Match Report -
Three points gained the hard way
By Iain Benson
Only three games so far this season have not seen a penalty, Workington, Burscough and Kettering. Celtic conceded their fifth penalty in ten matches, once again allowing the opposition a sniff of a chance. Unlike at Nuneaton the concession did not cause us valuable points, and Celtic are now eight in the table, five points off the play offs.

Celtic started with a great deal of promise, a free kick not cleared by Hinckley and Barlow whipping in a high speed cross that Haran headed narrowly wide. A poor pass back from Birch left Bowles racing out of his area to reach the ball ahead of Hall, he did make it (just), but his clearance came to Ellington some thirty-five yards out, Ellington lined up the shot, but put it wide, aiming for the bottom corner to give Bowles no chance to get across.

The miss was irrelevant moments later as Winn latched onto a Roca through ball and ran through the gaping hole in the defence and chipped the keeper, the ball crashing down off the bar and over the line.

Celtic very nearly doubled their lead immediately when Keeling's long throw was flicked on by Barlow and headed over the bar by Ellington. Barlow then set up Ellington again, with his back to goal he hooked it over his shoulder, and Birch plainly handled it, but the decision was ball to hand.

Hinckley's first chance came half way through the half when Hall fouled Philpot near the corner flag, and Story fired over the bar from close range off the free kick. Barlow then set Roca up with a peach of a chance when he stopped the ball for Roca angling into the box, but Roca sent the ball over the bar when it seemed easier to score.

Just before half time came the penalty. An angled ball to the back post, Gamble went down to smother, but the ball squirmed loose. Haran was on the line to block the shot and as the boots were flying from both sides, Celtic trying to clear, Hinckley trying to force it over the line, the linesman saw something in the melee and indicated for a penalty. Marrison took the penalty, sending Gamble the wrong way as he put it low to the Gamble's right.

Celtic started the second half the brighter of the two teams, and Winn's initial cross was half cleared out to Garner who lobbed it straight back in. Hall's shot was blocked by Bowles spinning out to Ellington who put it sideways to Barlow, unmarked two feet from goal, and he tapped it across the line. Celtic had four players in a position to score, and Hinckley's defending was woeful, to say the least.

Celtic should have had a penalty, but the penalty quotient for the match had been used up. Hall got clear into the box, and was clearly shoved by Birch sending Hall face first into the dirt, but the referee waved play on. Whilst Celtic complained, Hinckley broke and Philpot's low drive was only palmed away by Gamble, and Sykes cleared.

Incensed by the decision, Celtic moved up through the gears and passed the life out of Hinckley, the final ball coming from Hall into the path of an unmarked Ellington. Ellington took the touch instead of the shot allowing Lavery to come across and pressure him, and Ellington's shot was palmed away by Bowles. Roca twisted and turned half a dozen Hinckley players before pushing the ball out to Winn twenty yards from goal, the shot was powerful and low, Bowles doing well to get down and push it out for a corner.

Roca tried to go it alone and burst into the box, he was clear one-on-one with Bowles and Roma clipped his foot sending the tricky winger flying theatrically to the ground. Too theatrically for the referee's liking, and Celtic's second shout for a penalty ignored. Again, Hinckley tried to catch Celtic whilst they complained, but Keeling forced the ball out for a throw, letting Celtic reorganise. Unable to get through the defence, Hinckley's last chance was a distance effort from Birch that sailed harmlessly over the bar.

It was by no stretch a vintage performance, with the result ground out by solid performances across the park. New signing Davies held the midfield together well, and allowed Winn the freedom to do what he does best.

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