Match Report -
A sensational winner from Winn
By Iain Benson
Celtic needed the win, but it looked like it was going to be one of those games. It started from the off when Barlow was clipped by Dunne in the box, but the Oldham player was a bit too theatrical in going down, and the referee waved the appeals away. Hume then missed a superb chance when Brodie?s ball over the defence fell nicely into his stride and he volleyed over the bar.

Ellington chased a lost cause as the keeper looked favourite and ended up blocking Lamb?s clearance, as the ball fell behind Lamb, Ellington tried to race around him, but Lamb got enough on it to put it out for a corner. The corner came to Hume who got in a powerful header but it was blocked on the line at the expense of another corner. Lamb tipped the corner away as far as Brodie who immediately snapped in a low cross that Lamb punched clear. Celtic were clearly enjoying a period of early dominance, and had it not been for Dunne?s arm, Hume would have opened the scoring when he powered a header off Ellington?s lob that Dunne knocked onto Winn and around the post, with the referee deciding it was ball to hand. Leigh continued to ride their luck when Hume latched onto a poor clearance and fired off a grass skimmer that beat Lamb and smacked against the post and back into Lamb?s grateful arms.

Lamb then pulled off possibly the best save seen at Bower Fold this season. A wicked low cross was curled behind the defence by Olsen, with Brodie racing into the box, a powerful diving header from Brodie was goal bound until Lamb leapt across the face of goal and at full stretch palmed the ball away making a save he had no right to pull off. Hume sliced a corner with it fortuitously falling to Winn a good thirty yards out, his shot had pace and power, but Lamb was well positioned to make the catch at the second attempt.

Leigh finally forced Bishop into a save when Robert?s cross was well met by Lugsden, but it was straight at the waiting Celtic keeper. Hume was unlucky again moments later when Barlow?s cross in was tipped off his head by Lamb, only for Hume to try and steer the loose ball into the net, succeeding in hitting the side netting only. Ellington, too, hit the side netting, nodding Hume?s flicked header from a free kick wide of the mark.

Olsen clashed with Simm in the Celtic defensive third, and had to be replaced, with Sykes pushing up and Keeling coming on into defence. Keeling?s first involvement was fouling Rapley on the edge of the Celtic box. The free kick struck the wall, and came to Lugsden who fired wide from thirty-five yards. Celtic pressed again, and a long throw from Flynn was diverted towards goal by Hume, but Lamb did well to get down and catch just before the interval.

The second half started with Simm snapping a volley off a low cross forcing Bishop into a decent save, but Celtic carried their first half momentum into the second half. Prince, on for Brodie who was struggling with his thigh, found some space at the edge of the box with twists and turns but his shot was blocked on route to goal, and Barlow?s effort off the rebound was parried by Lamb and caught at the second attempt with Hume breathing down his neck.

As is normal when a team just cannot find a way into the back of the net, they are punished, and Leigh punished Celtic, though it took a huge dose of the luck they had brought with them to get the goal. Sykes brought down Simm at the edge of the box, and Rapley struck the free kick, which took a ninety degree deflection off Prince leaving Bishop going the wrong way to give the visitors the lead. It was a blow that Celtic hadn?t deserved and too their credit got straight back on with trying to force the ball into the back of the net.

Hume won a corner out of Dunne, and then Dunne cleared Hume?s header from the corner off the line, but the irrepressible Celtic attack was always going to tell, and it did in dramatic style. A long ball up to Hume looked an unlikely source, but with the ball landing outside the area, Lamb had no choice but to try and deal with it, but Hume nicked it around Lamb and raced into the box, with the goal at his mercy. Lamb turned and launched himself onto Hume?s back dragging the Celtic striker down. The referee had no choice but to send Lamb off and award Celtic a penalty. After it was decided to put Simm in goal, Ellington got to take the penalty and he coolly dispatched it to equalise.

Celtic launched wave after wave at the stand-in keeper, who it has to be said performed admirably, catching an snapped Prince shot from outside the box, before collecting half a dozen crosses and corners. Plus the Leigh defence stepped up a gear protecting their temporary custodian as best they could, with Lugsden deflecting a Sykes shot for a corner. A long throw from Flynn was flicked on by Hume, but Barlow?s header was straight at Simm. Winn picked up a couple of chances firing a low shot from the edge of the box narrowly wide before Jackson blocked on route to goal another chance.

With time running rapidly out and the fourth minute of stoppage time nearly up Ellington beat his man, turned another defender and flashed a ball across the face of goal for Winn bursting into the box, it was a difficult height but Winn leapt and volleyed the ball with great precision putting a stunning finish onto the match as stand-in Simm could only flail desperately to try and reach it.

Such was the narrow squeak of a goal, there was no time for Leigh to kick the ball out of the centre circle before full time, and Celtic put some air between themselves and the drop zone. With no game on Saturday, it will give those teams below us a chance to narrow that gap before Celtic travel to Worksop on Tuesday.

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