It was a pattern of play to be repeated throughout much of a frustrating first half. Celtic were opting to launch long high balls from the half way line, avoiding the sweat involved in the darting little runs and inter-passing movements that have been a feature of their game this season.
Histon, for their part, could have been two up within seven minutes. First Dan Holman broke clear and fired wide of Budtz’s right hand post, then the impressive Omer Riza blazed the ball over the crossbar from six yards out when it looked easier to score.
Once those early chances had passed, most of the first half was a stalemate. Long Celtic punts into the Histon box, three yellow cards for the home side, a looping Meynell header ruled out for offside, then the flashpoint. In the 40th minute, Phil Marsh skipped past keeper Stadelman some thirty yards from goal. The keeper’s response was to rugby tackle Marsh to the ground and there was only one decision open to the referee. Histon fortunately had a goalkeeper on the bench, so Calum Kitscha came on to replace the red-carded and red-faced Stadelman, and Histon outfield player Mat Breeze had to be taken off.
The second half was predictably one-way traffic, and Celtic began to use the beautiful playing surface to stroke the ball around to better effect than they had before the break. Had it not been for some uncharacteristically hesitant finishing from Phil Marsh, and some astonishing saves from the Histon man of the match Kitscha, the score could easily have been 4 or 5.
Among Kitscha’s best moments were a flying save to knock away a thumping, rising drive from Jennings, and three separate occasions when he won one-on-one contests with Marsh, grabbing the ball off his feet or diving low to keep out the striker’s shot.
Celtic’s winning goal was scored by Lloyd Ellams in the 57th minute. Following up on a goalmouth scramble that left Kitscha sprawling on the ground and three defenders on the line, Ellams had the presence of mind to hit the ball straight down the centre and off the ground, giving Kitscha no chance of pulling off another remarkable save.
|4||Roberts, Grant||> 76|
|5||Moore, Darren||> 76|
|7||Breeze, Matt||> 40|
|14||Taaffe, Lewis||< 76|
|16||Day, Charlie||< 76|
|17||Kitscha, Calum||< 40|