Match Report -
Round four: Knock out
By Debbie Taylor

With Celtic's crucial League match coming up in just a few days, many expected to see a depleted Celtic side run out against Blyth, and several of the positions were occupied by fringe players. However, Ingham was in goal, and he was going to have to be on top form, as Blyth were out for revenge, after being beaten by Celtic no less than three times already this season, twice in the past month.

Ingham's goal was the first to be pressured, when Pepper put Dixon through. However, under pressure from Filson and Ward, Dixon's half shot went well wide.

Celtic responded immediately, and with sustained pressure. Sullivan's effort on ten minutes was the best of the opening salvos, beating Gilmore in the Blyth nets, but curling just too far wide. The increasing Celtic pressure started to tell on the Blyth defence, and they struggled to clear. Dixon beat McNeil to the ball, putting it out for a corner, and Scott whipped it in. Cooke was on hand to stab netwards, with McNeil providing just enough deflection to ensure Gilmore was well and truly beaten.

Celtic refused to let up after the restart, and Sullivan forced a corner.

This time, Cooke's shot was too powerful and sailed over the bar. Blyth struggled to get out of their half for a ten minute spell, but this looked to change when they managed to get a corner of Williamson. The ball stayed in the area a long time as Celtic tried to clear their lines. Pepper had the most clear cut chance, but failed to connect properly. After some frantic defending, Celtic spread the ball out to Ward, who carried up field.

He interchanged with Sullivan and Evans, with Sullivan getting into position to shoot, but his scuffed shot was an easy catch for Gilmore.

Sullivan again was inspirational moments later, as he latched onto a lazy pass, and twisted his way into the box, before shooting low and hard into the bottom corner of the net, doubling the Celtic advantage.

From the kick-off, Blyth attacked in waves, penning Celtic back, and Man of the Match Gary Ingham was forced to provide two premiership standard saves first to deny Stewart's low drive from the right, and then Radigan's powerful edge of the box blast.

The second half saw Ingham called into action several more times as Blyth tried a fight back. Stewart received a Radigan cross, which Ingham parried.

Somehow Stewart managed to throw himself at the rebound, knocking it past the unfortunate Ingham.

Celtic collected themselves after this surge, and Scott really should have made it three when he beat Gilmore, but skidded the ball across the six yard box, and past the opposite post.

Williamson did make it three when his head was the highest, after Locke floated in a perfect free kick from forty yards to nod it past Gilmore.

Blyth's response was immediate Robson broke past the Celtic defence, despite calls for offside, latched onto a lobbed ball, and touched it once to put it over Ingham's head as he rushed to claim it.

The Blyth team began to get frantic as they sensed the game coming to end, with only one goal in it. The referee was having trouble keeping both sets of players under control, and he was handing out fouls and cards in an attempt to regain order. The majority of the decisions went Blyth's way.

This spurred them onto greater attempts, and the tide seemed to be turning in their favour. Radigan tried to score from a free kick about fifty yards out - he missed, and Locke deflected Robson's shot wide for a corner, and then cleared after the corner.

With minutes left on the clock, Blyth piled everybody forward for a free kick and lobbed it into the box. Robson bounced off Filson, ran around Ingham who had stopped because the referee had spotted something. Robson put the ball in the net anyway - possibly just to be on the safe side!

The referee adjudged that Robson had been fouled by Filson just inside the box, and awarded a penalty - with three minutes of normal time left.

Robson took it himself, and stuck the ball past Ingham. It was the last real action of full time, and Blyth had staged a remarkable comeback.

Extra time began with Blyth pressure, but the Celtic defence held firm, keeping Perry at bay, whilst Ingham was on fine form to deny shots from Forster, Perry and Robson.

Celtic soaked up the early pressure, and countered well. Bauress, on for Scott, curled a free kick in from twenty five yards that Gilmore could only punch weekly clear. McNeil's header back in went over the bar.

Out of the two sides, it looked as though Celtic were the more relieved to see the end of extra time and penalties.

Celtic kicked first and Bauress' penalty was saved, sending the home fans into jubilation. That increased as Robson went to the opposite corner of the penalty that had brought Blyth this far.

Steve Jones levelled the scores, and they stayed level when Forster saw Ingham superbly save his shot.

Filson gave the home side a chance as his penalty sailed over the bar and landed somewhere in the North Sea. But Williams could not add to Blyth's tally as Ingham pulled off another fantastic save, down to his left and around the post.

Both Locke and Pepper made no mistake as the tension mounted.

It was all down to Super Steve "Syd" Pickford and Radigan.

Pickford picked his place and blasted past Gilmore, though the Blyth number one went the right way.

Radigan stepped up.

If he scored, it would go to sudden death and Radigan would win a second reprieve for his side.

He fired straight down the middle, anticipating Ingham to move.

The Celtic number one read the play, and saved!

Ingham and his team were ecstatic, whilst Radigan could only sink to his knees in obvious abject dismay.

Celtic received the trophy, to add to the Cheshire Senior Cup. All that was left was the League. News had filtered through that Emley had overcome a one nil deficit at half time to get back to the top of the table. Celtic's third cup final is on Saturday - the crucial League match at Emley's Belle Vue ground.

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