Match Report -
Wicked Deflection
By Debbie Taylor

Apart from a ten minute spell punctuated by the half time break, Celtic never really looked at the races in this one. Right from the back to the front men the conviction was lacking that had surfaced in recent games.

That said, Morecambe never looked threatening either, and their only goal came as the result of a deflection.

Celtic did start well, with Ayorinde steaming down the wing, only to be upended by Hardiker. The free kick was put into the box, and cleared by the impressive Hardiker, as far as Courtney, who squared it to Perkins, but his ball into the box was claimed by the keeper. That would be the story for Celtic all game, with either Hardiker or Mawson denying Celtic before they could threaten.

Courtney then forced the keeper into kicking the ball into touch, when he received the throw off Turley, but he was fouled immediately. Mawson claimed the Peacock free kick easily, and when Murphy put a great ball into the box for Ayorinde, Hardiker was there to clear.

Morecambe's first real chance took 15 minutes when McKerney ran onto a Black square ball, but he put the shot high and wide.

Hardiker gave away a corner under pressure from Ayorinde, but cleared it as far Turley. When Turley put it back in, Mawson claimed. Mawson then plucked a ball of Courtney's feet when Turley slid the ball into the six yard box. Celtic looked like they were getting frustrated.

Off the punt up field, Beasley shoved Arnold off the ball, giving away a needless free kick, taken quickly to Black, whose shot was a comfortable catch for Fish.

Arnold tried a shot himself, from distance, but missed, much to the delight of the travelling contingent.

Morecambe earned two corners, the first off Beasley under pressure from Arnold. It was cleared by Woods, but into the six yard box, where Ayorinde cleared as far as Arnold. Arnold put it back in, but Parr was there to put it out for a second corner, which miraculously changed into a goal kick. That would not be the last reversal of direction for a dead ball, with the referee missing two offside flags raised by his assistants, and changing his mind about the blame in a clash, when neither Parr nor the Morecambe player was at fault.

Black should have done better when he intercepted a poor Woods back pass, under the gaze of an advancing Fish, he sliced wide.

Celtic have been unable to score before 37 minutes, and on 37 minutes Ayorinde looked set to continue the tradition with a fierce drive that left Colkin gasping for breath after he put his chest in the way of it, though he could continue after treatment.

Peacock did some fine work down the wing as usual, but his final ball today was lacking. A good example was when he beat two Morecambe defenders, only to whip a ball into Mawson's arms.

Then came the goal.

Black ran inside Murphy as he would do all game, and tried a speculative shot from 30 yards. Parr tried to block it, but instead deflected it away from the diving Fish, who could only watch it trundle into the net.

Murphy could have squared it moments later when he whipped in a cross which fooled everybody, but bounced into the top netting. Ayorinde was given a glorious chance by Wood, but his half volley was well saved by Mawson. Hardiker then fouled Ayorinde just by the penalty area. Ayorinde made a meal out of the tackle, but got the free kick anyway.

Morecambe fans were let off further indignation when Peacock's ball in clipped the crossbar on its way out off Courtney's head.

Right from the kick off, Celtic continued to apply the pressure that had been building from the last five minutes of the first half. Before a minute had elapsed, Murphy and Peacock had got the ball to the penalty box, and Murphy drove a low ball into the six yard box. Parr was running in, but the ball was ever so slightly behind him, so he could not get any power on his shot, and Mawson collected easily.

Stanford and Parr tangled about 20 yards outside the box. The referee decided it was a foul to Stalybridge, and got hoots of derision from the Morecambe fans, as it wasn't a foul at all. The man in charge then changed his mind, and gave the free kick Morecambe's way.

A poor back-pass almost let Ayorinde in, as he closed the gap between him and the ball faster than the keeper did. But Mawson did very well sliding in to dispossessed the Nigerian and clearing up field. Perkins kept the pressure up from the throw, receiving the ball from Murphy, and volleying it from 20 yards, just rising at the last minute to clear the bar.

Curtis, just inside the edge of the Celtic box signalled and end to the Celtic period of dominance when he hooked a ball over his shoulder, producing a fine reaction save from Fish to block the ball. He tried a more conventional shot a few moments later when he blasted from 30 yards, but he watched it go well wide of the mark. Hardiker managed to get forward, but he should have stayed back, as Woods shepherded him wider and wider, before he eventually shot over the bar, wide of the post and out of the ground.

Arnold managed to get past Perkins, before whipping in a ball that Black managed to reach ahead of Murphy, he headed it towards the far post, and Curtis put it in the back of the net, only to discover that both he and Black were offside and the Celtic defence were laughing at them.

At the other end, Hardiker brought Peacock down, but the free kick ( a strange affair between Murphy and Peacock) eventually resulted in Mawson plucking it out of the air, unchallenged.

Hardiker had a better chance when Beasley gave Curtis a corner, and Arnold whipped it in, only for Hardiker to produce the very best from Fish.

Celtic's second best chance of the game (the best was Parr's that he scuffed right after the restart) fell to Turley, who got on the end of a perfect Peacock ball. He headed well beyond the reach of Mawson into the bottom corner only for Fensome to throw himself at it, and clear off the line. It fell to Perkins, who half-volleyed it and for the second time cleared the bar.

Hardiker put a poor back pass back to Mawson, which Ayorinde again reached first, but only just, batting it against Mawson's legs and back out to Courtney. With the Keeper stranded, Courtney only had one option, from forty yards he lobbed goal-wards, and went agonisingly close scraping the post on it's way for a goal kick.

Drummond got in the way of a Steve Wood driver after Courtney laid the experienced midfielder off. Drummond had to receive treatment, but he had bravely stopped the goal.

Arnold produced a good save from Fish, when his header from a corner was going to Fish's side, and he somehow twisted around to pluck it out of the air.

Murphy then had to shepherd Black wider and wider. Black still got a shot off, but it went into the side netting. And when he tried a few moments later after Murphy backed off him, he cleared the bar.

Parr again was a handed a glorious opportunity after a long Murphy throw level with the six yard box. He spooned it over the bar from two feet out.

But it was a bright spot in an otherwise turgid Celtic display, which was inviting Morecambe through the sparsely populated midfield, with a big hole where Pickford should have been. Drummond got a chance from distance after Woods blocked the initial Arnold shot, and Fish made the catch look oh so simple.

McNeil (on for a tired looking Turley) joined the just-over-the-bar club with 5 minutes left on the clock, when Peacock whipped in a free kick, and he headed it just over the bar.

Mawson had barely had any work to do all game, with Celtic getting on target only 5 times.

For the third time, Mawson had to race from his line as Ayorinde latched onto a bad Hardiker back pass. This time the sliced clearance fell to Peacock, but he just miscontrolled it at the last minute, allowing the defence to close him down.

And that was how it ended.

There have been better performances from every single Celtic player in other games. Perhaps the extended fortnight lay off from competitive football played its part. Celtic now have two more away games to navigate, but both of them should be slightly easier than Morecambe. If we are to climb to safety Celtic are going to have play better than that.

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