Match Report -
A bit of luck - and a lot of character
By Debbie Taylor

Stalybridge finally found some of the luck that had deserted them recently when the referee played his part in Celtic's victory. However, Yeovil only have themselves to blame.

Though Yeovil came out of the blocks raring to go, and within moments had earned a free kick, when Woodhead brought Tonkin crashing down during Yeovil's opening attack. However, Skiverton was unable to place the ball well, sending the free kick sailing high and wide over the bar, leaving Fish untroubled.

As both defences settled down, it looked for the next ten minutes as though neither defence would be broken, though the Glovers were pressing the Celtic back line.

When Ayorinde freed Courtney, the striker ended his goal drought by slipping between his markers, and bearing down on goal. White almost got a last ditch tackle in, but instead put the ball in a perfect position for Courtney to strike.

And what a strike, the ball curled beautifully past Weale into the bottom corner, leaving the keeper grasping for air. Celtic immediately shut up shop, rarely making forays upfield for the remainder of the half, allowing Yeovil to come onto them. Holding a high line, and relying on an astute offside trap, Woods and Beesley put an effective stop to Yeovil's surging runs, and when the ball was whipped in, Fish was in complete command of his area, claiming and holding the crosses ahead of any green shirt.

When Celtic did make inroads towards the Yeovil goal, it was Ayorinde who made the Glover's defence sweat. He ran his socks off, chasing down every ball, and rescuing lost causes. It was during one run when Pluck pulled him around after the Nigerian had spun past him, however, Celtic were unable to convert the free kick.

Controversy happened just past the half hour, when Brassart got behind Murphy and sent a cross sailing into the box. As Kumbur (another Nigerian striker!) went for the ball, Matty Woods pulled him out of the air. The referee blew his whistle, only for the ball to fall to Skiverton, who's inch perfect volley sailed past Fish into the corner of the net. Having blown, though, the referee had to give the penalty, as Fish could justifiably claim to have failed to make the save due to hearing the whistle.

Yeovil's Way stepped up to take the penalty and struck it superbly, but Fish had guessed right, and got a hand to the ball, sending it spinning over his crossbar and out for a corner. The home fans were unimpressed, and with good cause. Normally, advantage would have been played - but the referee probably thought he was doing the home side a favour!

Yeovil continued to fail in the crucial third of the field, despite playing plenty of possession football, and the closest that came to a goal in the remainder of the first half was Courtney, freed by a perfectly weighted Pickford through ball that left him one on one with the keeper, but this time, he put his shot wide of the mark.

Celtic continued their defensive policy into the second half, and frankly, Yeovil looked to lack the imagination to break it down, with Fish troubled only once as Yeovil struggled to have another shot on target.

This was due, in large part, to the ability of Woods, Beesley and Williamson, the later of who made a fantastic sliding tackle just outside the box to stop Kumbar from having a relatively easy chance.

As time entered into the latter stages, Yeovil began to look a little jittery. Courtney again had an astounding chance with Weale beaten he somehow managed to scuff his shot over the bar, and suddenly Yeovil were looking vulnerable at the back. Ayorinde almost got onto the score sheet when Lockwood's defensive header put the Nigerian clean through. Only a hurried, sliced clearance from Tomkin saved the day, but still left Yeovil in trouble, though Celtic could not convert the corner.

Lockwood had a good chance at the other end, but put Johnson's cross past the post, and Fish finally got to do something in the half when he tipped Brassart's screaming 20 yard drive over the post.

But with Yeovil's frailties beginning to show, they finally lost out in the title race when substitute Shandran (who had replaced Courtney) interchanged well with the mightily impressive Ayorinde, to smash a shot at Weale's net with ten minutes remaining. Skiverton did very well blocking the Burnley player's fierce drive, only to see it career back to the striker, who immediately curled past Weale in a carbon copy of Courtney's goal.

Yeovil slumped after that, and Celtic played out the remainder of the match looking like the table topping team of the pair.

New boss Dave Miller was cautiously optimistic, admitting to a BBC reporter that he felt that there was a long way to go before Celtic could consider themselves safe.