It wasn?t a spectacle, but Celtic need results not pretty football at the moment. Celtic?s performed a smash and grab raid on Redditch in the opening sortie. Hume used his strength to hold off Geohaghon and slot the ball through to Barlow making his home debut. Barlow got enough of a stud on the ball to divert it under Antiss and the ball rolled across the line for the opening goal.
Celtic continued to dominate the early stages, and Sykes provided Ellington with a difficult waist high ball, with Geohaghon all over Ellington, he did well to receive the ball and keep it under control whilst moving his body into position to shoot ? which he did with devastating effect, giving Celtic a comfortable two goal lead. Moments later, and Hume had a glorious chance to put the game well beyond Redditch, when he volleyed Krief?s low cross wide of the mark. Hume returned the favour, knocking down a curling cross from Black down to Krief, but the difficult height meant the shot sailed over the bar.
Instead of going on and trying to reduce the large goal difference Celtic have accumulated, Celtic sat back to defend the two goal lead. This allowed the visitors back into a game they were well and truly out of. After an Ellington foul in the Redditch box, the free kick was pumped the full length of the field into the Celtic box for Ball to snatch at, forcing a block on the line by Sykes and stand in keeper Timms (also making his home debut!). Black and Palmer clashed by the touchline, but with Walker picking up the loose ball, the referee waved play on. It was a good advantage played by the referee for Walker lashed the ball across Timms into the far corner. Moments later, and Redditch were on level terms. A simple cross from Deakin, and Ball was free at the edge of the six yard box to smash the ball under Timms.
Olsen (also making his home debut), fouled Deakin just outside the Celtic box, Walker tried to double his tally, but put his volley over the bar. Walker got beyond Maxfield and whipped a low cross through the six yard box for Palmer coming in at the back post. Timms tried the intercept, and got back up well after missing it to make the save off Palmer with his foot.
Celtic made it in at the half time break still level, but having taken the foot off the gas midway through the first half, it had been touch and go. They were yelled at and came out fired up again. Barlow made an excellent run up the line, beating two men with some good footwork before whipping in a superb cross for Hume on the penalty spot. With Geohaghon busy marking Ellington it was a free header for Hume and he put it over the bar. Hume made amends moments later turning off Barlow?s low cross and forcing Antiss into a full stretch save tipping the ball out for a corner. Barlow picked up the half cleared ball and put it into the path of fellow new boy Olsen for a sensational drive into off the post to restore Celtic?s lead.
Timms was called into again as Celtic sat back to defend the lead; once from a distance shot from Deakin that was a comfortable catch, and once from a Ball mazey run that ended with a decent enough effort that Timms did well to catch. Murphy should have equalised when he beat the offside trap and with everybody stationary shot wide of the mark. Redditch tempers ran high as Keeling went down under a challenge in the box, and Softley was anything but as he went in boots swinging catching Keeling in the process. A booking was all that was shown.
With time running out, Geohaghon decided to take matters into his own hands, picking up a clearance and carrying the ball down the field. Celtic defenders bounced off him as he barged his way into the Celtic box before Brodie (on for Ellington), dispossessed him and was shoved over in retaliation. Celtic looked to be panicking a bit as time ran down. Flynn conceded a late corner when Timms didn?t come to collect the lose ball, but Timms then redeemed himself with a tip over from a Murphy cross, and then a catch off the second corner.
Celtic survived, but they allowed Redditch a lot of time and space to twice get back into a game that they should have been dead and buried in. Hopefully this will give the players the confidence they need to go on and win some more.