Match Report -
The sweetest way to win
By Iain
A last gasp winner gave Celtic the three points their performance deserved.

Celtic completely bossed the first half, and had Harrogate on the ropes. Adam Kay’s free kick hit the woodwork, and Phil Marsh was denied a seemingly valid goal with a dubious offside flag before cutting a shot wide across the face after some scintillating build up play. It wasn’t all Celtic’s own way, with Harrogate making dangerous forays, and Jan Budtz pulled off a great low save to deny Ian Ross, but they were rare.

Phil Marsh forced Mark Cook into a great stop at his near post and Kay’s corner kick clipped the crossbar with the Celtic man trying a cheeky curling corner. A superb rising drive from Greg Wilkinson was watched hopefully by Cook as it sped past the post, and more one touch passing set up Jack Rea for a rare Rae rasper that had Cook again at full stretch to deny him. Cook was the hero for Harrogate as he kept out Wilkinson’s lofted shot, and he got lucky when Craig Hobson met Kay’s fine cross but lifted the ball over the bar. Lloyd Ellams showed some spectacular skill to get into the box and retain the ball, but his shot took a deflection off Jake Picton’s back to make the save comfortable for Cook. Marsh popped up onto a Kay through ball, and curled his shot over Cook, only for it to thump the woodwork, whilst his twisting and turning in the box opened a small gap, but Cook was well placed.

A goal was coming, Harrogate couldn’t suppress Celtic forever, and a goal came through the vision of Marsh and the strength of Hobson. Marsh’s inch perfect through ball was powered onto by Hobson who held off Picton long enough to draw Cook and fire past the Harrogate keeper right on the stroke of half time.

Celtic started the second half as they had finished the first, with Kay winning a corner. This time Lloyd Ellams took the corner, firing to the near post. Cook came to claim but landed awkwardly and stepped back into his own net. He tried to throw the ball out, but the linesman had seen the ball cross the line and Celtic were two up.

Harrogate reorganised and packed the midfield, stifling Celtic’s dazzling football, and pushing hard into the Celtic half. Callum Hassan headed tamely into Budtz’s arms, but took advantage of some disorganised defending to fire low and hard just beyond the finger tips of Jan Budtz, to pull one back for the visitors.

So successful was this strategy that Harrogate tried again, popping the ball around the box putting pressure on the Celtic back line, forcing them further back. Paul Brayson had a warm up shot that Budtz stopped fairly easily, before placing the perfect low drive through a crowd that Budtz just couldn’t reach and Harrogate were level with twenty minutes left.

Celtic got to grips with Harrogate’s new tactics, and started building their football again. Callum Warburton fired from the edge of the box an inch wide, and Marsh cut his effort across the fface after outpacing the Harrogate defence. Celtic started to look as strong as they had in the first half, and Harrogate were pushed back and back. Right at the death, Arthur Gnahoua turned Matt Bloomer inside out and fired low and hard back from the touchline for Connor Jennings running in from the edge of the box. Cook slid in to get the ball, but Jennings was quicker and fired into the back of the net before following the ball as he went over Cook.

It was the final second of the match and Harrogate didn’t have time to breath never mind mount an attack, and Celtic did to Harrogate what Harrogate did to Altrincham last Saturday.

1Cook, MarkYellow Card 
2Bloomer, Matt  
3Radcliffe, CraigYellow Card 
4Wilson, LaurieYellow Card 
5Nowakowski, Adam  
6Picton, Jake  
7Bore, Peter  > 64
8Ross, IanYellow Card > 45
9Brayson, Paul  
10Hassan, Callum  
11Turnbull, Stephen  
12Elam, Lee  < 64
14Pell, Richard  
15Heckingbotom, Paul  < 45
16Tait, Michael  
17Hardy, Liam  
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