Every single Celtic player that faced Matlock deserves plaudits, as the fortnight from Hell continued with a defeat in unseasonal heat.
The already injury depleted squad took a further hit after five players were stuck on route in a broken down car, leaving reserve keeper, Aidan Winterbottom the only named sub, added to this was an early injury to Alex Honeyball that he played through, rarely leaving the edge of the Celtic box. Even so, for over an hour, tired Celtic matched their hosts all over the field.
The first half saw both teams get chances, with George Sykes-Kenworthy denying Michael Williams, Harry Limb and Ted Cribley, who were all forced to shoot from distance, kept at bay by Honeyball and Ashworth. At the other end, Jake Charles nearly added to his tally for the season with a snap shot that just cleared the bar and with a header from a corner that was only inches the wrong side of the post. Oli Roberts took a free kick from just outside the box, his curling effort just over the bar.
The second half saw Celtic definitely feeling the heat and the never-ending stream of games. After two woeful efforts from Harry Limb and Ted Cribley, it was an uncharacteristic error from Harrison Holgate that gave Matlock the opening they needed to continue their winning streak. Ted Cribley's lobbed ball down to the wing was headed up by Holgate, falling nicely for substitute Chris Ondong-Mba. He scampered down the line and from close range smashed past Sykes-Kenworthy.
Six minutes later and Matlock made the game safe. Harry Limb's eighty yard pass was too much for Honeyball to chase giving Harry Wood the time and space to pick the perfect finish with a powerful shot from the corner of the box.
Aidan Winterbottom was put on as a left winger, a position he's probably never played. Matlock might have been two goals up and odds on to extend their winning streak to six, but Celtic battled through the fatigue and somehow managed to press the home side back in the last ten minutes. Jake Charles ran himself into the ground to reach Connor Hughes's ball and still had the energy to force a good stop from Richard Walton, before Charles put in an excellent cross for Winterbottom to try and reach, and he almost did, his stretching leg just not quite long enough. Deep into stoppage time, with the last kick of the match, Sykes-Kenworthy pulled off the stop of the match, denying a fierce drive from Zak Blunt with a flying save, pushing the ball out for a corner there was no time to take.
It's not over for the Celtic heroes, as they do it all again on Saturday, when Coalville come to Bower Fold.
|4||Doyle-Charles, Joe||> 50|
|8||Williams, Michael||> 37|
|9||German, Ricardo||> 61|
|12||Brunt, Zak||< 50|
|16||Ondong-Mba, Chris||< 61|
|17||Wood, Harry||< 37|