With other results not going Celtic's way, the defeat at Salford means Steve Burr's mountain to climb just got steeper. A single, scrappy, goal was all that separated the two sides in an encounter that belied which team was at which end of the table.
The first half was all Celtic, with Grant Shenton a virtual spectator. A Danny Wilkins effort from thirty yards dipped nastily at the end, with Jay Lucas just about up to the challenge with an acrobatic save, tipping the ball over the bar for a corner that Aaron Chalmers nodded wide of the goal. Chalmers kept another corner alive moments later, but when it came, his shot was straight down the throat of Lucas. Wilkins found the space for a low drive just before the half hour mark, but again, Lucas was well positioned, getting down well to block the shot, the rebound coming out to Danny Pilkington, who tried to curl his shot over Lucas, but the Salford keeper managed to stick out an arm far enough to deny Pilkington. Matty Hughes, up for a free kick, got ahead of his marker, but couldn't divert his header between the posts, going narrowly wide, and Pilkington's turn and curling shot was well executed, but cleared the bar.
The second half was much more even, Salford winning a corner within moments of the restart, Simon Grand steaming in, but under too much pressure to keep his header on target. Pilkington was relishing being given a start, and at the other end twisted his way past Patrick Brough and got a decent effort away, Lucas forced to push the shot around the post. Salford really should have taken the lead after Josh Hine broke free, but Shenton reacted quickly blocking at Hine's feet, the loose ball coming out to Jordan Hulme who got nowhere near enough power to score from outside the box, allowing Danny Morton to come in and hack clear the slowly rolling ball off the line.
The only goal, when it came, was scrappy. A long throw was not cleared. Shenton and his defence had a couple of attempts, but Mike Phenix got a toe poke on the ball, and though Porya Ahmadi was there, his sliding bock couldn't prevent the ball from crossing the line.
Salford shut up shop after the goal, and though Burr tried a few different tactics, including blooding Keano Deacon and giving Mathias Bakare more pitch time, Celtic could not get another clear cut chance, leaving them fifteen points adrift of safety with a monumental negative goal difference and only fourteen games left.
|9||Phenix, Mike||> 81|
|11||Hine, Josh||> 71|
|14||Walker, Sam||< 87|
|16||Allen, Richie||< 81|
|17||Poole, James||< 71|