Celtic continued their pre-season warm-up campaign against a spirited, quick and adept Burnley side; despite going down a three-nil loss, there were plenty of signs of good things to come this season.
Rob Harker opened the scoring early, with a long punt from the keeper that bounced over Liam Tongue as he left it for Elliott Wynne to collect, but it was too far out for the keeper and Harker could nip in and perform an inch perfect lob over the stranded Wynne. Moments later and the visitors were two up, as Harker showed a burst of pace to get to the by-line and pull back a low cross for the arriving Ntumba Massanka to tap in from six yards.
It took quarter of an hour for the Celtic team to start to understand one another and they produced some good quick build-up of their own, with Luke Wall showing quick feet and agility to start a move that he got on the end of, although the final shot was blazed over the bar. Academy player Eddie Maieco also cleared the bar as John Marsden received the ball with his back to goal, unselfishly teeing up the youngster with a peach of a set-up. Moments later and Marsden got close, but put his cracking header over the crossbar as Wall put in an excellent curling cross to the back post. Callum Spooner showed great balance and tenacity to win the ball and race into a crossing position, Matty Wolfenden curling in his run, but under pressure, put his flicked shot the wrong side of the post. Celtic laid siege to the Burnley goal after a corner, with Oliver Younger twice coming to Burnley’s rescue after keeper, Connor Mitchell, was left stranded as both Marsden and Wall tried to find a way through a solid Burnley back line. Just before the end of the half, Maieco’s low shot through the crowd after his one-two with Wall was on-target and finally tested Mitchell, but the young keeper was up to the task and well placed.
The second half saw wholesale changes for both teams and once again, it was Burnley who settled quicker, taking advantage of a defensive mix-up left academy keeper Aidan Winterbottom struggling to get back across his goal to reach the shot from the outside of the Burnley striker’s boot that had just enough curl to take the ball away from Winterbottom and increase the score-line to three.
Again, it fell to Oliver Younger to help his keeper out when Celtic attacked en masse, with Scott Harries and Lee Knight both having cracking efforts stopped on route by Younger, the second a touch of handball. An inch perfect cross from Greg Wilkinson found Lee Knight in a good position, but the powerful shot was just over the bar, whilst Lee Neville’s shot off Knight’s lay off was still rising as it cleared the woods. Burnley finished strongly, and Tunde Beyode had a decent effort, but Winterbottom was well placed to make a simple catch.
All in all, there were plenty of strong performances from Celtic showing that Simon Haworth is building a competitive side. With a little more cohesion and target practice and against a side not filled with talented future stars for the Premier League club, the result may have been different.
Celtic squad from: Elliott Wynne, Callum Spooner, Stephen Rigby, Liam Tongue, Danny Brady, Glenn Rule, Luke Wall, Ross Dent, Eddy Maieco, John Marsden, Matty Wolfenden, Billy Akrigg, Lee Knight, Charlie Duke, Greg Wilkinson, Jack Taylor, Scott Harries, Lee Neville, George West, Aidan Winterbottom.