Match Report -
What an opener!
By Iain Benson
Before kick off, a draw would have been seen as a good result against the league favourites, but when Northwich scored deep into stoppage time, it was gut-wrenching.

Celtic were giving competitive debuts to no less than ten players, with only Keeling having played for the club last season. Thus is was no surprise when the first shot came in that it was a debutant, Price, curling a shot from the edge of the area over the bar, shortly followed by a curling free kick from Prince that Rodgers in the Vics net saved comfortably.

Mulvaney aided in the opening goal of the 2005-06 season as he burst past Charnock into the box, and Charnock dragged Mulvaney down: penalty. Prince stepped up to the spot, and slotted the ball confidently past Rodgers and open Celtic's account. From the restart, Price could have added to it as Mulvaney picked him out with a pin point pass, but Rodgers could stretch just enough to tip it out for a corner. The free kick was punched by Rodgers as far as Price, but his instant return was over the bar.

Mulvaney also had a hand in the second goal, nipping to the by-line and pulling back a great cross. Prince's diagonal run allowed him to latch onto the cross and volley from a narrow angle into the roof of the net. Prince could have had his hat-trick moments later, when Price was tripped by Charnock just outside the box, but Chapman got his foot on the curling shot to lift it over the bar for a corner.

Northwich got a goal back just before half time when Buxton came racing out of his area to head a loose ball, unfortunately, the ball landed with Allan, who will probably be Vics? top scorer this season, and he lobbed it over everybody and into the back of the unguarded net. A Keeling slip almost allowed the visitors to draw level as Brayson latched onto the ball, but Haran got across well and deflected the shot for a corner. The corner routine was well worked and it took a great reaction save from Buxton to deny Battersby.

With the second half only minutes old, Haran stepped across Allan, injuring himself and earning a yellow card. With him off the pitch, the free kick was lobbed to the back post where Allan was waiting; his header evaded everybody and somehow got into the back of the net.

Rodgers got extremely lucky as Celtic went looking to regain their lead. Mulvaney won a corner out of Charnock which Haran headed towards goal. Mulvaney stopped it on the line for Vics, but his control was good, chesting and turning firing his shot into the bottom corner. Rodgers? knew nothing about the save he?d made.

Both teams looked like they could go on and win it, and a powerful run from Brayson allowed him to slide the ball through to Byrne who took the shot early under pressure from Hockenhull, forcing a good save from Buxton. At the other end, a Mulvaney cross was flicked on by Ellington to Prince who blasted towards goal and was denied his hat-trick by the sliding boot of McCarthy who almost turned the ball into his own net. The corner was taken short and spread out to Price who curled the ball to the top corner, but Rodgers made an excellent flying save to deny him.

The goal that Celtic were demanding came with a well weighted ball from Price that split the visiting defence. Ellington out paced Carr to go one-on-one with Rodgers and made no mistake slotting the ball past him to regain the lead for Celtic. Prince could have extended the lead when a counter attack from Celtic saw Turley spin the ball across the box but Prince's diagonal run and volley smashed into the side netting.

Stoppage time came, and Celtic were on the back foot a little as Northwich frantically hunted for the equaliser. A Sykes? challenge on Brayson right on the edge of the box gave Northwich a lifeline. Celtic desperately cleared the ball as it bounced around the box, with Price's clearance falling to McCarthy who lobbed it straight back in. With Carr still up from the corner, it was his head that had the telling touch, diverting the ball into the bottom corner.

Both sides could have nicked it in the final minute, but it wasn't to be and Celtic had to settle for a draw snatched in stoppage time, making this two points lost.

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