Nobody can claim we had anything approaching a back four, with two midfielders and two fullbacks (one of which was in the centre of defence), and yet they played so well, Dootson had only two saves to make.
The starting line up looked very strange all over the pitch, with Foster starting on the right, Potts on the left, and Brian Welsh up front. Welsh has come from Accrington, and they still retain his contract, but from the way he played, it looked like he'd been in the heart of the Celtic attack for months! But without Pearce, Fitzgerald, Bowker and Eastwood, the start of the game was greeted with anxiety from the terraces.
Gainsborough, despite the one sided score-line, were not at Bower Fold to make up the numbers, and played some bright, attacking football, earning the vast majority of corners and set pieces around the box. They started the game with a dubious corner after Keeling shepherded the ball out. Foster was back defending and headed it clear.
The first real chance, though fell to Caldecott. A trademark cross from deep left field was obviously miss-hit, and Holmshaw did well to track back across his net and push the ball out for a corner. Trinity struggled to clear the corner as it sailed across to Potts who lobbed it back to Keeling, but the glancing header was easily cleared as far as Wharton, but he didn't get around the ball enough to pose a threat.
Mayers looked like he'd been with Celtic all pre-season as well, linking up with his former team-mates as though he'd never been away. When Potts' shot was blocked back to him, there was a trademark turn and shot that would have troubled Holmshaw had Allison not taking the string out of it with his backside.
Both teams looked like it would take something special to breach the defences. As the game entered the second quarter, Gainsborough got a flurry of corners that Celtic defended by knocking back out for corners, with Parr getting closest to his own net. However, a worrying pattern (from Trinity's point of view) emerged. Grant, in his eagerness to reach the corners was using any player he could as a springboard, on for the first time in the game, the Gainsborough pressure ended with him fouling in the box. He repeated this a few minutes later as more Trinity pressure resulted in another corner.
Celtic began to obviously settle into the game with ten minutes remaining in the half, and pinged the ball about the pitch. In one fine example, Foster switched to Potts, who dropped the ball to Mayers. With four players around him, Mayers got the ball out to Welsh, but his shot was scuffed and wide. Bowman and Foster then interchanged down the right flank, with a fine ball in from the makeshift right-back Bowman aiming for the head of Welsh. Only a diving header just past his own post from Reddington prevented Welsh opening his account on his debut. Holmshaw had to react quickly as Wharton's dipping curling corner landed on Mayers feet for a poke home, but Holmshaw got down quickly and smothered the ball.
Grant finally, from a corner, did not use anybody to reach a floated corner, and headed it powerfully into the bottom corner beyond the reach of Dootson, but Wharton was there, on the post to hack it clear off the line. A Celtic reprieve that spurned them into a higher gear. Foster got more involved with the game, and almost immediately provided a great cross for Parr, but the Celtic captain nodded it wide. However, it was just before half time when Foster got his chance. He took the ball down the wing and cut inside Perkiss. As the fullback tracked backwards, Foster knocked the ball from side to side pulling the hapless fullback first one way, then the other. With a burst of acceleration Foster knocked the ball past Perkiss and shot after it. Perkiss stuck out a foot and sent Foster sprawling, well inside the box.
Mr. McGee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. But who to take? Eastwood was out, so Potts stepped up, placed the ball on the spot. He took a long run up, but kept the drive low and hard into the opposite corner to Holmshaw.
Trinity were rocked, but there were no complaints at the decision.
Celtic tried to take advantage of the shell-shocked team in the moments remaining before half time. Mayers laid a lovely ball off to Parr 40 yards from goal, and his screamer of shot zipped narrowly over.
Gainsborough won a corner early into the half, but again Grant was climbing, losing any initiative that Gainsborough could build. However, from a free kick (after Parr had tackled Ellington), Hirst got onto the floated ball into the box, putting it well over the bar from close range.
The game was opening up, and Celtic could feel aggrieved as Potts threaded a well-timed ball into the box for Mayers, Reddington through himself across the path of Mayers to block him from reaching the ball in the most blatant case of obstruction seen in recent years. Celtic got on with the task in hand, and Welsh put a whipped cross in for Mayers, that Jervis had to divert narrowly round his own post. The corner fell eventually to Potts, but his shot cleared the bar.
When Caldecott was adjudged to have held Staton up as he raced up field, Gainsborough finally got to test Dootson. The free kick was headed down by Ellington and looked beyond the reach of everybody, but somehow, Dootson flew across his line and hooked the ball clear. Thus is was worrying when German's ball to Caldecott was too short, and when German (fairly) got the ball back, but Jervis' screams could be heard in Denton, so they got a second free kick, closer than the previous one. Staton curled it around the wall, and Dootson pushed it around the post for a corner.
Norton (who'd been brought on for Welch in order to balance the team up by putting Foster up front, and Potts on the right) picked up the ball on the half way line and raced towards the Trinity goal. With the chasing pack closing him down, he blazed an arcing shot from twenty five yards. Holmshaw could only parry the ball into the path of Potts, who tried to stab it in, but Jervis threw himself into the path of the ball, diverting it for a corner. The corner fell to Wharton, but his lob back into the box was too easy for Holmshaw.
As the game went into the last few minutes Reddington retaliated to something Foster muttered at him. With the ball down the Celtic end, and Trinity mounting an attack, perhaps elbowing Foster was not a wise move, because the linesman saw it, and play was pulled back for a Celtic free kick 30 yards out.
Parr reached the free kick and knocked it back for Mayers to head home. Holmshaw bravely punched the ball off Mayers' head for a throw. Wharton and Potts took the ball into the corner and held it there, eventually winning a corner. Celtic played keep ball, as much as possible until the ball fell into the other corner where Norton saw an opportunity. He won the corner off Jervis, and took it quickly to Foster.
Foster turned and ran into the box. With Parr and Mayers both waiting, Foster instead hit it low and hard inside the keeper's near post. Holmshaw tried to get down, but only succeeded in knocking the ball into this own net. Deep into stoppage time, Celtic had put the gloss on the game, propelling them to joint top of the table.
The injuries to Pearce and Eastwood are going to be keeping them out of the side for some time, but with Keeling playing an excellent job as centre back and Foster getting a goal on his home competitive debut, well...