Match Report -
Out-Paced!
By Debbie Taylor

Celtic came into the game with Parr and Bowman both missing. Mayers was brought into a midfield role that is not his forte, and German was still at centre half while Clegg took the right back role.

Droylsden came out of the blocks at high speed, racing through the disorganised Celtic defence, with Salmon leading the charge. He blasted the ball into the crowded box, and German intercepted it, blocking the ball. But the rebound fell to Haarhoff. The nippy front man for Droylsden wasted no time in smacking the ball past Dootson, only to see his shot ricochet off the far post. It fell to Cameron, but he put his shot over the bar.

Despite the warning, Celtic allowed Haarhoff an uninterrupted run straight between them again, moments later. This time, Haarhoff was on target steering the ball past Dootson and in off the post.

Droylsden's team was pacy (excuse the pun), with shoot on sight orders, and they were causing all kinds of problems for the Celtic defence. However, Celtic did not lower themselves to this level, preferring to take the ball and play it around. In this manner Eastwood found himself with the ball at the edge of the area. He took a couple of touches to make some space, turned and shot - but it was, in the end a comfortable catch for Gibson in the Droylsden nets.

The Bloods were having a problem with accuracy today, after their 7-0 mauling of a depleted Blyth team in the week, and when Haarhoff again got a sighting of goal, when Salmon's excellent thru ball put him clear, he sent it skyward over the bar.

As the play zipped from end to end, Denham received an awkward bouncing ball from Martin (making his home debut), but managed to put it into the path of Eastwood. When Eastwood's in the mood, he rifles such balls into the back of the net, but not this afternoon, as his powerful skimming shot went narrowly wide of the target.

Moments later, Eastwood again received a ball from Denham, with too many defenders surrounding him, he played it wide to Potts who cut inside his marker, and raced into the box. It was fifty-fifty between Potts and the keeper, but Gibson did well, smothering the ball at Potts' feet. Potts wouldn't give up though, and used his tricky feet to beat two red shirts, before curling a shot beyond Gibson, only to see Farley stretch a leg and divert it into the grateful Gibson's arms.

With Celtic beginning to look the dominant team, it took a handball missed by all the officials for Haarhoff to out-jump Bowker pushing the ball ahead of himself and lay off Salmon. Fortunately, Salmon's shot cleared the bar.

All the creative play was coming from Potts in the first half, and he evaded a couple of clumsy challenges before sending a screaming cross through the six yard box. It was a touch too high for Eastwood, and he could not get his header down, clipping the bar on its way out of play.

Droylsden earned a second corner, when Porter's blasted cross struck the unfortunate Celtic man's shoulder sending it wide, but like their first corner, it was poorly taken and an easy clearance.

But Droylsden were holding onto their lead, and when Eastwood was played in by Potts, Lattie and O'Brien closed him down well, and the chance was gone. But Celtic were scripting their own demise. This was evident when Clegg's 50 yard free kick was whipped into the far post, only for Eastwood and Lattie to reach it simultaneously. The loose ball fell nicely for Bowker stood in the corner of the box, but he muffed his shot, despite acres of space and time putting it well wide.

Potts nearly came close just before the break, when Eastwood kept in a hopeless looking ball and skidded it to the near post where Potts through himself forward to head it goal-bound, only for Gibson to make an excellent save.

Whatever was said at half time by Miller had an effect, as did the double substitution and change of tactics. Greg Pearce and Caldicott were brought on for Clegg and the rather restrained Fitzgerald. German moved back to right back, and Mayers moved into his more customary forward role. The role he plays best of all.

It paid immediate dividends, when Denham raced between Lattie and Farley into the box and to the by-line. He cut it back across the face of goal, where Eastwood got in ahead of Burke to steer the ball into the bottom corner and put Celtic back on level terms.

Denham had been quiet in the first half, lacking support from Fitzgerald, but now, with Caldicott backing him up, he came into the game, and somehow squeezed a cross past his marker for Mayers, only to see Gibson react well and pluck it off the Celtic man's head.

Pearce was beaten only once in the half, right at the start of his shift: Haarhoff knocked it past him and went one on one with Dootson. His shot was powerful and accurate, but somehow Dootson clawed it out of the air, to keep the scores level.

Droylsden were looking nervous. This was never going to be a walk in the park for them, and Potts was too much for the defence to handle. He held the ball up while support arrived, and laid off Martin. His shot was excellent, and only the quick reactions of Burke denied him a goal. The rebound went out fifty yards to Caldicott who controlled it well, only to be scythed down by Farley. Potts took the free kick and it looked like the wrong choice of free kick when it went too high and too fast fro everybody waiting in the box. His intention was clear though, when it narrowly missed going in the top corner, with the keeper back-pedaling furiously, and never going to reach it.

Moments later, Caldicott's cross emulated Potts' free kick, missing all the target men, and the goal by a scant inch.

With Mayers in the right position, only one team looked likely to score, and it looked almost certain when his intelligent ball beat every defender and put Eastwood free at the edge of the box. Eastwood's shot though, was weak, and right at Gibson.

Despite Celtic superiority, a moment of madness from Potts could have cost us the game. After being taken off the pitch to receive treatment for a heavy tackle, he came on without permission, and the referee awarded a free kick 50 yards from goal. Walker's free kick whistled through the six yard box, eluding the head of everybody, and going for a goal kick. Salmon came closest to it, and it only needed a touch to restore Droylsden's lead.

When Pots was again hacked down, this time by Burke, his free kick was met at the back post by both Mayers and Eastwood who got in each others way, sending the ball out to the edge of the box. Denham tried the overhead kick, but sent the ball over the bar.

But it did look like Celtic were the only team likely to score, and score they did. Eastwood's cross from the edge of the box allowed Mayers and Denham to beat the offside trap, and though the ball was too high for Mayers, it fell right onto Denham's outstretched boot to be diverted past the hapless Gibson.

Potts certainly added an extra dimension to this game, and despite his preference for one extra touch, or his lack of shooting confidence, his crossing ability was superb. As were the tricks that allowed him to get in such a cross to Eastwood stood at the edge of the box. Only Farley's jump denied Eastwood his brace. The rebound fell to Hooper who it the ball on the run, only to miss the target.

Though Denham conceded a free kick 20 yards out, it was an easy clearance that sent Potts off on a run, with Denham and Eastwood tagging along. Droylsden were short at the back, and starting to tire. Potts' reluctance to shoot, meant that he instead squared it to Eastwood, but Eastwood could not dig the ball out from his legs, and his shot was a comfortable catch. A further squared ball to Denham could have made the score line reflect the play.

Celtic played the time down by taking the ball into the corner, with Eastwood expertly shielding the ball from the attention of three Droylsden defenders, before somehow secreting i out from under their noses, and scudding in a cross for Mayers. Burke intercepted for a corner, and when Droylsden cleared, the whistle was blown, and Celtic emerged from behind to take the victory!

This was a great battling victory, with an inspired change at half time to turn the tide into Celtic's favour.

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