Match Report -
More injuries and suspensions
By Debbie Taylor

Droylsden are a decent team these days, and when Celtic lose fluidity any half-way decent team is going to punish us, and that's what happened.

Up until the half hour mark, the two teams were equal, but on the half hour Celtic lost Todd and things went pear-shaped.

It was Todd who got the first chance of the match when he nipped in on a long Heald throw and rifled a shot goal bound. Phillips made an untidy save, but his defence were on hand to clear the rebound.

At the other end, Warner tried a surprise shot from distance, but shot over the bar, thus losing the surprise element. Dootson was tested though, when Lattie got around the back of Heald and whipped a cross to the far post where Wright got the merest of touches. Had it had any more power, Dootson's simple catch would have been anything but.

Lattie's other contributions to the game were more of the niggly tackle type affair than dangerous crosses. One of these resulted in upending Eastwood twenty five yards from goal. Potts' free kick was aimed for the head of Mayers, though Challinor was half an inch ahead of the Celtic striker to head past his own post. Lattie then conceded a second corner beating Eastwood to the cross, and finally Bowker headed over the bar.

Droylsden's most dangerous player was by far and away Byrne. His speed and turning even worried Todd on a couple of occasions. Both times it was a sudden change of direction that lost Todd as Byrne cut inside. The first time Byrne shot over, but the second he brought a cracking save from Dootson that Pearce had to hurriedly clear as Wright came in for the killer rebound.

Thanks to Lattie, Potts got another chance with a free kick, which he fed to Keeling, who produced a marvellous save from Phillips, however, the resulting corner was wasted. Moments later Phillips again produced the goods as Eastwood latched onto a long ball and snapped off an instant shot. Potts kept the loose ball in, but his cross went for a goal kick.

Celtic Continued to try and find an opening in the Bloods' defence, to no avail. Mayers had a low drive deflected just past the post, but again the corner failed to find the back of the net as Todd's cross in was headed by to the top corner by Mayers, but lacked the power needed to beat Phillips.

Morris and Foster had a bit of a contest in the middle of the park, starting when Foster fouled the Droylsden midfielder. The free kick was half cleared by Pearce, then fully cleared by Bowman, before Morris got his own back on Foster just outside the Droylsden box. Under the glare of the Kwik Save sign, Potts curled his free kick just over the bar.

At the half hour mark, Byrne raced down the wing with Todd right beside him, as Byrne cut inside, he stood on Todd's foot (not maliciously) bringing Todd crashing down and allowing Byrne to go one-on-one with Dootson. He tried a powerful low drive to the far corner, but Dootson was equal to it with a fine save. Kielty was brought on for Todd (and promptly vanished), and Bowman slotted in a right back - but with a player of Byrne's speed, a fullback was a must, and Droylsden suddenly had one whole corner to themselves.

Continuing their battle in midfield, Morris cuffed Foster around the back of the head, when the referee turned to see what the noise was, he saw Foster knock Morris to the ground with his chest and showed the Celtic man the yellow card. The free kick was floated into the box and nodded down by Byrne to the feet of Chambers, only for Pearce to nip in and clear.

Then the goal that had threatened came, and it came from the vacated space at the back right. Byrne turned Bowman and raced away from him before sending a cross to the back post. Pearce and Morris arrived the latter dipping his head in the manner of a winning sprinter crossing the line to nod the ball home ahead of Pearce.

Celtic couldn't even offer an attempt at an instant reply as Droylsden continued to stifle any creativity. Just before the end of the half, Heald deflected Wright's shot for a corner, and Murphy did his old club a favour by putting an unchallenged header wide.

The second half started as the first half had ended, with a Droylsden corner. Again it was Heald's last touch, but this time it was Morris whose head reached the ball first, but Dootson was well placed for a simple looking catch.

Eastwood was causing problems at the other end, testified by the number of free kicks that were won in the final third. Celtic had tried several approaches, but when Potts tried a quick square free kick to Mayers, it looked like they had unlocked the Droylsden vault, but an unwitting Warner deflected the ball close enough to Phillips for him to claim.

However, this game was about Byrne, and his tormenting of Bowman. For the umpteenth time he got to the by line and crossed in. Keeling had tracked back with Chambers, but got an elbow off the Droylsden striker as Chambers went for the ball. Keeling had to be replaced by Wheatcroft, with Eastwood going to the right wing, and Potts dropping to centre midfield.

With Celtic further disorganised, it was no surprise when Foster gave the ball cheaply away in the Droylsden half and Challinor put a long diagonal ball over the top of Bowman to Byrne to race onto. Byrne did just that to go one-on-one with Dootson. Dootson raced to meet him, but Byrne found that tiny gap between Dootson and the far post to double Droylsden's lead.

With such an obvious outlet, Challinor was using it again moments later, only this time Dootson filled that gap as well with an excellent save.

The direct route closed, Chambers tried to race straight down the middle of the park, only to find Bowker in his way before he could get to shooting range. Bowker justifiably got a yellow card and the free kick hit the wall and went for a corner that was cleared.

In the final few minutes Wheatcroft could have been the hero for Celtic, despite only grabbing what would have been a consolation goal. Mayers put him through the Droylsden defence giving him the clearest chance of any Celtic player for the proceeding 90 minutes: one-on-one with a hardly tested Phillips. A sudden bout of self-doubt let Wheatcroft down and instead of blasting it past Phillips he tried to pull it back to Eastwood arriving at the box flanked by two defenders. Eastwood couldn't reach the ball and Droylsden cleared.

Bowker then saw red when he clipped Hall, a challenge similar to ones that had gone previously unpunished. This time, Bowker got shown a second yellow and then a red. Frustration ploughed into the Celtic side shown most visibly when Potts was bustled off the ball by Chambers, for what looked like either a foul or Celtic throw. When Potts got neither, he dropped the ball he was holding and kicked it at Chambers. There is some debate about what Potts' intention was for the kick, but either way, the referee didn't hesitate, he showed Potts a straight, and ludicrous, red. For the second game in a row, Celtic finished with nine men.

Celtic's performance was tripped up by the loss of one player - Todd. With no defensive cover available, the entire team had to be reshuffled to cater for his loss. This left Droylsden a wide open gap to exploit and they did. Byrne had the run of the flank and used it to make a goal and score a goal. This is not a criticism of Bowman who is standing in well for missing fullbacks, but he is not a fullback, and this shows when a pacy winger goes up against him. Both the red cards were unjustified. Bowker's second yellow was not a yellow card, and Potts should have got at worst a yellow card.

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