Match Report -
Celtic leave it late to finish the season on a high
By By Eerier Milk
After the roller coaster ride that was Stalybridge Celtic in the inaugural Nationwide Conference North, it seems ironic that Celtic's final game of the campaign, away to Redditch United, was in actual fact a microcosm of their whole season.

The Celtic fans had arrived in sunny Worcestershire, intent on providing a carnival atmosphere. Their ranks swelled by Badgers, Beech Balls, Drums, Mexicans and what appeared to be members of the 1970's disco group The Village People.

No doubt all those in attendance were in party mood, delighted in the knowledge that for their team, the result of the game was largely immaterial, the great escape having been completed.

It was thus no major concern then that the hosts were able to saunter into a 2 goal lead, courtesy of a close range header from Rory May and a excellently struck free kick from Simon Hollis, which left Craig Dootson beaten all ends up.

So 2-0 down and still the Celtic fans didn't seem to mind to much. Their Redditch counterparts seemingly intent on performing their own version of the Village People's classic hit YMCA, or rather the ?M? in appreciation of their teams efforts at having scored. Fortunately, they responded with good humour, and were gracious hosts, when the Celtic faithful did exactly the same as was of a riposte.

The comeback started with less than five minutes left on the clock, when Celtic were awarded what can only be called a dubious penalty. The cause of which, only the referee seemed to know at the time, but I believe it was attributed for tugging.

After, what seemed a eternity, Nathan Wharton stepped up to take the spot kick and perhaps he had been slightly put off by the furore that was the aftermath of the decision, as he saw his spot kick saved. Fortunately for Celtic fans, he was best placed to slot home the resulting rebound.

To the delight of the travelling contingent Celtic then forced, what at one point, had seemed a unlikely draw when Paul Sykes headed a free kick back across the face of goal, Nathan Wharton's goal bound shot being diverted over the line by Andy Hayward, with just a suspicion of offside in the process.

The theme tune to The Great Escape, that seems to have Celtic's anthem was complete deep into injury time, when Nathan Wharton lashed a unstoppable shot past the stranded Redditch keeper. Those who weren't there can only guess at the scenes of joy that this created.

So, ultimately Celtic's final game ended in much the same way as their whole season, masterminded by the man, who to the Celtic faithful will forever be a hero.

With John Reed and Mark Atkins at the helm, the future looks rosy in the Celtic garden.