Celtic recorded their eighth win in nine games to give their Nationwide North ambitions a huge boost with an emphatic victory at Holker Street, home of Barrow AFC.
Steve Burr made two changes to the side that lost midweek to Burscough. Simon Garner, replacing the suspended Ashley Winn in midfield and Kettering hero James Dean, was given a start in place of Lee Ellington.
Despite the comfortable score line in the end, it was Barrow who started the game in the more positive fashion and caught the Celtic back line sleeping on a number of occasions. After less than ten minutes, Ryan Elderton had to be replaced, and Matty Barlow bandaged up after a clash of heads.
Celtic sides are made of stern stuff these days though and gradually forced their way back into the game, making Barrow pay for their lack of profligacy when Alex Meechan steered the Celts into a 1-0 lead, latching onto a poor throw in, and guiding the ball past Deasy.
Barrow were not to be undone though and were awarded a cast iron penalty moments later, when Thompson was tripped in the box. Gamble was equal to the task and made his first penalty save, shootouts apart, of the season, when McNulty shot straight down the middle, and Gamble punched the ball away.
As the game wore on, James Dean, who caused problems for the home defence all afternoon, spurned a couple of chances to put Celtic further ahead, including a glorious chance when Hall provided the lobbed pass, and Dean skied the ball over the gaping goal, and a second when Deasy was forced into an excellent reaction block. Dean was then the provider for Hall, but another good save from Deasy kept Barrow in the hunt.
It was that man Dean who, midway through the second half did put Celtic into a 2-0 lead, when he reacted quickest to a scrambled corner, latching onto Ellington?s link up play, to force the ball home. His delight at scoring as he rushed to celebrate with the travelling fans captivated the feeling of players and fans in the joy and meaning of the moment.
An Ellington free kick forced Deasy into yet another save, before Matty Barlow, who had played all afternoon with a bandaged head, made the points safe shortly before time when he delicately hit a cross shot across goal that went in at the far post.
Barrow earned a consolation goal to deny Celtic an eight clean sheet, when Thompson was tripped in the box, and took the penalty himself, blasting into the roof of the net, and giving Gamble no chance. Late as it was, the penalty could not detract from the outstanding result against an in form Barrow.
It is well over twenty years since Celtic achieved a better result at Holker Street than the one they did on this showing; and it\'s probably even longer since a Celtic side held such a lofty position, especially if league tables were based on away results alone.
The correlation between the two is a combination of manager and players who clearly have quality. It just remains to be seen if they have the stamina to secure Celtic a place in the big league yet again.
On this and their previous eight game winning run showing, they certainly do.
Photos By : Andrew Rose of www.prosportphoto.co.uk