Match Report -
Lancaster were gifted two goals
By Debbie Taylor

A single lapse from captain Parr cost Celtic the three points that two wonder-strikes from home debutant Sykes had earned.

Lancaster started the game the stronger of the two sides, with Celtic under the cosh somewhat. A long punt downfield from Scott was taken down well by Thomson, but his shot from outside the box was an easy catch for Dootson. It was a warning that Lancaster weren't going to sit for a 0-0 draw, but try and catch Celtic on the break.

If Sykes had taken the shot, rather than choose the path, after holding off Sparrow long enough to make some space, things might have been different, however, he put the ball into the path of Hayward (behind the ball the whole time), and Hayward was apparently off-side.

This was to cost Celtic dear, as Whealing conceded a corner down the far end, and Jones was left with enough space on the near post to simply head the ball into the back of the net. Celtic were rocked, and Wharton's frustration resulted in a free kick some 40 yards out. It was taken short to Bauress who thundered a shot from distance, well wide.

Celtic began to get a toe hold in the game, and Monk put a good ball through the danger area, but under pressure from Murphy, Eastwood spooned the shot wide. Celtic came straight back and Whealing won a corner off Sullivan. It was half cleared, and Sparrow pushed it out of the box with his forearm, but it was missed by the officials, and Monk spun the ball back into the box, Parr couldn't get a good contact on the header as Murphy was pulling him out of the air, and the ball went wide.

The rest of the half was much more even, and Lancaster got the next shot, with Prince putting a low cross into the box that Dootson pushed around the post for a corner, and Parr cleared.

Smith brought the ball up the field and put a great cross in for Parr, now at the other end, Speare in the Lancaster nets collided with Parr as Parr headed the ball wide, injuring his arm. He would later be taken off as a time wasting exercise to ensure Lancaster went in at half time on level terms.

Eastwood beat his marker and put a ball through the six yard box to an onside and unmarked Hayward. Hayward struck the ball immediately, and only a deflection from Scott put the ball past the wrong side of the post. The corner was cleared as far as Smith, but his ball back in went for a goal kick.

Sykes was beginning to dominate the midfield, and he worked some space some distance from goal and had a shot, but it was wide. Both keepers then had a spell of picking up crosses on the feet of attackers before Clark lost out to Eastwood. Eastwood picked out Sykes stood at the edge of the box; he took one touch and then struck a wonder shot into the top corner with Speare unable to get close to it.

Celtic dominated the closing period of the half, with Keeling getting forward and having a shot. It took a deflection that almost put it beyond Speare's reach. The ex-Accrington keeper stretched a little more and pushed the ball around the post. The corner was hacked clear by Clark, and Scott handled the resulting throw just outside the box, but the free kick was also hacked clear, but Wharton picked it up, robbing Zico-Black on the half-way line. He ran straight back at Speare, but when his shot came, it was disappointingly right into Speare's midriff.

In an attempt to whittle down the time remaining, Speare was substituted a minute before the end of the half, and young Yeomans came on.

Celtic started the second half in the same frame of mind as they had ended the first. Parr burst past Sparrow and was about to go into the box when Sparrow brought Parr cynically down. If there had not been a defender stood on the edge of the box, Sparrow would have been dismissed, as it was a great goal scoring chance had been replaced with a good position for a free kick. Hayward took it, and put the ball narrowly over the crossbar.

Hayward got even closer moments later when Wharton drove down the field holding off Sullivan. His cross to the far post was delivered perfectly, Hayward dived in, and somehow the ball went the wrong side of the post. It was obviously not going to be Hayward's night. He may have done better off German's pin-point cross, but was unable to get a good contact on the ball due to Murphy's bear hug that went unnoticed.

Celtic finally took the lead through Sykes. He dazzled two defenders to make enough space for a beautiful curling shot into the top corner that left stand in keeper Yeomans unable to reach it.

Celtic continued to press, looking for the goal that would make it safe. Smith put a great cross in for Monk, but Sparrow was there to head narrowly past his own post. Hayward again got a significant tug from Murphy, and again missed the target. Murphy's tugging was noticed moments later when he did it on Monk, outside the area, unfortunately; Whealing's free kick was a good one, but good positioning from the Dollies' keeper allowed him to catch comfortably.

Yeomans again got an easier catch than he should have had when Eastwood made some space at the edge of the area, only to put his shot right into Yeomans' midriff.

The longer it went without Celtic getting their comfort goal, the more Lancaster looked back in the game. Thomson tried his luck from outside the area, Dootson couldn't catch the spinning ball, and German had to tidy up ahead of the lurking Zico-Black. This culminated when Parr made a mistake in the middle of the park allowing Thomson to take the ball to cheaply and run at goal. Dootson made a great initial save from the thunderous shot, but substitute Dawes was sprinting down the wing, and whipped the ball back into the box before Whealing could reach it and clear. There was a press of bodies in the box, with Zico-Black pushing the ball towards goal, German hacked it clear, the referee thought it was not over the line, the linesman disagreed and the referee bowed to his superior positioning, giving the goal.

Now it was Celtic's turn to defend. Prince cut inside German and fed the ball back to Dawes who powered a shot wide of the upright. Smith fouled Bauress forty-yards from goal, and the free kick was put right into the mixing pot. Celtic scrambled it around, blocking shots on goal, and it took a good diving parry from Dootson through a crowd to deny Thomson his share of the goals.

Both sides had a chance to win it right at the death. First Thomson found a bit of space just outside the box, but his shot was weak and straight at Dootson. Eastwood then repeated the trick at the edge of the Lancaster box.

Celtic's shooting was not the best in this game, with a lot of people missing the target, or not getting any venom in their shots. The defence did very well, though the second bundled goal was a catalogue of errors from Parr's initial mistake to the inability to clear it, and the first goal was a schoolboy training ground goal from Jones. Set pieces really do have to force the opposition into something more inventive than a near