Match Report -
League Leaders have too much
By Debbie Taylor

Gateshead, pushing for automatic promotion had too much grit and steel for Celtic, though with only a single goal in it, Celtic's play off hopes remain strong.

Keith Briggs almost opened the scoring when Phil Cave sliced his clearance, and Briggs launched it straight for goal, clearing the bar by inches. At the other end, Graeme Armstrong went close, heading Jamie Harwood's cross over the bar, and Lee Novak went closer still when he latched onto Alex Francis's fifty yard pass to go one-on-one with Paul Phillips, the Celtic keeper making an excellent block. Wayne Phillips's left wing cross was over Phillips, but Mike Bowler got back to put enough of a leg on it to deflect the ball onto the post.

A goal for the home side looked likely, and it came just after the half hour, when Phillips tipped Francis's wicked shot out for a corner. Celtic couldn't clear it, and when it fell to Jones, he hooked it over his shoulder and into the top corner.

Steve Torpey almost levelled form thirty-five yards with a fizzing effort that went just wide, but Celtic were down at the break.

Gateshead had two chances to increase the lead inside the opening five minutes of the second period, with Novak's crossing causing no end of problems for the Celtic defence. Harwood slid in and missed one, while Wayne Phillips headed the wrong side of the post. Celtic almost made them pay when Steve Torpey put in a great curling pass behind the Gatehead back line for Matty Barlow to run onto. One-on-one with Musslewhite, Barlow fired wide of the mark when he could have gone round the keeper.

Novak's crossing continued to be a problem but Barrie Keeling was learning to deal with them, denying Francis, while Novak himself got a chance when he latched onto Curtis's lofted ball, but lifted his shot over the bar. Paul Phillips was at full stretch to deny a twenty-yard rising effort from Graeme Armstrong, and then from the corner, Paul Phillips was again at full stretch to deny Wayne Phillips. At the other end, it was Torpey causing the defence problems with his crossing, one wicked cross meant for Barlow met the head of defender and almost flew in the top corner. Barlow turned provider with minutes left on the clock for Lee Ellington, putting in a ball through the defence that Ellington latched onto, and scuffed the wrong side of the post, denying Celtic anything from the game.

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