On paper, this was a formality: turn up, collect three points, and go home. This did not cater for Celtic team failing to ignite. And some how, we came away with a draw, having had a mere couple of chances compared to Burscough's half dozen.
Only a sterling performance from Dootson with three outstanding saves kept Celtic from a second campaign defeat, instead earning the team a second draw.
On the way out of the ground, I saw a man carrying a drawer. Honestly. It wasn't a very interesting drawer, it was a plain, wooden one. That summed up my afternoon.
The highlight of the game was noticing the stunt plane doing acrobatics high above the 'flag' end of the ground. Whole minutes were spent watching him, without missing a moment on the pitch.
Dootson was busy from the off, as Connell waltzed around the back of the defence and lashed a shot goal-wards, producing the first of many good stops from the Celtic number one. Burscough wasted the corner. It wasn't long before Connell salsa'd past Bowker and this time lashed his shot from the 'D', dipping the ball over the top of Dootson and rebounding with a hearty thwack off the crossbar to be scrambled half-heartedly clear.
During a succession of corners, Martindale shimmied into the box and thumped his header directly at Dootson, forcing him into a reaction catch. Martindale was soon quickstepping around the back of Pearce to get onto Connell's cross and produce another good stop out of the Celtic main man.
This isn't to say that Celtic did nothing but turn up. They did have a few chances. Bowker getting the first off a corner from Potts. His header was a comfortable height fro the excessively young Burscough keeper, but Newnes still had to make a good claim.
When Dootson wasn't producing his best form, Burscough made their own mess of things, with Knowles missing an inviting target not once, but twice in the first half. Martindale must have been cursing Dootson, just before half time he took advantage of a spinning ball to get beyond Woods (replacing the injured Pearce) only to find Dootson smothering the ball at his feet.
If anybody had hoped for a stern talking to in the dressing room, then their hopes may have been lifted, as Celtic came out in the second half and began to dominate a little. Without Foster though, who had been replaced by Keeling. Potts took an early initiative to half volley Mayer's flicked on ball towards the net, but it was a little too high, and never looked dangerous. However, Celtic looked, if anything, a little too eager, talking free kicks and corners far too quickly. It wasn't the home side who were caught off guard by the rapid movement, the visitors couldn't keep up either. Potts did just that first with a corner and then with a free kick that perhaps Heald should have took, but Potts curled it right into Newnes' arms.
Without Foster, the team were looking at Potts to provide the inspiration, and he could have done it with the best cross of the afternoon looping over the keeper and taking out three defenders to leave Wharton with the simple task of nodding it down and into the net. Wharton could not have asked for a better cross. Potts could ask for better finishing though! It was directed poorly, and well wide.
Celtic still looked to be on the up when Wharton tried to make amends for his earlier miss by tenaciously taking on Crowder and reaching the by-line. Instead of lifting it into the box he fed it short to Heald who produced a good leg-block out of Newnes a the expense of a corner. Potts took and got back off the clearance. A quick square ball to Heald saw the latest Celtic addition spin a great cross over o the far post where Parr was running in, but it was about an inch too far ahead of the Celtic captain.
Celtic ran out of steam, ideas and enthusiasm after that. And if it wasn't for the acrobatics of the stunt plane, the afternoon would have descended into dullness. The game got scrappy and Burscough players spent as long lying down as they did standing up, though when German took Underwood out by the touchline, Underwood had just cause for lying down and German was lucky to stay on the pitch. It highlighted the how uncomfortable the right-back feels in that role.
Underwood then ran straight into German at full speed, and after the previous challenge, the referee gave Underwood the benefit of the doubt and the free kick that Bowker put behind for a second corner. This time Knowles produced a cracking save from Dootson his thumping header tipped over the bar. Parr headed this one straight up and Dootson claimed.
Colin Potts could have snatched all three (underserved) points for Celtic in the last gasp of the match when he took advantage of a lax pass at the back to go one-on-one with Newnes. He had longer than he thought he must have had, because he snapped off a powerful dipping shot that was 50-50 to go over (thus probably would have hit the bar). Newnes did a spectacular full stretch save to ensure that it did clear the bar and went out for a corner. After all, Celtic had not threatened from any of the other corners, why would this time be any different. Indeed it wasn't, though mainly because Brennan fouled Bowker just outside the box.
With about a minute on the clock, Celtic should have taken their time over the free kick and produced something stunning (a la Barrow), instead Heald took it quickly, Potts tried to cross it on the run, and Newnes caught it. In a way, that was just, because Celtic did not deserve to win the game.
Something needs to change for Tuesday. Southport will find Celtic difficult to break down, after all, Celtic have kept three clean sheets. But without a potent strike force, Celtic are going to find it hard to score at the other end. And without scoring, the best you can hope for is another Burscough.