Match Report -
Celtic leave it late, but extend their Redditch 100% record
By Iain Benson
In difficult conditions Celtic left it very late to get the victory that their football deserved.

From the off Celtic looked the more likely scorers, and in their first attack Keeling rampaged down the right hand side and fed an excellent ball through to Winn running to the box. Winn took the ball in his stride and forced a good parry out of Antiss in the Redditch goals. The ball rebounded back to Winn and he made no mistake on the second attempt smashing the ball into the goal.

Redditch were employing direct tactics using the presence of Rickards up front to cause mayhem in the Celtic box, and half way through the first half, it paid dividends when Celtic were unable to clear a lofted ball into the box, three attempts at clearing it, and it kept coming straight back in before Softley, in a rather advanced position, got his head on the ball and diverted it past Pettinger. Redditch continued with the tactic and it almost paid dividends again moments later as Celtic again struggled to clear, and eventually Sykes headed Downes cross over his own bar ahead of Rickards.

Celtic were playing some good stuff going forwards though, and when Krief freed Prince to nutmeg Walker and fire a low cross through the box, both Brodie and Smith launched themselves at the ball, but neither could get the touch to divert it into the goal. Brodie then turned his man and found Prince darting into the box, Prince put the ball into the path of Winn who was unmarked on the penalty spot, but Antiss made a superb save down to his right.

The second half started with Celtic playing their way through the bumpy conditions and producing some good passing football despite of it. Prince put the ball into the path of Brodie. Brodie was almost one-on-one with the keeper, but though his shot was past Antiss, Downes was back to divert his shot wide of the goal with a last ditch sliding block.

Redditch were looking to break the hoodoo that Celtic?s previous one hundred percent record against them presented, and Palmer forced Sykes into conceding a corner. Hollis took it, and forced Pettinger to punch away for a second corner that Redditch wasted. Palmer was looking quite dangerous and tried a distance shot that packed a punch. It looped over Pettinger, but didn?t quite dip enough, smacking off the bar for Sykes to clear. From a free kick conceded by Winn just inside the Celtic half, Hollis tried a cheeky distance shot that had Pettinger scrambling across to stop.

As the game went into the final thirty minutes, Redditch were visibly tiring and Celtic were clearly in the ascendancy. Krief jinked his way to the by-line and stranded the entire Redditch defence with his lofted cross to the back post where Smith was coming in unmarked. It looked like a simple tap in, but with Antiss scrambling across Smith lifted his shot too high and it cleared the bar from close range.

Ellington and Brodie interchanged well to put Brodie into a prime scoring position, but Geohaghon stretched out a long leg to divert the ball wide. Krief then gave Smith another glorious chance sliding the ball through the box into his diagonal run, Smith hit the ball well enough, but again it was too high, sailing over the bar. Prince lost his marker long enough to spot Antiss off his line and tried a cheeky chip from thirty yards, the curling shot didn?t quite dip enough and landed on top of the goal. Celtic were clearly probing and exposing Redditch?s back line.

Ellington and Brodie were terrorising the defence, but somehow Redditch were getting the bodies in the way of the shots, Brodie forcing Softley to flick the ball over his own bar from a powerful shot. Brodie then found Smith with another excellent ball, with Softley well off the pace Smith had the time to smack his shot low and hard. Antiss could only parry back into the path of Smith with an excellent save, but the second save was even better: Smith trying to poke the ball over the line and Antiss smothered.

After Cotterill clattered Winn at the edge of the box, Brodie tried a worked free kick sending Ellington clear behind the wall, but he lifted his shot over the bar. It was beginning to look like Redditch?s desperate last ditch defending would be enough, but then Smith won a corner off Softley when there was nowhere left to go. With the clock well into the three minutes of stoppages, Ellington?s powerful header was superbly saved by Antiss, the ball dropping to Smith, Smith tried to poke the ball across the line, but Geohaghon was there to block on the line at the expense of another corner.

The corner was floated in, Antiss looked to have done enough with his punched clearance, but the ball fell to Brodie at the edge of the box, he shaped his body and fired in a superb, unstoppable volley into the top corner that no goalkeeper would have saved.

It was a shot worthy of winning any match, and it proved to be the winning goal as there was no time left for Redditch to do anything. Yet again, Celtic come away from Worcestershire with the three points, and Redditch must be wondering how their defensive performance hadn?t got them a point, for it was a superhuman effort, but not quite enough.

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