Match Report -
Robbed by the ref
By Debbie Taylor

In a game of two solid defences, chances were few and far between – but the best chance was thwarted by the referee who denied Celtic a clear-cut penalty.

Celtic's crossing throughout the game was excellent, and German initiated the trend with a fine cross that Parr met ahead of his marker, but thumped it wide of the mark.

At least Canvey's first chance was on target, as Berquez found some space off a throw to have a shot, but the channel available was narrow, and his shot was straight at Dootson. Berquez was involved with most of what the visitors created (not always positive), and beat German to get to the by line, he pulled the ball back for McDougald, but the Canvey striker put his shot well over the bar.

Though the Celtic defence was generally containing the Canvey front line, McDougald did manage to get the better of German with a beautiful turn, and put a low, hard shot towards the bottom corner. A smart save from Dootson turned the ball around for a corner, and then palmed away the corner to safety.

Celtic were giving as good as they were getting, but also getting frustrated by a defence on top form. A great opportunity came when Berquez unceremoniously shoved German off the ball some thirty-five yards from goal. The head of Pearce should have met Fitzgerald's well-flighted ball, but he was being held down, and it was just too high for Parr, so it went for a corner.

Boylan won a corner at the other end when he struck a powerful ball into a crowded box, only for it to take half a dozen ricochets before being given a sa corner, though how anybody could work out who it struck last is a mystery. The corner was beautifully taken, and struck firmly by McDougald a yard or so out. An instant reaction save from Dootson tipped the ball over the bar with an absolutely fantastic save. Celtic cleared the second corner.

Dootson wasn't the only keeper in top form either. A poor back pass from Ward left Potter racing out of the box to try and get to the ball ahead of Monk. He didn't make it, and Monk dummied the ball around him. As Potter raced back to his net, Monk whipped the ball across the face of the six-yard box for Mayers. Mayers stooped and got the slightest of glancing headers on the ball diverting it to Eastwood coming in at the back post. The ball was ever so slightly behind Eastwood, even so, he twisted his body around and smacked a powerful shot towards the bottom corner. Potter threw himself the last few yards and pulled off what can only be considered an outstanding save.

The corner was spread out to German who put a deep cross into the far post where Parr was waiting to nod home. Midgely steamed through and nodded the ball out for a second corner, which was cleared.

The game could have erupted just before the half time interval when Wharton clumsily bundled over Midgely. Midgely kicked the ball at Wharton, who retaliated with a shove. The referee let them off with a stern glance. The free kick was poor, but gave Canvey another chance moments before half time, when only he saw an infringement dead centre, thirty yards from goal. Boylan really miskicked the free kick. He got the ball around the wall, all right, but only because it nearly went for a throw in.

The second half started with huge controversy. Eastwood slid a super ball through for Wharton. Wharton raced into the box, one-on-one with Potter. Ward slid in from behind, the ball was a good yard ahead of Wharton so Ward clipped Wharton's feet nowhere near the ball, in the box with the referee perfectly positioned. Was it a clear-cut penalty? No, it was a goal kick. Soapbox time. If the referee felt that Ward had got the ball, it should have been a corner, it wasn't. If he felt that Wharton had dived, he should have given Wharton a yellow card. He did neither so the referee knew that it was a penalty, but did not give it. There were only three options, and the referee took none of them.

Celtic were getting nothing out of the referee. Duffy slid through Monk after the Celtic winger had beaten the defender for pace. A dangerous tackle from behind, and he did not even give Duffy a talking to. Though he did concede that it was a free kick just outside the box. The free kick was whipped in, Mayers nodded the ball at the near post, and it was a good save from the keeper to deny him, dropping faster than seemed possibly to get his body behind the ball.

Wharton was hacked at by Midgely and Berquez in the centre of the park, but somehow emerged with the ball. He had a wide-open space in front of him, Eastwood to his left and Monk to his right, with no defenders left between him and goal. One would have assumed that advantage was called for, but no, the referee decided to give the foul. Wharton then got shoved by Berquez, retaliated, and got a yellow card. Celtic were unable to do anything with the free kick, and then had to defend again, with Clegg heading over his own bar from Midgely's cross. Dootson punched the corner clear.

Clegg, at the other end, tackled Berquez and fed the ball to Monk. The Celtic winger pulled a great ball back for Eastwood. There were too many bodies in front of Eastwood so he pulled the ball even further back for Wharton stood twenty-five yards from goal. Wharton didn't hesitate, and unleashed a thunderous strike that was top corner all the way until Potter pulled off another astonishing save. Unfortunately, the corner was easily cleared.

More refereeing howlers followed. Eastwood hacked down by Theobald just outside the box. Despite being from behind and not getting the ball, this was not a foul, in fact, Eastwood had to be taken off and replaced by Heald, and it was still not a foul? It took Robinson getting a piggyback off Mayers before the referee even acknowledged that there might have been some contact, though the slightest of heavy breathing the other way was given. All I want in a referee is consistency.

Keeling got on the end of the free kick, but directed his header just wide.

Boylan proved that he doesn't even need half a chance to get a strike in. A quarter chance will do. He turned Keeling and shot from a hopeless looking angle, the ball dipped alarmingly as it passed over Dootson, but struck the crossbar.

As the time started running out, fresh legs would have been ideal; Smith for Monk (who looked shattered) could have nicked the game at the end for Celtic. As it was, Monk remained on to provide a great swerving cross was meant for Clegg running in, but Potter read the flight well and punched clear. Heald was soon pumping the ball back into the box, again stretching Potter, who caught the ball and kicked it down field where only Boylan and Pearce were stood. Boylan turned Pearce and easily outpaced him to go one-on-one with Dootson, but snatched at his shot as Pearce caught up with him, dragging it wide. With all the possession, chances and play that Celtic had pounded Canvey with in the second half, it would have been a travesty had Boylan scored.

Gooden collapsed as though shot as German brushed him, earning a free kick forty yards from goal. Celtic scrambled it clear and the referee decided that enough was enough and a replay would be required.

Canvey came into the game on the back of a huge unbeaten run, leading their league by 27 points. To stand a chance, Celtic had to be on top of their game, and they were, and for large periods of the game were by far and away the better team. I fully expect that Celtic can go on and win at Canvey – they just need to show the same kind of determination, belief and passion that they showed in the first match.

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