Match Report -
Bottom!
By Debbie

In the cold light of day, Celtic will have to put hand on heart and say that we did not deserve to win. However, this is against a Dover side that cannot say that they deserved it either.

There were precious few goal mouth periods, and what there was proved no problem for either defence or keeper. Nor was it a titanic midfield struggle. Celtic did not play the quality that we have seen, and we have still come away with no points.

Stalybridge started the match by probing at a proven slack defensive line up. Their first few flurries in the opening ten minutes resulted in Bushell and Courtney being caught offside.

Both sides were lunging in heavily, resulting in the first yellow card of the game being shown before ten minutes were up, as Murphy intercepted a Dorrian throw, Day unceremoniously brought him down. As Fish set up to take the free kick, Day was shown the yellow card.

Just before the quarter hour new signing Leon Kelly neatly side-stepped Shearer and was through on goal. Shearer brought him down, thirty five yards from goal.

Peacock stepped up, and drilled the free kick towards goal. Hyde, in the Dover goal reacted well, and caught the shot.

A minute later, the second yellow card came out. Steve Woods was a bit upset with the referee deciding that taking the ball off Vowden was a foul, and got booked for complaining. Day's free kick was a wild affair which went for a throw.

When Dover did, finally, get a chance, it was from a corner, which Norman swung in, but Bushell on the near post headed it out. The knock back in was harmlessly wide.

Immediately, Celtic got a corner of their own, as Courtney latched onto Fish's long ball, and forced a corner from Shearer. Which he made amends for, by easily clearing the whipped in Peacock ball.

Just before the half hour, came the disaster that it seems must befall Celtic in every game.

From a Dover throw, they lobbed the ball into the box. Crookes and Tyne were very close together, and Tyne went sprawling. It was difficult to see what had happened, but from the antics of Tyne, he went looking for a penalty, and the card happy referee was only too happy to oblige. He booked Crookes, and Keith Scott took the penalty, sliding it just beyond Fish's reach into the bottom left corner. At the very worst it had been a case of obstruction (which is an indirect free kick).

Dover took heart from this goal, and played well for a spell of about ten minutes, with the only real effort falling to Tyne on the edge of the box, but his shot was wild, missing by a good few feet.

Their only other chance of the half came again from a corner, but Vowden ploughed into the back of Fish as he was coming for the cross.

However, it was more than Celtic had.

A half time team talk from Paul Futcher seemed to do the trick, and Celtic came out all guns blazing.

Scott won a penalty which Vowden only just got clear, and then Murphy found himself in space, after Courtney laid him off. His shot was powerful, but skimmed past the post.

Despite a Dover corner, the opening thirty minutes was about Celtic, and the few travelling fans in the 1000+ that turned up thought that Celtic would earn a point from the game.

However more bad luck would dog the blue boys. A Peacock shot from outside the box was deflected by Courtney, instead of looping over the keeper as some other teams' deflections seem to, it fell to a defender to clear. Courtney was trying to get the goal back, but he was just too quick for the linesman. Several close calls resulted in free kicks for Dover, though he scored before realising he was off-side (he wasn't off-side once).

Murphy tried to stake a first team place with a volley from twenty yards which he could not keep down, and it sailed over the bar.

Tyne got a yellow card for kicking the ball away after being caught offside, from Hyde's goalkeeper.

Kelly tried to get past Vowden, but the Dover defender brought the Celtic man down allowing Peacock to curl a free kick around the wall. Hyde did well to get across his net and tip the ball around the post. Peacock took the corner, putting it into the 6 yard box, the keeper managed to get a hand to it as Kelly was steaming in, but at the expense of a corner. Peacock took it again, this time Hyde punched clear. but it fell to Courtney at the edge of the box. Despite appearing to strike a Dover player on the way through the crowd, it was a goal kick and Dover could breathe again.

Perhaps a little bit disheartened Woods let Scott through, and his shot was well saved by Fish.

A long free kick into the box saw Courtney sneak in and loop his header over Hyde, who had come for the cross, but he cleared the bar as well.

For the last 15 minutes, Futcher tried a new line up, making a double substitution; taking off the largely ineffectual Kelly, and the tiring Murphy for McNeil and Ward.

McNeil had to wait nearly ten minutes before he got a chance to equalise, and he fluffed it, miskicking the volley to sail wide of the post.

Fish continued to keep international 'keeper Batty out of the number one jersey by pulling off a string of stupendous saves as time was running out, to give Celtic a glimmer of a chance. The first from Leberl from a tight angle, then Carruthers blasted one in, which Fish could only parry. The ball fell to Tyne, which Fish tipped around the post. Norman took the corner, but followed through on Matty Woods as the defender cleared the ball. With the referee in card happy mood, he could consider himself fortunate to stay on the field.

At the other end, Celtic could have grabbed a late goal and point when Scott's corner was headed into the danger area by Crookes, but a long hoof up field as Dover knew they just had a minute or two to hang on, and they did.

Celtic sink to the bottom of the table, and though the goals against have dried up, the goals for remain dried up. Kelly and McNeil are yet to ignite, Courtney has scored his share, but he can't score them all, and Steele is currently injured. Where are the goals that will win matches going to come from? And when will the bad luck end?

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