Match Report -
Celtic are within sight of second
By Iain Benson
Worcester made it very hard for Celtic in the first half, but with an injury ravaged squad being depleted still further by the loss of three players at half time; it was only a matter of time before Celtic got the goal that would bring them the three points, and within a point of second.

City?s obvious plan of attack was to stifle Celtic at every opportunity, thus it was from a free kick that Celtic got their first chance, Smart curling the ball over the wall and down to the far post, forcing an exceptional save from Belford in the City nets, putting the ball out for a corner that Payne headed wide. All afternoon Belford marshalled his defence well, and cut out numerous crosses that many a keeper wouldn?t have come for.

What little attacking impetus came from Worcester came on the counter-attack, but they never got forward in numbers, and Walker had no options other than a distance shot when he did find himself up front, and it was a comfortable take for home debutant Pearson, with Gamble ill with flu. Payne and Dean both got on the end of set pieces for Celtic, but neither troubled Belford, Payne heading a corner wide, and Dean shooting from the edge of the box, but his shot rising high.

Walker fired through a crowd with no options for a pass, but it struck Sykes on the way into the box, and never reached Pearson. Meechan did test Belford after cutting inside and finding half a yard, the shot was well placed, but Belford was also well placed.

At half time Worcester were forced into a triple substitution. Wood went off just before the interval on a stretcher, and Smith and Price never came out for the second half. With Worcester disorganised, and Celtic fired up by the half time team talk, it was action stations for Celtic. Torpey curled a shot wide of the mark within moments of the restart, and a Hall header off a Smart cross was superbly saved with the feet of Belford, putting the ball for a corner that Payne again headed wide.

Winn and Torpey both put good chances over the bar as Celtic ran rampant, before some slick play and interchange between Torpey, Winn and Hall allowed the latter the space and time amongst dizzy defenders to fire a low cross to the edge of the six yard box where both Dean and Meechan were coming in, Dean peeled at the last second and Meechan connected, Belford had no chance and probably didn?t even know where the ball was until he found it in his net.

Worcester could have equalised after a spill by Pearson, Walker lifted the ball over the prone Pearson, and Sykes hacked the ball clear off the line, but despite Worcester playing their best football after going behind, that was the last shot on target by Worcester.

Celtic meanwhile were continuing their flowing football, and Belford knew he?d been in a game, but he was beaten when Hall looped a header over him, only for Munday to clear off the line. Belford did get to Hall?s shot from the edge of the box, and Winn was only narrowly over the bar from a similar distance as Celtic queued up to take pot-shots at the visiting goals spurred on by a vocal crowd.

As the game went into the last five minutes, Celtic didn?t relent, and it required three further top notch saves from Belford to keep the score-line down, athletically tipping over a rocket from Barwick and smothering close range efforts from Winn and Hall. Celtic couldn?t breach the on-form keeper and the game ran out of time to the news that Southport had beaten Telford, putting Celtic to within a point of second, and a visit to Tamworth on Monday a chance to move into that position, with Telford away at Nuneaton.

1Belford, Cameron  
2Clarke, Ryan  
3Price, Jamie  > 46
4Smith, ChrisYellow Card > 46
5Munday, Jonathan  
6Walker, Gary  
7Colley, Nick  
8Nwadike, Emeka  
9Dinsmore, Matt  
10Wilding, CraigYellow Card 
11Wood, Troy  > 45
12Ricketts, William  < 46
14Burtoft, David  
15Khan, Shabir  < 45
16Brown, Craig  
17Danks, Mark  < 46
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