Ashton Pitch Inspection @ 5pm
Match Report -
Thierry Bowker!
By Debbie Taylor

After going in one up at half time, Lancaster obviously thought that they could sit back and contain Celtic. However, Celtic had other ideas and battered the Lancaster goal in the last fifteen minutes, earning extra time in which there was only one likely candidate.

Lancaster were obviously going for an early goal, and despite Celtic kicking off, Dawes found some space with the ball at his feet inside the first minute. His shot from distance was a right cracker, and required an equally cracking save from Priestley. Shortly after, Sullivan rounded Whealing and whipped in a cross for Thomson that required a timely interception from Keeling conceding the corner. The corner was cleared as far as Moogan, whose lob to the back post required a palm over the bar from Priestley conceding a second corner. Priestley punched the second corner clear.

A big gap opened in the Celtic defence as each left the ball for the other allowing the powerful Thomson to advance on the Celtic goal. Fortunately, his shot from just outside the box was over the bar.

Lancaster didn’t get it all their own way, and a superbly weighted pass from Bonsall set Calcutt on his way. A reverse pass to Hayward allowed him to lob the ball over to Steve Smith, whose first touch let him down in the six yard box, allowing McMahon to get across and clear. More good work from Bonsall allowed him to turn his marker and fire off a low shot that Speare in the Lancaster nets did well to get across and push around the post. The corner was cleared as far as Bowker who laid off Sykes just outside the box. Sykes’ shot was powerful and required another good stop from Speare to push the ball around the post. The corner was easily cleared by McMahon. Calcutt charged down Scott blocking his clearance. The loose ball fell to Hayward, but his header lacked power and Speare caught easily.

A lax pass from Parr allowed Thomson to latch onto the loose ball and race towards goal with Bowker trailing. Priestley advanced and Thomson squared the ball to Sullivan sprinting into the box. Priestley tried to readjust but couldn’t get far enough across as the ex-Celt side-footed the ball into the back of the net.

Celtic responded immediately, with Calcutt forcing a corner out of Scott. Sykes got his head on the quickly taken corner, but directed it wide of the mark. Calcutt chased a hopeless looking ball and won a corner out of Elderton, but it was wasted.

Sullivan went looking for his second, and turned Bowman in order to fire off a shot that cleared the bar. Lancaster soon got it back, and Dawes’ shot from outside the box took half a dozen deflections on its way to being a corner. Keeling cleared. Thomson used his physical strength to take on the Celtic defence, shrugged off the attentions of Bowman and fired off his shot, but again, he cleared the bar.

The Duracell powered Steve Smith was clumsily challenged by Sparrow thirty yard from goal. Calcutt received the shot ball and his cross was cut out by McMahon for a corner. Scott cleared, and moments later, Whealing was forced to concede a corner at the other end. The corner was punched unconvincingly by Priestley putting the ball into the danger area. Parr blocked Dawes’ stab at goal, and Keeling responded quickest to the loose ball hacking it away.

With the half time whistle approaching, Celtic worked another half-chance; Steve Smith finding enough space to blast the ball goal-ward. Jones blocked with the ball falling to Sykes, his low shot stuck in the mud and McMahon cleared.

Lancaster could have gone into the dressing room with a two goal lead, but for Priestley. After Bowker conceded a corner, it took a smart block from the Celtic keeper to deny Dawes, and Bowker’s clearance fell to McMahon. Priestley was again called into action to palm McMahon’s powerful shot around the post. As Priestley caught the ball, the referee called half time.

Lancaster came out of the dressing room with the intention of reaching the end of the game 1-0. Celtic had other ideas. Inside the first minute, Calcutt won a corner off Scott, but again, Celtic lacked a killer corner and Moogan cleared. Lancaster were sitting so far back that it allowed Keeling to go on a run right to the edge of the Lancaster box where Thomson shoved him over. From the free kick Celtic got the ball in the back of the net. Whealing’s lofted ball was chased by Keeling who back-heeled to Hayward, a side foot finish and the goal was called offside.

Bowker took his turn at altitude, taking the ball almost to the corner flag before cutting the ball back to Hayward who tried the instant shot straight at Speare. Speare was called into action again moments later when Calcutt cut inside and tricked his way to the edge of the box, leaving bamboozled defenders in his wake. He had options on, but went for the shot, and it was a good one, but Speare was equal to the task, making the save.

With Calcutt’s match fitness still not at 100%, he was replaced by Smith with 20 minutes left on the clock. His first touch was to set Sykes off on a run, which he obliged in, turning Sparrow and firing off a shot from an acute angle that narrowly cleared the bar. Sykes again found himself with the ball just outside the box, McMahon tangled with him, eventually falling over and grasping Sykes legs sending the Celtic man sprawling, but the free kick was poor. Hayward kept the pressure up, winning a corner off McMahon as Lancaster looked increasingly shaky. The corner was cleared as far as Parr. Parr lobbed the ball to the edge of the six-yard box. Speare came to claim, but misjudged the bounce. Sykes and Hayward, McMahon and Scott all converged on the ball as Speare was stranded, but Sykes got his foot on the ball triumphantly poking it into the back of the net to equalise the scores.

Lancaster needed to reorganise, and they did so. Thomson was fed by Jones to run at the Celtic defence. He held off Bowker long enough to snap off a shot, which smacked into the side netting, much to the disbelief of Phil Wilson who leapt off the bench, only to sit down subdued.

With extra time looming, Sullivan and Keeling clashed about thirty yards from the Celtic goal, but Lancaster wasted their last chance, and extra time was the order of the day.

Bowman was replaced by Caldecott at the start of extra time, and Celtic continued to play in the same vein as they had in the second half. Hayward tried to jink his way past Elderton, who brought him down forty yards from goal. The free kick was taken short to Steve Smith. Steve Smith raced into the box, holding off the attentions of Sparrow, he lobbed the ball over the stranded Speare to Hayward coming in at the back post completely unmarked and Celtic’s striker smashed the ball into the back of the net: advantage Celtic.

Then came a moment of magic from Thierry Bowker! Ben Smith raced up the wing, with Bowker over lapping. As Scott came across to catch Bowker, Smith lofted the ball down the line. Forty yards from goal, at quite an acute angle, with the ball coming over his shoulder, Bowker volleyed the ball in a long lob over the top of Speare and into the back of the net to put clear water between the two sides.

Lancaster looked rocky, but this is a Phil Wilson team, and Jones squared the ball off to substitute Prince, who raced through the Celtic back line to go one-on-one with Priestley. Priestley was off his line very quickly and smothered the ball at the feet of Prince.

Celtic could have increased the lead even more when Parr nodded down Ben Smith’s cross into the path of Hayward. Hayward took a touch to bring it under control and take the ball past McMahon and fire off an excellent shot producing an excellent save from Speare right at the end of the first period of extra time.

Lancaster came out of the blocks quickly, and Keeling was forced to concede a corner inside the first minute stopping Prince. Priestley palmed the ball only as far as Prince who knocked the ball out to Clarke some thirty yards from goal. He struck an instant shot through a crowd of players; Priestley saw it late and couldn’t reach it as the ball rocketed into the corner of the net to reduce the deficit back to one goal, setting up an interesting last fifteen minutes. Lancaster should have equalised when Sparrow’s ball over the top of the defence allowed Thomson to run one-on-one with Priestley. He knocked the ball slightly too far ahead of himself, and Priestley smothered at the edge of his box.

Caldecott attempted to put back the two goal cushion with a great run at the Lancaster defence ending with a good shot that drifted wide of the far post. Having run his legs into the ground, Whealing was replaced by Adam Jones. Jones, despite only having ten minutes, Jones did really well with endless running and some intelligent headers. One such header put Ben Smith off on a run at the Lancaster defence, he made enough space for a shot, and Speare had to make a sharp stop, and then an even sharper push around the post as the rebound struck Sparrow and headed back towards goal.

The corner was wasted, but Bonsall restored the two goal cushion when he retrieved the ball in the middle of the park beat McMahon with a lovely piece of skill, burst between Elderton and Scott to go one-on-one with Speare. Bonsall made no mistake with a perfectly placed shot beyond the outstretched palm of Speare.

Celtic looked confident and relaxed. The two Smiths interchanged, with Steve having a shot from thirty yards out that stung the palms of Lancaster’s keeper. Their confidence could have been their undoing as Thomson rounded Priestley and tried to run the ball into the net, only for Sykes to nip in and take the ball along the goal line before clearing it, but there was only seconds left on the clock anyway, and as the ball crossed the half way line, the referee blew for full time, and once again, Celtic had come back from behind to advance to the next round.

Elsewhere, Bradford had beaten Harrogate to set up a bottom of the league clash next Tuesday, for the chance to meet Halifax in the third round.

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