Match Report -
Celtic move into fourth
By Michael Brierley
Celtic?s astounding away form continued at Blyth Spartans to move Celtic up to fourth, keeping one step ahead of the chasing pack and gain revenge for the Setanta Shield exit at Blyth?s hands earlier in the season. The blustery conditions weren't conducive to good football and as a result the first half was a rather tepid affair, both sides having a claim to being the better side but it was Celtic whose attacks seemed the more portent.

Celtic weathered an early bout of pressure from the Spartans, and Steve Torpey showed some of what he is capable of in beating his man, before getting onto an Andy Smart cross to head goalwards, only for Michael Hedley to clear off the line with keeper Adam Bartlett Beaten. A Simon Garner shot was charged down before Hedley got Blyth?s best chance of the match firing a free kick straight at Paddy Gamble. Andy Smart fired narrowly over the bar as Celtic continued to press, but could not make headway against a keeper in fine form. With the half time score at 0-0, the hosts could be justifiably proud of holding the league?s best away side to just a handful of chances.

The second half saw Celtic provide more of the same, with the swirling wind making flowing football difficult. Chris Hall controlled a difficult cross to nod into the path of Matty Barlow, looking to continue his goal scoring exploits, but his close range shot thudded against the bar, and Andy Leeson denied Alex Meechan with a diving clearance. James Dean did get the ball over the line, but was ruled out for a foul on Bartlett, and from a free kick Andy Smart gave Bartlett a stern test, the Blyth keeper tipping the strong shot over the bar for a corner with time running out. A poor clearance from the corner by Brown saw the ball cleared as far Garner, and Bartlett made a point blank save to deny him. The rebound went to Steve Payne stood just outside the box. Payne brought the ball down on his chest and fired an unstoppable volley past Bartlett to snatch the three points with virtually the last kick of the match.

It was a great result against a team that had found some kind of form of late, beating two of the top five in February and remaining unbeaten for seven matches earning their manager, Harry Dunn, the manager of the month.

Celtic have ten games left, seven of them at home, it is now a matter of turning the away form into home form ? doing this would guarantee Celtic a place in the top five, and with league leaders Kettering only eleven points away ? the title is not out of reach yet.

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