Celtic's improved performances finally paid off with a superb win over stuttering Halifax Town with a debut goal from new signing Chris Baguley and a man of the match performance from Grant Shenton in the Celtic nets.
The first half was all about Celtic defending with Halifax pressing hard, but struggling to find any clear cut chances, with bodies in the way and an impressive debut from Fraser Horsfall. Richard Peniket and Matty Kosylo both went close in the opening minutes, but it was mainly a succession of corners the Celtic had to defend. Danny Hone also went wide from a free kick and just before the interval Kosylo again missed the target before Shenton was seriously tested but coped well with Adam Morgan's effort.
Ten minutes into the second half, it looked dire for Celtic when Darren McKnight upended Morgsan in the box with a clumsy challenge. Morgan took the free kick himself, but Shenton pulled off the save of the season, possibly a turning point in the season, guesing right and pushing a very well struck penalty around the post.
That save allowed Celtic to believe they could win this one. Lee Gaskell's curling shot from twenty-five yards was top corner all the way, but Tom Nicholson's save was top drawer. Celtic had a great chance with a sweeping move that put Danny Wilkins through one-on-one with Nicholson, but the Halifax Keeper made a super stop with a stuck out left foot, the ball coming to the live wire Florian Da Silva who struck towards the empty net, but looked to be going agonisingly wide, it was even closer when Lee Gaskill arrived at the back post, but couldn't quite divert it enough to put it in, whilst the Halifax defence were nowhere to be seen.
The game got harder for the visitors when Da Silva's knock past Danny Hone and run was checked when he was hauled back by the Halifax defender. As with the penalty, the referee wouldn't have an easy decision to make all game, and dismissed Hone.
Chris Baguley almost opened his account with a cracking effort that required another top notch save from Nicholson, but then., with only a minute of normal time remaining, Danny Wilkins ran at the defence and screwed a curling cross behind them, Baguley arrived, but still had to beat Nicholson, there was a heart stopping moment as the ball lgot caught in Baguley's feet, but he reacted well and poked the ball under Nicholson to give Celtic a slender lead, especially with five minutes stoppages to play.
Celtic held on for four minutes and fifty nine seconds, getting the ball away, and holding it in the corners, but Halifax kept coming, winning a corner when David Lynch's shot was deflected high over the bar for a corner. When Keil O?Brien put his foot through the ball and launched it up field, the referee's final whistle was an ecstatic moment of joy and relief for the Celtic fans. Celtic now have to do it all over again in a fortnight, when we face Gainsborough Trinity, away.
|10||Morgan, Adam||> 69|
|11||Peniket, Richard||> 82|
|16||Moyo, Cliff||< 69|
|17||MacDonald, Josh||< 82|