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Match Report -
Sykes Screamer keeps Celtic in touch
By Iain Benson
Celtic were able to contain a Kettering side that seemed unable to hit the target with any power. In comparison, Celtic neatly unlocked the Kettering defence twice to take all three, vital, points to keep Celtic in with play-off ambitions and effectively end Kettering's.

Elding got the first chance early in the game, getting a free header after Haran had conceded a corner, but was to prove profligate all afternoon and started early. Whilst Black was off receiving treatment for an unseen two footed challenge, Celtic mounted an attack, Ellington trying to provide for Sykes, his strike partner for the game, but the outstanding Koo-Boothe was on hand to beat him for the ball, and put it out for a corner. Haran got his head to the corner, only to see McIlwain hack the ball off the line.

Celtic kept up the pressure, and another two footed challenge from McIlwain on Black saw a brief talking to and a free kick from Black that turned into a shot, tipped away for a corner by Osborne in the visiting nets. Haran nodded the corner down to Ellington, it took a stretched out leg from Theobald to deny him, at the expense of another corner. The corner was half cleared, before Prince put it back in for Sykes; Sykes met the ball with his head, and Osborne only just reached it, clawing it back into his chest. As the half went into the final few minutes, Prince went on a mazy run that left Kettering defenders in his wake before snapping off a shot from the edge of the box that McIlwain deflected for a corner.

The Celtic defence was holding Kettering at bay, forcing them into long shots that never troubled Pettinger. The closest they came was a dipping thirty yard effort from Patterson that went zipping over the bar.

A cross from Prince was met by one of the more diminutive players on the pitch as Turley nodded it goalwards only for Solkhon to hack it clear as far as Prince who lifted it back to Sykes. Sykes? header was going wide, Ellington arrived at the far post, but only succeeded in making it clip the post and go out. Turley had another go from distance, but like Kettering, he put his shot over the bar.

The second half saw Celtic attack from the off, and Ellington was soon one-on-one with Osborne inside the six-yard box. Ellington opted for power and Osborne made an outstanding save. Kettering on the other hand were still trying their luck from distance. Solkhon was on target with a well taken twenty-five yard drive that required a decent save from Pettinger, and Black had to be alert, conceding the corner under pressure from Hall. Zico-Black also tried the distance shot, but reverted to type sending it well over the bar.

Solkhon slid two footed in on Turley on the half way line, conceding a free kick that Celtic used a s routine culminating in Turley putting a flashing ball through the six yard box that everybody missed including Sykes and Ellington sliding in at either post. Just as it looked as if the game would go flat, Prince freed Ellington, and it looked as though he was too wide. Ellington kept the ball in, ran along the touchline, beat two defenders, took a step inside, looked to the penalty spot, Kettering braced for the pull back and Ellington slotted the ball between keeper and near post with a natural goal-scorers eye.

Elding looked to get an instant reply when he broke the offside trap to go one-on-one with Pettinger but his shot was woefully lacking in power and Pettinger just fell on it. At the other end, Winn could have capped his man of the match performance with a goal when Sykes pulled the ball back to him and he whistled his shot narrowly over the bar. Black won a corner out of Hall, the routine was well worked, but there was Koo-Boothe to win another header and concede another corner. The corner was cleared, and Kettering moved it quickly to Pettinger's end, Hall's ball across the face was meant for Elding, but he was slow to arrive and Pettinger easily plucked out the cross. Midgeley had been marked out of the game by Barnard, but did get the better of him when he judged a bouncing ball better, turned him and poked his shot at Pettinger with insufficient power to trouble him.

During Kettering's best spell they came close to equalising when a free kick was floated in, met by the head of Koo-Boothe; Pettinger got enough of a hand on the close-range header to force it onto the bar. As the ball came down, Barnard tried to clear, but it was put straight back in, only for Turley to finally scramble the ball clear. Nicell broke through the offside trap and raced down Pettinger's throat, one-on-one it took a great save from the Celtic custodian to deny him an equaliser.

With Kettering threatening an equaliser there were huge holes at the back. Prince lifted the ball to Ellington. Having been caught offside several times he hesitated long enough to check that he was onside, then raced into wide empty spaces. Diuk came across to try and take the ball from him, only for Ellington to spot Sykes unmarked run through the centre of the park and lift a perfect cross right onto Sykes? swinging right boot. The shot curled and dipped past the flying arm of Osborne and into the top corner.

There was still time for Nicell to get past loanee Baynes and go one-on-one with Pettinger; but Pettinger was up to the task and made a good stop. After Barnard fouled Koo-Boothe on the edge of the box, Kettering had a chance of a consolation goal, but though he curled his shot around the wall, Pettinger had enough time to get across and capture it.

Kettering finished the stronger, despite Celtic's goal. However, they had been contained throughout and can have no complaints. The win puts Celtic in sixth spot, six points behind Droylsden, with two games in hand and yet to play them.

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