Celtic gained some measure of revenge for their FA Cup exit at the hands of Workington with a convincing win, but they had to weather the storm at the start of the second half to get it.
Hall had a good early chance that tested Collin in the visiting nets, but the Workington keeper made an excellent save to deny Celtic's top scorer. Workington were not there to simply make up the numbers, and Johnston had an early penalty shout turned down when he dived for a crossed ball, and went down in a heap in the box. The referee was having none of it, and waved play on.
The travelling support were made to feel more aggrieved when Smart, up for a corner, knocked the ball away from Gray as the Red's defender slid in. With Gray's legs wrapped around his, Smart went down in a theatrical heap ? the referee ignoring the theatrics, but giving the penalty. Smart himself took the penalty and blasted it past Collin with nothing the keeper could do.
Workington continued to battle and both Wright and Anthony had chances to equalise, the former shooting wide, the latter seeing Payne block his shot for a corner. Celtic then got to grips with the game and stretched play across the park, leaving Workington chasing shadows. Torpey had two efforts whistle narrowly past the post, Smart put a powerful free kick over the bar, and a Payne header off a free kick was well saved by Collin, at full stretch tipping the header around for a corner.
With the end to the half that Celtic put in, it was a miracle Workington were only a goal down come the interval.
Workington came out of the dressing rooms fired up and put Celtic under increasing pressure. Berkley and Johnston both had efforts clear the crossbar before Wright wriggled away from Burke to fire a low shot past Gamble only to see it rebound off the post. Celtic were struggling to get back into the game, with their best effort coming from a good break that ended with Hall turned the ball goalwards only for Collin to pull off the save of the match. Workington's best chance came from Anthony, shooting from distance that required a top notch save from Gamble, the ball half cleared to Hewson who put his returning shot well wide.
As the game went into the last twenty minutes, Celtic slowly got back into the game, Garner having a shot blocked in a crowd with Collin out of position. A change was required to change the game, and it came from the introduction of Dean for Barlow. Within seconds of coming on, Dean chased down the ball and won a corner. The corner wasn't dealt with, and Winn put it back in, only for it to be cleared as far as Burke. Burke thought about the shot, but instead gave it Meechan coming into the box. Meechan dummied and found the space to lift the ball to the back post where Dean steamed in and planted his header in off the post with Collin flying and meeting only air.
Dean had a chance to make it two in three minutes, but somehow Collin got down from point blank range to smother Dean's effort with a sensational save. Workington took heart from this and Reed was brought on to try and grab something from the game that was rapidly running out of time. Immediately he had a shot saved by an acrobatic flying save from Gamble. Reed had another chance, but didn't connect well or trouble Gamble. Berkley had a soft penalty shout turned down as Burke steered him away from the ball shoulder-to-shoulder, and Celtic finished the half the stronger.
Winn (on for Torpey), fired through a crowd, but straight at Collin before Meechan picked up the ball at the edge of the area and left three defenders on the floor as he skipped past them to find some space, and when it came he fired in a curling shot beyond the fingertips of Collin to put a gloss on the final score.
With Nuneaton and Southport both winning, Celtic needed three points to stay in the top five, and they got it. Next up is Alfreton on Tuesday, and another performance like that should cement Celtic's place in the top five going into a couple of tough games.
Pictures courtesy of James Hall
|6||Hewson, David||> 85|
|10||Johnston, Craig||> 75|
|12||Reed, Mike||< 75|
|14||Hardman, Andrew||< 85|