Celtic had the majority of the passion and chances in the first half, with Parton a linchpin for the Tangerine Blues. His vision put a well weighted ball into the path of Hume, and though Hume struck it well enough it went wide. Turley was the next to beat the offside trap, but Cotterill put him under enough pressure to force Turley to shoot high. Mellor in the Cheadle goal was called into action midway through the first half when he was brave going down at the feet of Hume after Turley?s curled cross put Hume in.
At the other end, Martin latched onto a poor clearance and unleashed a cracking shot that forced Pettinger into a full stretch tip over. The corner wasn?t cleared properly and Riley was able to take a shot on goal, which he put over the bar.
Parton was brought down by Lindon just outside the box, the free kick was a good one, and Cotterill almost put the ball in his own net as he put the ball out for a corner. Celtic then won a couple of corners on the trot, but Cheadle were defending well. Turley followed these up with a free kick from the corner flag that Parton flicked on for Hume, but Cotterill was there again to clear. Parton was then fouled by Roberts just outside the box, and Garvey curled a superb free kick towards the top corner, only to see Mellor pull of an excellent save. Keeling got his head on the corner, only to see it thud against the inside of the post and into Mellor?s grateful hands.
The second half had not long since got underway when Hume outpaced McDonagh and pulled the ball back to Lees outside the box. Though it was his competitive debut, Lees had the composure to curl a superb shot with the inside of his foot through a crowd and into the top corner where Mellor could only stand and watch. Celtic tried to follow this up immediately, with Garvey putting in an excellent cross, only for Mellor to punch it off the head of Hume. Lees was involved again, moments later, as he lifted the ball over the defence, Mellor looked the favourite, but misjudged the bounce and Hume nodded the ball over him and it trundled into the net.
Hume could have doubled his tally, but with his last kick of the match off a Garvey through ball, he put his shot narrowly wide of the post. Sykes came on, and whilst Celtic reorganised, Martin did what he did last year, took advantage of a mix up in the defence to slip between Jones and Keeling and shot across the face of Pettinger into the far corner. Cheadle had the bit between their teeth now, and Stewart tried to get into the box, only for Keeling to impede him. The free kick was a good one, but Pettinger was well positioned.
Sykes almost restored the lead with sheer tenacity, when he beat Heath twice on the by-line before lobbing Mellor at the near post only for the ball to thud against the inside of the far post and get cleared. Parton tried next, latching onto Lees? through ball to go one-on-one with Mellor, but the stocky keeper was again brave snatching it off Parton?s feet.
Fish (brought on at half time for Turley), got onto the end of a Garvey cross, but Mellor was equal to Fish?s header. Garvey was brought down just outside the box as Celtic tried to restore the two goal lead. The free kick was fed across to Smith, but his shot was blocked almost on the line by Cotterill.
With only moments of normal time remaining, Kay was left trailing behind Brockenhurst, who lifted the ball over Pettinger and the defence for Stewart at the back post to thump in the equaliser.
With the last kick of normal time, Parton beat two men to get a shooting chance, but his shot went agonizingly wide of the mark.
Celtic had stronger legs in extra time, and it showed. The Cheadle box was peppered, with Cheadle throwing bodies in the way of Garvey?s, Smith?s and Sykes? shots, the latter winning a corner off Heath. Sykes then put his head on the corner, and Mellor couldn?t reach it (McDonagh did, but the ref overlooked the handball on the line, as we scored).
Fish could have joined Lees on the debutant goal sheet when Parton reached a seemingly dead ball and lifted it back for him, but Fish sliced his shot into Mellor?s hands. Parton did it again in the second period of extra time, this time pulling it back for Lees; his shot had power and accuracy and forced Mellor into another good save. Mellor was there again, reaching through a crowd to punch Platt?s cross away from Sykes.
When Parton attempted to lift the ball to the back post, Mellor managed to get enough of a finger on it to deny Fish, but the ball fell nicely for Lees who showed a great deal of composure to poke the ball into the net and restore Celtic?s two goal lead with only minutes left (McDonagh again handled the ball on the line!). Cheadle didn?t have enough in the tank to respond, and Celtic played the clock down keeping possession.