Match Report -
Winners for the fourth consecutive time!
By Debbie Taylor

Once again, Celtic lifted the Ray Stanley Memorial Trophy. Although billed as a friendly, it must be getting embarrassing for Hyde that they have never won this piece of silverware, despite instigating the competition.

It was by no means a sterling performance from Celtic in their new strip, and but for a blinder of a game from Dootson, the score-line would have reversed, but winning games from such positions is something that Celtic could not do last season.

It started with Celtic possession, and the sharp-looking Eastwood putting a well-weighted ball into the path of Monk who really should have done better with his effort, diverting the ball around the advancing Mullock, but also around the post. Eastwood tried to go on his own moments later, but found the way blocked by experienced defender, Jones, Eastwood took the corner instead, but the corner lacked penetration.

Hyde got into the game with 10 minutes gone, and played the ball around well. McNeil was doing a good holding job at the front for them, and it was he who won a corner off Keeling. Salt's corner was parried by Dootson, eventually falling for Dean, who shot wide of the mark.

Possession returned to Celtic, and Hayward put a superb diagonal ball into the path of Bowker running in from his right back position. Bowker's powerful low drive struck the keeper's legs as Mullock was nutmegged, diverting the ball past the far upright. The spinning ball came back into play and zipped off for a throw-in; the linesman had just caught up with play and gave a throw in, not a corner, and to Hyde!

Hayward did win the corner a few minutes later, off Jones. The near post corner was headed for a second corner by McNeil. Parr got a good contact on this corner, but headed wide.

Dootson conceded a weak corner at the other end moments later, pushing the ball around the post when it looked like it would be going for a goal kick. As always, cheaply conceded corners are the most dangerous, and Tolson got a powerful header on the corner producing a point blank, reaction save of outstanding quality from the Celtic number 1.

Celtic finished the half the stronger of the two, winning the midfield battle. Sykes, who'd not had his best game in a Celtic shirt, had still run two marathons around Bower Fold. He arrived at the edge of the Hyde box, having run most of the length of the pitch to get onto a well-weighted ball from Eastwood - it was a cracking strike, and just wide. He got another chance, more central this time, again from an Eastwood lay-off. This time it took a superb save from Mullock to tip the sizzling shot over the bar. Parr got a slight contact on the corner, and Pearce reacted first to the floating ball, but put his header wide.

At half time, the two fullbacks, Caldecott and Bowker, were replaced by Whealing and German. McNeil took advantage of German's adjustment period to whip in a cross field ball to Johnson. Johnson dropped a perfect ball into the path of Tolson, but the Hyde hit-man shot wide.

Celtic got back into stride, and Eastwood beat his man to fire a low cross through the six-yard box where Hayward and marker were running in. Hayward's touch may have been inadvertent, but he diverted the cross past Mullock to open the scoring in Celtic's favour.

Hyde upped the ante, and increased their pressure, again playing attractive football. There was a purpose in their playing, and McNeil put a well weighted ball into the path of Tolson, only a last ditch block from Keeling, putting the ball over his own crossbar, denied Tolson the equaliser. The corner came back to Salt and he tried to blast through the crowd, earning a number of deflections and a second corner. Dootson palmed this one away, and Celtic struggled to clear it, but clear it they did.

Hyde's possession and pressure continued, resulting in Dean receiving the ball just outside the box off McNeil. Dean's shot through the crowd was seen late by Dootson, who possibly wouldn't have reached the low shot, but it went wide anyway.

Monk's last act of the game on the hour mark was to overlap with German and feed the ball into the path of Sykes. Sykes dug the shot out, trying to lift it over Mullock, but the visiting keeper read the flight well and caught. Smith came on for Monk, and immediately made a nuisance of himself, forcing Brough into conceding a weak corner. The corner fell to Keeling who struck a sweet shot that struck McNeil, going for a second corner that Celtic wasted. A fine diagonal ball from Eastwood, then allowed Smith to have a run at goal himself, his shot was rather hurried, and over.

Hyde again found out why Dootson is regarded as one of the top non-league keepers. A Johnson cross found Buckley running in, a point-blank bullet header was fisted over the bar with an outstanding flying save. From the corner, Dootson pushed the ball away, and German hoofed it clear to reduce the pressure on the Celtic back line. Johnson was making a right nuisance of himself, putting German under a lot of pressure with his pace and ability, after twisting German he whipped in a pinpoint cross for McNeil, but the ex-Celtic forward couldn't match the cross with his header, flashing it wide of the post.

Wharton fouled Waine to bring the freshly on substitute fully into the game. The free kick was cleared by Parr as the Tigers went on the hunt for an equaliser that could push the game into penalties. A punted ball over the defence allowed Tolson to break the offside trap and run onto the ball. He got the ball tangled in his feet and allowed Dootson to cover the ground between them, when he extricated the ball and shot, Dootson smothered it well.

Hyde were looking increasingly desperate, but their play was positive and probing. McNeil slid the ball through the defence (which parted to allow the ball through) for Johnson to go one-on-one with Dootson, he tried to curl it into the top corner, but another outstanding flying save from Dootson punched the ball out for a corner. Celtic packed the defence, and smuggled the ball away.

With Hyde pressing forward, there were gaps opening at the back. Parr attempted to lift the ball over Salt to set Smith off on a run, but Salt used his hands to catch the ball and drop it at his feet. The referee missed this infringement, but the linesman was well positioned and eventually got the referee to give the free kick. Wharton's ball into the box eventually fell to Smith, but he headed wide.

Hayward then found another hole wide enough to drive a bus through. He put the ball through it and Wharton followed. Mullock was pinned to his line and Wharton had more time than he thought - but hurried his shot straight into Mullock's hands.

However, as the game went into the last five minutes, Celtic suddenly hit their stride. Smith made a mazy run from the half way line, beating three defenders on route into the box. The shot when it came was an absolute blinder, from just inside the box, bottom corner - Mullock pulled off a great blocking save. Mullock almost managed to get back on his feet as the ball fell to Eastwood arriving in the box, but Eastwood was too quick, and he blasted it into the back of the net to put the game out of Hyde's reach.

To add a further nail to the result, Hayward drew defenders to him, and then put the ball to the edge of the box where Wharton waited unmarked, and with time. It was pure guesswork for Mullock; he guessed right, but not far enough as Wharton's sweet shot thumped into the back of the net.

There was still time for Celtic to continue to keep the pressure on Hyde, and as time ran out, a Hyde fan rushed onto the pitch, and attempted to attack Dootson. Dootson and a steward forced the Hyde fan back into the stands, and the individual was lucky not to be arrested and banned from every football match in England, which is the normal result in such incidents.

This unsavoury episode served only to remove 2 minutes from the clock that Hyde could have used to peg back a goal, and full time was called with Hyde again the losing team in this trophy.

There were long stretches in this game that Hyde rightly dominated. However, Celtic got their act together at all the right times to take the result. There can be no complaints from Hyde about the result. The keeper is a member of the team with the job of denying goals after the defence has been breached - Dootson did this, whilst his opposite number did not.

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