Celtic suffered their heaviest defeat of the season at York Street against moneybags side Boston United.
Boston let an unusual Celtic line up know of their intentions when they raced out of the blocks. They early salvos came from the home side, and resulted in Monington and Charlery interchanging around the Celtic defence before the later squared it to Weatherstone 20 yards out from goal, he met it and blasted it goal bound before anybody could close him down, beating Ingham by the power and accuracy of the shot.
Celtic have been in this position in most of the games they have played so far this season, and responded as they always have done, by coming right back at the home side, creating chances of their own. They came close after some sustained pressure, when Peacock earned a corner, and fired it in. It was cleared back to Peacock who didn't hesitate but put it right back in onto Futcher's head. The tall defender was first to the ball, head and shoulders above the home defence, but he couldn't keep the header down and it clipped the top of the bar.
Celtic failed to take their best chance, and Boston almost punished them against the run of play when Weatherstone got onto the end of a Charlery cross, but volleyed it too high. It was the start of a powerful end to the half, but the Celtic defence were more alert, stopping Ellender from getting a clear site on goal, and forcing him to knock it wide, and closing down Charlery as he tried to nip in from the side. His resulting shot was weak and Ingham scooped it up. Just before the half time whistle when Clare stormed in onto a corner, but put it over.
The second half saw Celtic come out of the blocks, and string together some crisp, swift passing, moving the ball well, and bypassing the Boston players with deft touches that showed that they do have the potential to survive in the Conference.
A Courtney cut back was met by Steve Wood, but though his shot had the power, Bastock was in the right position to stop the ball seemingly comfortably. Minutes later, Ward and Bushell interchanged on the right flank before Ward curled the ball into the danger area. Andy Evans, on for Peacock met the ball with a thumping header and saw it tipped around the post, though the referee gave a goal kick.
With quarter of an hour to go, it looked like the Celtic pressure would result in a goal, Parr was getting into good positions, supplied by Scott (on for Perkins), but Boston punished the lack of chance taking by turning the tide to finish the half the stronger of the two sides. As Celtic legs tired, Steve Wood tackled Cook very heavily, injuring the player, earning a yellow card, and giving away a free kick in a dangerous area. Marsh pumped it in, and Matt Woods headed the ball clear. But it fell to Charlery, who pulled the trigger immediately, clipping the underside of the crossbar and going in.
Charlery again pulled the defence apart, first knocking the ball on and beating Futcher for pace, then dodging around the on-rushing Ingham. As Woods and Futcher came in to cover, he squared the ball to an unmarked Weatherstone, for the striker to grab his second.
Futcher immediately brought Dominic Crookes on for his first game back since his groin strain injury at the end of last season, but even he was powerless, when Matt Woods gave away a free kick (he was carded for the tackle) that Brown took quickly and the ball clipped Futcher's arm (it was not deliberate) in the penalty area and for the third game out of 4, Celtic had given away a penalty. Clare stepped up to take, and put it just out of range of Ingham.
A late, late consolation goal was on the cards, as the Boston team went to sleep (they could at 4-0 up) and Courtney finally broke the excellent Boston off-side trap to go one-on-one with the keeper. The ex-Marine striker coolly lobbed Bastock to net again for the club. But that was it, the referee had seen enough, and blew his whistle.
It was good to see Dominic Crookes and Kevin Parr back in the Celtic blue and white; though the former did not have time to make an impact, and the latter struggled to break through the oppositions defence as he had so often in the Unibond. Both will grow with the challenge of the Conference, and improve a Celtic side that is just lacking a cutting edge striker.