Match Report -
Celtic through to the Semi-Final
By Iain Benson
Celtic have progressed to face either Altrincham or Crewe in the semi-finals of Cheshire Senior cup after a narrow victory in a tight game at Northwich. The performance was much improved over the weekend, with both teams playing attractive, competitive football.

Celtic got the first sniff of a chance in the opening minute when Prince's cross found Banim, only for Banim to volley narrowly wide. Northwich answered with a curling shot from distance from Mayburn that had Buxton backtracking, but never seriously troubled. Celtic were having quite a bit of joy breaking the Northwich offside trap, which started with a weighted ball from Garvey freeing Prince. The Vics defence were fleet-footed and tracked back to put the ball out for a corner as Prince was about to pull the trigger. From the corner, Chapman stopped a certain goal as Price's header was cleared off the line. Ellington was the next through, freed by Prince. He knocked it too far ahead of himself and Payne slid in to put it for a corner. Banim tried a spectacular overhead kick, but it was wide.

Mayburn really should have given Northwich the lead. Allan outpaced Barnard and swung a cross past Keeling to Mayburn striding down the centre of the box, as Black came across and Buxton repositioned, it was a simple tap-in and he put it well wide of the mark.

Just before half time, Banim threaded a ball through to Ellington on the edge of the box. Ellington turned, instinctively knowing where the goal was, but sent his shot just over the bar.

With Connett way off his line as Celtic prepared to take the kick off, Banim tried to put it into the net from the half way line, had it been on target, it would have been a goal. Price knocked down a Garvey cross to Prince, who struck it very well, but wide. Celtic were then handed a stroke of luck when McCarthy's looping cross was headed by Sykes over Buxton and crashed into the crossbar. At the other end a neat corner routine by Celtic saw it come to Barnard who whipped the ball to the back post where Banim headed just over. Sykes should have scored at the right end off another corner when Barnard whipped the cross to the middle of the goal where Connett and Ellington both challenged for the ball, and both missed, only for Sykes, stooping, to also miss.

It looked like it would go to extra time when Ellington, normally deadly when one-on-one rolled his shot wide. It looked like neither side would score: Banim made space for a shot, but Payne unwittingly deflected it for a corner; at the other end Whitehall put Byrne in the clear straight down the middle, he hit the ball very hard and Buxton made a superb stop, getting injured in the process.

A mad scramble in the Vic's box left everybody in the stadium wondering how Celtic had not scored. Banim skinned two defenders and curled his shot around Connett only for it to rebound off the inside of the post and come out to Price. Somehow Connect got a block on the line with the ball rebounding out to Prince who blazed narrowly over as the Vics defence were swarming.

Eastwood had been brought on for Barnard, but it wasn't until Ellington had been clattered and had to be replaced by Oates that Eastwood got his first sniff of goal, with two minutes remaining on the clock, Oates won the ball in the centre circle, fed Garvey who immediately freed Prince with a diagonal ball. Prince slid the ball through the six-yard box; Eastwood stretched longer than Battersby and diverted the ball into the net.

There was no time for Vics to have a comeback, and Celtic go marching into the semi final.