Match Report -
Uninspiring
By Debbie Taylor

A flat and uninspiring Celtic performance deepened the problems at Bower Fold. Severely depleted, Celtic managed to put out just 13 senior players, including new signing Damien Hindle from Accrington Stanley. The bench contained three unknowns from the youth team: Daryl Weston, Matthew Kemp and Adam Jones, who did not get a game against a physical Barrow side.

The front line of Barrow were more than a match physically for the fragile Celtic defence, and Celtic conceded a lot of free kicks, starting almost immediately when Calcutt bundled Patterson over just outside the area, which Flitcroft could not convert. Bowker too, could not handle the presence of Campbell, and the Barrow striker earned his first free kick early on against Bowker – again, the free kick was poor, this time from Patterson.

At the other end, Hayward held off the barging from Maxfield in order to slip a low cross into the near post for Hindle – much to the surprise of the Barrow defence, Hindle let it run on to the better placed Wharton, and only the quick thinking of Raven denied Wharton a simple finish. Hayward then passed directly to Wharton threading the ball through the defence, Wharton squared to Hindle, but the new striker hadn't settled in enough to anticipate, and despite his blistering pace, couldn't get to the ball.

Connell got the closest that Celtic would get moments later when Calcutt's superb cross found him driving into the box, but his header crashed off the underside of the bar and Capp in the Barrow goals smother gratefully. Capp pumped the ball down field, and Bowker's header out was unconvincing falling to Patterson. The defence obligingly opened up in front of him, and he curled a sweet shot past Dootson and into the bottom corner.

Celtic have been behind before, and upped their pressure somewhat. Wharton's industry allowed him to feed the ball out to Calcutt who put a first time cross in for Monk, but though Monk's strike was good, Capp read it well and caught simply.

Barrow were not sitting back on their goal lead, and Pattern won a corner off Keeling, which Hayward cleared. Connell trapped the clearance well, only to shoved over by Flitcroft. The free kick was taking quickly, releasing Hayward, and Flitcroft got back in time to foul him. Connell took the free kick and Capp had to acrobatically palm the shot around the post. The corner was taken short and slid in by Whealing to Monk, his stab towards goal was blocked on the line, falling back to Calcutt, his shot too was blocked on the line, and hoofed clear.

Rankine tried the counter attack, picking up the clearance and running three quarters of the pitch into the Celtic box, but was obviously tired when he got there, because the finishing was awful.

Hindle's speed was on show when he raced past Maxfield, only for the Barrow defender to send the newest recruit sprawling just outside the box. The free kick was taken sideways, and Calcutt's shot was handballed just outside the six-yard box to divert the ball into Capp's hands, but Hayward was there before the keeper could reach it, forcing Capp to push the ball around the post instead. The corner was wasted.

A loose pass in the middle of the park to Wharton allowed Patterson to rob Wharton and race unopposed towards Dootson. Wharton recovered well and managed to get goal side of Patterson just as he reached the box, as Patterson was wondering what to do now, Whealing came in and stole the ball.

Calcutt took on the whole Barrow defence in order to get a cross in, Maxfield got there ahead of Hayward and put the ball out for a corner. The corner was wasted, and Calcutt had to win another corner, this time off Patterson. The corner was spread out to Smith who pumped the ball into the box. There was a wicked deflection on route to the back post, but it had the negative effect of taking the ball to Capp instead of away from him.

Another long punt down field from Capp found Rankine who out-muscled Wharton to go one-on-one with Dootson, but his half volley again sailed over the bar. Barrow liked the ball over the top, and tried it again moments later, this time Campbell latching onto the ball ahead of Bowker. One-on-one with Dootson it took an excellent stop from the Celtic number one to deny the Barrow striker. Having such success it wasn't long before Flitcroft was lifting the ball over the defence for a clearly offside Rankine to pick up and run one-on-one with Dootson, Bowker tried to catch him, but Rankine managed to find the time to curl a shot past the far post.

Hindle burst past a defender to latch onto Wharton's through ball and go one-on-one with Capp, only to see the linesman raise his flag for an offside that mystified everybody, not least Hindle who'd had to wrestle his way out of Maxfield's grasp to reach the ball. Monk did break the offside trap latching onto Connell's through ball, only for Raven to haul him off his feet just outside the box. Connell took the free kick driving it just the wrong side of the upright.

Barrow escaped another contentious handball decision when Wharton lifted the ball over a defender for Hindle. Hindle tried the overhead, and Jon Smith's arm sneaked out to block it on route to goal, only for the well placed referee to point to his chest and wave play on.

Bowker conceded a corner as the half began to disappear, blocking Flitcroft's cross. Dootson had to parry Flitcroft's stab off the corner through a crowd of players, with Dootson on the floor, but with a host of blue shirts on the line, Rankine tried to prod the loose ball home, and missed the target from close range.

Another minute, another shot from Patterson, this time blocked by Keeling at the expense of a corner. Hill picked up the half clearance off the corner and fed the ball square to Raven, who saw his shot blocked by Whealing for a second corner, which Dootson caught through a crowd of players.

The last act of the half saw Hill risk a card when he fouled Hayward on the half way line, then refused to retreat from the ball, standing on it, despite Hayward wanting to take it quickly. When the referee had sorted it out, the free kick found Keeling's head, but it was off target.

Barrow made a half time substitution bringing on Knight for Rankine. His first touch put the ball into the back of Celtic's net. Dootson caught Flitcroft's cross, and Knight headed the ball out of Dootson's hands, into the net. Linesman and referee agreed this was a foul and ruled the goal out. His second act was to foul Keeling, breaking down another Barrow attack.

Celtic then lost Wharton in contentious circumstances. Maxfield's high boot collided with Wharton's head, resulting in Wharton being replaced by Bowman, and strangely, Barrow getting a free kick. Hindle continued to be an outlet for Celtic, and Jon Smith had to haul him back to prevent him breaking through into the Barrow box. Jon Smith headed Whealing's whipped free kick behind for a corner. It fell to Keeling, but as he tried to bring it under control Hill prodded it out for a second corner. The corner was hoofed clear and Knight beat Smith with a deft touch to race into an empty Celtic half. Connell intercepted the resulting cross. Campbell tried to play the referee for a fool moments later when he collided with Bowker just outside the box (having handled the ball to take it past Bowker) and then threw himself into the box and tried to claim a penalty. The official was having none of it, but did give Barrow a free kick in a dangerous position. Patterson's high-speed free kick curled around the wall, but not by enough to go inside the post, and went narrowly wide.

Celtic switched to 4-3-3 by bringing on Eastwood for Calcutt. His first touch was to cushion the ball into the path of Smith, who raced towards goal, and Hill's stuck out leg brought him crashing down thirty yards from goal. Whealing took the free kick, deceiving the whole of the Barrow defence by putting it to the far post where Hindle lofted it back for Keeling, who, unopposed, stuck the ball into the back of the net putting Celtic firmly (but somewhat against the run of play) back into the game.

Celtic then got the ball into the back of the net again. Eastwood's skill earned him enough space to curl a cross to the back post where Hayward produced a great stop from Capp, the ball rebounding to Hindle who stabbed the ball home. Hayward was then annoyed at the linesman who claimed that he had been offside despite never actually being so.

Heffernan and Liddicott both came on within a minute of each other as Barrow started to waste time. Monk won a corner off Raven and Eastwood headed Whealing's corner towards goal, and the Celtic striker could not believe his luck when Flitcroft launched himself off the line to head the ball out for a second corner. Monk's header was not as accurate as he would have liked, and missed the target.

Rankine wandering back from an offside position suddenly found the ball at his feet. The shouts were ignored, and the Celtic defence had to quickly readjust and swarm all over him, forcing Campbell to shoot straight at Dootson. The ball came back to Patterson who pulled it square to Flitcroft and his shot was deflected for corner. From the corner, Jon Smith nodded it back across the six-yard box where the Celtic defence were mere observers to the completely unmarked Raven who smashed his half volley into the back of the net.

Bowker scooped a cross to Hindle who produced a good save from Capp, the rebound falling to Connell, but he could do nothing with it as again the linesman's flag was raised erroneously. Hill fouled Hayward thirty yards from goal; Whealing's free kick was curled too far around the wall, and went for a free kick.

Barrow seemed content to sit on their one goal lead, but still Knight found some time to shoot at goal, winning a corner off the unsuspecting Keeling, and Keeling cleared it.

As the time began to run out for Celtic, Eastwood managed to get the ball back from Barrow, and whipped a cross for Connell, but the ex-Bury man's half volley was over the bar, and there was no more time to do anything.

The result here reflected the state of play from Celtic who got out of it what they put in.

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