Celtic needed to win this game, and instead of going for the jugular from the off, sat back and watched events unfold. Given the pacey nature of the opposition, the only surprise was the length of time it took for the Bloods to score.
Their main problem was accuracy. Cameron ad got into a good position, and pulled the ball back to Talbot, dead centre, edge of the box, no marker, and he put the ball over the bar. Banim put the ball through for Brodie, who shot on entering the box, got a deflection off Wharton that put it on target and made a simple catch for Robinson.
Celtic were really just passengers for the opening period, with the only glimmer coming from Wilford who waved his long legs around the ball before whipping in a cross that rapidly turned into a shot as it almost crept in the near corner, but Phillips read it well and plucked it out of the air. But that was just a moment in a Droylsden rampage during the first half.
Keeling had to slide tackle in the box to deny Banim at the expense of a corner, and Brodie's lofted ball into the box had everybody flat footed, except Keeling whose head conceded the corner. Both corners were cleared easily. Unable to breach the defence, Morris tried from distance but Robinson had plenty of time to watch it and make the simple catch. Warner was watched as he came in from the wing. Nobody challenged him and he kept coming, eventually deciding to have a shot, but it flashed across the face and out.
Morris went to ground with remarkable alacrity under pressure from Bonsall, about forty yards out, dead centre. The free kick had a wicked bend around the wall, Robinson was on his way over, but Sykes deflected it to the back post. Robinson had to readjust and get across, couldn't make it, but Talbot could, and he put his studs on the ball to divert it into the net.
It should have been two when Banim got the better of Sykes and put a great cross in for Murphy, but his header was over the bar from close range.
Celtic were trying to get into the game, and Wharton put a good cross into the box, Hayward got his head on it, ahead of Halford, but couldn't get any power, and Phillips had an easy catch. Wharton raced up the wing with Banim for company. Banim had hold of Wharton's waistband, when eventually he let go, he chose instead to slide in from the back, and earned a yellow card. The free kick was cleared, but it was more promising. Hayward and Wilford then interchanged, with Wilford getting enough space for a shot, but Halford's unwitting backside took the sting out of the shot. Hayward again laid the ball off to Wilford as Celtic continued to find ways around the Droylsden defence, but Wilford's shot curled over the bar.
Celtic went into the dressing room only a goal down, and looking stronger towards the end of the first half. Coming out of the dressing room, it was again Droylsden who were the stronger, and again Celtic continued to watch. Right from the off, Banim jinked his way around Keeling and snapped off a shot that went wide. The defence conceded a couple of corners, before Parr tangled with Banim in the centre circle. Morris' free kick was a tricky one, and it took two attempts from Robinson to claim the ball.
Seeing the struggle Robinson had with the first floater, when Parr took out Talbot in the centre circle, Morris floated in another. Robinson caught, but dropped the ball, Banim was on hand to stab home the loose ball, and Celtic had gifted Droylsden a two-goal lead.
Still there was lethargy about Celtic's performance. Wharton did try a shot from thirty-five yards, it may have caused Phillips problems had it been on target, but it was wide. Parton got his head on a Black cross, but again it was too soft, and Phillips caught.
Droylsden nipped the Celtic pressure in the bud through Talbot, whose mazy run forced Keeling into conceding a corner that Robinson punched for a second corner. Halford interfered with Robinson on the corner, got a cut ear and a foul against him. Parr got the yellow card he'd been working towards when he slid through Murphy in the centre circle.
Why Droylsden didn't again loft the ball into the box was a mystery, instead it was played for possession, Bonsall stole it and advanced on goal, to be fouled by Halford, who had to leave the field during the free kick because of the blood down the side of his head. Celtic couldn't make the man advantage count.
Celtic were handed a lifeline when Halford, back on the field made a stunning two handed save just inside the box from Bonsall's low shot. Wilford looked nervous stepping up, his body language was wrong, and he put the ball over the bar. Morris continued to harangue the ref who shut him up with a booking.
It could have gone even worse for Celtic when Shepherd stepped across Brodie twenty-five yards out, conceding a free kick. Morris' free kick was, fortunately, a comfortable catch for Robinson.
Wilford laid the ball into the path of substitute Steve Smith who produced a screamer of a shot, Celtic's first real effort, with fifteen minutes remaining. Phillips was still awake, and made a cracking save. Celtic were finally stepping up through the gears, but it was too little too late. Parton made a darting run, but was tripped by substitute Lee; Shepherd's free kick was good, but not good enough to beat Phillips.
Celtic were getting about Droylsden and worrying them, though. The pressure told quickly, with Steve Smith surging into the box, dropping the ball to Parton who slipped it past Phillips and into the back of the net. That set the game up for the last ten minutes.
Droylsden had other ideas. Fitzpatrick ran into Bonsall on the halfway line, and as Black was about to take the free kick Fitzpatrick picked the ball up so Black swung at nothing, which was just plain stupid, and he should have picked up a needless booking, but he didn't.
Celtic should have equalised with five minutes to go, when Ben Smith's cross zipped through the six-yard box. Parton couldn't get his foot on it, so kept it in and pulled it back. Still up from a free kick, Bowker lashed at the ball, and it went between his legs. Bonsall came in, but Burke cleared with a long hoof. Celtic were suddenly short at the back, with just Keeling and Robinson, as the ball came in, they left it for each other, Talbot nipped in, one-on-one with Robinson he made no mistake and restored the two goal cushion with no time left for a Celtic comeback.
To be fair, such a come back would have robbed the points off our Tameside neighbours who were the better team on the day. The disparity in performance between the game on Tuesday against Accrington and the game against Droylsden was remarkable. Celtic now have to beat Kettering on Tuesday night if they are to avoid the drop.