Match Report -
Celtic go nap
By Iain Benson
Celtic returned to league action with a convincing win that saw them surge back up the table regaining much of the ground that they had lost since the start of the year. The first half was pretty much even, but the second half saw Celtic raise their game and come into a storming finish.

Celtic came at Leigh from the off, and Black?s cross was nodded on by Sykes into the path of Prince and it took a sliding block from Stoker to deny Celtic an early opener. Celtic weren?t easily denied, though, and from the corner, Barnard nodded it back to Sykes who stooped and flicked the ball from close range past Lamb in the Leigh goals. Lamb did exceptionally well moments later when Prince burst past two defenders and tried to lob Lamb. Lamb acrobatically got back to claw the ball out of the air. The loose ball fell and Sykes slid in to grab his second but somehow the keeper blocked on the line.

Leigh weren?t out of the game by any stretch of the imagination and Simm ran at the home defence, striking as he entered the box, Haran blocked with the rebound going out to Willis, the ex-Celtic man thundered his shot from distance but Pettinger was there to knock the ball out for a corner. The corner was cleared only as far as Willis, and this time he made no mistake curling a powerful shot from thirty yards right into the top corner to level the scores. Leigh got the ball in the back of the net again a few moments later as McDowell?s cross was spilled by Pettinger onto Simm?s head. However, the Celtic keeper had spilled the ball because Simm had charged into him and the goal was ruled off.

Stoker up-ended Banim thirty yards out; for which he received a yellow card. The free kick came to Barnard. His header looped over Lamb, but Stoker made amends by clearing off the line. Celtic were on the up as they started going up a gear. Some of the passing was sublime, and it eventually resulted in a shooting opportunity for Sykes, but Harris stuck out a leg and deflected the goal-bound shot for a corner. Sykes headed the corner narrowly wide. Celtic got the goal their play deserved when Prince danced past two defenders along the by-line before pulling the ball back to the edge of the six yard box where Ellington was waiting to side foot under Lamb.

Hazeldine could have restored parity just before half time after he wrong footed Haran to go one-on-one with Pettinger, but the Celtic custodian made a good block with his legs. However, Celtic could have extended their lead further as time ran out in the half. Maxfield struck a lovely shot from the edge of the box, with Harris deflecting it wide; the corner came to Ellington who deftly flicked it on to Sykes, who nodded it on to Haran, his thunderous shot was well stopped by Lamb.

The second half started with a couple of Leigh chances, the best of which was Simm latching onto Willis? through ball, but Haran forced him wide, and his shot went into the side netting. Ellington put the ball through for Banim, he controlled the ball well to make some space and though the angle was narrow, his shot forced a flying save from Lamb. Celtic stamped their authority on the game when Sykes headed Maxfield?s cross onto Garvey in the corner of the box, he volleyed a low curling ball past Lamb who was nothing more than a spectator.

This was the signal for Celtic to run rampant. Garvey whipped a great cross into the box and Dunne almost scored for Celtic, his sliced clearance going narrowly over the bar. The corner was cleared, but Celtic kept coming, and Banim tried the shot from thirty yards, Lamb only just reached it, turning out for a corner. From the corner the ball came straight to Haran who thundered his header straight past Lamb. Celtic were shooting for fun, and Sykes lifted the ball over the defence, and only the leg of Gibbons stopped Ellington from doubling his tally. The corner came to Prince, his curling shot curled just too far.

Eastwood came on for the tiring Banim and almost immediately got onto the score sheet, turning and finding himself in acres of space, his shot forced a decent stop from Lamb who must have wondered where his defence was. Eastwood was always going to get a goal though, and after a move of over twenty passes, Garvey slipped the ball across the box, and Eastwood slid in to knock the ball past the hapless Lamb.

To give Leigh credit, despite the hammering they were receiving, they still managed to create a couple of chances, Wilkinson stung the palms of Pettinger and Willis kept him awake with a good shot from the corner of the box, but truth be told, Leigh never really looked like scoring, and Sykes finished the game off as he had started it. Ellington was fouled about thirty yards out, Keeling floated the ball to Ellington who nodded it down to Sykes; Sykes volleyed the ball between Roscoe?s and Lamb?s legs to make it 6-1.

With the quality rampant through the Celtic squad it was only a matter of time before Celtic did hammer somebody, and it was all the better for being Leigh to get a measure of revenge for the dreadful game at the start of the season at their place.

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