Match Report -
Celtic drop to within a loss of the relegation zone
By Iain Benson
Celtic needed the win to keep the distance from the relegation zone, but with the loss and the other results, Celtic now find themselves just three points and two places clear; with Redditch having a game in hand to be played on Tuesday, Celtic will need the win just to ensure that come 5pm next Saturday, we are not in the relegation zone.

Despite a debut for on-loan Oldham Athletic defender Chris Lever, Celtic couldn?t stop the goals going in, conceding in their thirty-third game on the trot. Hucknall are right behind Celtic in the goals against column, so goals were an inevitability in this match.

Celtic started the brighter of the two teams, Barlow putting the ball into the path of a completely unmarked Brodie coming into the box, one-on-one with Beattie, the keeper, it required an exceptional save from Beattie, the rebound coming to Winn, but under pressure from the Hucknall defence, Winn was denied. A Hume knock down to Winn in the box saw Winn push the ball to Keeling, but Keeling?s shot was well over the bar.

Ricketts, at the other end could not take advantage of a mix up in the defence as Keeling and Lever struggled to get it clear, but Ricketts shot narrowly over the bar. Brodie was unlucky when he got onto Barlow?s cross through the six yard box, at the back post he lost his footing and chested the ball narrowly wide of the mark. Barlow?s running was causing problems for the home defence, and his ball was knocked to the back post for Brodie who lifted it over the defence to Sykes at the edge of the box, but his shot was cleared off the line.

Celtic?s defensive frailties were exposed when Johnson forced Black into conceding a corner, which was delivered to the back post where Ricketts was waiting to power a free header into an empty net. Fox could have doubled Hucknall?s lead almost immediately, when he found some space twenty-five yards out, but he flashed his shot wide of the mark. Black was forced into conceding another corner under pressure from Ricketts, Bishop punched the corner as far as Hanson, whose shot was straight at Bishop. Hucknall did double their lead when Hanson lobbed a ball to the back post, Ricketts saw his header thud against the bar, but with the defence all at sea, Johnson was on hand to nod into an empty net from close range.

At the half time interval, Celtic looked a team that deserved to be in the position they found themselves in, and something needed to change. They started the second half brightly, with some good build up play culminating in Barlow firing over the bar from the edge of the box. Olsen, too, fired over when Brodie?s ball had given him a glorious position.

Celtic?s play eventually got the goal, when Winn fired through a crowded box, only for Legg to help out his stranded keeper by punching the ball clear off the line. The referee had no choice but to award Celtic a penalty, and send Legg off. With Ellington missing through tonsillitis, it fell to Maxfield to take the penalty, and he did well, sending Beattie the wrong way.

It wasn?t long before Hume followed, after receiving a yellow card for complaining about leniency in a foul on Maxfield, he was shown one yellow card, and for going into a 50/50 challenge with the keeper at the edge of the box with his studs showing, he was shown a second.

Ben Smith, brought on to replace Black as Celtic looked for an equaliser, interchanged with fellow substitute Fish, but his angle was acute and the keeper was always favourite to save it. Ben Smith kept getting into good positions, and he lofted a cross through the box, Sykes was coming in at the back post, and his shot was deflected around the post for a corner with seconds remaining on the clock. Lever could have had a dream start when he got onto the corner, but he headed wide of the mark. There was still time for Smith to get another great cross in, and with Sykes coming in at the back post unmarked it looked certain he would equalise, but the ball bounced between his legs and went for a goal kick.

There was no more time, and Celtic now find themselves poised precariously above the drop zone, with Lancaster visiting next Saturday. Celtic need to beat the league?s whipping boys convincingly if they are to claw back some of the disastrous goal difference that is as good as a win to the chasing teams.

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