Nobody can deny that Celtic were worth their three points as they repeated history by seeing off a robust Solihull side. In 2005, Celtic had lost four consecutive home matches, the last time they had done so; roll forward to 2012, on the tail end of four home defeats. Last time, the run ended with a win over Moors and once again, the run ended with a win over Moors.
Celtic controlled the game and created chance after chance, Greg Wilkinson with an early effort that required Jasbir Singh to be on his toes early doors, whilst Hobson got on the end of a well worked free kick, thumping his header wide. It was by no means one way traffic, and a Solihull corner was gratefully collected by Jan Budtz from Robert Thompson-Brown’s back flicked header from a corner. But it was largely Celtic’s game. Rhys Meynell forced Singh into an outstanding one handed flying save from a training ground free kick that had Solihull pulled all over the place, leaving Meynell free to volley, but Singh acrobatically palmed the ball away. Phil Marsh dragged a shot wide, and Craig Hobson survived the bruising encounters with the visiting defence but fired straight at Singh. Singh was again kept busy by another Meynell effort from a corner this time.
A goal was coming, and it duly arrived when Wilkinson and Marsh combined to free Wilkinson. Wilkinson's intelligent ball was run onto by Hobson who still had work to do with Phil Midworth breathing down his neck. Quite how Hobson turned and wrapped his foot around the half-volley only he knows, but he did and unleashed a fierce looping drive over Singh and into the back of the net just before half time.
There was still time before the interval for Brogan to drive through a crowd with Singh beaten only for Andre Francis to stick out a leg and block inches from the line and for Marsh to force a snap save out of Singh. As Solihull struggled to clear, the ball went for a corner and Kristian Platt arrived at the back post, nodding into the side netting.
After the restart Ollie Banks cut inside and went for precision not power, but couldn’t quite curl the ball enough, watching it scoot just wide. He got another chance seconds later as Andy McWilliams’s ball came to him on the edge of the box, but he fired over the bar. Phil Marsh drove a free kick past the wall and straight into Singh’s hands and neither Steve Brogan nor Craig Hobson could keep their efforts down. It should have been two just past the hour mark when Brogan’s ball to the back post was converted by Phil Marsh, but was mystifyingly deemed offside despite being behind the ball for the entire move.
Solihull hit self-destruct when Danny Spencer picked up a second yellow for a second silly tackle.
Celtic know all too well how difficult it is to play against ten men, and Solihull went for broke. Junior English fired comfortably into Budtz’s arms, and Beswick’s effort was almost a back pass. A mix up between Platt and Budtz almost let Solihull back in the game when Platt chested the ball down for Budtz while Justin Marsden was breathing down his neck. Fortunately, Budtz was very alert and scooped the ball out of the air, though it was a hairy moment.
That scare saw Celtic up their game, and they broke repeatedly on Solihull in the last ten minutes, before applying a coup de grace. Shortly after one break had seen Craig Hinton slide across to deny substitute Mitchell Austin, Austin broke again, and this time drew Singh before sliding the ball into the path of Brogan who will be claiming the eleven shirt in every match he plays now having scored two in two games while wearing it.
Solihull kept pressing all credit to them, and won two late corners and a free kick, but Celtic defended admirably, with Platt and Meynell outstanding at the back. The win puts Celtic back into the play-off spots, a point and two points behind fourth and third placed Gainsborough and Halifax with a game in hand over them both. Hyde are thirteen points ahead, whilst second placed Nuneaton are five having played a game more.
Celtic now go into the midweek fixture against Altrincham with the self-belief they were lacking at the start of the year, and will hopefully let Altrincham know they are in a game.
|5||Pierpoint, Stuart||> 45|
|7||Thompson-Brown, Robert||> 75|
|11||Beswick, Ryan||> 72|
|12||Broadhurst, Karl||< 45|
|14||Connolly, Luke||< 75|
|15||Hinton, Craig||< 72|