Match Report -
Keeping the Dream Alive
By Iain Benson
Celtic did their goal difference a power of good against a relegation threatened Redditch. Celtic knew what they had to do, and the set about doing it from the off.

Sykes nodded a Turley cross down for Prince, but his dipping shot cleared the bar. Turley followed suit, trying to flick the ball over his shoulder when Parr's nod down came to him with his back to goal. Keeling came the closest, after being flattened by May on the half way line, Barnard's free kick was nodded down by Parr to him, but his shot was deflected wide. At the other end, Clarke and May were a big presence for Redditch, and they linked up after a long punt, with Clarke crossing into the box for May, only for Pettinger to pluck it off his head. On the whole the Celtic defence was coping with Redditch's long ball tactic.

Midway through the first half, Celtic got the goal they were looking for. Turley cut inside Whitcombe and curled what looked for all the world like a cross, but it was too high for Ellington, too high for Antiss in the Redditch nets, and low enough to curl in at the top corner for Celtic's opening goal. Sykes almost immediately doubled the lead, volleying a Parr nod down just over after some great build up play. Ellington put Banim through with a well weighted ball. Banim beat both his markers to make the space for a shot, and it required a decent save by Antiss. Prince saw glory after rounding Antiss, leaving himself a wide angle, despite a couple of good options available, he took the shot which Field slid in to put out for a corner.

Redditch started to play better as the half started to run out of time, winning a couple of corners, and their best chance of the half when Clarke got behind Barnard to go one-on-one with Pettinger; the Celtic keeper raced out at him, and Clarke tried to dink it over the diving Pettinger, putting the ball into the side netting. Just before the end of the half, Celtic won a couple of corners, and a couple of free kicks, but couldn't convert any of them, Banim's free kick the closest zipping over the bar. It looked like the half would end 1-0 when Antiss came out to deny Ellington an easy chance in stoppage time, crashing into Ellington in the process. It was a soft penalty, but still a penalty.

With Ellington off the pitch receiving treatment, Prince stepped up to take it. Antiss left a big gap to his left, and Prince aimed for it, falling into Antiss? trap, who made an excellent save, and the half did finish 1-0.

Celtic were obviously reminded of the goal difference requirement during the half time interval, and came out racing. Black overlapped Turley, and whipped in a first time cross. The defence followed Banim and Ellington, missing Parr as he came in at the back post, thumping his header into the top corner to start the avalanche. Ellington and Banim interchanged, with Banim then hitting his shot on the run, it was only just over the bar. A Prince cross was headed over his own bar by King, and from the corner, Barnard had a free headed from the penalty spot, but some how conspired to put it narrowly over the bar.

Barnard then conceded a corner at the other end that eventually came to Wilding, but he spooned his shot. Reeece tried to make amends, firing in a long free kick from the halfway line that had Pettinger back-pedalling and tipping the ball over the crossbar. After a Parr foul on Reece during Redditch's purple patch, they executed a well designed free kick, sideways to May, towards the back post for Wilding, but May put too much weight on the pass, and it went for a goal kick. Substitute Murphy made enough space for himself to have a tame effort straight at Pettinger.

It was somewhat against the run of play when Banim's cross was nodded past the keeper by Ellington. It looked to have gone dead, but Ellington kept it in, with Antiss well out of position, Ellington thought about curling the shot, but saw Sykes steaming in towards the back post, and put his low cross into Sykes path. Taylor was coming back too, but Sykes? leg was longest diverting the ball into the back of the net.

Reece has to take the credit for clawing one back for the visitors; he left a trail of missed tackles in his wake to get to the edge of the box, before lofting it to Murphy at the back post. There was nobody with him, and Murphy got one of the easiest goals of his career.

Celtic remembered their purpose, and took hold of the game. Maxfield swept in a great cross, Eastwood, on for Prince, nodded it between Antiss? legs to restore the two goal cushion.

The gloss was taken off the match when Parr went in for a tackle, and stayed down. He was eventually stretchered off the field. Baynes was brought on in his place, with Maxfield moving to Parr's position.

Banim has been trying to buy a goal for many matches, and when he took the ball around an isolated Antiss, there must have been an urge to try and curl the ball in from an acute angle, instead, he very unselfishly pulled the ball back to the unmarked, dead centre Eastwood to bury for 5-1 deep in stoppage time.

Celtic almost allowed Redditch back into the game, but had enough in reserve to ensure that any Redditch comeback was short lived; and whilst 5-0 would have been better than 5-1, the four goal cushion leaves the goal difference at three. Barrow are Celtic's next visitors, and we need to try and beat them by three goals to ensure that a 1-0 win at the Butchers Arms will be enough to put us in the play-offs.

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