The Ray Stanley Memorial Trophy was really a pre-season friendly, and it showed.
Even the numbers on the backs of the shirts (were the numbers were present) did not match the team lists given out! So apologies got any inaccuracies in the players names in the following report.
Both sides had yet to gel completely as a team, and there was a lack of commitment, especially in the first half. That said, the new Celtic line up with more new faces than an ITV talent contest showed some excellent passing at times, switching the ball from side to side of the field with accurate passing that sliced up Hyde's midfield. However the final balls were not coming into the box, making goal scoring opportunities few and far between.
Hyde were not completely outclassed, but their memorable midfield moments were scanty.
Quarter of an hour in, Celtic had the first chance of goal, as new face Richard Peacock fed Andy Evans with a diagonal thru ball that allowed the young, and impressive striker to move in on goal. With the keeper rushing out, Evans attempted to lob Acton with the outside of his boot, and went just inches past the left upright.
As if to prove a point, Simon Yeo was back on form for Hyde, getting into dangerous positions, though his final header immediately after the goal kick was so soft it probably would not have gone in, even had Ingham not caught it on his goal line.
Evans was again put through, this time by Kevin Parr, and as he cut first one way and then the other, turning the Hyde defence inside out, his final shot curled past the same post as before, but was closer.
Again Acton gave a long clearance, which fell to Ashwell, who fed Yeo at the edge of the box, but the wild shot never looked a threat. However, a minute later, his diving header from Rowe's cross only narrowly missed the net.
In the second half, a game looked likely as Hyde broke through the midfield, only to be bustled off the ball by Andy Scott. Ingham failed to line the wall up properly allowing Riley to blast one straight into the net.
Not to be outdone, Celtic swept the ball up the field, with Wood getting the ball in behind the defence, allowing Gerard Courtney to slip in around the defenders, and slide the ball under Acton in a splendid end to a good move.
After having a taste for the lead, Hyde felt a little more passionate about the game; though Celtic were still treating it like a friendly, trying out training ground moves. Some late tackles by the Tigers left a couple of Celtic players wondering if the stakes had been raised. However it was paying off for Hyde, and Yeo struck a thunderous shot from just outside the box, only to see it clip the post and bounce away. Taylor made good space for himself around the Celtic box, although his direct route to goal was blocked by the able Matty Williamson, Andy Scott, and Richard Peacock, forcing him to switch back and forth, without getting anywhere.
Finally, in desperation, he let off a weak shot that skimmed past the post.
Courtney and Peacock really looked to be hitting it off as a pairing down the left wing, and when Peacock fed the young striker his shot forced a top draw save from Acton seeing him at full stretch to reach the top corner ball, that drew appreciation from even the Celtic fans.
Not to be outdone, Yeo got into a good position, and forced an equally good reaction save from Ingham when he powered one in from six yards.
Penalties always looked on the cards for the last 15 minutes, even though both sides freshened up their legs with substitutions, with Celtic bringing on Winfield Steele, Lee Buggie and Anderson.
As the final whistle blew, the players took up positions for penalties.
First up was Andy Evans. The Hyde contingent thought the trophy was theirs as Acton guessed right, dived left and blocked Evans' low shot. Josh Howard (yes that one) stepped up for Hyde's first and slotted it past Ingham.
Winfield Steele passed the ball into the net, leaving Acton floundering.
Sanderman took the next for Hyde, but blasted it wide, high and long.
Acton again proved the hero for Hyde, blocking the powerful shot from Wayne Hall.
But Ingham kept Celtic in the competition as he too pulled out a great save to deny McConnell.
Left back Anderson put the ball wide leaving the scores at 1-1.
Neil Hall made it 2-1 to Hyde as he beat Ingham, sending him the wrong way.
Although a miss would have given Hyde the trophy, Steve Wood showed no nerves as he slotted calmly past Acton (is he our new penalty taker?)
Hyde could still have clinched it, as Foster took Hyde's fifth penalty.
Ingham proved his worth getting low to deny Foster the glory.
Sudden death penalties!
Derek Ward took the first, and put it away, as did Hyde's number 17 (I didn't know they had that many shirts!)
Then a moment of controversy! Andy Scott's powerfully struck penalty came back down off the bar, and looked to me like it had crossed the line. The linesman was much closer though, and ruled it a miss.
Acton then took a penalty against Ingham. Had it been open play, Celtic would have had a throw in, it went that far wide. Lee Buggie blasted into the top corner, well out of the reach of Acton, and Celtic were 3-2 up.
A Hyde player without a number on his back (probably because he was, and remains unmemorable) took Hyde's final penalty. Ingham could only watch as it sailed over his bar and out of the ground.
Celtic had won another trophy at Ewen Fields, though slightly less emphatic and memorable as the Cheshire Senior Cup final, it does mean we need an extension to the trophy cabinet, whilst Hyde's red carpet continues to gather dust.
In summary, Celtic's new faces are showing a lot of promise. It just remains to be seen who will join Stuart, Wood and Courtney in the Celtic ranks.