Match Report -
Celtic top the league
By Iain Benson
Celtic went top of the league with our first win at the Northolme since 1998.

The first half started quietly, with Keith Briggs getting his head to a corner though the save was comfortable for Phil Barnes in the Trinity number one shirt. Moments later, and a moment of controversy as Darren Stamp went one-on-one with Paul Phillips, after being put beyond the Celtic defence by Ashley Burbeary's through ball. Phillips looked to get both hands on the ball as Stamp followed through and crashed over Phillips, and Stamp was as surprised as anybody when he realised he?d been awarded a penalty. Teams in Gainsborough's position will take anything offered, and though Phillips went the right way, Nathan Peat converted the spot kick.

A good save from Phillips with James Hunt's outside the box effort kept Celtic in the hunt and Ryan Semple should have done better with an open goal, but he blazed well wide. At the other end, it wasn't happening for Celtic, though a cracking effort from Craig Hobson was well saved by Barnes as Celtic struggled to gain any foothold in the game. Joe O'Neill had started slowly, but as the game progressed got more and more into the match, and was unlucky to see his shot charged down after some good footwork created the space, Hobson getting his head on the corner, but putting it straight at Barnes. Matty Barlow reacted quickest just outside the box after a loose pass from Mark Graves, but blazed narrowly wide with his angled drive.

Just before half time, and Paul Ennis was sent to the ground with a robust challenge from Alan O?Hare, and with just seconds on the clock, Warren Peyton stepped up and placed the perfect free kick, looping over the wall and into the top corner.

The second half saw more of the Celtic we have come to expect, though there was still an element of stiffness running through the team. A superb low drive from Hobson after being laid off from Barlow was saved at full stretch by Barnes, the corner cleared as far as Peyton who blazed over from twenty yards. A Celtic goal was coming and it came through Barlow. He was the penultimate player in a pass and move game that used the full pitch, before getting to the by-line and cutting back for O'Neill stealing in at the back post. O'Neill smashed his shot high into the net from two yards giving Barnes no chance at all.

Briggs had a thundering run and shot, but Barnes was well placed, as Celtic looked to capitalise on their continued ascendancy. Luke Beckett was brought on, a player who regularly scores against us for any team he's played for, and with his first touch he almost equalised, flicking a header towards goal after a looping Burbeary cross.

However, Celtic had the measure of Gainsborough now, and passed it comfortably about without creating anything, but stifling any kind of Gainsborough attack, content to build from the back and work an opening. Barlow thought he?d added to Celtic's tally when O'Neill turned provider, sliding the ball sideways for Barlow to run onto, and though the ball was in the net, Barlow was adjudged offside. Moments later and it didn't matter. Connor Jennings (on for Hobson) put the ball through for O'Neill to run onto, and he did, rounding Barnes and cutting the ball in from an acute angle, and it was all over for Gainsborough, who had no time to mount any kind of comeback.

The result leaves Celtic top on goal difference, and Trinity just off the drop zone on goal difference. With Blyth forced into a replay in the FA Cup, Celtic's next match is away at Hinckley.

1Barnes, Phil  
2Toulson, Ryan  
3Peat, Nathan  
4Greaves, MarkYellow Card 
5OHare, Alan  
6Hunt, James  
7Burbeary, Ashley  
8Hurst, Glynn  > 65
9Stamp, Darren  
10Hudson, Mark  
11Semple, Ryan  > 65
12Spafford, Neal  < 65
14Davies, Joshua  
15Dunning, Darren  
16Beckett, Luke  < 65
17Mallon, Ryan  
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