Match Report -
Tense finish to a great game
By Iain Benson
A thoroughly enjoyable game was topped off with three points making it an even better game from a Celtic perspective.

The game started very well for Celtic. Banim deceived Palmer with a trick and was fouled. The free kick was put to Garvey who knocked it on to Price. Price lobbed the ball over the top for Prince who skipped around one challenge and bent his shot around the out flung arm of Lindley. Prince almost doubled his tally inside a minute when he fired in a wicked shot from the edge of the box, but Lindley reacted well, getting across to block. The ball fell to Banim who delicately lifted the ball over Lindley and into the back of the net ? only to have the effort ruled offside.

Celtic were running a little rampant in the opening exchanges, and Black was having the run of the right wing. He put a superb cross in for Price, but the Celtic midfielder headed narrowly wide, before Banim put Ellington through with a well-weighted ball that Ellington took in his stride and fired goal-wards producing a superb stop from Lindley. Palmer was booked for his third bad challenge on Banim and Garvey whipped the free kick to the penalty spot, but Sykes headed well wide.

So it was something against the run of play when Hucknall equalised. An offside decision just inside the Hucknall half was lofted towards the box, where Haran was adjudged to have fouled Palmer on the edge of the box. Ward took the free kick and it was a sublime effort, curling and dipping. Pettinger had a lot of ground to make up, and he didn?t make up enough as the ball flew into the back of the net.

Keeling had been moved into midfield for the first part of the game, and he interchanged well with Banim before the latter threaded a great ball through to Ellington. Ellington instinctively knew where the goal was and forced an outstanding save from Lindley.

The second half started with a lot of Hucknall pressure, but Celtic edged their way back into the game, and possibly should have had a penalty when Prince pulled the ball back for Price who fired in a shot, only for Cooke?s arm to deflect the ball around the post for a corner. Ellington got on the corner, and Lindley got just enough on the shot to push it away as far as Keeling who lashed it towards the back of the net only for ex-Celtic defender Timons to stick out a leg and deflect it wide.

Palmer tried a shot from distance, indicating Hucknall?s growing confidence, but it swerved narrowly wide. Haran then conceded a corner that Celtic struggled to clear, before tempers boiled over between Asher and Barnard ending with Barnard picking up a booking.

The hiatus suited Celtic and after winning the ball back, Black raced up the wing, laid it inside to Banim who curled the ball perfectly to Price. He flicked it into the penalty area, where Sykes turned and volleyed the ball past Lindley ? who must have saw it late ? with a stunning strike.

Hucknall looked likely to grab another equaliser though, piling on the pressure, winning a couple of corners with Sucharewycz getting closest with his header just clearing the bar, and Palmer trying again from forty yards with a powerful shot that didn?t dip far enough to worry Pettinger. Pettinger was called into action when Gill diverted Asher?s low cross into the box and Gill?s shot required a smart stop at his near post by Pettinger.

The game became more entertaining as Hucknall hunted for the equaliser. The game ebbed both ways, with plenty of chances. Celtic were handed a chance from Cooke, handling on the edge of the box. A complicated free-kick routine resulted in Banim being levelled by Beech even closer to the penalty box. Prince curled this free kick narrowly wide. Next up was Nangle, smacking a shot narrowly wide from the edge of the Celtic box after making a yard of space, shortly followed by him heading narrowly wide off an Asher free kick. As Hucknall added attacker after attacker to the mix, Smith was brought on, who found a yard of space in the corner of the box, and forced a decent save from Pettinger, a corner that Lindley, the keeper, came into the Celtic box for. Despite the addition of Ricketts as well, Hucknall couldn?t get a late goal and Celtic took the three points.

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