Match Report -
Victory tarnished by Denham injury
By Debbie Taylor

Celtic completed a fourth consecutive win with a cracking game that was tarnished by yet another serious injury, this time to Chris Denham, who suffered from a suspected broken leg, and had to be stretchered from the field and taken to hospital.

The first half was very even with the ball moving from end to end at great speed. Frickley won a corner in the first minute, but wasted it, allowing Celtic to break, with Eastwood (back himself from a cartilage operation) getting onto the end of it, and flicking the ball across to Hayward, but Hood in the visitor's nets intercepted it. Eastwood was busy, and moments later found Caldecott, the fullback's cross was straight through the six-yard box, but Denham couldn't quite reach it, and it went for a goal kick.

Denham's persistence won a corner off Fawcus that Wharton spread out to German. German's cross in was good, but Frickley managed to get it clear. The game moved back to the Celtic end with Frickley putting together some good passing moves. Robinson found some space some distance from the Celtic goal, but had a shot anyway, straight at Ralph.

Bonsall and Eastwood interchanged to put the latter into a good position at the edge of the box, but his snap shot was over the bar. Celtic were playing some very attractive football, with Denham the main threat, and it was he who won a corner off Fawcus. This time Wharton put the ball into the box, but it was cleared too easily, and Smith went on a long run towards the Celtic goal. Bonsall's timely intervention just inside the box conceded the corner. The corner was a good one, and the Celtic defence had to block two shots before it fell to Lafferty, but his shot was well wide of the mark.

Sheriffe apparently fouled Parr on the halfway line, it didn't appear to be a foul, and Hood caught the free kick anyway. The game moved once more back into Frickley's favour and German had to block Smith's shot at the expense of a corner. The corner was wasted, and it allowed Celtic to take the initiative again. Bonsall freed Hayward with a threaded pass. Hayward turned superbly to lose his man, and found Denham at the corner of the box. Denham rode a bit of luck as Fawcus missed his clearance granting Denham the little bit of space he needed to shoot. Hood got down well, but the ball slipped under his body, clipped his arm and rolled into the back of the net.

Bowker fouled Morris about thirty yards from goal, but the free kick from Smith was poor and wide. Celtic again rode their luck moments later when both Morris and Smith broke the offside trap and bore down on Ralph's goal. Ralph came a long way from his box and sliced his clearance. Morris tried the snap shot, but Keeling had run towards the goal, and cleared off the line. Frickley pressed for an equaliser, and Morris provided a great cross through the six-yard box for Smith, but Smith didn't quite have the reach to get on the end of the cross.

Once again, this seesawing first half tipped back into Celtic's favour. Denham outraced Fawcus leaving the Frickley fullback chasing shadows; one-on-one with Hood Denham unleashed a powerful drive that Hood did very well to tip over the bar. Hood punched the corner as far as Eastwood. Eastwood drew back his foot and shot – wide.

Denham was easily getting the better of Fawcus in every encounter, and when Denham turned him, Fawcus pulled Denham back. Wharton's free kick was superb, curling low around the wall. Hood got across well and parried the shot right into Denham's path, who had followed the cross in, it looked to be a certain goal as Denham struck it, but it went across the face of goal and narrowly out for a goal kick.

Frickley once again regained control when Parr handballed, despite the ball hitting his chest. The free kick was wasted, but Keeling was then adjudged to have fouled Morris on the halfway line. German conceded a corner off the free kick. The corner fell to Morris, who turned Bowker really well to give himself a yard of space, but his shot was awful.

Wharton carried the ball to the opposition box, and drove a low shot that Rimmington blocked as far as Denham. Eastwood knocked Denham's powerful low cross goal-ward, and Hood knew nothing about the save he made. From the corner, Fawcus cleared Parr's thumping header off the line. Denham retrieved the clearance and spun a ball in for Hayward, but Hood was alert and punched clear before it could reach Hayward.

As the half began to run down, sublime play from Eastwood first of all won the ball at the half way line then to carry it past Pugh and knock in a ball for Denham that Fawcus had to knock out for a corner. The corner was cleared as far as Bonsall thirty yards from goal. The shot was thunderous, and had Parr been able to get out of the way, it would have burst the net. Parr's body block fell to Wharton, but he shot over the bar.

How the half ended 1-0 was a mystery.

Celtic continued to attack in the second half in the same vein with which they had ended the first. Denham beat the offside trap and pulled the ball back for Eastwood, the ball was behind Eastwood, and his turn and shot was over the bar. Pugh didn't do his defence any favours when his back header was too short for Hood to reach and Hayward raced onto it. Hayward got there first and tried to dink it over the keeper, but Hood made a good block. Hood could do nothing moments later when a free kick was spread out to German. German raced past Fawcus and put a great curling cross into the six-yard box, Hayward was there, and his flick header made it three goals in four appearances, grabbing Celtic's second.

Celtic then went on something of a rampage. Bonsall put a sublime ball through for Wharton cracking open the defence, Hood came out, but Wharton toe-poked it past him and into the corner of the net.

Frickley were three down, but continued to plug away, and Sheriffe found some space at the edge of the box, but wasted his shot putting it wide. Denham latched onto the goal kick, flicked it past Fawcus, then tried to lift the ball over Lafferty, there was no doubt in the referee's mind, Lafferty denied Denham with his hand, and conceded the penalty.

Eastwood took the penalty; Eastwood scored the penalty, sending Hood completely the wrong way.

Celtic were having a riot, and everything they tried seemed to be coming off. Hayward found some space for a cross, Parr's head met it, putting the ball low into the corner, and Hood scrambled across and smothered the ball. The Frickley keeper could do nothing when German carried the ball to the by-line whipped in a great cross, Eastwood leapt, and headed the ball past Hood's despairing fingers into the back of the net to complete the rout.

Still Celtic kept coming. Denham tried to cross from the wing, but Lafferty blocked for a corner. Hood claimed the corner well, however, he carried the ball outside the box before dropkicking it; he got away with it though.

Keeling and Hatto tangled in the Celtic box, inexplicably, the referee adjudged this to be an obstruction, and awarded an indirect free kick. Frickley took it quickly, and missed the target from a glorious opportunity.

Frickley didn't look like a team five goals down, and Smith won a corner off German, that Celtic comfortably cleared.

Then disaster.

Denham raced onto Robinson's back-pass; he was always second favourite to reach it, but Denham is Denham. He tried to turn as Hood hoofed the ball and collapsed in obvious agony clutching his ankle. After a couple of minutes of treatment on the field, Denham was stretchered to the changing room and later taken away in an ambulance with a suspected broken tibia. Denham had been the spearhead of Celtic's attacks, and the Celtic players looked a little more subdued when Monk replaced Denham.

Frickley tried to take advantage, and Keeling had to clear a free kick, and then concede a corner stopping Smith's run. Keeling cleared, but it wasn't long before Frickley were back, with Sheriffe latching onto Robinson's cross, shooting well wide of the mark.

Eastwood was left to do the chasing, and only back for one game, it looked like he wouldn't be up to the task, however, he did manage it once, pulling the ball back for Monk racing into the box, but Hood reacted well, beating Monk to the ball. Monk put Hayward through with a good threaded pass, Hood came to the edge of the box to smother, and it looked like his momentum had carried him out of the box, but nothing was given.

Celtic finished with a Caldecott cross that Hood palmed off the head off Hayward and just beyond the reach of Monk.

A five-nil victory should have been sweet, but the injury to Chris Denham has left a bad feeling of foreboding. Since Denham's return, Celtic have looked much more dangerous going forward, his irrepressible, all action performances galvanised the rest of the team. With him in the team, Celtic have scored twenty-two goals in the last ten matches, with Denham getting twelve goals in sixteen appearances. We can only hope that Hayward's presence can continue Celtic's current run of form and that Celtic can prove that they are not a one-man team, because Denham will not play again this season.

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