From the off, Celtic looked the hungrier, and Hall's powerful running left the home defence flat footed earlier on, a low shot blocked on route to goal by Morley, zipping out for a corner. The corner was whipped into the box, and the Hyde defence was all at sea trying to deal with it, eventually putting out for a corner, but Barwick's turn and shot off this corner was well saved by Dootson in the Hyde nets.
Minutes later, and Celtic had another corner, their fifth inside twenty minutes, and the near post corner was diverted in by Meechan to open the scoring.
A full speed Barlow run down the wing look set to open Hyde up again, until Lynch slid in dangerously and earned himself a booking, while Barlow had to receive treatment. From the free kick, Celtic got it across to Meechan, whose shot was blocked by some last ditch defending.
Hyde could have pulled one back when Tipton got behind Smart and fired in from an acute angle, but it was asking a lot to score from there, and Gamble palmed the shot around for a corner that Hyde couldn't convert, with Sykes a powerhouse in the centre of the box mopping up every high ball. Hyde's best chance of the half forced Gamble's best save of the match, when Payne's knock back to his keeper saw Gamble out of position and at full stretch to palm the ball away and for Smart to collect and clear.
From a free kick, Payne got his head on the ball, firing over the bar before Woolliscroft sent Barlow off on another run. Barlow evaded Lynch and slid the ball into the path of Hall who raced past the static Hyde defence to go one on one with Dootson. The ex-Celtic keeper was off his line quickly, but Hall had the composure to hold off on his shot until the exact right moment and slotted it past Dootson and into the back of the net to double Celtic's lead.
Meechan received a heavy knock moments after shooting wide, and was replaced by Roca, who immediately set about worrying the home defence with his twists and turns. However, Hyde made it to half time without conceding again, though only thanks to Dootson smothering a low drive from Dean.
Straight from the off, Woolliscroft got forward and fired in a half clearance, but again Dootson was on hand to Hyde with a sniff of a chance, before Hyde finally got into gear and started causing problems for the Celtic back line. Seddon's shot was blocked by Sykes at the expense of a corner, and Hyde piled on the pressure, winning a further three corners in quick succession without ever really worrying Gamble who collected them with ease. Hyde threw on two more attackers to try and salvage the game, but it had the opposite effect, disrupting their play and allowing Celtic to get back into the game. Even so, Tipton and Clee both went close, the latter pulling a good stop, and his first real save of the match, from Gamble.
A Celtic corner won by some panicking defending from Brass, was only half cleared as far as Smart coming into the corner of the box, and his twenty yard drive was low and out of the reach of Dootson to extend Celtic's lead to three goals. The massed ranks at the Celtic end were jubilant.
It could have been more, after Ellington was brought on for Dean, he immediately set up Hall with an excellent pull back, but though Dootson couldn't reach it, the ball smacked off the underside of the bar, and Dootson reacted quickest to gratefully clutch it to his chest.
A corner, late in the game for Hyde saw them all pile forward, but it wasn't a United foot that turned the ball into the Celtic net, it was a sliced clearance from Captain Payne that finally beat Gamble.
Gamble kept the score-line reflective of the game with a fine stop from substitute Simm, and the much vaunted Seddon could only shoot wide of the mark as the game ran out of time.
It was one of the better performances from Celtic this season, a ruthless streak where it mattered, and top notch defending that contained every goal threat that Hyde possessed, so much so, that they had to rely on a soft own goal to get onto the score sheet at all.
|3||Lynch, Chris||> 65|
|7||Stephens, Dale||> 56|
|12||Simm, Chris||< 65|
|14||Johnson, Dale||< 56|