Match Report -
Prince rapid hat-trick and Ellington brace sink Hyde
By Iain Benson
Though Celtic never got into top gear against Hyde, they never really had to, and produce a good display of attacking football. That said, it was Hyde who got the first effort on target when McNeil saw his shot deflected off Garvey and into Pettinger's arms.

Celtic started passing the ball around Hyde, and twenty minutes into the game, Banim's through ball was latched onto by Prince, he evaded a challenge to go one-on-one with Westhead, before slotting it past the Hyde keeper into the back of the net. Prince hadn't finished with the home defence yet though, and moments later found some space twenty-five yards out to have a shot ? and what a shot, a screamer into the top corner to put Celtic into the comfort zone.

Less than a minute later, another Banim through ball again freed Prince into the box. With both players in the six-yard box, Prince somehow contrived to lob Westhead from close range and send the visiting hordes delirious with the most deft of his three chances, and take possibly Celtic's fastest ever hat-trick. Prince then turned provider putting a pin-point pass into the path of Barnard who struck the ball first time forcing a top-notch save from Westhead.

The save galvanised Hyde and it took some great defending from Kilbane and Sykes to deny Johnson after McNeil pulled the ball back to him from the by-line, and the ball had come loose from Pettinger's instinctive parry. Westhead, too, had grown in confidence, and after Banim and Ellington interchanged to put Banim into the clear, it took a good catch from the Hyde custodian to deny Banim a certain goal. Banim again found Westhead in good form when he smacked a powerful shot from a narrow angle, with the Hyde keeper spilling the ball for a corner.

The second half saw Celtic continue to dominate possession, and Prince turned provider for Ellington, dancing along the by-line and threading the ball for Ellington to notch a simple side-footed strike.

One of Hyde's better players, Clee, avoided Keeling long enough to make a shooting opportunity, but his shot didn't trouble Pettinger. Hyde received a couple of quick bookings, one for a bad foul on Banim, another for a bad foul on Kilbane, both in the centre circle. Banim was still unable to get on the score sheet when Ellington pulled the ball back for him, and his shot produced another excellent save from Westhead. From the resulting corner, the ball came to Price, who forced another excellent save from Westhead. Celtic weren't to be denied their fifth though, and again it was Prince who made it, turning Caldecott inside out before feeding Ellington for a low strike past Westhead to compound the keeper's misery.

Hyde appeared used to being in this position, and never gave up. Tolson's floated ball found McNeil ? it was a good header, but straight at Pettinger. Clee also contrived to put his shot straight at Pettinger without power after some good build up play from Hyde. Hyde were having a purple patch, and Clee found Tolson with a waist high ball that Tolson volleyed well, bringing a great save from Pettinger.

Hyde were getting desperate, and Salt somehow avoided a booking when he slid right through Banim, leaving the Celtic striker on the floor. With Eastwood already on for Ellington, and Smith on for Price, Oates was thrust into the fray, leaving Celtic with no further cover. Hyde stepped up a dirty gear, and seemed to be getting away with it, with Barnard penalised when it looked like Clee had fouled him just outside the box. Justice was done when the deflected free kick went straight to Pettinger.

McNeil got into a great position after avoiding several challenges, but the finish didn't live up to the build-up, soft and straight at the Celtic keeper. Prince and Eastwood could have added to Celtic's tally, but both shot across the face of goal, though Westhead had to touch Eastwood's round for a corner. The corner came to Kilbane who was inches away from a goal on his debut.

Hyde scored in somewhat controversial circumstances right near the end. Pettinger came to block at the feet of Lynch, the ball bounding over Pettinger. Lynch's foot went into Pettinger's mid-riff leaving Pettinger motionless on the floor as the ball bounced slowly towards the net. Kilbane tried to clear, but was unable to do so. Lynch's trailing foot, though, had left Celtic's number one unable to continue, and Sykes stepped up to go in goal as Celtic went down to ten men.

With an extra man and a non-keeper in goals, it fell to Haran to clear a McNeil effort over his own bar, and then clear the resulting corner. Caldecott slid straight through Prince as he picked up the clearance, and earned a yellow card right before the referee put Hyde out of their misery.

It seems every competitive game between Celtic and Hyde is marred by injuries, this time with both Banim and Pettinger carried from the field of play. It was a sour note in an otherwise glorious game that continued Celtic's domination over their neighbours. A repeat on Boxing day would be most welcome (minus the injuries)!