Match Report -
Jack Cookson penalty save puts Celtic through
By Iain Benson

Celtic got through by the skin of their teeth after Witton had got back into the game three times, and even taken the lead, but a penalty save from Jack Cookson put Celtic through into the second round.

Celtic started brightly, and stunned the visitors when Adam Pepper looked up from the centre-circle, saw Stuart Plant off his line, and lofted in a forty yard lob that Plant couldn't reach as it sailed over him and in under the bar.

Witton are a powerful side, and Neville Thompson twice got ahead of the Celtic backline, his first attempt was knocked into Cookson's midriff, but the second was a strong shot that Cookson got both hands too, but couldn't keep out of the net. Celtic still looked the more likely scorers, with some slick passing on a heavy pitch in atrocious conditions, but the goal looked hard to come by, with Kristian Platt volleying a corner the wrong side of the post, Adam Pepper's lob tipped over for a corner that Witton struggled to clear until Tom Buckley's effort whistled the wrong side of the post.

The second half started with another piece of magic from Pepper, lifting a ball through the narrowest of gaps in the Witton defence for Tom Buckley to bring down with lovely control, and slot it past Plant, to put Celtic in the lead.

Again the lead didn't last long as Thompson used his strength and pace to hold off Louis Smith, one-on-one with Cookson he finished calmly. Witton could have taken the lead when Jonathon Dawson rose highest from a corner, but Cookson was in the right place to catch, whilst a corner at the other end was nodded down by Alec Mudimu into Plant's arms. Cookson was required to tip away Alistair Brown's free kick.

With ten minutes left on the clock, Witton made it three-two with what looked like a match winning goal. A corner not dealt with eventually came back to Scott Bakkor, just outside the penalty area he curled in a great shot that Cookson had no chance of reaching. Another late conceded goal, but Celtic didn't give up, there was still ten minutes left.

Sean McConville looked a dead cert to score when he was put through one-on-one with Plant, but his shot was screwed narrowly wide, however, a minute later Paul Ennis was put through by a great Buckley ball, and he made no mistake, rolling the ball past Plant to make the scores tied at three apiece with two minutes left on the clock.

Extra time, and it looked like whoever could score first would win it. And it came from McConville. He?d been threatening since coming on, and Alec Mudimu's ball was perfect, and McConville made no mistake with his second chance, placing it well beyond Plant's reach.

The two fifteen minute halves seemed as long as the first two forty-five minute halves, with Celtic holding Witton at bay, without every really creating anything. In stoppage time at the end of the second half of extra time, a curling ball from Alistair Brown looked to be going wide when Cookson made sure, tipping it out for a 120th minute corner. Celtic's curse struck again, unable to clear the corner, Danny Andrews gave it to Scott Bakkor who smashed the ball into the back of the net.

Penalties required.

Kristian Platt was the obvious first for Celtic, and he put it well out of Plant's reach. Danny Andrews followed suit for Witton, and Sean McConville restored Celtic's advantage. Scott Baker's penalty for Witton was a good one, but not good enough as Cookson got down well and blocked with his knee to give Celtic the slenderest of advantages.

Paul Ennis placed his in the bottom corner with Josh Hancock keeping Witton in sight by converting his. Tom Buckley's went in the sweet spot in the top corner. Anthony Gardner had to score, or Celtic were through, and he did. Finally, up stepped Andy McWilliams. A conversion from him, and Celtic were in the next round to face Altrincham. There were no nerves, and McWilliams converted cueing celebrations from the Celtic bench.

Witton fought hard and well, contributing to what turned out to be a thriller of a tie.

1Plant, Stuart  
2Brown, Alistair  
3Moyo, Cliff  
4Harrison, Ben  > 108
5Bodie, Rob  
6Powell, Michael  
7Dawson, Jonathon  > 77
8Breeze, Jonathon  
9Bakkor, Scott  
10Thompson, Neville  
11Crofts, Josh  > 77
12Hancock, Josh  < 77
14Andrews, Danny  < 77
15Gardner, Anthony  < 108
16Moseley, Michael  
17Cooper, Matt  
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