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Match Report -
Party time is over
By Iain Benson
Celtic acquitted themselves well against an organised and solid Blackburn side made from a mixture of reserves and youth players. Decked out in the new kit, which looked very smart when seen across the pitch, the Celtic side included three surprise players: Lee Ellington, Lee Morris and James Turley, all of whom weren't expected back until the season was underway ? once again the physio staff at Celtic have performed wonders.

The game didn't start well for Celtic; a back pass from Black held up in the wet grass allowing Derbyshire to race in, latch onto the ball and go one-on-one with Buxton, with a deadly eye for goal, he slotted it past Celtic's keeper. Blackburn followed this up with a sucker punch, as Haran allowed the ball to run for a goal-kick, Treacy had other ideas. He showed a quick turn of pace to reach the ball and pull it back across the six-yard box just beyond Buxton's reach, but not Woods? reach at the back post who tapped it in.

Celtic could have pulled one back immediately after Stopforth fouled Sykes just outside the box, and Turley's free kick was headed across the face of goal by Hume. Instead, Celtic found themselves even further behind when Garner picked up a loose ball some twenty-five yards out and struck a curling shot that was further moved out of Buxton's reach by a deflection off Haran's thigh. Treacy could have added more misery when he found a yard of space to take a shot, but Buxton's full stretch save allowed him to get enough fingers to force the ball for a corner. Celtic got more into the game after this, and strung some good moves together but the Blackburn back-line was impenetrable, whilst at the other end, Buxton showed quick reactions to deny Garner a second off a corner, snapping out an arm to block the point blank header.

Just before half time, Buxton was once again called into action as Woods fired off a dipping twenty-five yard shot that Buxton athletically tipped over his bar.

Half time saw the merry go round change seven players, and once again, Blackburn raced at Celtic, Woods providing a cross that left the goal gaping for Derbyshire, but he had to lean to reach the ball and guided it onto the crossbar and allowed Kay to clear.

Celtic continued to create some half chances without ever penetrating the visiting defence until some quick accurate passing saw Winn and Platt put Platt into the box and he struck a good low shot across Fielding and into the bottom corner.

Blackburn went looking to restore their three goal lead, but found Celtic more defensively strong. Derbyshire was forced wider and wider by Keeling until when his shot came it was wide, and though Garner's pace took him past the defence, his shot produced a great save from Pettinger, holding the ball well.

As the game ran to its conclusion, Celtic could have repeated last season's score line of 3-2 when Hume got a powerful thumping header onto a corner only to see Fielding pull off a superb save. From the second corner, there was a good shout for handball as Derbyshire used his elbow to guide the ball away from Winn.

Kharas got the last chance of the game stealing in at the far post to latch onto Kay's cross but his flicked header drifted wide of the mark.

All in all, a good workout for the entire squad ? including Lee Ellington, Lee Morris and James Turley - plus a chance to look at the trialists one more time before the season starts.

Celtic: Nick Buxton (Paul Pettinger 45), Grant Black (Kevin Parr 45), Scott Maxfield (Jamie Kay 45), Mark Hume, Mark Haran (Barrie Keeling 45), Danny Forde (Ashley Winn 45), James Turley (Steve Garvey 45), Hugh McCauley (Ian Snodin 45), Lee Ellington (Nicky Platt 60), Lee Morris (Garry Kharas 50), Paul Sykes.

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