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Match Report -
Superb second half performance
By Debbie Taylor

Celtic had to dig deep and come from behind twice in this enthralling encounter that they had to win. With the squad injury hit with three key players out, it was going to be tough. To top off, Nathan Wharton was missing due to work commitments! Yet they persevered and came out on top.

But the game started with Bradford being on top, winning a corner off Heald in the opening minute that Crossley put out for a goal kick.

However Celtic battled and came into the game, giving no quarter and chasing down the competent Avenue side. Mayers was fouled thirty yards from goal, and it was he that got onto Heald's free kick into the box, but he could only head tamely wide.

As the possession see-sawed between the two teams, it was Bradford that drew first blood. Fitzgerald apparently held Hayward twenty yards from goal, dead centre. the ball pinged about the box before Fitzgerald blocked Hayward's shot at the expense of a corner. The defence then gifted Oleksewycz a goal when they allowed him the time and the space from the corner to nod the cross simply past Dootson.

However, Bradford did not look comfortable trying to contain the irrepressible Potts. Bowman fed the winger allowing him to run straight past Mitchell. Before Mitchell could react, Potts whipped a superb ball into the box for Eastwood. Eastwood nodded it down into the path of Mayers, whose strike was clinical and powerful, leaving Boswell in the home side's goals rooted to the spot as the net bulged behind him.

Celtic were on level terms, but Oleksewycz had plenty of tricks up his sleeve. Quinn's ball over the top of Pearce was trapped expertly by the Avenue forward. With Fitzgerald on his back he nevertheless turned and volleyed top corner with Dootson unable to get near it. Oleksewycz's goal was top class and unstoppable.

Hayward then got a chance to repeat Oleksewycz's trick. This time Dootson managed to scramble across the face of his goal and tip the ball around the post for a corner, that Celtic scrambled clear.

Eastwood got a chance to bring the two teams level again moments later. Mayers flicked an intelligent ball into his path. For once the linesman decided that he was onside and it took an excellent save with Boswell's legs when one-on-one with Eastwood to deny Eastwood two goals in two games since his return.

Heald conceded a corner at the other end that Bradford just could not get into the box, pumping it over the top three times before Serrant eventually got into the six yard box, only for Dootson to claim.

It was then Potts' turn to miss a super chance. Mayers fed him with a well weighted ball that drew Boswell. Potts tried the chip, but the ball went agonisingly wide. Moments later a world class turn in the box from Potts gave him the space he needed to snap off a shot. Boswell did very well to get down parrying the ball into the path of Mayers and then smothering it on the Celtic man's feet.

Celtic started to get the upper hand as the half wore on. First Potts and then Heald put ball into the box, forcing Bradford to defend like demons. Somehow though, they limited Celtic's chances.

Celtic raced out of the blocks at the start of the second half with new boy Ross Clegg and old boy Bowker replacing Kielty and Fitzgerald. When Mayers was fouled twenty five yards from goal, Boswell came for the free kick. He couldn't claim it though, and Eastwood's half volley was headed off the line by Stansfield as far as Potts. Without the time to line up a decent effort, Potts' shot went just over the bar.

The linesman then got it completely wrong when a quickly taken free kick into the space behind the defence allowed Eastwood to squeeze between two defenders and rifle a shot past Boswell, only to have it ruled out for an offside that was patently impossible.

Bradford rode their Black Luck even further when Stansfield obviously handled the ball to take it away from Eastwood, and neither linesman or referee spotted it, despite the obvious nature of it. Eastwood did not let this slow him down, he got right on with the job in hand, and when Heald's long throw landed right at his feet he turned inside Crossley before curling the ball towards the net only to be denied by the crossbar this time. The ball came to Foster, who tried a first time snap volley, with the keeper beaten it looked a certain goal, but again Stansfield was there to head off the line. An equaliser looked certain.

Celtic were pressing forward with some excellent play. Potts allowed Bowman to take the ball on an overlap, and his cross in was met by the head of Keeling running in from deep. Unmarked, he still managed to somehow glance the ball wide of the target.

It was nearly half an hour into the second half before Bradford got a half decent chance. Hayward striking a powerful shot from outside the box that Dootson could only parry reflexively. fortunately, there was no runner coming in, and Dootson could claim at the second attempt.

But this half was about Celtic pressure, and when Clegg was fouled twenty five yards from goal the Celtic faithful held their breath. Potts' free kick curled into the box, and was cleared as far as Pearce stood on the edge of the box. He might be more comfortable in defence, but there was no mistaking the clinical finish as he volleyed the half clearance into the back of the net.

Another substitution, surprisingly, it was Eastwood who came off. There was some questioning of this from behind the manager's dug out, but Miller knew exactly what he was doing. Almost with his first touch, Paul Wheatcroft raced up field with Potts in support and only one defender to beat. A the last moment, Wheatcroft fed the ball past Wood into the path of Potts. Boswell came, and Potts chipped a well flighted ball over the top and into the back of the net, the Celtic comeback was complete.

There was a late, late scare when Benn got onto a long cross from Serrant, but he headed over the bar, and Bradford had nothing more to offer.

This was a gutsy performance from the Celtic team, and breaks the string of losses in the league. Against such stern opposition, it will surely be a morale and confidence booster ahead of the crucial tie with Hucknall Town midweek. Celtic are going to need every ounce of the confidence they showed today against the high-flying Hucknall outfit

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