Celtic finished pre-season with a strong win over Longridge town thanks to four second half goals from four different players.
The first half was mainly Celtic attacking, Jonathon Ustabasi and Krisel Prifti both going close before Mike Burke burst through the back line to latch onto a Prifti cross and unleash a rocket towards goal that required a stunning acrobatic save from Lee Dovey in the Longridge goals. Dovey was in fine form, required to tip over a powerful drive from Scott Sephton but from the resulting corner had to rely on his fullback, Brandon Lee on the post to raise a knee and divert Burkeâ€™s curling drive wide. It wasnâ€™t a fluke, as Lee was there again to deny Burke the opener. As the end of the half approached, Ustabasi twice blazed over, whilst Tom Ince registered the home sideâ€™s first goal-bound effort, though Stewart saved comfortably. Jacob Ridings should have given the hosts a goal right before the interval when he latched onto a good diagonal ball, but he fired low into the side netting.
The second half started at pace for Celtic. Prifti trying his luck within seconds of restart, but Dovey was there again, well positioned for the low drive. However, there was nothing he could do when Charlie Doyleâ€™s defence splitting pass allowed Mike Burke to burst into the box and rifle home.
Longridge had a decent spell for ten minutes hunting for the equaliser. Tom Stewart had to be on his toes, saving bravely from Jack Anderson and comfortably catching Tom Inceâ€™s free kick. Anderson should have done better for Town when he found himself with space, but rushed his effort wide of the mark. As the game wore on, Celticâ€™s stamina was beginning to tell. Tom Wilson, still up from a corner smashed into the side netting and Burke saw a decent effort stopped by an equally decent save.
With ten minutes remaining, Longridge collapsed and Celtic took ruthless advantage. Lewis Salmonâ€™s ball to Harry Freedman allowed Freedman to run at the defence. It looked like heâ€™d been pulled too far wide. He should have waited for support, instead he angled his drive perfectly from an acute angle across the face and in at the far post.
It was a case of anything you can do, moments later when Charlie Doyle was also pushed wide, but turned his defender with ease. Dovey got a hand to this one but still couldnâ€™t keep it out.
In the dying moments, Joe Melling clumsily bundled over Doyle in the corner of the box. Lewis Salmon stepped up to take the penalty and blasted Celtic into a comfortable looking victory.
That win sets Celtic up for the first competitive match of the season on Saturday when we travel over the Woodhead Pass to Stocksbridge Park Steels in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup (kick off 12:30) for the televised clash.