Match Report -
Schmeichel the difference
By Iain Benson
The signs for the season are very promising after a good solid performance from the Celtic team against a highly competent and organised Manchester City reserve side.

That the first half ended goalless was down solely to Kasper Schmeichel who pulled of a trio of excellent saves. The first came in the opening ten minutes when Lee Ellington won a corner out of Gary Breen. This was played to the back post, and with Schmeichel having to cover the full distance of his goal to get across to Paul Tait's cushioned header at the back post was destined for the opening goal. Ashley Burbeary got an excellent chance after Paul Sykes pulled the ball back from the by-line but his shot zipped wide. Andy Smart beat his marker on the wing and whipped in a low cross for Tait, who took the shot first time and forced Schmeichel into another sensational save. Smart again linked up with Tait just before the interval, this time coming through the middle and pushing it out to the unmarked Tait. Tait's first touch set him up nicely and against any other keeper, his curling top corner shot would have been a goal, but Schmeichel got up well and pushed it over his bar. James Dudgeon got his head on the corner, but put his header over the bar.

There were several substitutes by both teams at half time; the important one for City was Karl Moore coming on. He found half a yard at the edge of the box and struck a low, powerful shot that substitute keeper Martin Pearson trapped with his legs, with the ball trundling towards the goal line; Terry Barwick came across and tried to clear, but put the ball into the back of his own net instead.

Pearson made amends when Ched Evans burst through the offside trap showing great pace, but Pearson made a superb stop, not only blocking the shot, but keeping hold of the ball. When Tait was brought down just outside the box, it was a chance for Celtic to equalise, and Smart tried a worked free kick, dropping the ball to Burbeary who fired in just over the bar.

Schmeichel again came to City's rescue when Michael Stringfellow set him up with an excellent through ball to put Celtic's hot new signing one-on-one, but somehow Schmeichel made himself big and blocked the shot.

Pearson was no slouch either, when a corner in from Adam Clayton was put back to him, his sharp angled shot was well saved at full stretch by Celtic's keeper.

Celtic got a justified equaliser and it was hotshot Matty Barlow who got his name on the score sheet for his third goal in two games. Hall pealed off dragging the defenders with him, and saw Barlow well positioned, provided him with a difficult ball, but Barlow made no mistake lashing the ball past Schmeichel.

Matty Barlow almost got the winner when he managed to beat Schmeichel again, after Mike Fish found him with a great low cross, but though Barlow dummied Schmeichel, Breen was on the line to hack it clear. Instead, it was City who got the winner, when Moore wriggled past Jamie Kay to get enough space for a powerful accurate drive that left Pearson with no chance as it smacked into the back of the net.

All in all, a positive performance with several of the trialists definitely warranting another look.

Celtic first half: Paddy Gamble; Steve Payne; Simon Garner; Barrie Keeling; Terry Barwick; James Dudgeon; Ashley Burbeary; Paul Sykes; Paul Tait; Lee Ellington; Andy Smart.
Subs from: Chris Hall; Martin Pearson; Ryan Laight; Jamie Kay; Mike Fish; Mike Stringfellow; Sean Beelley; Matty Barlow; Adam Oakes.