Match Report -
A Clean Sheet!
By Debbie Taylor

The phrase: "You're supposed to be at home" sprang to mind watching this no score draw play out.

Dootson was a virtual spectator, but unfortunately, so was Paul Cuss in the Emley, sorry Wakefield end. To be positive, this is the first sheet Celtic have kept clean since the season began. A decent effort at either end may well have gone in, but the best efforts all fell to Celtic, and none of them resulted in the net bulging.

Rather bizarrely, the first shot on goal was within 1 second. Reynolds gave it Bambrook, who hoofed it goal bound. Dootson wandered over and collected it from where it had landed and took the goal kick. What Bambrook's intentions were is unclear.

After that, it was time for Celtic to take control, and they did, winning a corner on the first attack as Denham span inside one man and fed Hallows, whose first time shot was deflected out off Coleano. Wakefield struggled to clear, and it fell to Eastwood stood at the edge of the box, he rather lashed at his opportunity, and cleared the bar.

Emley responded by sending Reynolds off on a lightning fast run down the wing, which he cut inside to Bambrook. Bambrook, as he would all afternoon, backed into Bowker, until the Celtic man nearly lost his footing, at which point, the referee gave Bambrook a free kick for being held. Justice was done when Bambrook took it himself, and curled his shot around the wall, but couldn't get enough bend on it to stop it sailing yards wide.

Wharton, who had a good game, put the ball right into the path of Denham as the young striker sprinted through the defence. The hard pitch caused the ball to bounce awkwardly, and all he could do was try to steer it around the advancing Cuss, but not enough to steer it into the goal.

Bowker, who also didn't put a foot wrong, had to be alert to protect Dootson when David got chance to tee-up from 40 yards and power blasted his shot at the net. There were too many players between him and the back of the net for him to be disappointed that one of them blocked it, but off the block, Celtic swiftly countered, with Wharton the link up man. Eventually, Wharton had to struggle through a crowd of claret and blue, but doggedly, he emerged with the ball and into the box. Unable to stop him legally, Smith hacked at the back of his legs. Had Wharton gone down, there may have been a penalty (though not guaranteed with this referee!), but he gathered his feet, and produced a wicked shot that the keeper did very well to parry away. Perhaps pulling it back for either Denham, Eastwood or Hallows would have been the better option, as all three were unmarked in different areas of the box, but Wharton had done all of the hard work, and wanted the glory.

Chasing a dead end ball, Hallows kept it in, and crossed before Crossley could react, it was too high for the head of Wharton, and Eastwood was marked, so his volley sailed over the bar.

Emley made a rare foray up field, during the Celtic pressure, and the exceptional Reynolds suckered Douglas, twisting the young left back so often, he fell over, allowing Reynolds to fire in a cross, that sailed through the six yard box, and out the other side, without a claret and blue shirt near enough to steer it in. Sometimes being the fastest man on the field has it's disadvantages, Reynolds had left his team behind!

But it was a rare interruption in relentless Celtic pressure. Celtic were definitely the in form team, and if anybody looked likely to score, it was them.

Eastwood won a corner off Smith when the later tried to shield the ball (unsuccessfully). As the corner was swung in, a crowd of seven or eight Wakefield players, and two or three Celtic players tussled around the penalty spot. Whilst the referee watched that melee, he ignored Cuss the keeper wrapping his arms and bear hugging Denham to stop the lad reaching the near post ball. Instead, the referee decided to give a foul to Emley, as somewhere in the scrum, he decided that Celtic must have done something, and therefore a free kick was needed. There was no way he could have seen into the crowd.

Having seen one weird decision, the linesman immediately added his own. Hallows was about ten yards on the onside side of the last defender, completely unmarked. Denham lifted the ball over that defender into the path of Hallows, who controlled it well on his chest and was about to beat the keeper. The linesman called him offside. How, mystifies me even now.

Obviously Emley were going to break out occasionally, with the whippet like Reynolds. But after winning a throw and then getting on the end of a long throw in at the edge of the box, he should have done better than clear the bar by fifty feet. Timons was pressuring him, but there was no excuse for that!

In obvious frustration, Reynolds tracked Denham back and hacked him down before he could get into the box. From the free kick, David deflected it for a corner, and then cleared the corner, allowing Emley some breathing space. The game settled into a brief period of midfield struggling, and it was Emley who came out on top as the half went into the last ten minutes. Douglas did well dispossessing Bambrook, but could only clear as far as Day, his first time shot curled the wrong way as far as he was concerned, going for a goal kick.

German than conceded a corner under pressure from Reynolds. The corner curled in, rebounding from the crossbar and remaining in play. Eastwood was the most alert, and broke for Celtic racing up field. He fed Denham, but the ball was slightly too heavy allowing Crossley to make a crucial tackle, deflecting the ball for a corner. The corner came out to Timons, but he wasted his opportunity, his shot too weak to trouble Cuss.

Bambrook repeated the move at the other end, with a better weighted ball for Reynolds, putting him one-on-one with Dootson. The Celtic keeper reacted well, racing from his box, and blocking with his legs. Douglas cleaned up, sending the ball back whence it came. Crossley again was beaten as he tried to shield the ball out at the other end, as Denham ran around him, and sent in a low first time cross for Eastwood. David was alert and steamed in, nicking it before Eastwood could strike. David was on hand with his instincts moments later as Denham queued up a shot just inside the box, he snuck in around the back, and stole the ball off Denham's boot.

It was then Timons' turn to make a crucial tackle at the other end, after Reynolds had breezed past everybody else, the Celtic captain slid in to block the ferocious shot. As half time approached, Emley upped the pressure, and German was forced into a dangerous looking challenge 40 yards from goal, which David headed around the Celtic post.

Bowker conceded a corner, less than a minute later, as wave after wave of Emley pressure tested the defence of Celtic's goal. Douglas had dispossessed Reynolds with a great sliding challenge that left Reynolds feigning injury as Bambrook picked up the loose ball and whipped in the cross that Bowker headed out, and Timons cleared the corner. Making a miraculous recovery, Reynolds then went on a mazy run that left the entire Celtic team trailing in his wake, before attempting to lob Dootson, who caught the ball easily enough, and then looked puzzled as to why a corner had been given. Celtic duly cleared the corner, but Wakefield were right back at them, and after some click passing, Reynolds again failed to hit the target.

In the second half, Emley reverted back to defensive cagey play, and Celtic took advantage of that. Eastwood got into some great positions, but his first of the half was 30 yards from goal, unmarked, with an age to pick out his shot, and he failed to get any power, putting it into the keeper arms.

Bowman then delivered a great ball in, and Wharton headed well, but it was great positioning by Cuss to make the save look simple. Hallows won a corner off Crossley (who failed in his seemingly sole task of shielding the ball for goal kicks). he needn't have worried, for when Parr's shot was tipped around the post by David - the referee obliged by giving a goal kick instead.

Eastwood took on the entire Emley team, and beat them all to go one-on-one with Cuss. Cuss must be getting the same amount of practice that Dootson gets, for he made a stupendous save, and Denham was almost put in by the rebound off Cuss, but David was again on hand to clear.

Then it was Denham's turn to make a mockery of Crossley's poor shielding, by running around him, and cutting the ball back to an unmarked Eastwood. His snapped at shot was too high, too wide.

Eastwood wasn't the only one to have forgotten his shooting boots, for when Denham squared Parr's excellent through ball into the path of Hallows, Celtic's top scorer missed the sitting duck.

Strange decisions did continue to dog the match, including the non-foul by Reynolds who pushed Timons over to prevent him from running to block substitute's Adams' shot. Justice was served when the fresh on sub fired so far over the bar it vanished through the thick cloud cover.

After David brought down Eastwood, the free kick was cleared, allowing Reynolds to break, he sprinted away from Bowman, despite the Celtic man being no slouch, and the game being an hour old. As he sucked in the defenders, he fed the ball through into the path of Bambrook. Bowker made a critical challenge that allowed Dootson time to collect the ball safely.

Somehow, German found himself interchanging through the Emley team with Denham, and eventually ended up on the edge of the box. Wild eyed with the sight of goal, he shot, but without the two essential ingredients of power and accuracy!

Emley again looked to be upping the pressure as the half came to a close. Reynolds received an excellent sweeping ball, but took too long to get it under control, allowing Bowker to get across and block the shot, but only into the path of Bambrook. Wharton got in his way to divert the ball around for a corner. With minutes remaining on the clock, Dootson punched the ball off the head of Bambrook but right onto the head of Adams, who didn't know much about it sailing over the bar.

He knew more about the next one, when Reynolds waltzed down the flank before whipping in a cross that he put wide of the mark.

Celtic finished, as they had started, with possession and an attack. Denham won a corner, which Crossley cleared, right back towards Wharton. Wharton whipped it in again, and Timons joined the growing list of Celtic players who cannot hit the target, when he headed wide of the post without being pressured.

This was a competent performance by Celtic, and they perhaps shaded it enough to deserve all three points. However, they cannot complain with the first clean sheet of the season, thanks largely to the heroics of Bowker and Timons in the middle.

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