Match Report -
We should have gone out.
By Debbie Taylor

Celtic cannot claim to have deserved a draw out of this lethargic performance. Workington were by far the more energetic team, and looked up for the victory. They held a high line, and never stopped looking for goals.

Despite Celtic having the kick-off, lackadaisical passing switched possession, and before the first minute was up, Goulding had raced onto a ball into the corner, and whipped in a first time ball that German could not clear properly giving it straight back to Goulding, who repeated his first cross with one that German couldn't hope to reach, for Murray to latch onto. Murray had a good first strike, but Dootson made himself big and blocked the shot well.

Celtic did not look like they were a division above Workington, whose work rate was sky high, and they never let up on any Celtic player who held onto possession for any length of time. On the plus side, Potts continued his road to recovery with some fine wing play that often left several bemused looking Workington players trailing in his wake. Williamson was one such victim, as Potts turned him several times before swinging in a cross, credit to the Red's defender, he managed to hook a leg up to knock the ball for a corner, which Wharton took, and Fitzgerald headed over.

Potts got chance to practice his free kick curling skill when Hallows was fouled just outside the box, but was unable to bend the ball far enough around to keep it inside the post. Then it was all Workington, as Pape in the Workington goals stood and watched, shouting encouragement. The line was high as Workington pressed into the Celtic box. Celtic should have punished them more, but with nobody in the team noted for their pace, it meant that Celtic could be squeezed like this. Occasionally they broke out, but Workington always got back in numbers. Eastwood though, should have opened the scoring when Potts fed him to burst through the line at the edge of the box, only to see a wall of Red force him wide. He cut the ball back along the six yard box, but Hallows, carrying an injury exacerbated by the earlier foul, could not quite reach it. Hallows then provided Eastwood with another chance, the striker spun around his man and fired off a shot, but he missed the target.

Having missed those two chances, Celtic were punished, and deservedly so. Workington had been worth a goal, and when it came, it came from the same pattern they had been following for 20 minutes. A ball was pumped into the corner, and Goulding ran onto it. He flicked it over Fitzgerald to the far post, beating Robertson running back, but perfect for Murray who rose unhindered to gift the travellers a goal.

Murray then made it two with a fantastic strike from twenty-five yards, a screamer of a shot that curled and dipped as it rocketed into the top corner.

Some may have thought that such a 'shock' (though watching the play, it was anything but) would have shaken Celtic into action. Quite the opposite, they looked even more catatonic except for a few occasions when they sprang into life.

Eastwood fed a great ball into the path of Hallows, who made a good first touch to beat his man, and then he lifted it over the advancing Pape. He thought it was in, Pape thought it was in, and the crowd thought it was in. It wasn't - it went wide by the narrowest of margins.

A few corners and missing of the target later, and Celtic won a corner when Armstrong headed past his own post, before Hallows could thump in Potts' speeding ball. Celtic looked certain to score as Hallows' headed shot from the corner left Pape grasping air, but Varty performed his captain's role and blocked on the line, putting it right at Eastwood. As the keeper struggled to get into position, Eastwood picked his spot, and placed the ball towards the net. Once again Varty was there, throwing himself to intercept.

It took until the last minute of the first half before the Workington keeper had to make a save. Eastwood curled one through a crowded defence but though Pape saw it late, it was a comfortable catch.

Varty was to deny Eastwood one last time in the first half, when Wharton got to the by line and pilled the ball back for the striker at the edge of the box. Eastwood steadied himself and beat the keeper with the curl, but he couldn't beat Varty on the line as the defender once again hurled himself across the face to keep his side in the lead.

Celtic made two changes at half time, bringing on Ridings and Denham for Bowman and Hallows, hoping to inject some pace and life into a listless Celtic team. But Celtic had a different kind of start than they would have liked to the second half, as the referee produced one of the two yellow cards he would produce for bizarre reasons. Bowker slid in to intercept a lax ball from Ennis, some time after contacting with the ball, Murray ran in and tripped over Bowker's body. Somehow, this was deemed not only a foul, but a bookable offence. There was a man with a video camera in the stands, if you read this - get in contact with the club - we can get that card over turned!

When the game restarted, Celtic continued to find it difficult to steer the ball between the posts and under the crossbar. And when Workington were granted their third corner of the half after Bowker blocked McCluskey's cross, it looked like they'd added a third goal, but Varty's header landed on the roof of the net. Then a poor back pass from Bowker put Dootson in a world of trouble. As the ball bounced towards the Celtic keeper, it was obvious it would not reach the safety of the box before Goulding could pounce. Dootson was out quickly, but his comical scissor kick lacked power, and landed at the feet of Murray. Sensing his hat-trick, Murray fired his shot off, after struggling to get it under control, and musty have been agonised when it rebounded off the post.

The second bizarre yellow card came when Pape decided to dawdle over a goal kick, despite repeated instruction from the referee to speed up. Parr, in his captains role, demanded that a yellow card be issued rather than feeble whistling that was being ignored. Unfortunately, asking for another player to be shown a card, is a yellow card offence, and Parr got the card, not Pape, who continued to take an age over every kick.

Now Denham was on, the back line of Workington was being brought deeper and deeper. The lad's pace had the defence struggling to get back on a number of occasions, but they needn't have worried, as Eastwood was destined not to score. Denham won a corner off Varty through persistence, and Eastwood connected well from the edge of the area. Pape earned his money with a stupendous blocking save to his left. Who was there to make sure Celtic didn't prod the loose ball home? Varty. Varty was again responsible for clearing the corner out for a second corner when Pape came and flapped at the ball, missed and left Denham, Eastwood and Ridings all champing at the back post for the ball. Pape made no mistake on the 3rd corner, tipping Parr's powerful header over the crossbar, but on the fourth, he again flapped, this time connecting enough to deny Ridings, but putting the ball into the path of Parr. Parr knocked it back into the melting pot, and Varty turned the pressure off with a clearance. Somehow Workington were still two goals to the good, and finally, with fifteen minutes left on the clock, Celtic looked interested.

German also had a chance that he blew, when Denham pulled a ball back from the by-line, right into his stride. He had the time to take a touch, but he hit it first time, and it sailed past the far post, and out for a goal kick.

With five minutes left, Celtic's luck appeared to have changed. A cross from Denham was fumbled by Pape at the back post and Varty hooked it clear. The referee indicated a corner, much to the hoots of derision from (by now) depressed Celtic fans. Realising his mistake, the referee blew for a non- existent foul in a perfectly peaceful penalty box, unusual for a penalty box during a corner, but there wasn't even any jostling.

Then Eastwood was dragged down by McCluskey as he ran the ball out wide.

Potts stepped up. He was forty yards from goal. There was a two man wall. Eight Celtic shirts jostled for space in the box.

Potts ignored them all, curling the ball up and over the wall and into the top corner of the net with Pape feet away from it.

A consolation goal?

Denham had other ideas.

As Eastwood ran off the pitch, indicating he wasn't involved, a thru ball went between the defence for Denham to chase. Ennis and Varty both went for the through ball, and rebounded off each other. Denham burst between them like some kind of special effect from a Hollywood blockbuster, and toe-poked the ball into the bottom corner.

Celtic had done the almost impossible, and pulled back two goals with as many minutes left in the game. And though they tried for the whole of three minutes of stoppages they couldn't get through the stonewall defence as Workington slammed shut every door.

Celtic's sudden passion boiled over in the last act of the game as Ennis was brought down by German near the half way line. Workington piled forward into the box, and Ennis took the kick, lofting it into the box. Varty, so often the hero in his own box, nearly became a hero in the opposition, but Dootson managed to tip the ball around the post for a corner. Fortunately for Celtic, it was a poor corner, easily cleared, and the referee blew for a replay on Tuesday night.

Celtic were outplayed for huge periods of this game, and though I've concentrated on what they did right, there was an awful lot they did wrong. Make no mistake, this was the worst performance by Celtic this season. They looked disinterested, comatose and spiritless. If that doesn't change by Tuesday, then Workington will have advanced to the next round, as they deserved to do in this match. Only a very late flurry of self-belief by the Bower Boys kept them in this game, and that is what will be remembered.

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