Celtic made mincemeat, justifiably, out of a poor Lancaster side.
With an FA cup draw only days away against Vauxhall motors, Lancaster boss Hesketh risked the wrath of the Unibond League by fielding an inexperienced side boasting just 4 first team appearances in total. The average age of the City side was a mere 18, and the experienced produced a moral dampening blow to the club, and severely dented the belief of the youngsters.
Celtic too, did not field a full strength squad, preferring instead to bed in the new faces, and give a run out to players without a game for a while. Fish, McNeil, Perkins, Pickford, Williamson, and Crookes all fell into this latter category, whilst Clements, Turley and Beesley fell into the former. Wharton was a new face completely, and was on trial with the club for the first time. And what a trial!
From the off, it was clear the vastly more experienced Celtic side would dominate proceedings, leaving the defence and Fish in particular completely bored. All the action took place at the Lancaster City end of the pitch. Turley, in his debut, made a good impression, taking his first chance well, cutting through the Lancaster defence as though it was not there, and sending the keeper the wrong way with a beautiful left foot drive along the ground and into the net.
Celtic then went on a rout, though to be fair, the Lancaster youngsters rallied their defence for a few minutes, putting in some good tackles and involving keeper Speight with some excellent saves. But even this could not stop the Celtic party, and Pickford rejoiced in his return to the game by slipping one past Speight. These were closely followed by goals from Clements (just running past the static defence) and debutant Wharton showing that he would like to join the Bower Fold outfit. McNeil's return to form was evident as he bossed the front line, with some good holding moves, two excellent penalties, and a superb strike.
After a clumsy tackle inside the box, McNeil took his first penalty of the evening, coolly slotting into the net, with Speight left looking foolish.
A sleight rally was ended when Crookes put away his corner, and the ref decided that enough was enough, and left Lancaster smarting from six nothing by half time. They came out, after a stern team talk, and held off the Celtic attack for over twenty minutes before Pickford got his aim back, and rifled in his second, then completed his hat-trick after some particularly sloppy defending put him through a few minutes later.
Lancaster looked like a beaten side, and it took just a minute more for McNeil to find the space to double his tally.
Perkins took on the entire defence, left them standing, and blasted home, obviously having nothing to do in defence.
In the final minute of the game, with Celtic looking for an historic double figure win, (the best being 16-2 in the early 1900's) Lancaster handed it out on a plate by giving away another penalty which McNeil again slotted home.
To be fair, Lancaster got exactly what they deserved. Fielding such an under strength side deserved a thrashing, and they got it. Celtic even wasted some chances, and saw Speight make a number of good saves, before he too gave up. As with Manchester United fielding the youth team in the Worthington cup, Lancaster may be fined for their bizarre decision - and deservedly so. I doubt that the handful of Lancaster fans who knew about the game (there had been no mention on the web site about it - nor, judging from the comments on said site, in the match day programme!) felt that they had got their money's worth, and should have strong words with the Supporter's association over it.