Match Report -
True Grit
By Debbie Taylor

This game was tighter than the relevant league positions indicated.

The first goal came to Gateshead against the run of play. Although they were playing positively, they had not really had anything like a chance in the opening half an hour. Celtic, on the other hand had a hat-full. Almost from the off, Sullivan put in a cross for Jones, who headed tamely into the keeper's hands. Locke whipped in a good free kick that was cleared, Swan in the Gateshead nets managed to catch and hold onto a Locke power drive through the crowd, and both Sullivan and Jones cleared the bar.

All of these attacks failed because of committed Gateshead defending. With one of the more miserly defences, this was always going to be the case.

However, on their first real break, they managed to get a free kick thirty yards out. It was a nothing foul caused by the dire pitch. The ball swung in, and Preen headed from an acute angle, looping it over Ingham, who flung himself backwards, but could not reach it. Everything that Gateshead did went through Preen.

They didn't have another shot in the whole half.

Again, Celtic had a hat-full. And this was despite the keeper taking an age for every goal kick!

Jones again cleared the bar after Filson nodded back in a Bauress corner. Minutes later, it was our turn to get a free kick, which Bauress duly whipped in. Cooke and the keeper went for the ball, Cooke won, nodding the ball back to Pickford who drove the ball towards the middle of the net. Two defenders leapt athletically to stop the ball on the line. Cooke again won a header from a corner, the bullet header though clipped the top of the crossbar.

Some good work by Jones and Pickford, interchanging the ball around the Gateshead defence saw a defender's temper rattled, and he upended Pickford. The Bauress free kick was met by Jones' head. The keeper made a fine save, but was then helpless for Crookes to latch onto the loose ball, swivel and tap in from two feet!

This kick started another Gateshead surge, and after Preen had beaten the offside trap, he faced Ingham, who made a fantastic save at his feet. Preen and Ingham were now all square.

The second half saw Celtic trying to get the second goal., with Gateshead breaking when it looked like Celtic would be unable to get back.

Sullivan was getting the opportunities to put the ball into the box, but hassling from defenders meant the final ball was lacking. Sullivan had at least one man marking him the whole game! When the balls did come through, more Gateshead defending proved too much. To top it off, Swan was in fine form, as he proved when Pickford's thundering half volley zipped through the crowd. Swan must have seen it late, but he still got down to claim it.

Ingham was likewise in great form, and got the Man of the Match award. No doubt for the first half save, then the trio of second half saves that could only be described as excellent. First he smothered the ball at the feet of Ross, then at the feet of Preen. When Gateshead managed to get around Ingham, Preen's shot was cleared off the line by Pickford.

By the hour, Celtic had managed to affirm their grip on the game, forcing Gateshead into their own half. Crosses and shots tried the Gateshead defence, but it proved strong. Sullivan saw two shots clear the bar, and Locke's free kick beat everybody but the keeper. From one of the many corners, both Filson and Parr could not convert their headers.

Then Gateshead substituted Pepper for Bates. Pepper had been instrumental in ensuring Sullivan was not a threat. This allowed Sullivan and Locke to interchange, and Locke to stick a ball into the penalty area, where Jones was on hand to meat the ball well, and head into the corner of the net.

Obviously still celebrating the goal, Celtic allowed Preen a free run on goal. Ingham came out, narrowing the angle. Preen pulled the trigger and unleashed a shot of titanic velocity. Ingham went down like a sack of bricks, blocking and sending it out for a corner. This was possibly the save that won him man of the match.

Filson managed to pick up another yellow card, after reacting badly to being kicked whilst down.

Thanks to a long injury in the second half, there was still time for the majority FO the 600 strong crowd to gasp as Parr saw a header tipped over, and Crookes get just too much on it after one of Celtic's many corners. But there were no more goals. Or cards of the coloured variety.