Match Report -
Celtic leave it late
By Deborah Taylor

Celtic left it late to take the three points against a resilient Nantwich Town, who have an excellent record at Bower Fold.

Fielding four new players, Celtic looked disjointed in the first half, barely able to construct a meaningful attack in the opening period despite loan signing, Cole Lonsdale, firing an early free kick narrowly wide. It got worse when, from a set piece, Byron Harrison powered through the packed box to head in the opener for Nantwich. Nantwich looked to sit on their one goal lead, defending in numbers. A set piece looked a likely route for an equaliser, Lonsdale’s free kick tipped over the bar. The equaliser instead came from the spot when Steven Hewitt handled in the box. Dan Roberts went the right way, but Max Harrop had too much power and equalised.

The second interval saw Nantwich go ahead again from a set-piece. Harrison again on the scoresheet when Celtic failed to clear their lines in a massed box and Harrison pounced. Celtic came back strongly, but struggled against banks of Nantwich defenders. Aaron Dwyer curved in from the wing and snapped off a shot that cleared the bar. Harrop’s effort just past the hour saw Dan Roberts scoop up. With ten minutes to go, Celtic looked more dangerous. Connor O’Grady headed a corner over, and Dwyer forced a decent stop. Obua Mugalula couldn’t keep his shot down and loan signing, Joe Robbins fired a rocket of a shot from thirty-five yard requiring an excellent stop from Roberts. Matty Bryan came in from the wing, with a low drive at the near post, close range. Mo Ali’s leg deflecting the ball over for a corner. Unable to clear their lines, O’Grady received the ball off a half-clearance, but his shot hit the post, coming out to an offside Max Leonard.

Stoppage time started, and Celtic moved up another gear, putting Nantwich on the ropes. A goal had to come. Robbins upended by Harrison gave Lonsdale the opportunity to drop the ball into a packed box. O’Grady’s header pinged off defenders falling to Darius Osei. Back for his third stint, Osei made no mistake and smashed the equaliser over the line. With still minutes left in stoppage time, Celtic’s momentum continued. Though Nantwich looked for a set piece around the box, they couldn’t convert. With seconds remaining, Aaron Dwyer found space on the touchline. He pulled the ball across goal to Jack Irlam. Defenders swarmed Irlam, but he held them off to turn the ball in and send the crowd wild.

1Roberts, Dan  
2Okome, Nathan  
3Hill, Tyler  
4Ali, AhmedYellow Card 
5Ali, Mo  
6Butler, Scott  
7Kay, PatrickYellow Card 
8Hewitt, Steven  
9Harrison, Byron  
10Cooke, SeanYellow Card > 60
11Rankin, Connor  > 77
12Bircumshaw, Perry  
14Evans, Kai  < 60
15Kirby-Reed, Jake  
16Leitch-Smith, AJay  < 77
17Speare, James