Celtic dusted off the kits and kicked off the new season against league opponents Rochdale who had previously beaten Northwich and Halifax in their opening friendlies. Despite a Matty Done hat-trick, for the opening exchange, it was quite even, with chances at a premium.
Celtic’s new signings, Obi Anorou and Sean McConville were linking up front, and there was a welcome return to Joel Bembo-Leta and Andy McWilliams at the back. Lois Hayward had the game’s first opportunity, firing wide of the mark, whilst Joel Bembo-Leta’s flick over his head at the other end cleared the bar. Rochdale registered the first shot on target midway through the first half, with Scott Tanser’s effort from the wing heading in until the Celtic keeper tipped it away. Tom Buckley started the season looking as sparkling as he finished the last, and saw his cracking effort fly just wide. Rob Thompson was called into action when Buckley’s through ball to Anorou saw the Celtic striker out pace his marker easily and go one-on-one with Thompson who stayed on his feet and made a great save.
The deadlock was broken with five minutes left on the first half clock, Andy McWilliams not quite reaching the ball as Matty Done went clear in the box. Done took the resulting penalty himself, sending the Celtic keeper the wrong way.
The second half saw Celtic make ten changes, eleven if the change of kit was counted. Celtic were trialling a new forward who showed a great deal of promise and strength, heading just wide with a very good header under pressure, he also forced Thompson to make a save as he turned well in the box. At the other end, Joel Logan saw a fingertip full stretch save deny him a goal, before Done got his second by latching onto a through ball, and lifting the ball over the advancing keeper.
This was followed by half an hour of stalemate, with neither side looking particular threatening. Rochdale saved the best for last, with a screamer of a shot from twenty-five yards that left the keeper no chance. It could have been four, but the Celtic keeper made a great save from Godwin Abadaki, brother of former Celt Osebi, in the dying moments of the game.
It was a good work out, and with the trialists having a full half, Jim Harvey would have had chance to have a good look at potential signings.