Nuneaton didn't know what hit them when Celtic stormed past everything Nuneaton could muster and produced a display reminiscent of the lead up to Christmas. However, with Gainsborough also winning, Celtic remain just outside the play-offs. With more performances like that, the play-offs will come.
Only last ditch defending and the woodwork prevented Celtic from finishing with eight not four.
The front line of Mitchell Austin and Craig Hobson caused no end of trouble for the visitors, and it was Hobson's superb cross that was met by Austin in the six yard box, and though he beat Neil Collett with his effort, it crashed off the bar. Greg Wilkinson and Steve Brogan went close with twenty-five yards efforts and Austin was unlucky when his snap shot, after being put through by Brogan, was blocked by an outstretched leg from Neil Cartwright. Wilkinson fired a corner back in with a dipping shot that cleared the bar, and Austin went close at the near post.
A goal was coming, and it was a contender for goal of the season. Great build up play involving most of the team finished with a slide rule pass from Brogan, a one-two to end all one twos between Austin and Wilkinson when Wilkinson dropped off to Austin and a lift over the defence by Austin was met by Greg Wilkinson who shaped up and his volley flew past Collett.
Hobson squirmed free of Alex Dean to get enough space for a near post shot, but Collett was up to it. So when there was a melee in the Celtic box with the inspirational and organising force of Tim Ryan and Chris Lunch robbed by Danny Glover just inside the box, suddenly Glover was free, one-on-one with Budtz and he made no mistake slotting the equaliser home.
Gone was the panic mode that has been seen in some Celtic games since Christmas, the calm, measured response to the equaliser was what was required, and Celtic started to dismantle Nuneaton. Hobson went close, and then Greg Wilkinson pulled back the ball for Stephen Brogan, who scored for the fifth consecutive time that he's worn the eleven shirt.
The second half saw Celtic run riot.
Austin went close, and Hobson's lobe was just wide, his diagonal effort was well saved, as was his attempt on the hour, which was well saved by Dean, putting the ball out for a corner with just a shade of handball in the box. Nuneaton just managed to clear the corner, but the second one was met by Wilkinson, and Collett had to make the stop. A crass challenge from Dean at the edge of the box was the cue for a Brogan curl to the back post where Rhys Meynell came through the crowd and powered a header into the back of the net for Celtic's third.
Moments later, and Nuneaton's nerves got the better of them as Dean brought down Austin in full flight and got himself a second booking and a dismissal. Celtic got on with the job. Brogan almost added to the tally with a great free kick, but Collett's flying save was top notch. Nuneaton couldn't clear the corner, and Craig Hobson made them pay with a thumping header.
A curling Brogan free kick on the edge of the box flew over the bar, and Jan Budtz was tested by a curling free kick from Andy Brown with five minutes left on the clock, but Nuneaton knew it was over. It was nearly embarrassingly over and Collett will be buying Guy Hadland a drink when it was his leg that denied Craig Hobson a second and Celtic a fifth in stoppage time.
Celtic will travel to Eastwood On Saturday full of confidence on the back of an excellent win.
|4||Noon, Mark||> 45|
|7||Mills, Gary||> 80|
|9||Glover, Danny||> 85|
|12||Hadland, Guy||< 80|
|14||Arnson, James||< 45|
|17||Mitchley, Danny||< 85|