Celtic cruised through in the Integro league cup against Ashton on their own turf with goals in either half and the organisation to survive a late surge.
The Ashton ground staff had performed miracles to get the game on, with parts of the pitch exceedingly soft, but with the rain mostly holding off, the game went ahead with Celtic doing the early running. Inside the opening quarter of an hour, Celtic already looked the more composed, with the pace of Celtic’s front line causing the hosts problems.
Jonathan Ustabasi had already fired a warning shot across the bows when Scott Bakkor wriggled past Simon Woodford and picked out a galloping Nathan Valentine. Valentine made no mistake, powering his shot into the back of the net.
Celtic contained Ashton after the goal, seemingly content to get to half time a goal to the good, possibly a wise move on a heavy pitch. Even so, Darius Osei fired a corner through a crowd and Jack O’Leary’s wicked corner both shots had to be caught by Jon Worsnop, whilst Neil Kengni should have done better with his effort or picked out the unmarked Ustabasi at the back post. Celtic reached the halfway mark one up with Alex Fojtíček untroubled.
Celtic went looking for a second in the second half, Bakkor going close as his shot rattled the post after dancing along the line to find space. From the corner, Worsnop made a smart stop to deny Bakkor followed up by an impressive flying save to push Valentine’s effort from the edge of the box over the bar.
Ten minutes into the second half, Ashton finally found their form, putting Celtic under increasing pressure. Former Celt, Connor Hughes saw his effort pushed onto the post by Fojtíček and it took a one-handed flying save from Fojtíček to deny Josh Wilson.
Celtic re-established control with a fabulous move, culminating in Osei chasing down a lost ball into the corner, holding off three defenders and then picking out Bakkor unmarked near the penalty spot. With Nicky Clee arriving at the goal line and Worsnop still to beat, Bakkor found enough space to fire in the second.
It should have been three in the final minutes of the game, when Ustabasi broke the offside trap to go one-on-one with Worsnop, he rounded the keeper and fired at an angle but somehow Worsnop twisted in the air to get enough on the shot to keep Ashton in with a shout.
That shout looked even more important a minute into stoppage time when Mark Lees clipped Jordan Slew in the box with the referee pointing to the spot immediately. Josh Wilson stepped up and fired right down the middle to reduce the deficit, but there was no more time for the hosts, and Celtic go through to the next round.
|2||Woodford, Simon||> 71|
|4||Havern, Gianluca||> 75|
|10||Tomsett, Liam||> 80|
|12||Tserdes, Stavros||< 75|
|14||Carr, Tom||< 80|
|15||Banim, Jody||< 71|