Celtic gained their first away victory of the season, and in the process, took six points off Vauxhall Motors, edged closer to safety and produced a game with a little bit of controversy. As usual.
Keeling had been pushed into midfield, partnering Parr in the first half, and later Sykes, and had a solid game. Adams, who also had a good game, took up his role at the back. Within the opening minute Keeling was fouled on the half way line by Porter. Wharton's free kick caught the wind and evaded everyone except Dittmer in the home goals.
Hayward won a corner off Woodyatt, as Celtic played with the wind at their back and dominated the early play. The corner was short and easily cleared, but Wharton won it back and won a second corner off Lawton. This caught the wind, and curled out of play. A long throw from Whealing was flicked from the edge of the box to Parr steaming in, but he couldn't get any power on the header, though the positioning was excellent, forcing Dittmer into a scrambling save.
Vauxhall got a sniff of a chance when Cuminskey's cross for Wright was cut out by Priestley, but their best chance came when Whealing's clearance got hit by a strong gust, performed a banana and zipped narrowly over his own crossbar. Adams cleared the initial corner, but Porter put it back in, and Celtic had to scramble it clear. Adams fouled Wright, just outside the box, as Vauxhall increasingly got the measure of the game. The free kick was poor, striking Whealing and going for a corner. Keeling cleared, and as Hadland took it across the half way line, Lawton scythed him down from behind, earning a talking to, nothing more.
With the defence so solid, Lawton tried his luck from distance, but misjudged the conditions, and sent the shot sailing over the bar. Wright then pulled the ball back for Olsen, thirty yards from goal; he too misjudged the conditions and sent the shot sailing over the bar.
Celtic were still making the Vauxhall defence work at the other end, and Hayward won a corner out of Woodyatt. The ball fell into the mixing pot, and caused a lot of problems for the home defence, but ultimately, they scrambled it clear. Hadland's constant running worked him an opening at the edge of the box, and his shot forced a good stop out of Dittmer which he parried initially, before smothering as Hayward steamed in.
Parr was substituted for a nosebleed that wouldn't stop bleeding, and Steve Smith came on and had an immediate impact. He harried the Motor's midfield, and won a throw level with the penalty box. From the throw Hayward flicked it beautifully across the penalty area to Wharton who made no mistake with a stunning volley to cap off a good performance from the midfielder.
As the half was running down, Vauxhall tried to up the pressure, and won a corner off German, but nobody could get anything on the wind whipped ball as it sailed through the box and out the other side. Cuminskey then tried his luck from distance, but misjudged the wind, and saw it sail well wide.
But it was Celtic that finished on the up, with Hadland chasing down a lost cause and winning a corner with seconds left on the clock. The ball was cleared, and Celtic went into the dressing room with a slender lead for the first time in a long time.
The second half started with a lapse in Celtic's concentration. German was suddenly the only outfield player between Cuminskey and Lawton and the Celtic goal, as the home side countered leaving the defence stranded near the halfway line. Cuminskey bore down on goal, German went to challenge him, and he slid the ball through to Wright who slotted it past Priestley who stood no chance.
Rattled Celtic immediately conceded a corner as Steve Smith tussled with McDermott by the corner flag. It looked like Celtic were about to collapse. Adams had other ideas, stood tall and put the ball out for a second corner. Celtic cleared the corner and Hadland and Hayward countered with the Vauxhall defence all still in Celtic's box. Hadland drew Spell man towards him, threaded the ball into the box, Hayward timed his run perfectly, staying behind the ball the whole time. Dittmer made himself big, but Hayward slotted the ball past him for a mirror image of Vauxhall's equaliser. As the ball bulged the net, the linesman raised his flag for offside. Even the referee was mystified, but he cancelled the goal. When you are at the bottom, all the decisions seem to go against you.
Again Vauxhall took advantage of a rocked Celtic, and won a corner off German. Priestley punched it for a second corner that Adams then Bowker cleared. Wharton took it down the other end, and won a corner off Spellman. The corner was excellent, Bowker's header cleared off the line by Woodyatt, still in play it fell to Hadland whose shot was blocked by Spellman on the line coming out to Wharton. Wharton lifted the ball to the back post where Adams' nearly made it two out of two when his header clipped the post and rebounded out of play.
This buoyed Celtic, and there was a belief about their play again. Wharton's tireless work earned him an opening for a cross past McDermott, but Spellman's head put it out for a corner. The corner was knocked back to Wharton who put in a better cross for Hayward at the back post, but his powerful header went just wide of the mark.
Spellman was getting increasingly frustrated; he'd already locked horns with Bowker from a corner (unseen), and then slid in dangerously on Hadland in the centre circle. Celtic couldn't convert the free kick, and almost immediately conceded one of their own, just inside the Celtic half. The free kick from the home side was better and Wright's flick struck the post before Whealing stuck it out for a corner. Adams then had to make a last ditch tackle as Cuminskey powered into the box. The corner was cleared, but when the ball bounced into Wharton's armpit just outside the box, Vauxhall got another chance from a soft free kick. Before the free kick could be taken, Spellman was substituted for Griffiths before an official spotted his antics and he was red carded. Wharton cleared the free kick easily.
Sykes replaced Bonsall about half way into the half, and Keeling and Sykes formed an immediate pairing. Celtic looked stronger, and Vauxhall were put on the back foot. When Hayward raced onto Keeling's through ball and had his shirt tugged by Lawton, it looked innocuous, but the referee made up for his fellow official's lack of knowledge of the offside rule by awarding Celtic the softest penalty in a long time. Wharton stepped up and sent Dittmer the wrong way.
It took a good save from Priestley moments later to keep the scores as they were, as Wright latched onto a Cuminskey cross and shot on the turn. Adams cleared the resulting corner. Priestley almost undid that good save when a poor kick out landed at the feet of Cuminskey, but his shot was whipped well wide. However, he made amends when Wright's powerful shot from an acute angle was well saved, punching it onto the post.
The best save of the day goes to Dittmer though. A long Whealing throw was flicked by Hayward into the path of Steve Smith. Smith's bicycle volley was powerful and required an outstanding save from the Vauxhall keeper. A stronger shout for a penalty came as Hayward raced onto a Sykes through ball into the box, as he swung at it Brazier shoved him blatantly in the back forcing him to miss the ball with his shot and allow Dittmer to scoop up. Moments later Dittmer got away with murder when a back pass from McDermott allowed Hadland to put him under pressure. His clearance was miscued sending it high into the air. Hadland came into challenge and Dittmer punched it clear. Back-pass? Certainly: right on the edge of the six-yard box.
Adams fouled substitute O'Donnell about forty yards from goal. The clearance wasn't a good one from Adams, falling to Wright who tried the overhead; Priestley did very well diving to his left to catch the ball.
Again Hayward came close to putting clear water between the two teams when Celtic's top scorer met Hadland's cross on the turn, but his volley was an inch wide of the mark. Hayward did better moments later after Woodyatt fouled Wharton on the half way line and the free kick was floated into the box. Dittmer came through a crowd and palmed away, Glendenning's sliced clearance under pressure from Hadland fell to Hayward who side footed it into the back of the net. Again, the linesman mysteriously found Hayward offside. Again, he'd been behind the ball the whole time, and this time also behind Dittmer and Glendenning! Hayward was incensed and earned a yellow card for giving the linesman instruction in the offside rule.
As the game went into the final few minutes, Vauxhall were getting desperate for an equaliser. Adams tackled O'Donnell mid-run, leaving O'Donnell still running, but without the ball. Adam's passed the ball out to Whealing and then got scythed down with a two-footed challenge from behind by the frustrated O'Donnell. The referee had no choice, a late, two-footed, dangerous tackle from behind was worth four red-cards, but only one can be given and it was.
Celtic took advantage of the extra man to hold the ball in the corners. Lawton fouled first Wharton and then Hadland in these positions, allowing Celtic to keep the ball as stoppage time ran down. In the end nearly five minutes were added, but Celtic held on to record the first away victory of the campaign. And well deserved it was too.