Whitby are probably considering themselves unlucky not to take all three points in this game. After all, they hit the woodwork twice. But, they should have lost two players to red cards as well - so perhaps luck evens out...
And, it was Celtic who adapted better to the conditions. The howling wind which seemed to come from every direction at once, and intermittent rain made the pitch muddy and lumpy. They started brightly, attacking the goal seemingly incessantly for the opening minutes, with the Whitby defence coping well. In between the crosses raining in from Hooper, Bowman, Potts and Caldicott, Whitby did win a corner when Caldicott tracked Wilford back and dispossessed him at the expense of a corner. Bowman cleared well, and Celtic resumed where they had left off.
Something had to give, and Potts produced the little bit of skill that made it happen. After taking the ball around Dixon, he put a cross into the box so perfectly for Eastwood that it landed between his feet. Eastwood shrugged off the attentions of the two crowding defenders and took advantage of Campbell's hesitancy to come off his goal line to stick the ball in the bottom corner.
To give Whitby credit, this appeared to be the kick that they needed, and strung together a better performance. It started from the kick off, with Whitby moving the ball to Wilford at the byline who whipped in a cross that Gildea volleyed spectacularly and looked certain to be an equalising goal mere seconds after conceding, but Gildea could only watch as the shot hit the far post and bounced back out again. Caldicott made it safe, but Ure had been offside when the ball went in his direction.
That demoralised Whitby for quarter of an hour, and Parr was at his influential best, making a nuisance of himself in the middle of the park. He gave Mayers a difficult ball to deal with at the edge of the box, but Mayers dealt with it and put a great ball in for Eastwood, that Williams had to intercept at the expense of a corner. Eastwood took the ball short from Potts at the corner trapping it so Potts could try to curl it into the top corner of the net from one yard away from the corner flag. The goalkeeper was badly positioned for it, though Reid managed to put it behind for a second corner. Eastwood and Potts tried it again, but this time the wind won, sending the ball on a tight curve out of the field of play.
Potts should have won Celtic a penalty, when Dixon wrapped both arms around his chest and lifted the Celtic man into the air whilst in the penalty box; there was clear air under Potts' feet! Potts wriggled free though and retrieved the ball, had he gone down, he'd must have won a penalty and Dixon should have walked regardless, but the referee allowed Potts to play on, and his shot struck Dixon for a corner.
Whitby came back into the game, and for a ten minute spell looked dangerous, after Dunning's cross into the box turned into a spectacular shot as the wind caught it, arcing it through a 90 degree bend goal wards. Dootson could only watch as the ball clipped the corner of crossbar and post on the way out. And they should have equalised when Wilford steamed into the box past Pearce with Ure in support. As Dootson advanced on Wilford, Ure snuck in to the back post, Wilford side footed it along the line, but the ball lacked pace, and Ure lacked reactions, allowing Hooper to race into the box, and hoof it into touch. The corner was flicked on at the near post by Dixon, but Parr read it well, and headed clear.
The closest Whitby came to scoring in the first half, was Dunning's cross that Dootson punched clear onto German. The ball rebounded back goal-bound, and Dootson pulled off an acrobatic tip around the post to keep the Celtic advantage.
The referee again did not excise his right to send a player when both Williams and Dixon hauled Potts off the ball as he was about to burst into the box to go one-on-one with Campbell. Perhaps he didn't know who to book! Or perhaps each was a covering defender for the other! Potts' free kick whistled past the up-right.
Just before the end of the half, Potts won a corner from nothing, which was a standard corner this time, and Parr connected well with the cross, it was just that his volley left a dent in the international space station.
Celtic kicked off the second half and attacked straight away. Eastwood laid off Potts at the edge of the box, and Potts tried to curl it into the bottom corner, but missed. Parr won the goal kick in the middle of the park, and slid it to Potts. Potts took it to the edge of the area, and tried to curl it again into the bottom corner of the goal - this time he did it. The time on the second half watch, 47 seconds.
Again Whitby kicked straight into top gear, and worked Celtic hard across the muddy field. Wilford kept in a hopeful up-field punt, and crossed into the danger area, where Gildea got through a crowd of players to jab the ball into the back of the net.
Celtic tried for an instant response. Bowman crossed into the box for Eastwood, and though at full stretch and sliding, Eastwood could only steer the ball around the wrong side of the post. German then tore through the defence, but Reid blocked his shot. The ball fell for Eastwood, and though he had targets in the box, he chose to go from a tight angle, and Campbell caught easily.
Wilford then got three bites at distance shots, the first was a comfortable catch for Dootson, and second was woefully wide. It was his third he should be ashamed about, after luring German into a lunging challenge he went one-on-one with Dootson. However, his shot from the six yard box was about 10 yards wide of the mark, so badly did he slice it.
Reid got his just desserts when he hacked a sprinting Caldicott down at the edge of the box, and Parr headed the free kick into the side netting when he looked certain to score. Parr then tried to make amends, interchanging with Potts before striking the ball well from just inside the box, but again, he hit the same side netting.
Wilford once more got goal-side of the defence, as Whitby searched for the equaliser, but Dootson was up to the challenge of his hard driving low shot, catching at the second attempt.
Eastwood had a go at lobbing the keeper from 18 yards, such is his golden touch, I half expected it to work, but it was an easy catch for the keeper. These misses by Celtic when they did manage to break down the Whitby attacks could have proved dear, but for some woeful finishing from Wilford. He completed his rout of misses, when Reid's distance shot was only blocked by Dootson, bouncing nicely for Wilford, but his header sailed over the bar with Dootson still getting to his feet.
Denham was brought on for Eastwood, and immediately ran the defenders in circles. He raced into the box, and took it around Campbell, but the Whitby keeper showed amazing resilience by springing back to his feet to block Denham's reverse chip over his prostrate form. Though Denham got the ball box, his blasted shot rose just a little too much, and cleared the bar. Potts took his turn next, dancing into the box, and producing another fine save from Campbell. As time ran down, Denham dispossessed a Whitby defender in the corner to put a great cross in to Mayers, but the Celtic central defender could only head over the bar.
Whitby were getting desperate, and with very little time left, Swales wasted it by diving to the floor dramatically after German's legal tackle. He was booked for diving.
All in all an excellent victory for Celtic, and their second on the trot. You know what happened last time we did that? We got promoted...