Match Report -
Cruelly denied a win
By Iain Benson

A last gasp goal from perennial thorn in Celtic’s side, Paul Brayson, cruelly denied Celtic their first win of 2012.

The first half was a case of Celtic ensuring that they didn’t concede, and they concentrated on this task very well, denying Harrogate any real chances. However, it also reduced Celtic’s chances. With the lion’s share of the possession, chances did come, with Richard Pell heading narrowly over his own bar during pressure, whilst Ollie Banks got on the end of a good spell of pressure but fired wide of the mark. Craig Hobson was twice unceremoniously pushed over in the box. A Brogan free kick was a comfortable catch for Mark Cook, and Harrogate got lucky ten minutes in front of the half. With the goal at his mercy, Brogan shimmied and then pulled the trigger only for Jake Picton to slide across and block.

Celtic upped a gear in the second half and it immediately paid dividends, with Ollie Banks putting in a great cross and Greg Wilkinson ghosting in at the far post to fire towards goal, only for Cook to pull off a dramatic and excellent save. Brogan put a free kick straight at Cook, before Celtic had to substitute Phil Marsh. Marsh had leapt a challenge from Paul Heckingbottom in the area before regaining control of the ball, ready to turn and shoot and, while he was off-balanced, was ‘helped’ off the pitch and into the hoarding.

Callum Warburton was inches away from getting a goal, when he headed the ball back to Jan Budtz, with Budtz not where the header was. Fortunately for Warburton, who hadn’t put a foot wrong all game, Budtz was on his toes and was able to scurry back and grab the ball almost on the line.

Mitchell Austin was brought on, and could have had a dream debut, when Harrogate failed to clear a corner, with the ball all over it took a reaction stop from Cook to deny Austin a second in two games. A goal for Celtic looked on the cards, and it came when Hobson held off the overly aggressive attentions of Alan White to curl an effort around Mark Cook only to see the ball come back off the post. Steve Brogan had followed the ball in and had the goal at his mercy as he fired home the opener with fifteen minutes to go.

Celtic were guilty of playing the defensive game after this point, and it was within seventy seconds of working, especially when the already booked White shoved Jan Budtz giving the official no choice but to send White off. Celtic were holding the ball in the corners and block off Harrogate attacks instead of doing what they did to get the goal. Harrogate looked set on wasting any chances they got until Craig Radcliffe jinked his way around Kris Platt’s challenge and finding Paul Bolland who brought a great one handed flying save from Jan Budtz and the Celtic luck returned with a vengeance when the rebound fell to Paul Brayson who produced, to be fair, a great finish; lobbing over the defence and in off the far post to level and leave Celtic still on the hunt for a win in 2012 but also with the record of only one loss in eight away games, and only two away losses in the league all season.

1Cook, Mafk  
2Picton, Jake  > 80
3Heckingbottom, Paul  
4Wilson, LaurieYellow Card 
5Pell, Richard  
6White, AlanRed Card 
7Youhill, Rob  > 57
8Bolland, Paul  
9Brayson, Paul  
10Chilaka, ChibYellow Card 
11Radcliffe, Craig  > 65
12Lynn, Jonny  
14Turl, Will  < 80
15Elam, Lee  < 65
16Bloomer, Matt  < 57
17Clayton, Dan  
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