Match Report -
The by now traditional opening draw
By Iain Benson
Celtic started the first game in the new campaign well and looked a stronger side than last season, but ultimately, were fortunate to get a point.

From the off Celtic?s use of width was good, and Grant Black put a great cross in that Smith in the visiting nets punched as far as Winn. Winn knocked the ball to the back post and Turley nodded it over a defender to Ellington whose header was stretched for and claimed by Smith. However, Celtic wouldn?t long be denied, and Ellington linked up well with the diagonal run of Sykes, putting the ball into his stride for the league?s opening goal of the campaign, slotting the ball under the keeper on ten minutes.

Celtic kept up the early pressure, and Sykes was unlucky not to double his tally after Ellington won a corner that Turley floated in for Hume at the back post, he nodded down to Sykes, who turned and shot only to see Handyside clear off the line.

Inch by inch, Hucknall were getting into the game, and half way through the first half, they were in the ascendancy, and Celtic were on the back foot. Ricketts should have opened his account when he got a clean head on a corner, only to put his header back towards Burns, the corner taker. Burns obliged by lifting the ball back to Ricketts, and this time, he headed wide. Dempsey showed a good turn of speed, counter attacking after robbing Black, he span a cross into the path of Burns, but he screwed his shot from 25 yards wide. Burns tried again just before half time, getting his dipping low shot on target. Buxton almost dropped it into the path of Ricketts, but kept hold long enough.

Ricketts was getting chances, and seconds before the interval a corner was floated in that Buxton punched directly onto Ricketts? head, only for the big centre forward to head over from close range.

The second half started with Hucknall looking the more organised, and dangerous. Dempsey tried to burst past Haran who was adjudged to have impeded the Hucknall captain just outside the box. Burns? free kick was acrobatically tipped over his bar by Buxton with a good save.

Turley had a glorious chance as Celtic managed to break out of their own half, when some great passing scythed open the Hucknall defence and left Turley in acres of space with a superb reverse pass from Hume, with time to take a shot, Turley went for immediate power before Smith could adjust his position, and screwed his shot wide of the mark.

Celtic were made to rue that miss almost immediately when Powell put a great ball into the box, and Ricketts diverted it into the bottom corner past Buxton to equalise.

Celtic went for the instant reply. Sykes flicking on a long throw from Maxfield to Hume, but Hume?s cushioned header still had too much pace and went over the bar from close range.

Again Celtic were made to rue their miss when Ricketts showed great physical prowess to wrestle the ball off Maxfield in the air, bring it under control and just plough his way past Haran and Keeling before burying the ball into the back of the net with a low pile-driver of a shot.

Celtic had an uphill struggle, but reorganised, got stuck in and it paid dividends. Another long throw, dummied by Sykes, leaving Hume unmarked with a free header, and this time he made no mistake nodding it into the top corner with Smith nothing more than a spectator. Hume could have been the hero of the hour when with minutes left on the clock Kharas (on for Ellington) won a corner, but he planted the header wide of the mark.

The game was still anybody?s for the taking, and substitute Moore got onto an even longer through from Powell, scissor kicking and forcing another flying tip over form Buxton.

It has become somewhat traditional for Celtic to open the season with a draw. Hucknall are a good side and will take some beating this season. Celtic should play better as the season progresses, it was a decent start.

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