This was the first game back for the Celtic boys, and it showed. On top of this, it was to be the try-out of several new faces (plus one old one!). New to the line-up were Barrie Keeling, Greg Brickell, Steve Smith, Blake Norton, Paul McGuire, and Matthew Woods. Hang on - Matthew Woods? Central defender? Yes, he was back, and played the second half along side Greg Pearce, with Bowker moving to right back.
Not playing were Andy Payton, which must have annoyed the handful (or hordes?) of Burnley fans who'd come to see him. Also not playing, for one reason or another were German, Eastwood and Wharton.
Clitheroe moved the ball around well in the opening exchanges, moving and passing. Exactly the kind of game Celtic like to play. Spencer latched onto a loose ball after Pearce had robbed Cryer allowing the ball to roll into his path. Fortunately, the shot lacked pace, and was right at Dootson.
Celtic settled a few minutes in, and the football was fluid, with both sides showboating at times. Brickell, who had an outstanding game, rolled the ball along the edge of the penalty box to Potts. Potts saw the keeper off his line, and lobbed him with a perfect chip, lazily dropping just under the bar.
Clitheroe got forward well as the game descended into niggling football, late tackles and slow reactions the order of the day - exactly what would be expected as the first game back for both teams. Both Clitheroe strikers had good opportunities, both arising from mistakes. Spencer should have done better when Caldicott's clearance struck his arm and he was allowed to snap off a shot towards the Celtic goal - it went wide.
Caldicott too had a good chance when Potts found him in acres of space - but his well-hit shot was wide.
Foster missed a couple of glorious chances, and looked under the weather the whole half he was on. When Potts' found him unmarked in the corner of the box, it should have been a simple strike into the bottom corner, but as he swung, the ball comically went between his legs and was cleared. I'm sure with a few games under his belt, Foster will improve, especially with Brickell pushing for a place. Foster did provide a good cross from the wing aimed for Parr that took a diving head from Simon to knock the ball narrowly past his own post.
Even in friendlies, Celtic struggle against the black tide! First Bowman's cut back struck a defender for a corner that went for a goal kick, then Pearce tried to slide a ball across his own box for Caldicott, only to misjudge the pace, and allow Whittingham the free dome to run on goal. Pearce made up the ground well, taking the ball cleanly from Whittingham's feet. Like any decent striker, Whittingham threw himself over Pearce winning a penalty.
Dootson made a great blocking save down to his right, but Spencer reacted well stooping and turning to nod the ball into the net right before half time.
It was all change at half time, with Clitheroe seeming to swap the entire team, but with Celtic just replacing Parr with Keeling and McGuire with Woods. Celtic would bring on the other trialists as the game progressed. Woods was excellent as a partner for Pearce, and Dootson really had nothing to do for the half. Keeling also looked a handful, big and strong, with two good feet. Keeling tried to battle his way to goal from the kick off, but was brought down before he could reach the box - the kick was taken quickly, to Foster who tried to twist and turn and was eventually fouled almost level with the original foul. Potts' took that, and the keeper made a great save, tipping the curling shot around the post (for a corner).
Cryer should have put Clitheroe ahead when a ball came fizzing across the six-yard box, with him in space, and an open net, but he spooned it over the bar from inches away.
He was going to rue that miss - Potts' ran the line and cut the ball back for Brickell. Brickell stepped past his marker and blasted the ball into the top corner.
Both sides made several substitutions over the remainder of the half, but with neither goalkeeper being unduly troubled. Bowman and Brickell both shot wide, whilst Whittaker and Cryer both had chances at the other end.
In the last five minutes, Celtic conceded a couple of corners, but the defence was resolute and when the ball was kicked out for an injury to Caldicott, the referee ended the match.
As spectacles go, Celtic have played far better, but it was noteworthy for some fine performances. Danny Hooper, Danny Caldicott and Darren Bowman all played extremely well for the old guard, whilst Matty Woods and Greg Brickell both played extremely well for the new faces. Players like Smith, McGuire and Norton all looked solid and sharp, but on just one showing it is difficult to tell how and where they would slot in. Both Potts and Brickell took their goals well, and whilst Clitheroe didn't deserve the penalty, they did deserve at least one goal for a fine performance.