Match Report -
Celtic Win Away At Altrincham
By Deborah Taylor

In weather that was a blizzard one moment and bright sunshine the next, Celtic made it two away wins on the bounce and in the process won at Moss Lane in the league for the first time in decades.

Table topping Altrincham looked dangerous and with Jack Walton recalled to Barnsley to cover their goalkeeper crisis, Aidan Winterbottom stepped between the sticks after being called up from the reserves squad that morning.

Altrincham started off well, with Tom Peers testing Winterbottom early on and Jordan Hulme also keeping Winterbottom’s hands warm. In between, Connor Hughes had a cheeky attempt curling a corner in towards the top corner with Anthony Thompson acrobatically tipping the ball over the bar.

Despite the much-vaunted Altrincham defence, it was a defensive error that saw Celtic take the lead. Shaun Densmore dallied and was robbed by Liam Dickinson, who quickly put the ball into the path of Matty Wolfenden. Wolfenden bore down Thompson’s throat unhindered, and one-on-one drew, dummied and beat the Altrincham keeper to give Celtic the lead.

Celtic were in the ascendancy after the goal, Wolfenden nearly doubling the score-line from a corner; Ross Killock coming closer still from the resulting second corner, but Thompson was well placed to make the catch. Celtic finished the half well, with Connor Hughes taking a shot that was right down Thompson’s throat and Alex Honeyball had a cracking volley fly over the bar. Oli Roberts low drive was deflected for a corner and Greg Wilkinson got into a good position, his shot flying past the post.

The players came out in the second half to bright sunlight, but it quickly deteriorated with the pitch blanketed in snow. Altrincham more quickly adapted and pressed Celtic all over the park. A pair of Max Harrop free kicks went close, the second caught at the second attempt by Winterbottom. They came closer still when Jordan Hulme’s close-range effort cannoned back off the post. The Celtic defence was holding firm, denying Altrincham clear cut chances, and when they did breach they had a little bit of luck and Winterbottom on top form, as he did to deny Hulme from a corner.

Celtic made a couple of changes. Theo Bailey-Jones came off the bench after a month’s layoff through injury; his first touch should have been a goal. Hughes had drawn the defence, the square ball to Bailey-Jones left him one-on-one with Thompson, with the Altrincham keeper pulling off a cracking save to deny Bailey-Jones and Wolfenden’s shot charged down by Connor Hampson. It was a rare moment amid the pressure from the home side. Sam Heathcoate beat several others to a free kick and from a yard out, but a foot from Winterbottom diverted the ball onto the post.

With Altrincham pressed forwards, it left gaps at the back, and Connor Hughes can capitalise gaps and did just that, racing down on Thompson. It looked like he’d taken the shot, but no, Liam Dickinson was arriving at the back post and smashed home Celtic’s second.

With only stoppage time remaining, Altrincham redoubled their efforts, and it took great defending to keep them at bay. From one attack, Celtic conceded the corner. The corner was taken short and fired low across the box, with everybody missing it except John Johnston at the back post who tapped home.

There was still time for one last attack from the Robins with a free kick just outside the box. Max Harrop took it and fired over the wall. Winterbottom was well placed and made the save look straightforward, but it was a big moment, and he capped off a great debut with it to give Celtic the three points.

1Thompson, Anthony  
2Densmore, Shaun  
3Hampson, Connor  
4Hannigan, Tom  
5Harrison, Ben  > 76
6Moult, Jake  > 68
7Johnston, John  
8Harrop, Max  
9Hulme, Jordan  
10Poole, James  
11Peers, Tom  > 64
12Hancock, Josh  < 64
14White, Andrew  
15Richman, Simon  < 68
16Heathcote, Sam  < 76
17Jones, James  
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