Hyde started the game brightly, with Tolson getting an early test of Phillips when he side stepped the offside trap to get some space, but that was Phillips?s only save of the half. Out of the way, Celtic started constructing chances at the other end against stand in goal keeper Bernstein. A week effort from Torpey was a comfortable catch, whilst Keeling put his header off a Meynell free kick wide of the mark, and Bowler fired narrowly wide twice. Barlow got into a glorious position at the edge of the box, but curled his effort round the far post before Celtic?s two forwards combined. Ellington nodded down Briggs?s superb cross to Barlow who did not hesitate, instead curling a volley off the outside of his boot into the top corner out of Bernstein?s reach.
Torpey rode a couple of very heavy challenges from Manship and Munroe keeping his feet very well before Howarth slid straight through the back of him and putting Torpey into the fencing. There was no doubt, and Howarth saw red. Hyde compacted the field to try and stifle Celtic, but just before half time it should have been three. Barlow broke through and was one-on-one with Bernstein, but instead of taking the shot saw Denham unmarked by the back post and slid the ball to him for a tap in, somehow the loaned winger scuffed his shot wide. Neither player could believe it, but then when Ellington broke free and put a superb ball into the path of Barlow, unmarked with the goal at his mercy, somehow he lifted his effort over the bar, and Hyde were let off.
Again Hyde started the half brightly with Clee bursting in from the wing and forcing Phillips into a full stretch save to tip the ball out for a corner. They couldn?t convert and Celtic got a pair of corners of their own at the other end, but Ellington couldn?t divert the ball into the net. Hyde brought on top scorer Simm, sacrificing a fullback, and he immediately caused problems for the Celtic defence, dragging them over to him as he got to the by line, but he cut the ball back for Lynch alone inside the six yard box, and unlike Celtic, he made no mistake, rolling the ball into the back of the net.
It looked like Celtic would rue the two missed chances despite the man advantage, especially when Lynch missed the net when he really should have done better. However, Celtic got their act back into gear and dismantled Hyde. Torpey raced past the defence and with everybody committed, he smashed a shot across the face of goal, with the shot going narrowly wide with Denham sliding in at the far post and missing. Torpey wasn?t denied long though, when he created space at the edge of the box he placed rather than powered his shot with Bernstein unsighted, the first the Hyde keeper knew was seeing the ball roll into the net.
Denham forced a corner out of Kilbane, and it came out to Denham whose thunderous shot stung the palm of Bernstein with the Hyde stopper making an excellent one handed tip over. From that corner though, the ball came to the back post where Briggs powered a header into the back of the net to make it three.
The two goal and one man advantage eased the pressure somewhat, and although Briggs?s weak effort was a simple scoop-up for Bernstein and Joynes couldn?t get direction on his effort, Celtic didn?t look like giving ground, until Douglas-Pringle rode a challenge at the edge of the box that saw Phillips make an instinctive and superb low save. The chance woke Celtic up again, and Torpey added to his own tally to make it four for Celtic with some sublime footwork and a powerful shot from just inside the box that nicked in off the post. Seconds later and it could have been five, but Barlow?s effort was just too close to Bersntein.
With other results going our way, Celtic closed the gap on the top four, and put some distance between ourselves and the chasing pack.
|2||Morley, Dave||> 78|
|3||Oakes, Adam||> 56|
|4||Tolson, Neil||> 71|
|12||Simm, Chris||< 56|
|14||Rick, Lee||< 71|
|16||Ignoza, Joel||< 78|