It looked doubtful at times, when Payne went down in a heap; there was no foul, it was just unlucky. Step forward debutant Burke, who went onto have a massive game at the back. Seconds after the restart, and Winn's shot whistled past the post from distance after Ellington had put him through.
However, it was Kettering who nearly, very nearly opened the scoring, moving the ball about well and taking advantage of the re-organisation at the back, with Westcarr sliding the ball through to Beardsley, inside the six yard box and a deflection on the low shot sent it high onto the bar and somehow Celtic scrambled it clear.
Celtic got their act together, and Winn and Ellington both got half chances that they put over the bar, and a cross-shot from Smart was saved comfortably by Harper. Hall was put through by Ellington to go one-on-one with Harper, and Harper kept his side in it with a great low stop from the league's top marksman. A foul from Graham forty yards from goal was mis-kicked by Smart and sailed over the bar before Winn got a glorious chance shooting from the edge of the box, but it struck Kemp. Another set piece was floated into the box from Woolliscroft, Burke could have had the dream debut, but he headed wide of the mark.
Just before half time, and Marna really should have put Kettering ahead. Woolliscroft played a suicidal back pass to Gamble, right into the path of Marna. Marna had the time and space, but his shot was sensationally saved by Gamble, Woolliscroft owes his keeper a pint.
The last act of the first half was Winn finding the range, but not troubling Harper in the home nets, with his dipping shot a comfortable take for the keeper who has conceded the fewest goals this season, and this was followed shortly by a Smart cross for Hall, who inexplicably missed the simple tap in.
Kettering started the second half on top, and stayed there. Solkhon's early effort from a free kick saved by Gamble, but though they were on top, Kettering were finding it hard work to get any kind of chance at all, with the Celtic defence playing staunchly. And despite Kettering always looking threatening, Celtic kept breaking out and looked threatening themselves, Burke going close off a free kick.
With neither side looking like breaking the deadlock, Kettering suddenly freed Beardsley, their loan signing from York. He raced past Smart and forced Gamble into his third brilliant save of the match.
The midfield battle resumed, and then it was Celtic's turn to break. Substitute Roca received the ball in the middle of the park, twisted and turned his way to a few yards outside the box, pulled off a reverse pass to fellow substitute Dean, who surged into the box, faked a lob to the back post, Harper started to go to his left, and Dean shot top right, Harper got a hand to the ball but it wasn't enough to keep it out, and Celtic were in the lead, with riotous scenes on the terraces.
With only minutes left on the clock, Celtic had to defend from the front as Kettering threw everything they had at Celtic, but Celtic stayed calm, held the play up in the corners and ran the last few minutes down, extending their winning streak to eight games and putting themselves into the play off spots.
It was a full team performance, and though a draw may have been a fairer result, Celtic did do enough to win it, and did so.
|4||Graham, Luke||> 45|
|7||Westcarr, Craig||> 90|
|12||Brady, Jon||< 45|
|15||Hall, Andy||< 90|