Celtic started brightly, with Prince, re-signing Steve Smith and Black all putting good crosses into the box for Hume and Ellington to try and get onto the end of. Acton was alert to these early dangers and dealt comfortably with the crosses, but it was a big plus that the build up to the crosses saw some excellent passing football. Parr came the closest after Brodie pulled back a Black cross for him to volley goalwards. The shot was on target, but deflected for a corner, he followed it up by getting his head on a Prince free kick, which Acton caught. Smith put a great diagonal ball into the box for Ellington, but again, Acton was smartly on his toes to deny any chance.
Nuneaton came into the game like Celtic, desperate for a win to turn around their poor start to the season. Debutant loan-player Hollingsworth gave Nuneaton their first sniff of goal when he fouled Darby several yards from the box, and Pettinger had to make a smart stop to keep it out. However, Pettinger was helpless as a well worked routine from Nuneaton saw Maxfield skinned by Noon, who fed it into the box for the timely arrival of McPhee who powered his shot past Pettinger, to open the scoring a few minutes before half time.
Nuneaton followed this up on the other wing when Staff beat Black for pace and knocked the ball into the path of danger-man, Darby. Darby needed no second chance sending Pettinger the wrong way to tap in at the near post with Pettinger?s foot unable to keep it out.
Celtic trudged into the tunnel at half time 2-0 down after playing some good football. John Reed must have rebuilt their confidence in the dressing room because they came out of it with all guns blazing. Prince was given the full length of the left wing to cover as Sykes came on for Maxfield, but he didn?t stop going forward, and took a shot that took a deflection for a corner. The corner eventually came towards the top corner with a Smith shot, and Collins clearly palmed the ball away at full stretch, but Nuneaton won the free kick.
After a couple of dangerous corners from Nuneaton, Celtic finally got a bit of luck. From a corner, Nuneaton were unable to clear the ball and Sykes nodded it down to Keeling. Keeling stabbed the ball across the line from where Collins tried to clear it, but the linesman had seen the ball wholly across the line and the goal stood. Celtic followed this up with Smith lifting the ball into the box, Hume beating the offside trap and looping a glorious header over Acton and into the back of the net for an amazing equaliser.
With the cheers still ringing, Hollingsworth conceded a free kick forty-yards out. It was lifted in and Darby smacked his shot against the underside of the bar, there was a moment?s confusion as the ball bounced away from goal, but Darby made sure that the goal stood by lashing a shot into the back of the net to restore the visitor?s lead.
Celtic just would not lie down. Parr put a good ball into the box for Ellington, but Oddy got his head on it first, putting it over his own bar for a corner. Ellington?s initial crashing shot smacked into the crossbar and flew into the air, three Celtic players were around the place where the ball would descend, and it was Sykes who toed it into the net, with Collins again clearing from (further this time) behind the line. Celtic had equalised again.
Celtic were looking good for the draw, which would have been a fair result, but there was a further twist to come.
With less than quarter of an hour to go, ball in by Smith caused utter confusion in the Nuneaton box, with Hume bearing down on the ball, Brown sliced his clearance into the top corner with Acton left stationary, unable to get near it. Brown was left with his head in his hands.
Now it was Nuneaton?s turn to look for the equaliser. Collins tried a distance shot, it was well struck and Pettinger had to make a sharp stop. Brown again had his head in his hands after Black fouled Staff near the corner flag and after a failed clearance attempt, Brown had the goal at his mercy, but somehow lifted his shot over the cross bar.
Celtic tried to play the clock down, but Nuneaton threw everything forward, winning a couple of free kicks and a corner. Celtic survived, and recorded their first win for several games to lift us above Nuneaton.