Match Report -
History making
By Debbie Taylor

Celtic achieved a quarter finals place against Stevenage with a cantering performance against a team giving them too much respect.

Though Gravesend applied consistent pressure for many spells of the game, Fish was barely troubled as the back four coped with anything and everything that Gravesend could muster, and the Celts knew that Gravesend have only lost twice all season, putting them hot favourites to rise into the Conference next year.

Futcher had the low down on the team from the Huddersfield manager, and made preparations accordingly.

With the pitch slick with rain, and the wind gusting, it was always going to be a tough match. And Gravesend came from the kick off full of confidence, passing well, and applying pressure to the resolute back line. Despite this, when they finally did get into scoring chances, twice they wasted the opportunity, leaving Fish with little to do but take the goal kicks.

As Celtic began to gain possession, they advances up the field, Courtney tried to thread his way through the back line, and was fouled 25 yards out.

Up stepped Peacock, and span a curling ball over the wall. As the wall jumped the referee noticed that a hand had been used to block the ball, and ordered a second free kick - central, and by the box. Peacock happily obliged the strong travelling contingent by curling the ball around the wall, and the keeper, sending it in off the upright. The 'Fleet manager would later complain that a gust of wind had moved the ball prior to Peacock taking the kick, thus leaving the 'Fleet keeper with no chance. However, this was not spotted by the officials, if indeed it had happened.

Celtic then tried to settle into the game, only to be penalised time and again for innocuous looking challenges, that left Celtic leaving the field at half time with 5 yellow cards, and a possible fine from the FA.

Celtic came out and played a containing game, frustrating the home side with an easy style that left the Gravesend boys chasing shadows. Just before the hour, Celtic upped the tempo briefly as Ayorinde sped down the wing, and whipped in a cross to the edge of the box where Courtney lurked. Courtney's first time effort was well saved by the Gravesend keeper, palming the ball away, but only as far as Steve Wood who steamed into the box unmarked, and side footed the ball into the back of the net before any 'Fleet player could react.

Celtic continued to thwart the home side, chasing down every loose ball, despite their two goal cushion.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, Fish finally had something to do, tipping Booth's powerful drive onto the bar, and moments later, Wilkins got a glorious opportunity as he stepped inside Futcher, only to see his shot bounce back off the post and be tidied up.

Celtic now go into their first ever quarter final game away at Stevenage Borough. Stevenage have fallen a lot since the opening day of the Conference, and look set to be dragged into the relegation mire, but Hertfordshire is still not an easy place to get a victory, and they have beaten us once there already this season. So, despite the recent home win over the 'Boro, Celtic know it will not be an easy task.

After the game, Paul Futcher told the Advertiser: "The lads were terrific on Saturday. Gravesend was always going to be a difficult place to get a result like that, and to keep a clean sheet was amazing." About the Stevenage game, he added: "I'm a bit disappointed for the fans who face another lengthy trip, but we beat them in December at home, and I believe we are evenly matched teams."

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