Match Report -
Bring back super Syd!
By Debbie Taylor

Celtic completed a miserable December, in which they failed to score any goals, by going down 3-0 to Hereford United.

The Bull's started the game high on the success a couple of days earlier when they beat Telford in Telford, whilst Celtic had not played since being beaten by Morecambe a fortnight earlier. Celtic were also still missing the midfield maestro Steve Pickford, as the Leigh game was to have been his final game of suspension, until it was postponed.

From the off, Hereford were making all the play, but missed two sitters within the first 10 minutes, and received a booking. Murphy brought Williams down just outside the box, which Perry whipped in. Wright, unmarked in the centre of the box headed over the bar. Elmes got free from a second free kick, but volleyed wide of the mark. Perkins was then fouled heavily by Goodwin, resulting in the Bull's man being shown a yellow card - he would later regret this rash, unnecessary challenge.

Celtic slowly began to work off their festive turkey, but Hereford still had the run of the midfield, allowing the Bull's plenty of shooting opportunities. After a Scott clearance was intercepted and lobbed towards the box, Woods had to be alert to Snape's shot from just outside the box, turning it past the post with an outstretched boot, but poor marking allowed Parry to flick the ball on to Williams, who blazed over the bar.

Peacock was Celtic's most inspirational player, and after an exchange with Murphy managed to feed Courtney 20 yards out, but Baker in the Hereford net's caught Courtney's shot comfortably.

Celtic received two bookings of their own, a minute apart, Beesley for a stumble which Williams made the most of by running into the large defender, and Wharton for pulling back Snape as the forward surged past the new Celtic midfielder.

Peacock was getting his aim closer though, and nearly put Celtic into the lead, as Wood crossed a ball into the box, which Ayorinde nodded into the path of Peacock, steaming into the edge of the box. Peacock's first time curling shot was excellently tipped over the bar by the fingers of Baker, and Goodwin cleared the corner.

Hereford's first goal was a joke. Parry struck a powerful drive but it struck Woods, and sailed into the air. It landed extremely fortuitously to Williams, who wasted no time in slotting the ball past the now out of position Fish, though Fish almost made it back, diving towards Williams' feet.

Rocked onto the back foot, Celtic took a couple of minutes to reorganise.

But a couple of minutes was all Hereford needed. First Elmes wasted a glorious chance, as Parry's crossed ball in was met by the forward, unmarked, at the far post, but he headed wide. However, seconds later, Williams latched onto the goal kick, threaded it through the static Celtic defence, allowing Snape all the time in the world to blast in Hereford's second.

Celtic gathered their wits at the back after that, but at the front, goals still looked hard to come by as Courtney latched onto Ayorinde's cushioned ball, but scuffed the shot wide of the post.

Williams produced a blocking save from Fish, and received the ball back. Perkins was adjudged to have hauled the Bulls striker over before he could get off a second shot.

James could have added to Celtic's misery, but he lost his penalty taking position after blasting the ball wide of the target.

Williams was again the danger man in Hereford's line up, producing an instinctive close range save from Fish, tipping the ball around the post, Scott cleared the corner.

Celtic did win a second corner, thanks to Ayorinde, just before the end of the half, Beesley could only head into Baker's arms.

Celtic looked a little more buoyed up in the second half, and brought the game to Hereford, but it took ten minutes for Wharton to finally get the ball to a front man, and Courtney struck the ball sweetly, producing another fine save from Baker.

A Celtic corner, won through the determination of Ayorinde, almost produced a surprise goal, as Peacock's curling ball in curled just beyond the reach of everybody, and nearly went inside the far post.

Peacock again threatened, when Ayorinde was fouled, and Peacock's excellent ball in, had to be cleared for a throw level with the six yard box. Both Perkins and Ayorinde tested the resolve of the Hereford back line. Perkins' excellent crossed ball almost found Courtney, but Baker plucked it from the air, just ahead of the Celtic front man, and Ayorinde repeatedly tested the defence, but found them on excellent form.

After a Hereford Corner in which Beesley was fouled, Fish launched the ball down field, but found only a Hereford shirt. Williams slipped between Woods and Beesley, but Fish plucked the ball off Williams' feet before the Hereford star man could cause further upset.

Then Hereford went down to 10 men, when Goodwin crashed into the back of Murphy. The referee showed him first the yellow, and then the red.

Perversely, this stimulated Hereford back into action. Peacock's free kick struck the Hereford wall, and sent Parry off on a sprint down field. As Murphy closed him down, his cross was whipped in, but Williams somehow got it over the bar.

As Celtic struggled to find some dignity, Courtney's head was found by Peacock. The diminutive striker was unmarked, but he flicked the ball too far, and it sailed past the post.

Hereford grabbed their third moments later, when Williams fed Capaldi on an overlapping run, and Capaldi arced his cross into the path of Elmes, who nodded the ball past Fish.

A Celtic corner was hoofed clear by Wright, but only as far as Scott. His speculative 30 yard effort cleared the bar.

Murphy was denied by the width of the crossbar from grabbing a consolation, when his curling shot beat Baker for the first time, but ricocheted off the crossbar and was cleared before Ayorinde could pounce.

Hereford were still hungry for goals, as they surged onto the clearance, and Perkins had to be at his best when he cleared Elmes' distance shot off the line. Hereford spent most of the last ten minutes holding the ball up near the Celtic corner flag, and when they finally did release it fell to Voice, who fed Snape for a snapped first time shot, producing a very good save from Fish, tipping the ball around the post.

There would be one final attack, and it didn't come from Celtic. Woods granted Voice a corner, which Parry headed goal-wards, only to see Fish catch comfortably.

Celtic remain rooted in the relegation zone after this poor performance. Hereford had been allowed too many chances to break through the midfield and cause the defence problems. Admittedly the first goal was unlucky, but Celtic have played better than this, and should not have let it unsettle them the way that it did. Saying that Hereford looked the more hungry of the two sides.

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