Match Report -
Burscough spoil the party
By Iain Benson
It could have been a case of after the Lord Mayor?s Show as Celtic stuttered to a 4-2 defeat to end the eight game winning streak, but credit has to be given to Burscough who chased the game down all over the pitch, and took their chances.

Celtic started the more brightly, but Kilbane was immense, and when Ellington did get an opportunity, McMillan was on hand to catch the early shot. After ten minutes, Burscough set out their game plan, and closed down all the space, forcing Celtic into errors that gave Kilheeney and Moogan several early opportunities that they wasted with wayward shots.

A foul by Burke some forty yards out allowed Burscough to pump the ball into the box: nobody picked up Flynn darting in from the edge of the box, and he met the ball well, guiding into the back of the net with Gamble nothing more than a spectator. Gamble made amends as Burscough tried to force a second goal, with the Celtic keeper covering every blade of grass in his box blocking efforts and crosses before eventually holding on to Noone?s shot.

Celtic needed a rapid reply, and they got it. A lobbed cross from the edge of the box by Hall was met with a cushioned header from Barlow who had evaded Kilbane neatly to make the space, and Celtic were looking once more like the team that had beaten league leaders Kettering only three days earlier. Celtic finished the half strongly, but both Meechan and Barlow saw their shots stopped comfortably by McMillan.

The second half started with Celtic looking for a winner and pressing Burscough back into their own box, but just after Ellington had fired narrowly wide, Flynn came down the wing and popped a cross into the box that rapidly turned into a shot as it sailed over Gamble?s head and snuck in at the far post. It was a bit of a freak goal, and it left Celtic all at sea. Burscough capitalised, once again closing down quickly and forcing the errors, before Roberts was put through by Kilheeney, and gamble pushed the ball up his line, but stopped short at Roberts?s knee and Roberts left foot poked the ball over the line, though Gamble was left requiring treatment for the contact with the striker.

Dean and Roca were brought on, and had the kind of impact that they?d had at Kettering, with Dean almost pulling a goal back within seconds of coming on, but it lacked the power to beat McMillan. Smart got a glorious opportunity from a free kick that he smashed only narrowly wide. And just when it looked like Celtic might pull a goal back, a hopeful edge of the box shot from McGinn was just beyond the reach of Gamble and gave Burscough a three goal cushion.

Celtic really started to press after this and got an instant reward, Hall back flicking the ball into the path of Dean who turned on a sixpence to slot the ball between McMillan?s legs. He grabbed the ball and Celtic set off looking to reduce the deficit further. Roca put the ball over the bar after doing all the hard work, and Burscough?s manager made some timely, play breaking substitutions that disrupted Celtic?s attempt to get back anything from the match. Hall and Dean both saw late efforts saved by McMillan, but there just wasn?t the time for Celtic to stage what would have been a surprising comeback, and Burscough took the three points.

Celtic are still in the play-off spots, but have used up their game in hand. Burscough?s tactics for the game were spot on, and that coupled with tired legs and minds after Saturday?s mammoth win, gave them the edge they needed to win comfortably. Celtic need to put the match behind them, with a trip to on fire Barrow on Saturday, and try to rekindle the promotion hopes.

1McMillan, Tony  
2Flynn, Adam  
3Clancy, Sean  
4Roberts, Dave  
5Kilbane, Farrell  
6Moogan, Brian  
7Parry, Matty  > 85
8McGinn, Matty  
9Smart, Allan  
10Kilheeney, Ciaran  > 87
11Noone, Craig  > 89
12Fitzhenry, Neil  
14McIntosh, Rob  < 89
15Grogan, MichaelYellow Card < 85
16Dunne, James  < 87
17Hibbert, Zak  
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