Celtic probably didn't do enough to win this one, but neither did Hednesford, however, the Hednesford winner was the best of the goals.
The match was more a tussle than anything else, with few chances. The first of which fell to Marvin Robinson, heading tamely down from a long throw, and Tony McMillan smothered. A few minutes later, and Celtic had a chance, through the power house work rate of Chris Simm, but Dave Parton was alert, as he was throughout the match, and caught well.
Moments after seeing one goal disallowed when Ahmed Obeng was yards offside to receive the pass, Celtic were undone, like last season's fixture, by a long throw. McMillan came through the crowd to claim, but under a lot of barging and jostling he couldn't keep the ball, and it fell to the feet of central defender Curtis Tilt, who poked home.
Celtic nearly pulled it back just before the interval, when Adam Farrell's effort was deflected just past the post by the outstretched leg of Tom James, from the resulting corner, former Celtic midfielder, Paul Ennis, stretched his neck to head Chris Simm's looping effort to the top corner away. Whilst at the other end, after breaking through, Chris Spencer was thwarted by strong keeping from McMillan, when one-on-one.
At the start of the second half, Parton was again called into action to athletically tip Peter Wylie's cross over the crossbar, but that was a glimmer in a dire struggle, with both sides frustrations boiling over in the heat. With fifteen minutes left, Celtic got a free kick some distance out, Aidan Chippendale floated in a peach of a ball, Jack Higgins headed back, his looping header just beyond the grasping fingers of Parton and in under the bar.
Any thoughts of a Celtic comeback and win, like the game here last season evaporated inside forty seconds, when Ennis spread the ball out for Jake Modest. The ball had pushed Modest wide, but as McMillan came to narrow the angle, Modest curled his shot around the advancing keeper and into the far corner of the goal, restoring Hednesford's advantage.
In the last ten minutes, Celtic got the best of the remaining chances, but failed to convert, with Jack Higgins looking to repeat his goal with another back flicked header over the keeper, but this time it just cleared the bar, and right at the death, Curtis Tilt earned his side the three points with a last ditch block on the line as Alex Johnson had twisted through the defence to make a yard for a near post shot that Parton wouldn't have reached.
In the end, Celtic must do better if we are not to reprise our previous seasons.
|7||Ennis, Paul||> 79|
|8||Thomas, Adam||> 34|
|10||Obeng, Ahmed||> 65|
|15||Modest, Jake||< 65|
|16||Spencer, Chris||< 34|
|17||Todd, Andy||< 79|