Can we keep it now?
Ray Stanley Memorial
Mon, 8th August
Celtic once again lifted the Ray Stanley Memorial shield, and it must be getting embarrassing for Hyde now, though the score-line rather flattered Celtic somewhat.
The first half was largely uneventful, with the first meaningful chance falling to Clee, receiving a cross at the far post, and with Buxton scrambling, putting the ball wide. Haran really should have scored moments later though, after Turley had been bundled over and Prince?s free kick found Haran?s head the highest, but the ball zipped over the bar. Steve Smith was next to try, with a tame effort from the corner of the box straight at Westhead. When Hockenhull slipped allowing Clee a sight on goal, it looked certain that the deadlock would be broken, but Buxton made a superb save, tipping the ball over the bar.
The deadlock was broken through an own goal. Ellington broke down the flank, and put in a great low cross. To be fair to Jones, though, if he hadn?t turned it in, Turley would have done.
Right before half time, Clee got himself into another good position, and found Buxton again on sparkling form, a strong fist putting the ball out for a corner that Hyde wasted.
Hyde had the better of the first half. Gaynor whipping in a cross that Murcott nodded for a corner. Clee then put a shot across the face that had the home fans holding their heads. McNeil then put his header on target, but Buxton fisted away again. McNeil then tried a twisting turning route to goal, but Haran blocked this time.
Hyde weren?t the only team putting balls narrowly across the face; Ellington was forced wide by Jones, and put his shot across the face of goal.
A goal for Hyde was definitely on the cards, and it came through another ex-Celt, McNeil, powering past Murcott and blasting from an acute angle past Buxton and into the bottom corner.
Ellington was bundled over with a nasty tackle. Prince stepped up to take the free kick, curled it over the wall and over Westhead, but more importantly, under the bar and into the back of the net, Celtic had regained the initiative, somewhat against the run of play, and didn?t really look like relinquishing it again.
Prince was involved again moments later, beating his man and crossing into the box. Ellington was there, a good leap and a buried header to extend Celtic?s lead. Celtic seemed content to tire Hyde out, passing the ball for fun around the home team until the final whistle and once again a Celtic captain lifted the trophy.
Celtic had to ride some good Hyde possession in this game, but they did so. It will be a sterner test on Saturday when the season starts with a visit from recently relegated and title favourites, Northwich Victoria.
Celtic line-up: Buxton (Pettinger), Hockenhull, Barnard, Murcott, Haran, B Smith (Parr), S Smith (Mulvaney), Price (Pilkington), Ellington, Turley (Willis), Prince