Match Report -
Banim scores to ensure a climatic finish to the season
By Iain Benson
The most important objective of the night was to get a win, and Celtic accomplished that with a comprehensive first half display in their last home match of the season. The second half saw Barrow change their game plan, and it allowed them back into the game, but Celtic had enough in reserve to finish the night with three points and make Saturday?s game momentous.

Barrow were the first team to get the ball into the back of the net, when a free kick was floated into the box from the half way line, and lofted over the defence for Knight to slot in from close range ? too close range apparently. Celtic took it as a wake up call, and produced some flowing football. Celtic were denied a couple of early crucial decisions when Heffernan passed back to Bishop in the visiting nets, and Bishop picked it up without penalty. Nor was there a penalty when Cotterill extended an arm to block an Eastwood cross at the edge of the six yard box.

Those incidents were forgotten when Prince floated a near post cross into the box, and Banim snuck in under Smith?s radar to plant a header into the top corner with Bishop able to get a hand to it, but not keep it out. It was Banim?s first goal for Celtic at Bower Fold and hopefully not the last.

Decisions continued to go against Celtic though, as Prince was put through by a superbly weighted Atkins pass. After Prince had lifted the ball over Cotterill and run around him, Cotterill yanked Prince?s shirt, and perhaps the ease with which he went down swayed the referee against the decision, though when Prince crossed in moments later and Howson handled again in the box, the linesman saw it and gave the referee no option but to award Celtic their fourth penalty of the season. Ellington stepped up and scored his thirtieth goal of the season from the spot.

Celtic needed a two goal margin to go level on goal difference with Droylsden, and they almost lost it when Ridley was allowed to nip behind the Celtic defence and pull the ball back for Tarrant, who proceeded to spoon the ball over the bar.

Celtic started the second half second to the ball, when they did get it, they looked threatening, and Prince kept in a ball that should have gone for a goal kick and saw Banim in space, he pulled it back for him, but Banim?s blasted shot cleared the bar.

Pettinger?s first save of the evening came when Rushton beat the offside trap to go one-on-one with Pettinger, but the Celtic keeper came out on top, tipping the shot round the post for a corner that Pettinger punched away through a crowd. Barrow were threatening a goal, and Tarrant nearly supplied it when Barnard sliced a clearance and fell nicely for the Barrow striker, but he put his shot into the side netting.

Eastwood put Ellington through with a well weighted ball, but as Ellington was pulling the trigger with only the keeper to bear, Howson made a match saving tackle in the box to deny Ellington his second of the night. Barrow capitalised on this when Maxfield fouled Rushton a couple of yards outside the box. Ridley took the free kick, curled it up and over the wall, and into the top corner out of Pettinger?s reach and improve Droylsden?s grip on the play off spot. Ridley could have doubled that when he hit a thirty yard shot on the run, forcing Pettinger into a good stop.

Celtic went looking for the elusive second goal. Cotterill fouled Eastwood by the corner flag. Garvey (on for Atkins) floated it into the box. The ball fell to Sykes but his low drive was blocked by Howson on the line, the rebound came to Ellington, Cotterill blocked his shot on the line. The rebound came out to Banim, he tried to lift his shot, but Heffernan got his head in the way as the Barrow defence was rocked. Somehow, Barrow got the ball clear.

Celtic should have got a goal when Ellington was put through one-on-one by Banim, he cut in from the angle and swept the ball across the face of Bishop and with the ball sneaking in at the far post, Cotterill found an erg more of energy to get back and clear off the line with mere seconds left on the clock, a goal there would have done Celtic?s play-off ambitions a world of good, but it was not to be.

Celtic still need to beat Droylsden, but now by two goals to ensure a play off spot, a one goal win will require Harrogate to lose at Stafford.

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