Match Report -
Celtic cruise to victory
By Iain Benson
Celtic got back to winning ways by tearing Alfreton Town apart in the first half, before walking through the second, barely getting out of first gear.

From the kick off, Celtic went for the jugular. Prince floated the ball to the back post. Rayner didn?t come but Ellington did, looping his header over the stationary Town keeper to give Celtic a dream start. Rayner?s misery was compounded moments later. A through ball from Banim was heading for Rayner?s hands until he realised he was outside the area. While he readjusted to try and move his feet, Ellington came in, took the ball from him Rayner through himself to Ellington?s feet but the league?s top striker evaded the flailing hands and slotted the ball into an empty net.

Some desperate defending saw Celtic maintain their two goal cushion. Barnard conceded a corner which Turner nodded goalwards. Pettinger reacted well pushing the ball onto the crossbar. Fisher got onto the rebound only to see his shot blocked by Black, the rebounding coming to Godber whose shot was hacked off the line by Maxfield.

Alfreton scoring then may have changed the face of the game, as it was Prince took the ball past two defenders before threading it through to Banim. Banim deserved the goal himself after rounding Rayner, but Turner got back to block on the line, but there was nothing defender or keeper could do as Sykes came in and toe poked the ball over the line.

The rest of the half appeared to be the whole squad attempting to tee-up Banim for a goal. Garvey found him with a good ball, he made the space twisting past two defenders and took a deft shot that flashed across the face and was only just wide. Ellington gave him the ball at the edge of the six yard box, Featherstone went through Banim with no intention of taking the ball, and no penalty was given. Featherstone took this as a sign that he was immune from prosecution and moments later as Banim ran past him into the box he shoved Banim off the pitch. No penalty.

Black won a corner out of Clarke, Haran put his head on it and Rayner redeemed himself with an athletic tip-over, and got a plaudit from the referee of a goal-kick instead of a corner. Banim did get given a foul against him, but only when he was outside the box and nearly knee capped by a lunging tackle from Blunt. Garvey took the free kick, and it was only just wide.

By the laws of the game, Robinson should have been sent off right before half time. Banim put Ellington through one-on-one with the keeper. Robinson scythed Ellington down from behind on the edge of the box. As the last man a straight red was warranted, a yellow card and a wasted free kick was all that resulted.

The start of the second half saw Prince put Ellington through one-on-one and Rayner made a great block, putting the ball out for . . . a goal kick. Maxfield then got along the line and pulled the ball to Banim at the near post, he tried to flick it into the net and Rayner made a good stop on the line.

Alfreton?s chance in the half came when Rankine latched onto a long throw, turned into the corner of the box and snapped off a shot forcing Pettinger into making an athletic stop. But Celtic were walking the ball around the pitch, and Alfreton really looked little threat. Prince put on a bit of space to race into the box, Fisher got back well to slide in and put the ball out for a corner taking the ball off Prince?s feet. The corner caused problems at the back for Alfreton, but Celtic just couldn?t force the ball over the line. Prince had another go a moment later from the edge of the box, Turner?s thigh deflecting the ball, but Rayner stretched his fingers and pushed the ball out for a corner. Ellington flicked the ball into the path of Banim who cheekily tried to lob Rayner from close range, the ball just clearing the crossbar. Banim was on target with his next effort from the edge of the box, but Rayner was well placed.

Eastwood came on for Banim, and joined in the fun. A Celtic passing move involving everybody, bar Pettinger, saw him back-heel the Maxfield?s cross into the path of Price who took the shot from thirty yards, but it right down the throat of Rayner. Ellington walked the ball past the defence and back-heeled to the penalty area, but for the first time in History Eastwood had not followed him in. Ellington won a couple of corners, Garvey took the second to the back post, Ellington was an inch away from claiming his hat-trick as Rayner got across and tipped the ball away.

Alfreton were not likely to pull one back as time ran out and Celtic passed the ball for fun around them. This was a walk in the park (literally at times) during the second half, with all of the work done in the first.

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