Celtic deserved to go back into the Unibond, but not because of this performance.
This performance was an attacking one, in which nothing came off. Celtic started with an obvious desire, but finished with desperation, limiting Telford to a mere handful of shots.
It was obvious from the off, when two good runs within the first five minutes were halted because of offside, that this would not be our day. It looked like it would be even more of a disaster when Perkins won a corner off Hanmer, but Beesley could not reach Wood's in-swinger, allowing Telford to break up field. When Paul Moore got the better of Woods alone at the back, he was one-on-one with Fish. Fish came out to narrow the angle, and Moore went wide, as he did so, in came the outstanding Williamson to dispossess him long enough to allow fish to get a good angle, and force Moore to shoot wide. But it was a wake up call - Telford were here to defend in numbers and hit on the break.
But this did allow Celtic to try and break them down. Ayorinde chased down a loose ball, knocking it out to Pickford, who swung in a great ball, that Parr nodded towards Perkins. The fullback saw his great effort curl narrowly past the post. Telford immediately countered with King swinging a cross in, that Beesley blocked for a corner before it even reached the box, and though Albrighton was first to the ball, he headed over.
The first of several goal line clearances came on 26 minutes, when a great attacking move saw Pickford square off to Perkins, whose low cross was stabbed goal-bound by Ayorinde, only for Neil Moore to somehow put his leg in the way of it.
Moments later a Wood miscued shot lined-up Beesley, still up from the corner. However, he too miscued and the ball went bobbling wide.
Again Telford used the lack of players at the back to have a decent effort of their own, and only the heroics of Fish, smothering the ball at Paul Moore's feet, after Quayle had released his strike partner with a good through ball, stopped Celtic from going behind.
But this was to be a game of missed chances for Celtic. A superb Woodhead cross found Pickford unmarked at the edge of the box, he controlled it with one touch and fired with his second, only to see Davies throw himself in the flight path. The ball fell to Parr, who found Perkins wide on the right. Perkins twisted around his marker, and put it inside to Shandran. A clever flick from the Burnley man released Ayorinde, but the depth of Telford's defence saw Hanmer stretch a leg and put it around the post as it was about to cross the line.
Davies nearly made Tameside's day when the corner came in, for his header clipped the corner of the goal on the way out! The second corner was palmed off Ayorinde's head by the rather ineffectual Hateley, Telford's keeper, only to land at Parr's feet. The Celtic stalwart stabbed wide from 18 inches.
As Celtic continued to make the running, Woodhead won a corner off Wolliscroft, which Wood put in. Parr reached the deep corner, knocking it back to Wood, whose volley was a more comfortable save than it should have been.
The half ended with both sides wasting corners, summing up Celtic's half.
Telford looked set to continue in the same vein, and it worked right from the off. Davies beat Perkins down the side, and laid off to Quayle. Seeing Fish advancing off his line, Quayle tried a speculative thirty yard lob that just crept in under the far side of the cross bar. Even the thirty or so Telford fans were shocked into silence at that.
Anthony Shandran, tipped to be a Premiership player, lacked credentials when Ayorinde wriggled his way out of a press of defenders and fed him the perfect ball. After outpacing his marker, Shandran stopped running, despite being odds on favorite to get to the ball a long time before Hateley could. Hateley scooped up the ball with thanks.
Shandran almost made up for it, when he laid off Wood with an excellent ball, that the veteran midfielder lifted over the defence into the path of Parr. Parr gave it some power, but Albrighton blocked, rebounding it as far as Murphy (on for Williamson). The substitute half-volleyed, only to Davies block on the line, ricocheting it out as far as Pickford. Albrighton got his leg in the way of Pickford's shot. It looked for all the world like the Telford defence could not risk letting anything getting through to Hateley (and given that the vast majority of his goal kicks went into the stands, and he had to be rescued by his defence on numerous occasions, this was understandable).
Shandran won a corner off Davies, which Wood swept in. Davies cleared it back to Wood, who laid it off first time to Perkins. Perkins whipped a great ball over the top, which Woods could not reach.
Courtney came on to replace Woodhead, and his first job was to feed Perkins with an overlapped ball, allowing the fullback to sweep a ball over the defence to Parr. Parr's header was perfect, and Davies cleared off the line. Then Pickford fed Parr, this time Albrighton blocked on the line. Courtney's instinctive shot clipped the same man as he rushed out, and it was a soft catch for Hateley after that.
Shandran won a corner, but Wood's cross was poor, and it was cleared. However Celtic continued to press, and Shandran's powerful drive from the edge of the box bounced off King to Wood, who shot over.
Beesley earned himself a yellow card when he complained to the referee that Telford were taking ever such a long time over a corner (over a minute). The corner wasn't even worth waiting for, and Celtic raced up the pitch, on a break of their own. Courtney's cross from the touch line was blocked by Moore for a corner at the "right" end. The ball fell to Courtney, who laid Shandran off with a sublime ball. The Burnley man had plenty of time to line up his shot, but he snatched at it, and blazed over.
This was repeated when Perkins was laid off by Pickford, and his shot came down covered in cloud.
Woods then headed wide from a corner won by Courtney, and Celtic were looking desperate.
The nail in Celtic's hopes was hammered down when Paul Moore latched onto a clearance and raced up field. One on one with Fish, he looked certain to score, but Fish pulled out a stupendous save to deny him. However, King was steaming in from midfield, and collected the loose ball before the Celtic defence could rally, side footing into the net, just past Fish, who had made up a tremendous amount of ground, but not quite enough.
That was it. We were already into stoppage time, and playing any more was just pointless.