Celtic eased through into the next round of the Cheshire Senior Cup to face Vauxhall Motors against Altrincham in the process extending Celtic's winning streak to five games.
Altrincham had been pushed to the wire by Portsmouth in the FA Cup only seventy-two hours earlier, resting some of the stalwarts who had played in that game and in truth, Celtic barely got out of first gear with only one real scare in the Celtic goalmouth, with a well taken goal and a right-place-right-time goal to give a cushion.
Jonathan Ustabasi opened the chances for Celtic after quarter of an hour of sparring, darting inside and firing low, though Joel Torrance was well placed to make the save. Twenty-five minutes in, and Altrincham's only real chance of the match came thanks to a burst of space from former Celt Luke Wall, who found Simon Richman at the back post. Celtic got back to defend, with Richman eventually powering a shot that Alex Fojtíček blocked and Celtic scrambled clear.
That urged Celtic on, Ustabasi twice finding Darius Osei, the first time, he fired across the face, but the second time, a superb curving cross to the back post found Osei arriving to plant the ball in the back of the net to give Celtic the lead.
Dontai Gabidon looked for the equaliser from outside the box, but in truth barely troubled Fojtíček and instead Celtic made the game safe moments later when Torrance dallied on the ball allowed Neil Kengni to close him down at pace. The clearance struck Kengni, spiralling sixty feet into the air. Kengni followed it in to make sure, but it wasn't needed as the ball dipped under the bar to double Celtic's lead.
Jack Ryan was cheeky from the kick off, trying to score from the centre circle, with Fojtíček collecting. Declan Walker had a couple of efforts before the interval, the second the pick of them, skimming just past the post.
The second half was a case of Celtic containing the visitors, with the lion's share of the chances falling to Celtic. Chris Smalley's header from a corner clipped the bar on its way out and Neil Kengni couldn't keep his shot down. Anthony Whitehead tried his luck from twenty-yards and Harry Freedman also had a go, but neither troubled Torrance.
A blast from the past awaits in the next round as Vauxhall Motors are the visitors.The Ashton ground staff had performed miracles to get the game on, with parts of the pitch exceedingly soft, but with the rain mostly holding off, the game went ahead with Celtic doing the early running. Inside the opening quarter of an hour, Celtic already looked the more composed, with the pace of Celtic's front line causing the hosts problems.
Jonathan Ustabasi had already fired a warning shot across the bows when Scott Bakkor wriggled past Simon Woodford and picked out a galloping Nathan Valentine. Valentine made no mistake, powering his shot into the back of the net.
Celtic contained Ashton after the goal, seemingly content to get to half time a goal to the good, possibly a wise move on a heavy pitch. Even so, Darius Osei fired a corner through a crowd and Jack O?Leary's wicked corner both shots had to be caught by Jon Worsnop, whilst Neil Kengni should have done better with his effort or picked out the unmarked Ustabasi at the back post. Celtic reached the halfway mark one up with Alex Fojtíček untroubled.
Celtic went looking for a second in the second half, Bakkor going close as his shot rattled the post after dancing along the line to find space. From the corner, Worsnop made a smart stop to deny Bakkor followed up by an impressive flying save to push Valentine's effort from the edge of the box over the bar.
Ten minutes into the second half, Ashton finally found their form, putting Celtic under increasing pressure. Former Celt, Connor Hughes saw his effort pushed onto the post by Fojtíček and it took a one-handed flying save from Fojtíček to deny Josh Wilson.
Celtic re-established control with a fabulous move, culminating in Osei chasing down a lost ball into the corner, holding off three defenders and then picking out Bakkor unmarked near the penalty spot. With Nicky Clee arriving at the goal line and Worsnop still to beat, Bakkor found enough space to fire in the second.
It should have been three in the final minutes of the game, when Ustabasi broke the offside trap to go one-on-one with Worsnop, he rounded the keeper and fired at an angle but somehow Worsnop twisted in the air to get enough on the shot to keep Ashton in with a shout.
That shout looked even more important a minute into stoppage time when Mark Lees clipped Jordan Slew in the box with the referee pointing to the spot immediately. Josh Wilson stepped up and fired right down the middle to reduce the deficit, but there was no more time for the hosts, and Celtic go through to the next round.
|11||Matthews, Billy||> 75|
|14||Mercurious, Raheem||< 75|