Celtic’s unbeaten run under John Reed continues apace, but a win, not a draw was what was required out of this match. Unfortunately, silly defensive errors cost Celtic dear allowing one of the league’s best marksman to increase his tally for the season. On the plus side, new loan-signing Parton looked the part, and got a brace on his debut.
Moor Green were far more up for the game than Celtic were, and shaded the performance. They were quick to tumble, and this was shown in the opening minute when Hall fell easily under the attentions of Calcutt on the half way line. Petty pumped the ball into the box for Bridgwater to leap for, which he did nodding the ball softly into Dootson’s arms.
A pass back to Rachel in the visiting nets saw him immediately pressured by new boy Parton. His kick out was terrible, landing for Bonsall on the half way line. With Rachel well out of position, Bonsall tried his luck, but his shot sailed over the bar. As quick as they were to tumble, they were also quick to scythe through players. First Wilford felt the full force of Collins, and then Calcutt was hacked down by English in full flight down the wing. Parton took down the free kick well and laid it into the path of Keeling. Keeling took two touches before sending his shot just over the bar.
Celtic’s back line was culpable all night for providing Dootson with poor back passes that left Dootson in a world of trouble. Sykes was the first culprit, and with Owen bearing down on him, Dootson had to react quickly, fortunately, he did.
Sykes was bundled over on the half way line by Bridgwater. The free kick was half cleared to Wharton. He made the space well but the shot was weak and easily cleared. Black was then unceremoniously pushed off the ball on the halfway line by Middleton, Celtic tried to take the free kick quickly, but Shepherd was caught in possession and tried to lay it back to Dootson. The Celtic number one had no chance of reaching it and Owen latched onto it, shooting first time, producing a fine save from Dootson to tip the ball around the post for a corner, which Moor Green wasted.
From a Calcutt cross, Parton teed up Bonsall just outside the box, it was powerful shot and Collins was brave putting his thigh in the way of it to charge the shot down and leave Collins limping for a few minutes. Parton was causing the visiting defence all kinds of trouble, and he again expertly brought down a Wilford flick on to put the ball into the path of Wharton. Wharton went for placement rather than power, and Rachel wouldn’t have reached it if it had gone under, rather than just over, the bar.
Calcutt was brought down in full flight by Follett some thirty yards out. The free kick was taken well, but Rachel read the flight of the ball well, and caught ahead of Wilford. When Calcutt did get past Follett’s flying tackles, he tried to curl a cross into the box, but Sanders was on hand to nod the ball out for a corner. Wilford nodded the ball to Shepherd, but his shot was blocked by Sanders.
Moor Green were taking advantage of the nervy defending by Celtic, and when Sykes failed to connect with his clearance, Bridgwater was able to steal it and feed it to Trainer, who struck a first time shot from a narrow angle, and Dootson had to tip it over the bar. Celtic just couldn’t clear the corner; eventually the ball fell to Middleton who rifled the ball into the bottom corner to give the visitors the lead.
From the kick off Celtic moved the ball swiftly towards the penalty box, with Wilford dropping the ball off to Whealing. He lofted the ball into the box for Wharton, but Sanders charged his shot down. Parton showed a fair turn of speed to out-pace the visiting defence as he powered towards goal. He was forced wide, but laid the ball through the six yard box with a superb low pass. Calcutt and Follett both arrived at the far post, Calcutt slid and tried to divert the ball into the net, but Follett slid also, blocking the shot and putting it out for a corner. The near post corner was easily cleared.
The referee indicated two minutes of stoppages, but less than thirty seconds into the stoppages when Calcutt was fouled just inside the Moor Green half, the referee blew for the interval.
The second half started with Celtic attacking the firmer end. Parton used the better footing to streak past Sanders and try and lift a cross for Wilford arriving at the back post. English put himself in the way, conceding the corner. Collins cleared with a powerful header.
Moor Green didn’t look particularly anxious to go looking for a second goal, but Shepherd dwelled on the ball too long allowing Trainer to nick the ball and lift the ball to Bridgwater. The instant shot was just over the bar.
Celtic finally made the possession tell when Bonsall slid the ball through the defence for Parton to run onto. Collins tried to hold him back before he reached the box, but Parton shrugged him off, went one-on-one with Rachel and slotted the equaliser home.
The Celtic defence seemed intent on throwing the game away, and another poor back pass stuck in the glue-pot. Dootson had to race a long way out of his box, he blocked Bridgwater’s shot, but the ball fell kindly for Middleton not much in Celtic’s half. He tried the instant shot, and though Whealing went back to cover, he just wasn’t tall enough to prevent Middleton from grabbing his second.
Celtic then had a perfectly good penalty shout turned down. Wilford held Sanders off long enough to feed the ball out to Whealing. Whealing struck a superb shot, and Collins made a double handed save two feed inside the box and though the referee had a perfect view of it, he denied Celtic the penalty shout. Wharton picked up the loose ball, and his shot went over the bar.
Petty shoved Bonsall off the ball just inside the Moor Green half, but Celtic wasted the free kick initially, but Black soon lifted the ball over the top for Wilford. Wilford nodded it down for Ben Smith (on for the injured Calcutt), he fed the ball through a forest of legs and Parton drove the ball past the helpless Rachel with his shin. Ben Smith tried to continue the pressure and crossed the ball to Wilford. Wilford made enough space to turn and shoot, but Rachel was well positioned and made a comfortable catch.
Dootson squared a back pass to Black; he joined the other three defenders in putting in a poor back pass back to Dootson. Dowdall ran onto the loose ball to go one-on-one with Dootson, and the Celtic number one had to be brave collecting the ball off his feet. Ben Smith was doing a lot of work up and down the right hand side, and tracked Dowdall a couple of times, conceding corners as the Moor Green man tried to cross. The first was wasted, but the second fell to Martin, whose header required a top-notch save by Dootson tipping the ball over the bar. The near post corner was headed back to the corner taker by Black, and Sykes cleared properly off the ball back in.
Steve Smith was brought on for Keeling and had an immediate impact, driving through the visiting midfield and being upended thirty-five yards from goal by Petty. Wilford put his head on the free kick, sending spinning wide. Celtic were aiming to repeat the win at Ashton three days earlier with a late goal, and Ben Smith danced along the edge of the box before firing in a powerful shot, narrowly wide with Rachel nowhere near it. As the time was running out, Steve Smith went on another power run, this time it was ended by Trainer with a stupidly dangerous challenge on the half way line. There was no card and no penetration from the free kick.
Trainer went on a run of his own as the game drew to a close. He took an initial shot that Shepherd blocked, and when it fell to Middleton it took a last ditch sliding tackle from Sykes near the post to deny Middleton his hat trick. The corner was awful and as Celtic broke the whistle blew for yet another home draw.
Home draws are not enough to pull Celtic out of the relegation zone, especially with Vauxhall hammering Hinckley (at Hinckley) making the gap between ourselves and safety now six points. We need wins, and with some very tricky fixtures coming up against teams who don’t miss the guilt edge chances the Celtic defence seem intent on setting up, wins become even more vital.