Sometimes, everything clicks. From the goalkeeper to the front men.
This happened, and poor Bootle were on the receiving end of a perfect team performance from Celtic. Bootle started the game with one of the best home defences in the league, thanks largely in part to Tony Thompson in goal, who proved what a good keeper he was in the opening moments, flying across to keep Jack Tinningâ€™s thunderous effort off a corner. Itâ€™d take something special to beat him, and Aaron Dwyer provided it. Cutting inside, holding off two defenders to make the space to place the ball a hairsbreadth beyond Thompsonâ€™s fingertips. Celtic didnâ€™t have the entire half their own way, but it was close. Jack Irlam brough the best out of Thompson, who got down at Irlamâ€™s feet when Obua Mugalulaâ€™s inch perfect cross found him. Bootleâ€™s best chance of an equaliser came midway through the half when Conor Harwoodâ€™s header was tipped over by Luke Hewitson after a good spell by the home team. Their good spell ended when Jay Roberts dived in too high for a ball, taking Tinningâ€™s calf. Everything in the challenge was wrong, and he Roberts was dismissed.
Seconds after seeing one penalty shout for handball dismissed, Darius Palmaâ€™s curving run came to an abrupt end thanks to a clumsy challenge by Michael Carberry. Palma took the resulting penalty, doubling Celticâ€™s lead. Thompson somehow blocked a close range header from Connor Oâ€™Grady, and when Thompson was beat, bodies on the line denied Dwyer the follow up. However, from the resulting corner, Cole Lonsdaleâ€™s whipped corner found Tinning at the back post with an unstoppable header.
The second half saw Celtic conserve themselves, but Bootle upped their game. Jake Burton came on for the home side and almost punished Celtic immediately, forcing Hewitson into a flying one handed save. Three minutes later, and Sam Hughes found Hewitson in imperious form. At full stretch, pushing the ball over the bar. This spell of pressure saw Celtic apply their numeric dominance and how the ball stayed out of the net on the hour mark, even those there couldnâ€™t explain, Dwyerâ€™s shot clipping the bar, Irlam denied by a sharp stop and Brad Byrne couldnâ€™t find a way through a forest of legs. Celtic continued to press, with both Lonsdale and Byrne getting close, and Dwyer put his effort too close to Thompson. The pressure had to tell, and when Dwyer went through one-on-one with Thompson, there would only be one result, Dwyer sliding the ball into the back of the net, capping off a wonderful team performance where every player played their part.