Match Report -
Ruing missed chances
By Iain Benson
Celtic have played worse than they did against Barrow and won, but against Barrow it was always going to be one of those days.

Celtic played exceptionally well in the first half, and could have had a hatful. Eventually, the first chance of the game fell to Celtic: Ellington and Prince interchanged with some delightful passing, with Prince swinging a superb cross into the box for Sykes running in, but the header thumped against the crossbar after looping over Bishop in the Barrow nets, and Cotterill cleared for a corner. Keeling flicked the corner on to Ellington who was flattened, with the ball cleared as far as Field, but his dipping shot was a simple catch for Bishop. Moments later, Bishop raced out of his box to reach a loose ball, but Ellington got there first and took the ball around Bishop with a twist and drag back before trying to curl the ball from an acute angle, only to see the ball cannon off the upright.

Ellington and Sykes interchanged with almost telepathic control, a back heal and instant reverse pass before Ellington slid the ball to Garvey. Bishop raced out to close the angle to Garvey forcing the Celtic man to knock the ball past Bishop, there was slight contact from Bishop causing Garvey to lose his balance. On another day, it would have been a penalty; on this day Garvey was shown a yellow card for diving (despite Bishop admitting to have clipped Garvey)!

Whilst Celtic protested, Barrow launched the ball down the other end, Knight picking up the bouncing ball to go one-on-one with Pettinger, and against the run of play, Knight scored.

Ellington tried to reduce the deficit when Field slid the ball through to him, one-on-one with Bishop, Bishop made an excellent parry off a powerful shot. He got another chance moments later off a Garvey cross, and though he brought the ball down well, Jon Smith was there to block.

Just before half time, Celtic had a flurry of free kicks around the box, and corners. From a Garvey free kick, Sykes headed narrowly over the bar, and it was given as a corner. With the sustained pressure, it was no surprise when Ellington nodded the ball across to Sykes, who flicked the ball into the net with no challenge on him.

With seconds left in the half, sublime skill from Prince saw him pick up the ball in his own half and run at the Barrow defence, he evaded three challenges to go one-on-one with Bishop. Bishop advanced of his line and still outside the box and in full flight Prince chipped the ball over the advancing Bishop and into the back of the net to send Celtic into the dressing room a goal to the good.

Had Ellington?s effort right at the start of the second half gone in, the story of the match would undoubtedly have been different, as it was, Ellington made the space for the shot, and forced Bishop into an excellent double save with Sykes right on him for any spillages.

Almost immediately after that, Knight picked up the ball twenty-five yards from goal, sidestepped Keeling with a good dummy and smacked a first time shot that curled away from the flying Pettinger into the bottom corner for the home side to equalise.

Celtic almost immediately regained the lead, but for Bishop. Wharton fed the ball through to Price who hit a powerful low drive that required Bishop to snatch the ball, again with Sykes following in. The travelling contingent then thought that Sykes had regained them the lead when Garvey slid the ball right into his stride and he struck a sweet shot but it hit the side netting. Sykes returned the favour nodding a ball down into Garvey?s path, after his stunners against Cheadle, the thunderous dipping shot was no surprise, but it whizzed just over the bar.

Both sides were looking to regain a once held lead, and Knight tried his luck from forty yards, and though Pettinger looked unconcerned, it was only narrowly wide. In the end, Knight?s hat-trick came not from a stunning shot, but from a lucky bounce. A loose ball was knocked over the Celtic back line, and as Pettinger came out and misjudged the bounce, Knight made no mistake, and lifted it over the flailing Pettinger.

More misery was piled on Celtic when five minutes later, Knight pulled the ball back for his strike partner stood at the edge of the box, and Tarrant swerved the ball with the outside of his box for a well struck goal beyond the reach of Pettinger.

Steve Smith was brought on for Keeling with Sykes dropping back into the defence, in the hope that Smith could barge his way past the Barrow defence, and though he tried, Celtic lost their bearings on the target with both Smiths, Prince and Ellington all putting their shots narrowly wide of the target. Turley, too, was brought on, but both he and Ben Smith (on for Field), took the shooting option when unmarked colleagues were screaming for the ball, and on both occasions, the shots were straight at Bishop. Though Celtic finished the game with another flurry of corners and free kicks around the box, there was to be no repeat of the end of the first half, and Barrow continue their own march up the table.

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