Match Report -
Fish nets a consolation
By Iain Benson
Celtic exited the Cheshire Senior Cup again at the hands of Witton in a repeat of last season?s final. Witton were the faster team for most of the match, and with Celtic missing several key players we were always going to be up against it.

The first half was largely even though, with both sides cancelling each other our. Ellington got the first chance, receiving a slide-rule pass from Hume in the box, turning and shooting over the bar. Hume used some excellent footwork to evade his marker before providing a diagonal ball for Morris, but the Celtic striker screwed his shot wide. Spearitt fouled Hume just outside the box, and Smith won a corner from the free kick which Hume put only narrowly wide.

At the other end Brown did all of the hard work getting behind Kay to put a low cross into the six yard box, and with a simple tap-in available, Jones blazed high over the bar. Another excellent chance for Witton went begging when Jones wriggled between Kay and Sykes and pulled the ball back for his strike partner Moseley, but his shot was deflected off Winn for a corner. Morris then won a corner at the other end, which was cleared as far as Smith, Smith lifted the ball over the defence for Keeling to latch onto with a superb touch, but he fired over the bar. Kennedy in the Witton goals was finally tested when Ellington took a quick throw to Parr who volleyed goal-ward only to see Kennedy pull of a good save to keep the scores level.

Just before half time, a foul by Winn on Hamilton saw the ball floated to the back post, Moseley?s shot was cleared off the line by Keeling. The loose ball fell to Brownhill, but his shot was wide.

Witton came out the hungrier of the two sides, with Jones getting the early chance, turning around Keeling to get a shot off, but put it wide. That said, Hume got a glorious chance when an excellent ball in from Kay landed right at his feet to leave him one-on-one, but he smashed his shot straight into Kennedy?s midriff. The goal that Witton were threatening came after a long build up by the visitors that left Celtic chasing shadows. Gahgan found himself completely unmarked just outside the box, he stepped into the box and he rifled his shot past Buxton.

Celtic tried for the quick reply, Morris providing a sweeping cross for Hume to nod home, but Kennedy was well positioned to catch comfortably. Buxton, too, was in the right place, when Hamilton found a bit of space thirty yards from goal to have a low drive. Again, though, Celtic were left short at the back and Gahgan exploited it, this time he pulled it back to the edge of the box where Connors was steaming in. His shot took a deflection off Keeling, looping over the flailing Buxton.

Black, who had been brought on just before Witton?s first goal to allow Winn to move back into midfield, clashed heads with Hamilton with quarter of an hour to go. Fish came on to replace him. Fish?s first touch was to get onto a Brodie (on for Smith) cross after the Ellington had wriggled away from his marker and fed the ball to Brodie. The header was powerful and too much for Kennedy who couldn?t reach it. Celtic were back in it, and started applying the pressure in the hunt for a late equaliser.

Witton were on the back foot as Celtic probed and harried like they hadn?t for the previous eighty minutes. Sykes got into a good position and only the foot of Barras denied him the equaliser. Fish then nutmegged Pritchard to put Morris through one-on-one with Kennedy, but the Celtic striker slid the ball past keeper and post. Fish lifted the ball over the defence for Morris who nodded down to Lally, but the shot was deflected for a corner. Brodie provided a pin-point pass for Morris to chase, and he did so, taking the ball around Kennedy, but his shot from an acute angle was hacked off the line by Spearitt.

A Celtic game cannot pass without a momentous and contentious decision, and Celtic had to wait until the ninety-fourth minute. It came from a Morris cross to the near post, Sykes was always the favourite to reach it ahead of Spearitt, but the Witton defender blocked the flick header and certain goal with his fist inside the six-yard box and Celtic didn?t even get the corner, never mind the penalty the punch deserved.

At the end through, Celtic hadn?t done enough to get anything from the game, leaving it far too late before pummelling Witton in the manner they should have done from the off. That coupled with two catastrophic defensive lapses at left-back, saw Celtic exit the cup.

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