Batty, and he claimed, under the attentions of Crittenden.

When Murphy let Crittenden go moments later, the number 10 was one on one with the keeper. As soon as Crittenden entered the box, he powered his strike, producing a great reaction save from Batty to palm around the post. With time running out, and the opposition with a corner. Celtic fans feared the worst.

But Batty was up to it, producing another reaction save to block Skiverton header from inches away, and then to claim after McIndoe put it back in.

A bit of luck at the other end raised the Celtic faithfull's hopes slightly. A long ball from Scott was chased by Tonkin and Courtney, with Courtney unable to keep it in. However, he cheered up when the referee decided it was to be a corner. Celtic could not capitalise on their luck as the game went into stoppage time. Peacock's ball in was nodded over the defence by Woods, and Courtney's volley whistled wide.

At the stroke of 45 minutes, Woods gave Yeovil another corner, which Batty claimed.

Futcher produced a top class tackle in the six yard box to deny Grant, at the expense of a corner. Celtic showed they are finally learning their lessons, and cleared the late corner.

Courtney put a ball into the Yeovil third, for McNeil to chase. McNeil shrugged off the attentions of two defenders and chased after it - one on one with the keeper. Apparently he was offside.

In the final seconds of the game, Futcher granted Yeovil a life-line, when he put out Ramsay's ball in for a corner.

McIndoe's ball sailed into the box.

Batty punched clear and the ref blew for full time.

Celtic showed that they have learned their lessons, and kept their concentration right until the end. Yeovil had plenty of early and late pressure, with Celtic excelling in the middle period between bedding in the new faces, and their legs beginning to tire. A welcome return to form from McNeil could see Celtic improve on their performances over the next few weeks by actually getting some wins.

The next game will be a huge test for the team as they travel away to title contenders Doncaster.

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