It was a much weakened side that Celtic were forced to put out against champions elect, Chester, due to suspension and injuries to key players. After the herculean effort of the Chester fans to get the game on, even a weakened side was welcome.
With regular keeper, Alex Cairns, suspended, Ash Woodhouse got a rare start, and what a game to start in, against the league’s best attack he was going to up against it from the off, although he had Mark Lees to thank when he was nowhere near George Horan’s effort of after Woodhouse’s punch failed to clear a corner, that Lees headed clear from under the bar. That should have been one-nil, or alternatively, Chester could have gone ahead when Marc Williams’s effort was punched away by Woodhouse, only for Nathan Jarman to latch onto the loose ball and force Woodhouse into the first of many great saves.
Chester did go ahead through Nathan Jarman, his shot fired from outside the box just beyond Woodhouse’s fingertips. Woodhouse more than made up for that, with a great save tipping away Wes Baynes’s free kick, and then minutes later palming Dave Hankin’s low drive into the path of Craig Curran, only to get back up and make the double save. However, Celtic were undone when they failed to clear the corner, and it was looped back in for Horan to nod over Woodhouse as he came to claim.
Just before half time, and Chester went three up. Again, Celtic were unable to clear their lines, and after Curran’s effort was thwarted by the excellent Woodhouse, Williams was there to put Chester further in front. They should have had another, moments later when Antoni Sarcevic connected with Curran’s ball into the centre, but failed to get it on target.
The second half saw a change of formation for Celtic, who decided to go for it. Jack Laird and Corey Gregory coming on, and Laird’s first touch was to take a free kick that was unstoppable, curling up and over the wall and into the top corner to reduce the deficit, although John Danby tried, hurting himself in the process.
Mitchell Austin could have reduced the gap to just one, after he ran around Danby, but left himself with a difficult angle and Horan got back to block Austin’s effort from going in. Tom Buckly went agonisingly close with a great effort that just cleared the bar.
The last goal of the match was an absolute stonker of a shot from Baynes, forty yard out, he looked up and unleashed a powerful looping effort that saw Woodhouse reach and fail to get to as it sailed into the back of the net.
Celtic kept plugging away through the lively Jack Laird, who twice went close in the extended stoppage time that had arisen from treatment to Danby, and when the linesman required a new flag after his broke. Ironically, the stoppage time at the end of the first half was down to the other linesman requiring a new flag.
|9||Jarman, Nathan||> 78|
|10||Williams, Marc||> 79|
|14||Brown, Scott||< 79|
|16||Mills, Ben||< 78|