Match Report -
Still trying to cruise
By Debbie Taylor

Another poor showing from Celtic left the fans wondering if the players cared about the colours they wore. With Spennymoor operating a shoot on sight policy (albeit inefficient), Celtic would have done well to take notes, spending too long in build up play that broke down far too easily, and rarely got Celtic into a dangerous looking position.

In the opening exchanges, Celtic looked bright, chasing down the ball, and Foster got an early chance heading Caldecott's cross over the bar, but this was a false dawn. Spennymoor's attacks came in waves - the first won them a corner, the second saw Bright wriggle through the defence to go one-on-one with Dootson. Dootson came out on top with a good save with his legs. Their shoot on sight policy was obvious as the defence blocked three shots on the trot before they could clear the final ricochet.

With the scores at 0-0, Celtic looked eager, especially the freshly returned Eastwood. He fed Caldecott who's run was taking him into the box before Grant brought him down conceding a free kick. Bowker got on the end of Potts' free kick, but saw the ball skim wide. Moments later, Caldecott had won a corner, that Parr headed to Bowker. Facing away from goal, Bowker trying to flick it over his shoulder, but again, went wide.

Preen, for the visitors hammered a couple of shots into the defence, before trying a different tack of running around them - this was more successful, but he couldn't keep his curling shot on target - and it went wide. However, he soon made amends as he latched onto the ball as it pinged around the defence while Spennymoor again blasted shots into the defensive line-up. Preen must himself admit that his shot was speculative - just one more blasted ball into the heart of the defence, hoping to get a deflection, only it didn't need it, Dootson saw it late, and the ball zipped into the far corner. If you have enough shots on goal, eventually something will go in. Spennymoor have taken this to heart, and Celtic should too. You cannot score, if you don't shoot at goal. All the build up play in the world won't win you a game unless you put the ball in the back of the net at the end of it.

To make matters worse, Parr was involved in a crunching tackle that resulted in him being stretchered off with damaged knee ligaments, before Celtic could get themselves back into the game.

Just before the half hour, Foster could have put the two teams level. After five minutes of good passing play from Celtic, Potts fed Foster in the box, he had enough space to turn and shoot with a lovely curling ball that did not quite curl enough, going over the crossbar.

But it was a moment amid continual Spennymoor dominance. They chased every ball and looked more up for the game than the Celtic team. Parr's replacement, Wharton showed this with a lax and lazy ball back to Bowker when a forward pass would have been the preferred route. To top it off, it lacked the strength to reach Bowker and Preen latched onto it and raced towards Dootson with support from Brunskill. Fortunately for Wharton, Caldecott's pace allowed him to cover an awful lot of ground and make an important tackle at just the right moment.

Just before the interval, Mohan should have doubled the visitor's lead. Bowker had conceded a corner of one of the many Spennymoor shots, and Mohan was unmarked at the back post, but his header went passed the opposite post.

In the opening moments of the second half, Celtic looked like they may step up a gear, and Foster finally made Kearney do something, when his low cross meant for an unmarked Eastwood and his deadly side foot, was intercepted by Kearney.

Foster again provided, but for Potts, just outside the box with a spectacular shot that would have been goal of the season had it gone in. And as they say, when you're down, the luck goes against you. Potts was twisting and turning outside the box, and opened up enough space to shoot at goal. Only a diving save from Lynch just outside the box denied the equaliser. It was the most deliberate and spectacular handball I have ever seen, yet the well positioned ref deemed otherwise.

Celtic waned again as the half went on, and Spennymoor punished them for it. A long throw from Grant cleared a static defence, and was swept in by substitute Skelton.

Wharton put a good pass into the path of Foster as the team tried to find some inspiration. Foster was one-on-one with Kearney, who quite possibly was bored at this point. The United keeper was alert enough however, closed Foster down well and saved the powerful strike with his legs.

At the other end, Dootson stopped the score-line from becoming embarrassing with an excellent save when substitute Rand's shot after beating his marker, was palmed around the post for a corner, that Celtic cleared.

And after 80 minutes of running, Eastwood finally got a pass that he could use, only to be scythed down by Lynch just outside the box. While the wall were organising for a Potts free kick, Eastwood struck a curling shot around them that was destined for the bottom corner. Again Kearney had stayed alert, and smothered the ball. Eastwood got another chance when an excellent cross from Fitzgerald was right onto his head, but out practice, Eastwood put it narrowly wide.

Just before the final whistle, German got tangled with Grant by the corner flag. German came out worse, and had to be stretchered off. With all of the substitutions used, Celtic were down to ten men.

Ten man Celtic seemed to play better than the eleven man team. Eastwood put in a pair of good crosses that Spennymoor's defence struggled with. First Heald and then Kielty were denied by the defence. Had Celtic been putting in crosses like that from the start, Spennymoor would have conceded.

This is the first time Celtic have conceded three on the trot since demotion from the Conference. Hopefully it will finally ram it home that this year's league is the most competitive ever, and Celtic cannot cruise through on name and potential ability alone. It's going to take commitment, desire and concentration for the rest of the season just to get into the top thirteen. The players are beginning to lose the respect of the fans - and that is a vicious cycle. Negativity abounds at the moment, so now is the time to stop the rot, and put it right. The result on Tuesday is irrelevant, the performance is all that matters now. The fans want to see some commitment from the players.

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