Match Report -
Disappointing opener
By Iain Benson
Celtic's first game of the new campaign could well turn out to have been their hardest. Kettering were well organised, well drilled and defensively on top of their game. Despite fielding three forwards, Celtic rarely found themselves in a goal scoring position.

Kettering worked the midfield and the defensive positions well, but their forwards were firing blanks. In the opening few moments, Rawle nodded down for Marna, but Marna's legs weren't long enough, and Gamble got the ball away.

Celtic's first half chance came ten minutes in when Chris Hall lost his marker and fired a low cross through the box, but with nobody coming in at the back post, the ball zipped wide. Kettering's Hall, Andy, got a chance a few minutes later as a long throw came all the way across to him, but he half volleyed over the bar from the edge of the box.

Half way into the half, Kemp fouled Chris Hall at the edge of the Kettering box, and Smart's free kick took a big deflection off Graham to go for a corner. McKeown punched the ball clear as far as Winn, but his shot was always rising. McKeown's catching looked suspect all game, and a ball in by Burbeary caused no end of consternation, as he failed to grasp the ball with Ellington and Hall putting him under pressure. Inexplicably, a foul was given.

Kettering were then gifted a goal. A hopeful ball floated to the back post, Dudgeon missed controlled, Gamble went down to snatch, and Solkhon popped up for the poppies to stab the ball home. A scrappy goal, but with the run of play it was a fair reflection.

The second half started in much the same fashion, but Marna seemed to have found his shooting boots. He turned Smart to create some space and fired in a low shot that Gamble did extremely well to catch and smother.

Celtic's second best chance of the game came midway through the second half, Ellington lofted an excellent ball to the back post, McKeown was all at sea and Barlow sneaked in at the back post, but put his header narrowly wide. Celtic's best chance came not long after: Chris Hall forced Solkhon into conceding a corner, which McKeown dropped onto Barlow's knee. Quick thinking saw him knee the ball sideways to Sykes who had a clear view of goal, three yards out, but he had to acrobatically scissor kick to reach the ball ahead of Jaszczun and sent it flying over the bar leaving both Barlow and Sykes on the knees with their head in their hands.

Celtic very nearly threw any chance of salvaging the game away in the last few minutes, dallying on the ball in defence, allowing Malcolm to steal the ball and fire into the side netting. But Celtic are indebted to Gamble for a fine last second double save. Marna left Smart behind to go one-on-one, Gamble stood up well and made an excellent first save, the rebound coming back to Marna, but Gamble was back on his feet in a flash and made a second sensational stop with only seconds left on the clock.

Celtic are going to have to go back to the training ground to analyse where this game went wrong. Unable to break down Kettering's midfield, long balls attempted to bypass them, but Kettering's defence was also very good. That said, Celtic's defence also played well, keeping Kettering's chances to a minimum.

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