Match Report -
Celtic lose the plot in the second half
By Iain Benson
Celtic failed to take advantage of the fortuitous results in the teams above them as they were out-muscled by a physical Worksop side. With spies from Salisbury in the stands, Celtic?s performance would not have struck fear in next week?s Trophy opponents, with a torrid second half.

Worksop started straight off the blocks, pushing deep into the Celtic half. An early, innocuous throw-in was taken long and recent signing Saunders bundled it under Pettinger?s body. To heap further misery on the misfiring Celtic side a long punt up field was headed straight into the air by Haran, allowing Crane to step between Haran and the ball, turn on the bounce and fire an unstoppable curling shot out of the reach of Pettinger and the game seemingly out of the reach of Celtic.

Celtic finally started playing football, and mounted increasing pressure on the home defence. Wilson fouled Garvey twenty-five yards out, but Worksop scrambled the ball away as Barnard tried to turn it in. Moments later another foul on the edge of the box, this time by Thorpe; Garvey?s shot was turned aside on the edge of the six box by Simpkins. Miller then fouled Ellington on the edge of the box after Celtic had passed the ball around Worksop. Price received the free-kick routine, but zipped the ball wide.

Worksop could have gone three up against the run of play, after a pair of corners eventually came to Crane, but Haran blocked on the line.

Celtic were looking the more dangerous team though, and it looked for all the world like Celtic would score when Sykes knocked the ball down for Eastwood who struck a good shot that Sollitt somehow parried into the path of Ellington, but with defenders swarming all over him he couldn?t take advantage of the tap in. Moments later, Eastwood had a low shot that required a timely boot from Simpkins to deny the goal, with the ball again rebounding out to Ellington, but he couldn?t get it out of his feet quickly enough. Celtic were getting closer though, and Sollitt had to be acrobatic as he tipped Eastwood?s header from a Garvey cross over the bar. The corner was punched by Sollitt as far as Keeling, who put it onto the head of Haran, with Sollitt again on hand to somehow reach the ball and push it over for a corner. Sollitt was on fire, and when the corner came to Price and the shot was destined for the bottom corner he again managed to get a hand to it.

The pressure had to tell. Sykes nodded the ball out to Garvey who lifted the ball over to Eastwood and he thankfully smashed the ball into the back of the net.

Sollitt was determined not to let any more in. Sykes fed Price and Price smashed the ball towards goal. To make Sollitt?s harder it also took a deflection off Simpkins and looked to be heading into the bottom corner until Sollitt?s fingernail put it out for a corner.

If Celtic could have continued their pressure into the second half, the Salisbury?s scout?s report would have been vastly different. However, Celtic did not, and Worksop were allowed to muscle their way to victory. At first it looked like they would, as Ellington took a free kick from the edge of the box (Maxfield by Simpkins this time), but couldn?t curl his free kick enough to make it creep inside the post.

Thorpe?s distance shot was no trouble for Pettinger, nor did Dempsey?s free kick. A shove from Crane off a corner on Pettinger wasn?t noticed by the officials, but fortunately, Pettinger managed to clutch the loose ball.

Truth be told, it was a scrappy second half, with no fluency, but this was Worksop?s tactic and it paid dividends.

Both new signing Kharas and Banim came on for Prince and Eastwood, but neither could make an impact in a game that barely had a minute of play between free kicks. Kharas chased down a hopeless looking ball, forcing Sollitt into a hurried clearance that landed at Garvey?s feet. Forty-yards out, he aimed for the empty net, putting the ball just wide.

With time running out, Kharas was put into clear space by a Price through ball, but Nicholson got back well and poked it out for a corner off his toe. Davies was then nearly the villain of the piece when the corner came in, and he missed heading it into his own net by a hairs-breadth, putting the ball into the side netting.

With Celtic up one end, a long hoof left Crane one-on-one with Pettinger, and from close range, the Celtic custodian pulled off an excellent save. Pettinger was then required to do it again moments later, as Dempsey took advantage of a lucky ricochet off Maxfield?s clearance to race one-on-one, but again, Pettinger blocked with his legs. The corner came to Owens, who smacked a close range shot, but Pettinger made a good block, and when the ball fell to Jackson, was forced to smother at his feet.

Celtic now need to win on Tuesday against an improving Worcester side in order to stay in touch with the promotion play-off spots, and to build some confidence ahead of the long trip south in the Trophy next week.

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