Match Report -
Battling Celtic take the Festive Honours
By Iain Benson
Celtic made it four wins on the trot, taking six points off neighbours Hyde in the process, and winning all of the festive fixtures.

The second Hyde game started with Celtic playing well, Ellington going close early doors, before Meechan forced Dootson into an excellent full stretch save. This was followed by yet another Smart pile driver that saw Dootson fly across the face and tip the ball around his post for a corner. Hyde defended well and broke, with Seddon shooting well wide when he should have done better, and as possession seesawed Tipton drilled a low shot that Gamble smothered well.

Hall?s industry won a couple of corners for Celtic, eventually Meechan firing from a sharp angle that saw Morely make a valuable block on the line after Dootson was beaten.

After Hall was tripped in the box, and Celtic complained, Hyde broke quickly through Pickford, Sykes got a foot to a through ball, but his slip allowed Seddon to take the ball and go one-on-one with Gamble. Gamble made himself big and got a finger tip on the shot, but not enough to keep it out and the travelling Hyde faithful erupted in festive joy at this late Christmas gift of a goal that had come somewhat against the run of play.

The goal energised Hyde and though Barlow?s flicked header nearly equalised, the pressure was now at the other end, with Seddon again shooting woefully wide before Gamble?s flying fist denied a powerful shot from Tipton. Wharton cut in from the wing, but he too was denied by the sparkling Gamble, and Johnson cut in from the other side, but Payne got in the way of a pile driver of a shot, allowing Celtic to get to the half time interval only a goal down.

Hyde started the second half as they had ended the first, on the front foot, forcing Celtic into some strong defending. Tipton forced Gamble into an early save as Celtic dragged themselves back into the game.

Some good running by Barlow, Hall and Ellington started to cause problems for the visiting defence, before a superb one-two between Ellington and Hall sent Ellington surging into the box, with only Band to beat to grab the equaliser, two yards from goal, and Band launched himself at Ellington sending the Celtic striker flying past the post. So close to goal, Band could not have had any complaints if he?d been dismissed, but a booking was all that was forthcoming and Barlow stepped up to take the penalty.

He kept his nerve and sent Dootson the wrong way with a cool spot kick.

Morely very nearly gave Celtic a second penalty in as many minutes as the Celtic front line ran the Hyde defence ragged, but his late lunge was just outside the box. Smart stepped up to take the free kick, and it was struck with such venom through the narrowest of gaps in the wall that Dootson had no chance of reaching it, and Celtic were ahead.

Ellington almost immediately added to Hyde?s woes, but his low drive whistled past the post, and Roca forced a corner out of Brass that Payne knocked towards goal only for Band to get in the way. Hyde threw additional strikers on, and gaps started to open that Celtic exploited ruthlessly. Keeling was brought on to replace a tiring Garner, and made his mark within minutes, picking up a loose pass in the middle of the park, the Hyde defence just kept backing off him until he was in the box with only Dootson to beat, and the cheeky outside of the boot low shot zipped under the ex-Celtic keeper to record Celtic?s third successive 3-1 win.

Celtic were less rampant than they had been at Ewen Fields, but they still put in a performance that may just tempt back a few of the bolstered crowd. The gap between ourselves and the play-off spots has got a lot smaller now, and Nuneaton in sixth are just three points away, having played a game more.

1Dootson, Craig  
2Brass, Chris  
3Lynch, Chris  
4Morley, DaveYellow Card 
5Band, PeterYellow Card 
6Innes, Mark  
7Johnson, Dale  > 67
8Pickford, Steve  
9Tipton, Matty  
10Seddon, Gareth  
11Wharton, Nathan  > 73
12Simm, Chris  < 67
14Clee, Nicky  < 73
15Robinson, Craig  
16Harrison, Gerry  
17Cartwright, Lee  
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