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Match Report -
Deflected goal sinks Celtic's unbeaten run
By Debbie Taylor

Celtic's bid to escape relegation stalled a little bit after a scrappy own goal from Scott Bonsall was the only thing that could break the deadlock between the two teams.

Celtic started brightly, with Wilford winning a corner out of Foster. Alfreton defended well, but eventually, Parton managed to squirrel the ball out to Caldecott running in, Caldecott struck the ball first time, but sent his powerful shot wide of the mark.

Alfreton didn't look like a side that had lost four straight home games, and Heinemann got forward well, only to tangle with Black near the half way line and win a free kick that was swept across to Godber. His shot was deflected for a corner. This time it was Celtic's turn to defend well, but Godber was soon pumping the ball back into the box, this time for Sykes to head out for a corner. Caldecott cleared, but Alfreton kept the pressure on, with Bettney lofting the ball to the back post, where the gigantic figure of Sale was waiting. Sykes did well, getting across and heading over his own bar. Again Caldecott cleared the near post corner, but again Bettney put it straight back in, this time Haskins getting a touch to keep the ball penned in the Celtic third with yet another corner. Dootson's punch landed at Blount's feet, his shot from distance was woeful, and Celtic could regroup.

Bettney tried himself midway through the half, but his shot from distance whistled wide. Heinemann's cross moment's later turned into a shot as Dootson back-pedalled to watch the ball land in the top netting.

Celtic edged back into the game, and started stringing a few passes together, but a strong arm, literally, from Heinemann on Bonsall as the Celtic man ran past him, resulted in the Alfreton player seeing yellow. The free kick from thirty yards was comfortably claimed by Butler ahead of Keeling. Steve Smith got the ball at his feet and ran into the box, he rode three strong challenges, any of which would have been a penalty had he tumbled, but he somehow stayed on his feet and managed to poke the ball towards the goal, and Butler had to be alert to smother.

Wilford held off his marker before producing a piercing pass for Parton to latch onto. Parton struck the ball first time, and Butler made a good stop, but Brown had to be alert to tidy up as Parton came in for the rebound. Heinemann risked a second yellow as he slid through Black just outside the box, but Celtic tried a clever free kick and it failed.

Alfreton tried to regain control of the game, and it was through the excellent Bettney that they regained some measure of it, he tried his luck from distance, and his shot swerved and dipped and zipped narrowly over the bar. Alfreton then got the ball in the back of the net, with Sale lobbing the ball over the defence for Duffield who was offside so Dootson didn't even attempt to catch the lob over him into the net.

Heinemann was oblivious to his earlier booking, and slid through Wilford on the halfway line. The free kick was taken short to Haskins. The newest Celtic recruit put a great weighted ball through the static Alfreton defence for Parton to run onto. Parton collected the ball and only had Butler to beat. The live-wire striker knocked the ball past Butler as the home keeper stretched for it. Butler caught Parton's foot slowing him just enough to mean he just couldn't collect the ball to steer it into the goal. Had Parton gone down, Butler would have been sent off, but Parton was focused on getting the ball. He managed it too, pulling it back to Wilford, whose shot struck Fisher to be deflected for a corner. Celtic wasted the corner.

The second half started with early Alfreton pressure. A half clearance from Sykes fell to Godber who took the first-time volley and produced a great stop from Dootson.

However, Celtic got back into stride, and Steve Smith chased down a seemingly dead ball to win a corner out of Heinemann. Brown stooped ahead of Sykes, to put the ball out for a second corner, which was a comfortable catch for Butler. Celtic kept the pressure on, as Brown bear-hugged Wilford thirty yards out. Again Butler claimed the looping cross.

Alfreton were forced to shoot from distance, and Godber tried through the smallest of gaps. The ball ricocheted off Keeling, Sykes and Duffield and could have gone anywhere, but Dootson made sure it went to him.

Alfreton looked like they were crumbling, and a back-header from Brown left Butler scrambling across the penalty box with no chance of making it, conceding the corner. Wilford had a free header at the back post, but couldn't convert it. Wilford almost got another chance a moment later, but was impeded by Brown thirty-five yards out. The free kick was half cleared as far as Haskins; his shot through a crowd was too ambitious and never made it to the net.

Robinson got the day's second booking when he slid dangerously through Haskins after the youngster had cleared the ball. Celtic played the free kick for possession, before Sale clumsily bundled Shepherd over near the halfway line. Celtic again played for possession, but Bettney latched onto a loose pass and lobbed a ball into the box for Sale. Standing head and shoulders (and most of his chest) above the defence Sale nodded the ball down producing an outstanding point-blank save from Dootson.

Steve Smith tangled with Robinson on the half way line, and the free kick into the box was punched clear by Dootson only as far as Bettney. Keeling charged down the cross and put it out for a corner. Sale got his head on the ball, but Caldecott at the post cleared off the line. His clearance went as far as Bettney who put it back into the box. There was a mad scramble, Bonsall tried to deflect Duffield's shot over the bar, and succeeded in heading it past his own keeper. Though it was an own goal, Alfreton's pressure looked like making a goal inevitable.

Sale bounced off black, and won a free kick thirty yards out. Godber took the curling free kick, but couldn't curl it under the bar. Godber then forced a corner out of Sykes, but Celtic were more composed at the back and cleared.

Robinson should have left the field after his foul on Bonsall left the Celtic man requiring an icepack on his face to take down the swelling from Robinson's boot. Just a free kick was the verdict, which was wasted as Robinson was bundled over by Wilford struggling to reach the lofted ball. With time running out, Celtic were looking for another miraculous recovery, and Wilford almost managed it, working half a yard of space just outside the box, but his shot went over the bar.

Celtic's third penalty shout came as Robinson's diving save inside the box deflected Shepherd's cross out for a corner off his hand. The corner was cleared by Brown. Steve Smith tried to bring it back into the box, only to be fouled by the charmed Robinson. Butler caught the ball ahead of Sykes, but as he landed, he fell on Sykes, and rolled into the net with the ball. Sykes was adjudged to have fouled the keeper and the referee was not interested in any protestations. Before the free kick could be taken, full time was blown ending Celtic's unbeaten run.

The unbeaten run had to end sometime, and the question is now how will Celtic respond. An inconsistent Worksop will be the next league opponents after a slight diversion against Morecambe in the GLS Cup. The Worksop match is the more important. Fortunately for Celtic, the rest of the results in the relegation battle went the right way keeping Celtic's nose just out of the bottom three.

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