Match Report -
Out of the drop zone
By Debbie Taylor

The wind played a great part in this turgid display by both teams. The surface was so poor that the best chances came from set pieces.

Expecting a deluge of attacking from a Hayes side which beat Telford a few days previously, a 5-3-2 formation was played, allowing Hayes to come onto Celtic. However, nothing got through to Fish, indeed, Hayes had two shots on target all game.

That said, with a defensive strategy Celtic only managed three, but that included the best chances of the match, and they almost earned own goal.

Pickford got an early chance, but the Hayes Keeper plucked Pickford's cross out of the air when the wind turned it into a shot, after the Celtic midfielder took a free kick after Holsgrove had brought him down.

Hayes responded with a free kick of their own, when Woodhead brought Holsgrove down in a similar position at the Celtic end of the field. The kick eventually fell to Warner who tried his luck from just outside the box, but his wild shot went well wide.

The two sides traded corners for a spell, with Hayes coming out the better when Woodhead granted first one corner, which Williamson cleared, but Hayes were soon back, when Holsgrove fancied his chances from distance, which Woods put out for a second corner. Warner took the corner, and Shandran cleared. He cleared again seconds later, this time getting some distance on it.

Celtic's first chance fell to Shandran just before the half hour, and he could legitimately blame the wind, as Ayorinde's lay off was volleyed over the bar from the edge of the area. Celtic were not really creating chances, but they were containing Hayes, and looking to hit on the break.

Following a poor clearance from Pickford following a corner, Holsgrove got the sight of goal albeit from a long way off, but couldn't control his shot. Hayes best chance though fell to the same player, and came from another set piece. After Beesley had brought down Hale some 25 yards out, the ball was whipped in, but Holsgrove's volley sailed over the bar.

The half ended, with Celtic looking comfortable in defence, but unable to break. The sandy, lumpy pitch looked reminiscent of Bower Fold last season at its very worse, and was not conducive to passing football. With the strong wind balls in the air were unpredictable.

In the second half, Celtic continued their holding pattern, patiently moving the ball up field. After passing the ball around the box for a while, Wood was teed up by Shandran, but his shot skimmed past the upright.

Bull finally got a chance to prove what an excellent keeper he is, and keep the eccentric Bossu out from between the Hayes sticks, when Ayorinde's powerful shot from inside the box was tipped acrobatically around the post. Celtic were beginning to look like they might get three points from this game, as Hayes lost ground to an advancing Blue and White tide.

Thanks in large part to the wind, Woodhead's swinging corner almost caught the Hayes number one off guard, as it curled in towards the near post. However, he was alert, and snatched the ball out of the air.

Daly almost sent the small travelling contingent into raptures when he deflected Woodhead's cross over the top of Bull, but it rebounded off the bar and was hoofed away to safety. And Courtney really should have done better when he slipped between two defenders to get onto Murphy's fine cross, but Bull was at his best to push it aside, and Molesley cleared.

Sensing the game slipping from them, Holsgrove mounted a one man attack. Unable to get past the stalwart defence, he shot from distance, which Murphy intercepted, putting it out as far as Jolly, who's cross in was met by Woodhead before it could get dangerous, for a corner. Fish, desperate for something to do, clambered through the crowd, and punched the ball clear. At some point in the melee, Woods received a blow, though from who, it was impossible to tell, and Trainer came on to replace him, switching Celtic into a 4-4-2 formation.

This did allow Hayes a brief chance, when Warner's swinging cross was thumped by Hodges' head, but cleared the bar.

Pickford tried twice to find a Celtic head after Ayorinde won them a corner, first from the corner, when Molesley cleared it back as far as Pickford, and then Holsgrove cleared the cross back in.

Celtic continued to press as time ran out, and Pickford shortly got a chance to try again, as Shandran won Celtic another corner. This time Bull claimed comfortably.

As normal time ran out, Shandran nearly became the toast of the team when Beesley's free kick found him at the edge of the six yard box, but some how, his poked shot went wide of the mark. Warner crashed into Wood on the goal kick, allowing Pickford to put it back into the danger area. Molesley was caught in two minds as Ayorinde pressed, eventually settling for a corner, which Pickford lobbed in. Holsgrove, the man who was everywhere, hoofed it clear to the other end of the pitch. A poor throw in by Woodhead required Beesley to tidy up, giving Hayes a corner in the dying seconds, however, Williamson was on hand to get the ball out from the Celtic end, but only as far as, you guessed it, Holsgrove. But the Hayes striker completed a miserable afternoon by ballooning his shot way over the bar from just outside the box. Rather than get another ball, the referee called a halt to the proceedings.

Celtic contained Hayes, but with Hayes' lack of a ability, perhaps attacking them with plenty of pressure would have been a better approach. That said, Celtic move out of the relegation zone for the first time in a long time, and Miller extends his unbeaten run to 4 games. If he can extend it to five, then Celtic will be looking good as the next game is at Dagenham.