Match Report -
Unlucky not to score
By Debbie Taylor

Celtic crashed out of the FA Cup from a goal in each half by Barnet wonder striker Grazioli, but that was by far and away a misleading score line. Celtic dominated the play for long periods, and can consider themselves unlucky not to score for the second game in succession.

Potts was back from suspension, and at his mercurial best. He was an integral part in much of what Celtic created. He started the game running King ragged down the right flank, and had a strong handball penalty appeal turned down when he beat King to get into the box, he attempted to lift the ball past Hendon, who knocked the ball for a corner with his shoulder. Celtic couldn't convert the corner, and Barnet cleared.

Potts' dazzling skill again beat King to allow him to find Mayers despite a posse of defenders around them both. Mayers put a perfectly weighted ball into the box opening up the Barnet defence. Eastwood raced after it, and it took some brave keeping from Gore to smother the ball on Eastwood's big toe.

With Dootson a major injury doubt prior to the game, the defence was going to have to be on top form throughout the ninety minutes to protect him, and for the most part they were, snuffing out Barnet's attacks before they got going. Barnet did break through a couple of times, mainly from set pieces, with Hendon getting the closest in the opening exchanges when Bowker conceded a corner that Pearce cleared as far as the taker, only to see the ball come back in for Hendon to head over.

When Heald was adjudged to have fouled Hogg just outside the box, the resulting free kick was well worked, but Hendon blazed over the bar. Although it looked like a goal kick, the linesman indicated that it was a corner, and Grazioli was on hand to tap in the corner at the back post, seemingly simply.

Celtic almost got an instant reply when Mayers was fouled just outside the box, and the free kick was taken quickly to Potts, who fed Heald for the cross. The cross was superb, but Maddix got enough on it to take it away from the stretching Mayers.

At great personal risk, Clegg stopped a Barnet attack before it could get going, sliding the ball into the box for Eastwood to run onto. Eastwood needed no second invitation, and went one-on-one with Gore. Gore produced an absolutely stunning block save, but the ball fell back to Eastwood. Gore had recovered quickly, and Eastwood tried to drill the ball into the bottom corner, only to see it zip agonizingly wide. Gore then flapped at a Potts cross knocking it down to Eastwood. Maddix had to use his forearm in the box to block Eastwood's shot, but despite the appeals, play was allowed to continue.

Just before the half time whistle, it looked as though Celtic had pulled it back. Gamble upended Mayers just outside the box, and Potts' driven, curling free kick was tipped around the post at full stretch by Gore for a corner. Potts took the corner, and although Bowker got onto it at the back post, he was unable to bundle it the right side of the post.

Celtic continued to press for the equaliser as the second half opened. Potts did all the hard work, taking on and beating four Barnet defenders before finding Eastwood unmarked just outside the corner of the box. Eastwood hit it first time and tried to drive it into the bottom corner, but again it was less than an inch wide.

A flurry of yellow cards followed. Heald was the first to suffer as he stretched for a loose ball just outside Barnet's box, and Maddix fell over him. When Maddix took revenge on Clegg for dispossessing him, he had a swing at the prostrate Clegg, and earned a yellow card, for dissent, Mayers earned a costly yellow card.

Barnet took momentary advantage from Celtic's frustration, when Taggart was fouled by Bowker just outside the Celtic box. The free kick fell to Taggart, but his tame header was straight into Dootson's arms. German then conceded a last ditch corner, and Heald had to head off the line when King's header looked goal-bound.

Celtic got their act back together through Potts. Potts raced through the defence with the ball bouncing between his feet, both Gore and Hendon were beaten, bringing Potts crashing down just inside the six yard box. Though no cards were given, Eastwood was given the opportunity to level the scores for the second time from the spot.

He chose to aim left, and the shot was at a nice height, but it always takes something special to stop a penalty, and Gore's penalty save quite possibly put Barnet though into the next round.

Still Celtic went looking. Heald was sliced down by Hogg some thirty yards from the goal. Potts' free kick was well curved into the box, and Mayers through his leg forward but at full stretch diverted the ball over the bar, rather than under it.

Foster and Smith were brought on for Bowman and Pearce, and almost made a difference straight away. Smith's cross was half a stud's length away from the bottom of Foster's boot as he through himself at the cross.

With Celtic pressing forward, and now a defender light, Barnet made the game safe. A long punt up field was carried the rest of the way by Rooney. As German tracked him, Rooney lofted the ball into the box, and Grazioli doesn't miss, volleying into the bottom corner.

When a fracas erupted at the edge of the Barnet box, the referee piled on the misery for Celtic. Mayers and Maddix tangled, and both were issued yellow cards for their part in the ensuing melee. Having both been shown them already - both walked. Barnet couldn't risk a late surge by Celtic, and took the ball into the corner. Smith tried a desperate tackle from behind, and got instantly dismissed.

Celtic's luck has to change. Against Radcliffe and against Barnet, Celtic did enough to grab four or five goals, but through a combination of inspired goal keeping and the nets being two inches two small, Celtic have been denied. Worse is to come, for Celtic return to League action on Saturday, travelling to Frickley a place where I cannot remember Celtic winning.

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