Match Report -
Signs of Wins To Come?
By Debbie Taylor

Celtic started the game with great early pressure, camping in the Hyde half of the pitch. Good crisscrossing, one touch and flick passing eventually brought the ball closer to the goal. In the first ten minutes Celtic could have gone three up, had a little bit of luck been on their side. Fitzgerald, Potts and German all put well flighted crosses into the danger area, but first Hallows and then Eastwood could only send the ball around the outside of the frame. Parr was more unlucky as Potts' ball zipped in to the back post. As Hallows ducked to Parr's shout, Kev launched himself onto the ball, and would have buried it, had a Hyde body not been on the line to deflect it around the post for a corner - except, in a foretaste of things to come, it went for a goal kick.

Hyde gained a measure of composure after quarter of an hour, with the back four playing it among themselves, whilst Celtic were content to let them. This was a prelude to a patient build up, and eventually, Maddin broke free, and found himself with only Timons to beat. After turning inside the Ilkeston man, Maddin's shot was a poor affair, scuffed rather than connected, and it dribbled wide.

The Hyde back line continued to defend well, showing where Nolan has concentrated his efforts over the close season. Only a great block by Dominic Crookes denied Eastwood the opener on 21 minutes, when Hallows laid him off at the edge of the box. The well struck shot was blocked by the ex-Celtic defender (who was wearing a number 14 shirt with the 1 coloured in yellow!). The ball careered out to Potts who again fed the ex-Southport front man, who cleverly made space before unleashing a power-dive that Swannick put around for a corner. Though the corner was poorly taken to the near post, it eventually came back to Potts, and Crookes (the keeper) saved well.

The game then degenerated into a scrappy midfield tussle that only began to ease in the last five minutes of the half when German's excellent ball was met by the head of Hallows, nodding down to the right of the keeper who was going left. Peter Crookes somehow managed to stretch out a leg and save the day.

The second half started scrappy, and got bitty as the referee was forced to start reaching for cards to break up the feisty antics by both teams. But it was Celtic that emerged in the ascendancy, winning a couple of corners and then a free kick 35 yards out. Potts lofted the ball over the top of the two man wall, right to Eastwood's feet. Eastwood's turn a shot was fantastically executed, and looked like a training ground move. Unluckily it struck the bar. More unluckily as Peter Crookes flapped at the ball, Dominic Crookes reacted quickest to clear the ball from under Eastwood's predatory nose.

A moment of controversy ensued that saw Hyde take the lead. A whipped in ball from Maddin struck Riding's arm, and earned the visitors a penalty kick. It was a harsh decision, and on the hour, Foster stroked the ball to the right of Dootson, who had guessed the direction, but not the height.

More controversy was to follow. While waiting for a Hyde free kick to be taken, Foster emulated the Vinnie Jones / Paul Gascoigne incident. Riding's kicked out at Foster, and in the manner of these things, was spotted, and summarily dismissed. Again, a harsh decision by the referee, who could have had him substituted instead. Especially as Parr and Potts had both done crashing tackles, whilst several Hyde players had been guilty of 'ungentlemanly conduct' (i.e. kicking a man while he's down - literally).

Despite being the player down, Celtic showed great team spirit and returned to the ascendancy, pressuring for an equaliser. Both Timons and Hallows went narrowly wide from corners, and it only looked a matter of time. That said, as 90 minutes approached, it looked like the gods would not smile, until Potts won a corner off Swannick.Wharton took it, finding Denham (on for Hallows to inject some pace) on the far side of the box. Denham was immediately fouled - as he had been every time he got the ball. This time, a free kick was awarded, and Potts floated it in. Eastwood stretched out a leg, and steered it past Peter Crookes flailing arm. This time, his leg was too far away to deny Celtic a goal.

On so on to Penalties, as there was no extra time to be played in this not-so-friendly.

Eastwood stepped up first, still buoyed by his goal minutes earlier that had given Celtic this chance. He struck it will, sending Crookes the wrong way.

Foster placed the ball, and performed a little dance on the way to the spot, it didn't flummox Dootson, who went the right way, but it did earn the Hyde striker hoots of derision when he missed!

Potts wasted no time by blasting the ball past Crookes, before Evans instilled a measure of hope in the Hyde hearts, by slipping it just under Dootson's body as the Celtic number one flew through the air.

Wharton went for sheer power, which was fortunate, as Crookes put a hand on the ball as it went into the net.

Smith smacked the ball into the top of the net, which proved so effective, that Mayers emulated him to put all the pressure onto new signing Brookes.

Brookes looked nervous on his run up to the ball, and he went well wide, with Dootson again, for the fifth corner in a row, guessing the right way.

With that miss, Celtic retained the Ray Stanley Memorial Shield for the second year running. A sign of wins to come?

The downside was the Riding sending off. He will now miss the first four games of the season.