Given that Vauxhall were the in form team going into the match on the back of five straight wins, before it, a draw would have been an acceptable result. Given the way that the draw was earned, a win would have been an acceptable result, and the draw was a travesty.
The decisions all night went to Vauxhall unless advertised a week before in the local press. This was in evidence from the kick off, when Denham ran around Roberts and kicked the ball off him for a corner that wasn't given. Moments later Denham did it again, this time making sure that only people in the next county couldn't tell. Unfortunately, Bowker's header went over the bar.
The main danger man for Vauxhall is not their lead scorer Fearns, but rather their second lead scorer Cuminskey. Cuminskey is big, strong and agile: a dangerous combination. His turning caught Bowker out in the middle of the park, and he conceded a clumsy foul that was whipped into the box quickly, where Cuminskey was arriving, but his header went over the bar.
However, Celtic's danger man was more accurate. Denham (back after what looked like a career threatening injury) raced past McDermott onto a hopeless looking ball, twisted and put in a superb cross that Eastwood took out of the with one touch and with his left foot, buried the ball in the back of the net. For the second game in a row, Celtic had taken an early lead.
Unlike at Harrogate, Celtic didn't lose the plot immediately, and pressed onto Vauxhall straight from the restart. Caldecott put a good cross into the box for Wharton, but Porter got there first, and conceded the corner. The corner went across to Eastwood, his nod back to Hayward was just out of reach for the striker, and went for a goal kick.
Caldecott was controlling Cuminskey whenever he entered the left back's area, but given the player's obvious ability it was no surprise when Cuminskey beat Caldecott on the turn, and put a low drive that Fearns reached ahead of McCarthy, diverting it the wrong side of the post and out. Cuminskey tried his luck down the other side, getting past German and putting in a cross that Bowker put out for a corner. McCarthy punched the corner clear.
In an effort to help the game along, the referee granted a dubious handball against Keeling just outside the box, when the ball bounced up and into his armpit. Fortunately, German reached the ball in first, and headed it clear. Cuminskey was causing the defence no end of problems though. He cut inside Keeling and fired a low drive that McCarthy parried, and Bowker had to react fast to stick it out for a corner. Celtic struggled to get the corner clear, but somehow managed it.
Celtic were penalised for taking a throw in five feet from where the ball went out, though Vauxhall could take yards in either direction, and when Clegg fouled Lawton about thirty yards from goal, Nesbitt took it quickly a good fifteen yards from where the referee was stood talking to Clegg. This was apparently fine, and it was a good job that Tomlinson had left his shooting boots in the dressing room, firing embarrassingly wide whilst the referee still conversed with Clegg.
Roberts slid in to Denham from the side with a two-footed tackle that left Celtic's striker in obvious agony, just outside the box. It was doubtful as to whether Roberts had got any of the ball, but Celtic got nothing, not even a glance from the referee at the madly flapping linesman.
Fearns used the time Celtic were down to ten men to drive forward and fire a powerful shot that German unwittingly blocked with his head, leaving him out cold.
Roberts musty have been given some special dispensation before the game, because he then proceeded to scythe Clegg down just outside the box. This time, he was penalised with a free kick on account of Clegg not even having the ball. Wharton's free kick struck the wall (who were a sanctioned eight yards from the ball) and went for a corner. As usual, the corner was wasted.
Clegg was then adjudged to have fouled Cuminskey in the middle of the park. Nesbitt put the free kick to the corner of the box, where Cuminskey was given acres of space, but shot well over.
For an over exuberant challenge, Denham had words with McDermott. McDermott reacted badly, and stiff-armed Denham across the face. This time the linesman wouldn't be ignored, and the referee took action. He booked them both. Despite the ball being just outside the box, and the incident taking place inside it, the referee elected to do a drop ball on the halfway line.
Celtic won the drop ball, but their passing had gone to pot. Cuminskey took advantage with a good cross that Bowker cut out for a corner. The corner was cleared, but soon it was Caldecott's turn to deny Cuminskey at the expense of a corner.
But the most awful decision of the night came deep into the fourth stoppage minute of the half.
Fearns was backing into German inside the box. As Fearns turned, German put his foot on the ball, Fearns then twisted away as though shot landing in a crumpled heap. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, as though this was what he'd been waiting for all half.
Fearns took the penalty straight down the middle, and scored.
For complaining to the referee about his decision, Miller got evicted from the field at the start of the second half.
Denham continued to behave as he had done all half, running with the ball at the defence. He was in full flight when Tomlinson slid in and took him out with no attempt for the ball. Tomlinson was booked, but it was beginning to look like Vauxhall had been instructed to stop Denham at all costs. Eastwood's free kick struck the wall (again far too close) and went out for a corner. Though Eastwood reached the corner, he could do nothing with it, and was dispossessed.
The second half was always going to be about stout defending, but even so, Cuminskey got another cross in for Fearns, only to see his strike partner head tamely into McCarthy's arms. Cuminskey then got in on the end of a cross from Nesbitt, and though his header was low and to the corner, it was too weak, and McCarthy was able to scramble across to reach it. It was likewise a comfortable save when Cuminskey used his strength to hold off Bowker, turn and shoot straight at McCarthy.
At the other end, Celtic relied on Denham's pace to counter. He crossed for Eastwood who brought the ball down expertly and unselfishly for Clegg racing in. The shot was struck well, but also struck Spellman and went for a corner that Celtic couldn't convert.
Wharton gave up possession far too easily in the middle of the park. Nesbitt's first time pass was right into the stride of Fearns, but the lead scorer put his shot wide.
Caldecott's cross across the face of goal took a ricochet, Dittmar went scurrying after it, but Denham got there first, nicking the ball out of his hands. He was well out of position, and with no support, so tried the shot from an acute angle ? into the side netting.
Tomlinson brought down Denham thirty yards out. The free kick came to Eastwood, Dittmar was well off his line, and Eastwood hooked it round him, only to see Robinson get back kin time to clear off the line.
If that was a let off, then when Cuminskey's shot came across the face, McCarthy didn't reach it, and it was Caldecott's turn to clear off the line.
The second half was a bigger scrap than the first half, with the ball given away too easily by Celtic, but in the last few minutes they got their act together and could have snatched it. Indeed, this should have been three points, as German's tackle was orders of magnitude less than the earlier one by Roberts on Denham. We don't have to wait long for a rematch though, as Vauxhall come to the Fold on Saturday.