Celtic started the brighter of the two teams, with a Torpey effort flashing over the bar in the opening minutes as Celtic showed off some fine passing movements, before a through ball from Torpey released Barlow only for him to be tackled at the last moment. The loose ball fell to Platt, and it required a good stop from Evans in the Alfreton nets to deny Platt from close range.
With Alfreton nullified at the Celtic end, it was always Celtic that looked most likely to score, and after being denied once, Platt wouldn't be denied again, and produced a wonder goal from thirty yards looping the ball over the keeper to open the scoring. Barwick nearly doubled the lead when his thirty yard swerving effort went narrowly wide of the post.
However, a set piece undid Celtic, a corner not dealt with properly was headed back into the danger area by Clayton, with Mayman putting it back to Clayton to smash the ball into the back of the net with the Celtic defence stretched.
Going a goal down didn't slow Celtic, and another fine move saw Briggs released to run at the Alfreton defence, he showed quick feet but Curtis got in the way sending the ball out for a corner. A cheeky curling corner from Smart was blocked at the near post by Brown, and Alfreton cleared the resulting corner. Celtic continued to press and right before half time, a Platt looped cross found Ellington with time and space but with the ball at a difficult height, Ellington tried the overhead kick and the ball cleared the bar by inches.
The second half was slow to get going but after ten minutes Celtic were starting to get the upper hand again. Briggs went on a mazy run and with only one defender left to beat tried to curl the ball into the top corner, narrowly missing the target before a second effort required a good stop from Evans.
The game turned sour on the hour mark when a long punt down field aimed for Clayton saw the Alfreton striker get behind Keeling. Keeling lunged and looked to have got the ball, but it was seen differently by the man in black. He blew for a foul, and pointed at the spot, dismissing Keeling as last man. When Briggs pointed to the marks in the pitch that clearly showed the foul had happened outside the box, he was booked and the penalty was taken by Law, lifting it over Phillips, though the Celtic keeper went the right way.
A goal and a man down, it was always going to be a struggle further compounded when Burr was dismissed from the dugout for daring to criticise the decision.
Even though Celtic were a man down, they still created chances, with both Torpey and Battersby seeing efforts saved well by Evans. Mayman could have put Alfreton out of sight when he was played in by Law, only to put the ball past the post when it looked easier to score, but despite Alfreton's profligacy Celtic couldn't make their chances count.
More controversy as the game went into the final fifteen minutes saw McIntosh clearly handle the ball, forcing Barlow's shot past the post, but Celtic got neither a penalty, nor a corner. Nor did they get a corner when Ellington's header was caught and dropped by Evans over the touchline. And when Butler upended first Ellington and then Torpey after both had released the ball, no free kick at the edge of the box was forthcoming, and each time Celtic complained, out came the yellow card.
Still, Celtic had chances to equalise, with Barwick first firing wide, and then forcing Evans into a very good stop, and with seconds on the clock, and long range effort from Meynell was only just over the angle and Celtic took their first defeat on the road this season in controversial circumstances. It was a bitter pill to swallow for the travelling fans.
|2||Wilson, Matt||> 28|
|9||Clayton, Paul||> 80|
|10||Fotune-West, Leo||> 58|
|12||Cusworth, Brian||< 58|
|14||Hearn, Liam||< 80|
|15||Curtis, Tom||< 28|