Match Report -
Celtic take advantage of sub keeper
By Iain Benson
Celtic kept their first clean sheet at home since October against a struggling Blyth Spartans.

They may be struggling, but it was Blyth who started the brighter, racing at the Celtic goal from the off, and in the opening minute Blyth had two glorious chances to open the scoring, but Walton strayed just offside, and when Webster stayed on side, he blazed over the bar.

Celtic got into gear, and Torpey got a trio of chances after some good movement, firing low across the face, screwing a shot just wide and lifting a shot over the bar from the edge of the box. At the other end, Gildea had a distance effort that went well wide, before Reay latched onto a lifted ball, but his shot lacked the power to trouble Phillips who made a simple catch. A corner for Celtic was whipped into the box, but Sykes, playing up front, powered his header wide of the mark. It wasn't until the dying minutes of the half that either goalkeeper was called into real action when Gildea's effort required a decent stop from Phillips, and when Ellington got into space at the corner of the box his fizzing shot was blocked by Bell, and caught at the second attempt.

The second half saw Celtic on the front foot from the off, with Hardiker on his home debut smashing a corner back towards goal after Blyth failed to clear, but Bell made a decent stop. Bell's next stop was even more impressive as Barlow burst into the box, one-on-one with the Blyth keeper, Barlow tried to knock it past him. Diving the wrong way, Bell did well to stick out a leg and put the ball out for a corner that Briggs put wide.

Blyth's game fell apart when Bell came to claim a corner but fell awkwardly twisting his ankle as he crashed to the floor. Blyth had brought a reserve keeper, but had not named him on the team sheet, so Dale came on and went into the Blyth nets.

Celtic tested Dale immediately with some neat interchange between Barlow and Woolliscroft releasing the latter into the box. A powerful low shot was parried by Dale onto Leeson's knee and into the back of the net. A fortuitous but deserved goal.

Blyth had to get back into the game and threw everybody forward, with Reay sending a dipping volley over Phillips only to see it crash onto the bar. Moments later and Brown got some space for a shot, but nearly sent it for a throw.

Ellington put the game beyond doubt when Torpey was scythed down by Webster. There were calls for a card, with Webster as the last man, but the free kick was punishment enough: Ellington curling a powerful shot around the wall and into the top corner. No keeper would have saved that.

Dale went onto play well, but it was obvious he was no keeper. Torpey forced him into a low parry and in the dying minutes, he got down well to block Barlow's low drive from the edge of the six yard box.

Blyth may be scrapping for their lives at the foot of the table, but on the basis of that performance, they should stay up comfortably.

1Bell, Mark  > 58
2Boyle, Kenny  
3Leeson, Andrew  
4Williams, Gareth  
5Pell, Richard  
6Gildea, Alex  
7Webster, Adrian  > 88
8Brown, Gary  
9Walton, Marc  
10Reay, Shaun  > 82
11Banks, Stuart  
12Dalton, Jed  < 82
14Dale, Robbie  < 58
15Laidlaw, Adam  
16Shaw, Stephen  < 88
17Todd, Simon  
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