Match Report -
Loss leaves Celtic bottom
By Debbie Taylor

Celtic were left stranded at the foot of the table after this pedestrian display cost them a point against an average looking Kettering side. Indeed, they did not manage a shot on target throughout the entire game.

The first half was largely uneventful, thanks in large part to some woeful finishing on behalf of the hosts. This was in evidence after ten minutes of kick and chase football by both sides before a poor Keeling header back to Dootson allowed Difante to latch onto it, and go one-on-one with Dootson. His shot when it came was scooped well wide of the mark.

Celtic were creating half chances, but that's all they were. When McIlwain fouled Hayward just outside the centre circle the free kick from German was dangerous and the Poppies struggled to get it clear the ball falling eventually to Wharton just outside the centre circle. His well-struck shot cleared the bar. Eastwood found enough space to feed a low shot into the box for Hayward to run onto, which he duly did. Corry in the Kettering nets reacted quickly racing off his line and blocking Hayward's effort with his feet. The ball spun up into the air, and Solkhon reacted quickest to head it clear.

Bowker fouled Burgess forty yards from goal, and Ben Smith intercepted the free kick at the expense of a corner. Kettering's corner taking was as poor as Celtic's, and German easily headed it clear. A couple of minutes later, Whealing conceded a corner on the other side, and this one was missed by everybody and went for a goal kick. Free kick's around the box were equally poor from Kettering. Keeling was harshly adjudged to have fouled Lynch just outside the box, and German was there again to head it clear.

One of the league's top scorers, Lynch, worked some space at the edge of the box, creating a glimmer of a chance, but he wasted it, shooting well wide.

It could be argued, that Kettering were not getting any joy thanks to good defending, and this looked to be the case after some sustained pressure from the hosts saw French lob a ball to the back post where a last ditch tackle from Bowker put the ball out for a corner to deny Lynch an open goal. Keeling headed over his own bar, getting some contact off a Kettering player to earn a goal kick.

One of Celtic's better half chances came when Eastwood found Smith in acres of space inside the Kettering box. Gould got across quickly and wished he hadn't when Smith's powerful shot struck him in the head knocking him out cold instantly. After the restart, Bonsall won a corner off Matthews. The corner eventually came to Hayward whose shot cannoned off McIlwain for a second corner that Corry punched clear as far as Hayward who was well tackled by McIlwain and any danger passed.

Kettering got a corner at the other end when Wharton blocked Matthews' cross. Wharton intercepted the header, but put it across the face of goal, quick reactions from Bowker denied McIlwain a clear chance, getting the ball clear. Soon, Solkhon got forward and found the space to have a shot from distance that struck Bowker's leg earning Kettering another corner. Whealing blocked at the near post but the all was pumped straight back into the box where McIlwain headed across the face of goal where Lynch had a free header but put it straight into Dootson's body.

After more hack and hoof, Smith got the ball at his feet and went on a run, leaving McCafferty trailing in his wake with the space to cross. The cross to the back post saw Hayward racing in, but he couldn't get enough of a foot on it to divert it towards the net.

With the half thankfully almost over, Kettering got the last attack after Wharton clumsily brought down McIlwain. Solkhon headed the free kick wide.

The second half started with Kettering looking a lot more together than in the first. Burgess broke down the flank and got behind Whealing to steal the space for a shot from an acute angle that Dootson tipped around the post for a corner. Sykes headed the corner clear as far as Folds, and Eastwood blocked his shot, closing him down quickly. It fell to French, who took his shot well and produced a good shot from Dootson. Dootson punted down field to Smith who worked himself some space for a shot, but put it over the bar.

Folds fouled Wharton on the half way line. Celtic committed men forward and when the free kick fell to Wharton (who was still hobbling) his layoff towards Sykes saw French intercept. Celtic were suddenly short at the back. French raced down the field and with German and Whealing tracking back, French split them with a well-weighted ball allowing Lynch to latch onto the ball and go one-on-one with Dootson. He made no mistake and slotted it past Celtic's stranded keeper.

Celtic looked all at sea, whilst Kettering looked much more composed. Hayward fouled Burgess on the half way line, allowing Kettering to pump the ball into the box again. Whealing got there first, but his clearance fell to Difante, who fortunately shot wide. Wharton was then the unwitting recipient of a ball to the face leaving him on the floor. The referee allowed play to continue and French was off on another run. Fortunately, Lynch headed French's cross just wide.

Eastwood then slid straight through McCafferty earning a justified yellow card. Worse was to come. The ball was pumped into the box again to the back post, this time Whealing missed the header allowing Burgess to head the ball back down to Difante who half volleyed it past Dootson to double Kettering's lead.

Celtic tried to get back into it, but their bouncebackability was taxed after the two Barrow games. Hayward won a pair of corners, the second of which fell to Smith. He struck it well enough, catching Gould on the way through the box, deflecting it for a second corner. This time it eventually fell to Bowker; Folds blocked his reverse header for a third corner. It was taken short to Whealing, who put a great ball over the top for Hayward, but he couldn't reach it and the chance was gone.

Hindle was brought onto to enliven the front line, with the largely invisible Bonsall leaving the field. Hindle's persistence almost paid dividends when he tried to lob the ball past Folds, who handled just at the edge of the area. The wall did not go back the ten yards marked out by the referee, and Smith's free kick struck it. Again Kettering broke off the loose ball, with French racing down the field, losing Whealing and extracting a good save from Dootson.

Dootson was on hand again to keep the score line respectable when French's cross came to the unmarked Difante at the back post. Dootson tipped his powerful header over the bar. Wharton headed the corner clear. Smith soon played Celtic into trouble again, fouling French near the corner flag. Dootson palmed the free kick away but only as far as Burgess. Whealing blocked the shot, but Celtic were still under increasing pressure as Kettering looked to bounce back from their FA Cup exit at the hands of Stafford. Burgess latched onto the loose ball and lobbed the ball into the box where French headed against the bar.

Caldecott was given a ten-minute run out at the end of the game, and he made an instant impact opening up the left hand side of Kettering's defence with some great running and tackling linking up with Hindle. It was these two who interchanged before feeding the ball to Hayward in space so he could find Eastwood in space at the edge of the box, but the shot was wide. Caldecott's energy allowed him to race half the length of the pitch after being caught out of position, to slide in and rob Lazarus just inside the Celtic box at the expense of a corner. Kettering got a couple of chances off the corner, the first blocked by Bowker, the second by Eastwood at the expense of a second corner. Lazarus headed this one over the bar.

Roberts who had not long been on the pitch got the better of a bouncing ball over Keeling, and beat German with a good touch and should have beaten Dootson with his finish, but he shot wide with the final kick of the match.

If anything, the score-line flattered Celtic, who had put in a tired looking display. Kettering, it must be said, though, were not 20 places in the table better. If Celtic turn out a performance like this against Leek on Saturday, then they may well be Leek's second cap of the of the tournament.

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