Celtic came into this local derby with the aim of cementing third spot in the league, but having recently been beaten by Bradford Park Avenue. The fact it was a local derby had not escaped the notice of the two managers either. Dave Pace has had more of these derbies than his opposite Dave, and had obviously got his players revved up for the match. They came off the blocks all guns blazing.
A Wharton slip midway in his own half allowed the ex-Celtic fullback Murphy an open route to goal, but with the Celtic defence closing in on him, he shot before he reached the box, and saw his effort skim wide. Soon, it was Bowker's turn to cause consternation for Dootson. A slow through ball from Salmon for Haarhoff was shielded back to Dootson by Bowker, but Haarhoff wasn't put off that easily and kicked the ball between Bowker's legs as the pair entered the box. Fortunately, Dootson had his legs shut and was able to collect as the toe-poked ball rolled up his body.
If this wasn't enough to get the Celtic machine into top gear, then a double corner should have been. Bowman blocked Wright's attempted cross at the expense of a corner, which Bowker manage to head behind for a second, but off this, nobody picked up Burke's ginger locks steaming into the box. His defensive mind seemed to insist that he head wide, and he did.
Celtic still were not operating with full concentration, and a lax square ball from Pearce to Bowker across the box was intercepted by Wright, but the nippy striker pushed it slightly too far, and an alert Dootson pounced on it to gather bravely at Wright's feet.
Having survived the initial quarter of an hour onslaught from the hosts, with all it's scary moments, Celtic started to play. A long throw from German to Mayers was intelligently flicked on by the Celtic striker to set Potts into the box. Philips was off his line quickly and made a formidable barrier that Potts couldn't get past, allowing the Droylsden head-bandaged keeper to scramble it clear. Celtic continued to pass the ball around well with some good-looking movement without ultimate gain. Salmon broke one move down and raced down the flank before putting in a wicked looking cross for Kevan. Dootson punched it clear, but Kevan's trailing leg sent the Celtic keeper sprawling. The referee harshly awarded a free kick Celtic's way just inside the box.
Dootson's thump up-field was controlled well by Wharton who glanced up and curled in a cross for Mayers at the back post. Burke leapt, but was inches too short to reach it and it landed plumly for Mayers to simply poke past Philips and send the travelling contingent wild.
Droylsden came straight back at Celtic from the restart, with Kerr overlapping Wright and whipping in a first time cross. Caldicott attempted to head it calmly back to Dootson, but it was too fast and too wide for the Celtic number one to reach, giving Droylsden yet another corner. Dootson came through a crowd to punch the ball clear, but didn't get enough power on it, and it fell nicely for Wright. Wright volleyed straight back goal ward, deflecting off German's backside for a second corner. Again Dootson came and punched, this time back over his own bar for a third corner that Droylsden wasted by curling it too far and giving Celtic breathing space and a goal kick.
Much battling through the midfield eventually brought the first yellow card. Bowman collected a simple cross from German, turned and laid it off to Wharton, Kerr came steaming in and flattened the consistent Bowman. Kerr earned the card for the very late challenge. Potts swung the free kick to the back post, and Parr nodded it back into the danger area. Warner beat Eastwood too it, but at the expense of a corner which Farley cleared ahead of Bowker.
Celtic were flowing more now, and the pass and move saw Philips get a massive reprieve from the man in black. Wharton floated another excellent cross for Mayers trundling into the box. Philips did well to get a hand onto the ball to knock it behind the net, but as Mayers attempted to go an keep it in, Philips wrapped both arms around Mayers' middle and was dragged, bumping across the box. The referee decided that the ball had gone out of play before the infringement and gave Celtic a corner only (and Philips a stiff talking too). A yellow card for the keeper then (as one could have reasonably expected), would have had tremendous impact on the game.
Celtic tried one of their 'unusual' corners, with Wharton knocking the ball onto Potts who had taken the corner so he could continue his run. Potts did a fine reverse pass to get the ball back to Wharton, and despite being level with the Droylsden defence, he was called offside. From the offside kick, Philips hoofed it long down the field, where it hit German and went for a corner at the other end! Fortunately the corner was beyond everybody and Parr cleared comfortably with a powerful header.
The Droylsden fullbacks were playing a dangerous game, and when Warner clumsily bundled Potts over 25 yards from goal it looked like he would be carded, but the referee decided to refrain on this occasion, despite Potts being obviously hurt in the foul (he would be replaced almost immediately after the kick had been taken). Rather than shoot, he floated the ball to the back post for Eastwood, but Farley was head and shoulders above the Celtic top-striker, and cleared to send Droylsden on a counter. This was broken up in the mid-field, but a ball back to Bowker was miscontrolled by him, allowing Wright to go one-on-one with Dootson. As the Celtic keeper came off his line, Wright tried to blast it past him, and struck the rickety looking crossbar. The ball bounced down and away. Bowker must have been extremely relieved.
Denham was brought on for Potts and immediately outpaced Farley. Farley was having none of it, and hacked him down from behind leaving the young forward requiring treatment. Farley earned a yellow card only, despite being the last man (perhaps it was because they were only fifteen yards inside the Droylsden half, and the covering defenders may have got back across).
Wharton took the free kick, spreading it to the back post for Pearce. The Celtic defender headed it back into the danger area, but Burke was there again to head over his own bar. Wharton's near post corner was poor and Farley cleared it easily.
As the half headed towards a climax, Parr lobbed a cushioned ball over the top for Mayers. Denham was coming back from an offside position, but Mayers was definitely on side as he took the ball and slotted it past the keeper. Only as the ball bulged the net did the linesman decide that because Denham had turned, he should flag an offside. It was a late decision, and a harsh one.
After Celtic had cleared another poor Droylsden corner (they all went to the back post, quite uninventive), it was Celtic's turn to hit the bar. A German long throw found Eastwood, who turned and shot very well, clearing the keeper and dipping back down, but it did not dip far enough, rebounding back off the bar and allowing Burke to clear.
A further offside flag stopped another Celtic attack, this time it was even more obviously wrong. An intelligent ball from Mayers released Denham on the right side of the pitch into clear space. On the left side of the pitch, Eastwood was offside - and was flagged for it - how he could interfere with play from over forty yards away is a mystery!
Wright then cleverly drew Droylsden level just before the half ended.
He was running with the ball into the box, with Caldicott hot on his heels. So close was the Celtic defender that when Wright suddenly stopped two inches over the line Caldicott could do nothing but run into the back of him. Wright went flying and a penalty was given. If Caldicott had not been so close, Wright's deliberate ploy would have failed, but such decisions come from experience, which is something Caldicott will have to get through time. Salmon came up and sent Dootson completely the wrong way drawing the home side level as the half drew to a close.
In the second half Celtic tried to regain the initiative. Caldicott played a simple ball to Eastwood and continued his run, Eastwood gave it him back as he reached the box, but his curling shot was a meat and drink save for Philips.
Celtic then had to suffer a five minute spell of Droylsden superiority. Wright raced into empty space beyond German and pulled back a good cross for Salmon. The gangly striker beat Dootson with his low shot, but Bowker managed to get back and clear off the line. German then lost out to Kevan's clever dummy and run. Kevan pulled the ball back to the penalty spot for Salmon, but Dootson was ready this time, and bravely collected at Salmon's feet.
Celtic tried to get to grips with Droylsden, but it was Kevan who got to grips with Denham. As Denham's pace took him past Kevan, the Blood's man rugby tackled Denham to the floor. A yellow card offence in itself, but when the two had a bit of arm raising, they both got yellow cards. Some might say that Kevan should have been carded twice, once for the blatant last defender foul, and one for the afters. I'd be one of those people.
Wharton floated the free kick into the box, and Bowman got Philips' knee in his back as he went for the ball. There was more of a scuffle between these two, and once again the yellow card was brandished to both players. Had Philips' transgression on Mayers been given the punishment it deserved, Droylsden could have found themselves without a keeper.
Once the heat had died down a little, Wharton intercepted a loose pass on the half way line and raced goal-ward. With the defence closing in, he shot from just outside the box, but after such a run the finish was disappointing and well wide. Celtic continued pressure forced a further comical moment from Philips. As Burke headed a cross back to his keeper, Philips had to run and jump to catch it, but his landing made him roll out of play with the ball in his arms. The look on his face when he realised was worth the admittance fee alone! Unfortunately, Wharton's corner kick again lacked bite and Farley got it clear.
German somehow managed to get a yellow card for standing still. Haarhoff trapped a waist high cross and turned, with his leg still high. Because German was right behind him, Haarhoff's leg collided with German, which apparently is a foul, and a bookable one at that!
From the free kick Haarhoff was sent off on a run. When he tried to climb between Hooper and Bowker, he earned a free kick just outside the box. He took the free kick himself, and hit the wall.
Soon, the free kicks were going the other way. Burke used Hooper as a springboard forty yards from goal, that Hooper spread out to Caldicott. Caldicott shot first time, but went just wide.
And then back the other way, when Parr was adjudged to have handballed near the half way line. The free kick was taken quickly and Salmon raced one-on-one with Dootson. Dootson superbly blocked the initial shot sending the ball high into the air. Dootson was quickly on his feet and leaping to collect the ball ahead of the Droylsden man.
Denham could have sealed the points for Celtic when the visitors managed to keep the play moving for longer than thirty seconds, and Caldicott put a superb cross into Denham. Denham twisted and turned his way into the box, and Philips pulled off his first real save of the afternoon, and what a stunning save it was, palming the ferocious shot around the bar.
The corner was sent to the back post where Parr and Philips both went for the same ball. Philips wrapped his arms around it seconds ahead of Parr, which meant that Parr crashed into the Bloods' keeper at high speed.
Hallows had been brought on for Mayers, but his impact had been exceedingly minimal until the final throws of the game, when a well timed ball released Denham to go one-on-one with Philips. A rush of blood to the head meant Denham shot far too soon, and skidded the ball wide of the mark.
All in all, this was a derby clash of the highest order. It was obvious that both teams were up for it, but when the final whistle blew, Droylsden were happier with the point than Celtic were. A win would have set Celtic up for the President's cup final on Thursday.