Celtic stormed to a fantastic comeback after an initial ten minute wobble saw them fall two goals behind against a Harrogate Town side that had been flying just outside the play off places.
The kick off was delayed by fifteen minutes after a floodlight failure, and it was Harrogate Town who got into their stride quickest when the game did eventually start, although Sean McConville’s near post flick from a corner was only narrowly over the bar. With Harrogate pressing early on, a short back pass from Kristian Platt left Matty Urwin in a world of trouble, but the Celtic keeper did make it to the ball first, though he got now height on his clearance from just outside his box, allowing Adam Nowakowski to collect the ball, steady himself and lob Urwin from forty yards, the ball crashing off the bar and into the back of the net.
Greg Wilkinson tried a similar distance shot, but former Celtic keeper, Craig McGillivray was not beaten as easily, and it was Harrogate who doubled their lead, when Chris Hall's run down the wing and near post cross in was met with a deft flick from Liam Hardy, beating Urwin with the pace and movement.
Something clicked for Celtic after the goal, and Harrogate were pushed onto the back foot as Celtic looked sublime with their passing and movement. Sean McConville’s curling twenty-yard shot from a short corner routine crashed against the angle of the goal, but miraculously came out instead of in, with McGillivray a mere spectator. Celtic were moving the ball with pace and accuracy, and an inch perfect cross from Greg Wilkinson was knocked towards goal by Joel Bembo-Leta , but somehow Harrogate scrambled it off the line. Tom Buckley went close with a driven low shot from the edge of the box, as Harrogate were reduced to half chances from set-pieces, Leigh Franks heading a corner wide. After all the great pressure, Celtic couldn’t find the back of the net in the remainder of the first half, and were nearly made to pay on the stroke of half time, with Matty Urwin pulling off a super save to deny Craig Nelthorpe.
Ten minutes into the second half, substitute Obi Anorou was put through by Tom Buckley’s inch perfect pass, outpacing Franks, and with only McGillivray to beat, the Town keeper rashly went sliding in two footed just inside his box. Anorou had dinked the ball past McGillivray and was sent tumbling by the challenge. A penalty for Celtic and a red card for the Harrogate keeper. Franks went in goal, and after some delay, Sean McConville stepped up and smashed the ball past Franks to pull one back for the Celts.
McConville’s next two efforts didn’t test Franks overly much with the lofted shots straightforward catches, but it looked like Celtic would grab an equaliser when Anorou’s pace again put him in the danger area, and Franks slid into collect the ball, but missed and caught the Celtic striker instead. McConville chose the same direction, and this time Franks guessed right, pushing the ball away with what was still a great save. Moments later, and Franks again slid in on Anorou, this time claiming the ball at Anorou’s feet.
Celtic were irrepressible, and a speculative effort from Greg Wilkinson was two powerful for Franks to hold, the shot squirming from his grasp and rolling across the line.
Celtic continued to play some great football, with Harrogate defending deeper and deeper, which suited McConville just fine, and his cross found Anorou who made no mistake flicking the ball in to put Celtic into the lead.
A double substitution from Harrogate saw them switch to 3-3-3, and this allowed them to once more put pressure on the Celtic back line, but Celtic were imperious in possession, and the closest Harrogate came was when former Celt Chris Hall, after running himself into the ground for forty-five minutes, had enough energy to get his head on Dominic Rowe’s cross, but sent it spinning harmlessly wide and leaving all three points at Bower Fold to a Celtic team that thoroughly deserved it.
|10||Hardy, Liam||> 86|
|11||Nelthorpe, Craig||> 86|
|15||Worsfold, Ashley||< 86|
|16||Rowe, Dominic||< 86|