Two defensive errors in the second half cost Celtic against high flying Matlock Town with the Derbyshire side moving up to 2nd place with a 2-0 win at Bower Fold.
Whilst Celtic moved the ball well and had more attempts at goal than the away side, two poor goals were conceded in the second half and a physical Matlock side couldnâ€™t be breached by Celtic.
Matlockâ€™s first came through Ryan Qualter just 60 seconds after the restart with Jesurun Uchegbulam scoring a second 20 minutes from time to wrap up three points for Matlock.
The first half was evenly contested but started slowly with neither side looking too threatening during the early stages.
Sam Wedgbury forced a good save from Danny Wallis after Celticâ€™s midfielder took a free-kick from a narrow angle and nearly caught the Matlock debutant keeper off guard.
Most of the action came within the final 10 minutes of the first half.
Qualter made an attempted clearance and looked to catch Scott Bakkor with the follow through, the nearside assistant referee who was in-line with the incident flagged to give Celtic a free-kick but the referee after deliberating for far too long, decided to reverse his assistantâ€™s decision.
On 36 minutes, Celtic nearly took the lead. Charley Doyle found Crewe Alexandra loanee Tyreece Onyeka to the left of the penalty area, the debutant fired the ball across goal and saw his effort miss just wide of the far post.
Will Huffer had a busy few minutes before the break, saving a shot at close range from he penalty spot and also diverting a flick from a cross around the post for another corner.
Celtic then had to clear the corner off the line but the clearance fell to Adam Oâ€™Reilly and Celtic countered quickly. Oâ€™Reilly was fouled, however Celtic were three vs one inside of Matlockâ€™s half but the strange referee blew his whistle immediately for the foul to prevent Celtic from having a clear chance at goal and not letting Celtic have the clear advantage.
Just like the reverse game at Matlock, they scored immediately after the restart. After 60 seconds, a free-kick was fired in to Celticâ€™s penalty area, Huffer looked as if he was going to punch the ball clear however the ball was headed away before he could reach the ball, with Celticâ€™s keeper off his line, Qualter sent the ball towards goal and it found the empty net.
Doyle saw a low shot saved on 55 minutes whilst Stephen Brogan had an effort deflected behind for a corner as they pushed for an equaliser.
Celtic then should have drawn themselves level. Onyeka beat Chippendale to a loose ball, he squared it to Oâ€™Reilly who fired a low shot towards goal, it beat the goalkeeper but Ioan Evans somehow cleared the ball off the line and Matlock survived.
Qualter, Jerome Greaves and Uchegbulam all saw yellow cards for late fouls whilst Ross Hannah was booked for a clear dive inside Celticâ€™s penalty area.
Not long after Celtic were so close to equalising, Matlock doubled their lead. Alex Byrne delivered a corner which was met by the unmarked Uchegbulam who sent a looping header past Huffer to seal the game for the away side.
Bakkor saw a shot saved whilst Doyle and Connor Oâ€™Grady both had headed attempts at goal but Celtic were unable to find a way back into the game and a well drilled Matlock team saw the game out well.
Celtic are next in action on 27th December with Hyde United the visitors to Bower Fold (3pm).
Celtic: Huffer, Dawodu, Brogan, Wedgbury, Oâ€™Grady, Quansah, Onyeka (Burton â€™64), Doyle, Bakkor, Oâ€™Reilly (Harris â€™76), Johnson (Campbellâ€™ 64).
â€¨Not used: Killock, Smith-Brown.
|3||Chippendale, Callum||> 66|
|9||Hannah, Ross||> 89|
|10||Greaves, Jerome||> 75|
|12||Akoma, Nathan||< 89|
|14||King, Liam||< 66|
|15||Kendall, Reece||< 75|