Match Report -
Tractor-park
By Debbie Taylor

On a pitch that looked more suitable for tractor racing than a football match Celtic failed to get to grips with the conditions. Despite German, Fitzgerald (and later Caldicott) and Potts raining crosses into the box from all sides not one was converted into a goal.

Celtic had the long periods of dominance, but nothing to show for it, whilst in a breakaway move, Frickley converted one of their few chances after a bit of fortune went their way. Celtic continue the impressive statistic of never winning at South Elmsall.

Celtic kicking up-slope looked busy and industrious, but that came to a stop when Wharton was hacked down from behind by Jackson thirty yards from goal. Potts lifted the free kick over the defence and onto the feet of Eastwood. Eastwood turned and shot, but Samways in the Frickley goal was alert, and on his toes gathering easily into his midriff. Celtic built up the tempo from the back again, after Athletics' long punt up field, and Potts soon was whipping in another cross from the wings, clipping O'Brien for a corner. The corner was sent out to German who mis-hit his cross, sending it wildly out for a goal-kick. Potts was again used as an outlet to get the ball to the by-line, this time it was Woolford who blocked the cross for a corner. Trying a simple corner for a change, Potts drove the corner towards the edge of the box, where Hooper waited. His half volley skimmed just over the bar.

After surviving an initial flurry of crosses, Frickley got into gear and threatened the Celtic goal on the 15 minute mark. Woolford controlled O'Brien's long punt well to make some space at distance from the Celtic goal, but his shot was right down the centre and into Dootson's arms. The same was not true when Bernard got beyond Bowker to race one-on-one with Dootson. The Celtic keeper was out of his line quickly, and German came racing across field forcing Bernard wider and wider - when his shot came it was wide of the mark.

Celtic battled against resilient opponents and the conditions (that Frickley's tactics were eminently suitable for) mainly through the outlet of Potts. It was his clever lob over the defence that gave Celtic their clearest opportunity of the match so far. Eastwood controlled the ball on his chest to burst between Jackson and Marquis to go one on one with Samways. He struck the ball sweetly from close range and Samways pulled off a really good save to deny the hitman. The corner came in, struck Jackson and went for a - wait for it - goal kick.

Celtic got the corner they deserved when Potts' cross in struck Marquis, but Frickley cleared the corner far too easily.

At the other end, Reece took advantage of a loose clearance from Pearce to produce a stunning save from Dootson, tipping the powerful dipping shot over the bar at full stretch. Frickley took further advantage bringing their big men up for the corner, but it fell to the shortest man on the field, Hancock, who put the ball back into the danger area. Parr was first to the ball, heading it out for a second corner. Hallows, back defending, headed this corner for a third, and then Parr got the ball finally clear.

As the half ran out, the stoppage time was generated when Morris needlessly and dangerously sliced through the back of Fitzgerald (who would then require replacing with Caldicott) in the middle of the park. Had nothing else happened, Morris could possibly have been sent off for the very late challenge (the ball had gone). However, both sides piled into the incident, which had left Morris lying on the floor (presumably in an attempt to avoid seeing red, as he was, minutes later, fine). Bowker and Jackson squared up to each other, with a lot of pushing and shoving and both received yellow cards when the referee had finally got the game back under his control. However, the lengthy delay had made the referee forget about Morris' original foul. This was demonstrated by his awarding a drop ball!

Despite Parr's vociferous complaint at the way the referee released the ball into Frickley's favour (tipping it out of his hand towards Bernard) Celtic won it back and spread the play quickly towards the Frickley goal. Marcus trapped a German cross onto his chest to run between O'Brien and Jackson. Despite a clumsy and deliberate attempt to stop Hallows from the latter, Hallows got into the box. Frickley had managed to get people back, and the keeper was well positioned. Hallows lifted the ball over the top of them all to Potts at the back post. Samways scuttled quickly across the face of his goal and blocked point-blank Potts' shot sending it out for a corner. The corner was low and hard, striking Hallows on the upper arm with no volition on behalf of the striker, and forcing him to chase after the ball. Because he reached the ball before a defender, he was adjudged to have controlled it, and the half finished scoreless.

Caldicott came on for the limping Fitzgerald, and he was soon joining in the crosses rain that ineffectually peppered Frickley's box. It was his cross that found Potts, and Potts beat his man (twice) before driving a low hard cross through the six-yard box that was inches from the stretching feet of both Eastwood and Hallows.

A long punt up field from O'Brien bounced awkwardly for Bowker enabling Morris to scoot past him. Dootson came off his line quickly forcing Morris to try an audacious lob. It hung agonizingly in the air before smacking into the crossbar and rebounding out. As the Celtic defence scrambled to cover the bouncing ball, Reece came steaming in and struck it sweetly. Dootson still trying to regain position threw himself through the air, but was unable to meet the ball before it met the back of the net.

Celtic, to their credit, didn't give up, despite the surface getting slick with frost, and Potts was soon bursting into the box with Reece hot on his shoulder. As Potts collapsed under the weight, Reece headed out for a corner, and that was all Celtic got. Hancock's was the only head to get onto the corner as he thumped it narrowly past his own post. This time a better corner from Potts was met by the head of Parr. The normally reliable header of the ball was unlucky - he headed it down, but Samways reacted well, clutching the ball before it cross the line.

Potts was again brought crashing down, this time by O'Brien as he danced into the box and slid a ball across the six yard box for Eastwood. Unfortunately, Eastwood couldn't reach the ball, and the referee again decided that it was okay to haul Potts off his feet.

Morris should have doubled Frickley's lead when a back header from Bowker to Dootson was far too wide for the Celtic keeper to reach, and went for a corner. A good corner from Reece was matched by a thumping header from the Frickley striker, but it was woefully off target.

Celtic brought Mayers on for the tired Hallows, and he started bossing the attacking third. He laid off Potts, who put a great cross onto the foot of Eastwood, but the half-volley went narrowly wide. Then Potts and German interchanged putting German into the six yard box. The fullback's strike was powerful and well aimed, but Samways was up to it, blocking the shot around the post for a corner, which was poorly taken and easily cleared.

Potts got another free kick chance as the last ten minutes were reached. Hindley hauling Hooper bodily off the ball thirty yards from goal. Potts free kick was curling in all the right directions, but down, sailing inches over the bar. Such was the ascendancy of Celtic's pressing that German was spending more time in the Frickley final third than his own, and was soon the spare man when Potts was looking for an outlet, unfortunately, his shot didn't match his positional ability and sailed over.

In the final few minutes, the balance of play swung back towards the Celtic end. Bowker conceded a corner with a few minutes remaining, which Dootson punched clear, and Celtic were unable to pierce this much improved Frickley defence.

The final act of the game was Pearce dispossessing Hindley at the expense of a corner, which Parr cleared.

Overall, Celtic's constant probing was frustrating to watch. There was nothing wrong with their play, as the conditions made the passing game virtually impossible. Frickley's goal came from one of their many punts up field that bypassed the bobbly pitch completely, and was made in part by the uncertain nature of the balls bounce, though somebody should have been picking Reece up as he ran in. Celtic had a lot of crosses, and also tried the direct route on any number of occasions, but Frickley held firm, showing why they have beaten Vauxhall, Worksop and now Celtic on the bounce. They'll be expecting Premier football next season.

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