Match Report -
Prince brace
By Iain Benson
A great comeback by Celtic was marred by a bad injury to fullback Hockenhull towards the end of the game, with what appeared to be a broken arm, but there's no news on it yet.

The opening exchanges showed Lancaster's game plan, with five across the back they were stifling Celtic's wing play, but not creating much themselves, just lofting the ball forward for Taylor to run onto. Worryingly, this was a good tactic, and Taylor was causing all kinds of trouble for the Celtic back line. However, it was from a throw where the first goal came from. Rogan tried first, blasting the throw through a crowd, but there were too many legs, and the ricochet fell to Taylor who also blasted it, this time into the bottom corner.

With a goal to the good, Lancaster tried to stifle Celtic more. Turley and Prince were effectively locked out of the game, and Ellington was getting no service. That said, Price did manage to get into the box, and was clearly fouled, but the referee was saving his penalty decisions for the second half. Turley, Field and Prince both managed to test McMillan in the Dollies? nets, but on each occasion that ball was straight at him. Just before half time, there was another appeal for a penalty as McMahon chopped at Mulvaney as the Celtic striker shielded the ball as it went for a corner, but that was all Celtic got.

Come half time, and it was clear that beating the stalwart Lancaster defence was going to take something special. Celtic brought Steve Smith on to run at the defence, but Scott was marshalling the home defences well, and nobody could get through. More long ball tactics from Lancaster, along with a very physical presence twice forced Pettinger out of his area to clear with his head, before Rogan's shot was blocked by the rushing PEttinger, with the rebound falling to Taylor, who made no mistake sliding his second of the night into the back of the net. Lancaster, if anything, went even more defensive, seemingly switching to a 1-3-6 formation to ensure that Celtic couldn't get back into the game.

Eastwood and Willis were brought on to hold the ball up and battle harder, and this tactic started to pay dividends when Eastwood got to the by-line and tried to thread his way past McMahon, only to be deliberately chopped down by McMahon two feet from the post. No cards were shown.

Up stepped Prince. The penalty was telegraphed somewhat but it was right into the corner, and McMillan did exceptionally well to get across and down to block the spot kick, only to see Prince race forward and under pressure pull the ball from behind him and smash it home. With quarter of an hour to go, Celtic had a lifeline.

Celtic remained strong as Lancaster started to tire. Gaps started opening at the back, allowing Willis to square the ball to Ellington. Ellington struck the ball sweetly and on target, only for McMillan to make a great stop. McMahon fouled Eastwood again, this time just outside the box, and Smith got it eventually, putting his shot narrowly over.

With scant minutes on the clock remaining, Smith burst into the box only for McMahon to do a terrible tackle on Smith (again no cards) that left the winger in some pain. Celtic had another penalty. Again Prince stepped up to take it. McMillan went the same was as before, but Prince went the other way, and Celtic were level.

Lancaster had no real outlet with so many defenders on the pitch, but in stoppage time, a long punt up field sent Taylor racing to get there before Pettinger (forced to run again) and Hockenhull tracking back. It was a great block by Hockenhull as the three collided, with the loose ball falling to Mahoney who tried to shoot only to see Keeling slide in and block just as the referee realised that Hockenhull was badly hurt and blew his whistle. Hockenhull left the field to get treatment, and Celtic were reduced to ten men for the final few minutes. There was just time for Willis to concede a free kick in a dangerous area, but the wall held firm and the full time whistle went.

It was a good comeback by Celtic, with the team never giving up, despite a less than vintage performance for much of the match. Full credit to Lancaster, their stifling technique was effective, and thus the right tactic.