The opening ten minutes were evenly matched with, though Paul Phillips got an early test with Paul Clayton's spectacular overhead kick that was fortunately close enough to the Celtic custodian to capture easily, whilst Dave Hankin and Joe O'Neill both went close with efforts at the other end. Alfreton were the first to find the back of the net when Dominic Roma squirmed his way past Andy Smart by the touchline, his ball was inch perfect to Anthony Howell to tap in from three yards. Clayton hoped to capitalise on the home side's goal, but his header from point blank was reached by Phillips and tipped out for a corner, that Clayton could only head wide.
Celtic got right back on the horse, and played Alfreton off the park with some sensational football. Briggs was the final piece in a ten man move that warmed Dootson's palms from the edge of the box, as well as going narrowly wide on two occasions, before his ball into the box was sent high into the air by Aden Flint, only for Warren Peyton to watch the flight of the ball and volley a left footed shot into the top corner out of Craig Dootson's reach. Seconds later and it was two when the home defence didn't deal with the loose ball, Joe O'Neill dropped the ball off to his striker partner and Matty Barlow didn't disappoint, firing under Dootson's body.
Alreton came out after the interval fired up and looked to be putting Celtic under some pressure, Kyle McFadzean shooting from a fair way out but forcing Phillips into a good stop seconds after the restart. However, Celtic grabbed a goal right when it mattered, Joe O'Neill receiving the ball of Matty Barlow, turning and holding off Pell to get the space for the shot, and though Dootson got a palm to it, he couldn't keep it out.
A corner for Alfreton got them right back into the game, after previously hitting the post, Liam Hearn had the freedom of the defence to head towards goal, Phillips kept out the initial effort, but not the second as it was thumped into the roof of the net off the rebound by Hearn. Steve Woods saved Celtic's bacon from another corner moments later when the ball had cleared Phillips, but Woods hacked off the line from Howell, with Howell only able to head the rebound well wide.
Again O'Neill scored right when it mattered most. A pair of fouls within seconds from McFadzean wasn't punished by the referee, instead Celtic punished them as Peyton's free kick found O'Neill sneaking in at the front post, and though Flint tried to throw himself in front of the shot, it span off the outside of O'Neill's boot and into the net from inches out.
Back again came the home side, Flint getting up for a free kick, and forcing Phillips into an excellent save down low, and when Hearn came in, he found Phillips in imperious form, blocking the close range effort and then scrambling across the face of his goal to block Howell's close range effort to the applause of the travelling faithful.
Craig Hobson showed quick feet and an superby eye for goal, when he broke into the box from a well thought out free kick, again giving Dootson not a chance with his low drive into the bottom corner.
Alfreton got a consolation goal in stoppage time when a loose ball looked threatening, Phillips raced out and beat Howell to it, only for his clearance to fall to Andy Todd, forty yards from goal he hit it first time; Phillips, well out of his area could only watch and hope it would sail over or wide, but instead it fell neatly into the net.
Celtic go into their FA Cup weekend now on the back of a seven game unbeaten run.
|5||Pell, Richard||> 70|
|6||Roma, Dominic||> 58|
|9||Clayton, Paul||> 76|
|12||Ross, Ian||< 76|
|14||Todd, Andy||< 58|
|16||Law, Josh||< 70|