Vs: Port Talbot Town
Match Type: League (H)
Date: 16-09-2017 14:30
Celtic went into this game with some trepidation on account of the visitors coming off the back of an 8-1 away win last week at Caerau (Ely) whilst Celtic were mauled 5-0 at Afan Lido. And for the second week running our boys were undone by a hat-trick, by Cortez Belle who produced a master class in finishing to earn his side a 3-0 win. What a contrast this was for the towering striker who this time last season was sent off playing for Taffs Well following which he quit Welsh League football for the rest of the season.
Celtic were desperately short at the back. Rakesh Patel, Rhys Williams and Luke Jones were all away, which forced them to play midfielders James Young and Dominic Connor at full back and to switch Richard Crees into central defence. Behind them Lewis Watkins returned in goal whilst in midfield Celtic welcomed back old boys Chris Ham and Simon Prangley.
The Steelmen had the first chances, Luke Bowen shooting straight at Watkins and Jack Hurley’s shot was blocked. Celtic’s first opportunity fell to Lloyd Kinsella who shot over the bar. They followed with a great move down the left from which Callum Wakeham crossed to Owen Cook who slipped the ball to Josh Bull but keeper Rory McCreesh quickly reacted to deny Bull. Watkins saved from Belle. Chris Ham shot wide and Bull was again denied by a smother from McCreesh.
On 29 minutes the visitors took the lead. A long ball down the middle brought a challenge between Belle and the advancing Watkins, the ball bounced behind the striker who coolly turned and lobbed the ball over the Celtic defence into the net. Lewis Holmes headed wide from a free kick. A through ball by Cook fell to Connor who shot just over the bar. Belle fastened onto a ball over the top but shot wide. In the 5 minutes before half time Belle first turned provider for Aaaron Biddicombe who shot wide and then hit 2 free kicks straight to Watkins. Prangley lost the ball to Adam Jenkins in an advance position who steered his shot wide and the last chance of the half fell to Luke Bowen who headed a corner wide.
Half time: Celtic 0 Port Talbot 1
Celtic started the 2nd half strongly. Cook’s shot was cleared and then Celtic should have equalised when a cross found first Ham and then Cook who both snatched at their shots and the ball was cleared. Wakeham shot weakly to bring an easy save from McCreesh. Bull’s shot was turned away for a corner by the keeper. On the hour Lee Penry replaced Wakeham. Port Talbot had not been in the game in the opening 15 minutes but eventually they did threaten the Celtic goal - Bowen’s shot went straight to Watkins and then his header from a free kick went wide. Penry found Ham on the left flank but the winger shot over the bar.
On 69 minutes Celtic were made to pay for not taking their chances when a clearance from Larcombe found Belle who hit a superb bullet of a shot high into the net from 25 yards. The goal was reminiscent of the spectacular goal his strike partner Luke Bowen scored two seasons ago to knock Celtic out of the Welsh Cup. Celtic responded - Larcombe’s shot was blocked. Watkins produced a brilliant save to deny Hurley. Kinsella shot wide, Bull’s shot was saved by McCreesh. Iolo Jones came on for Cook. Bowen headed a corner wide. A superb cross from Kinsella on the left found Ham who put in a wicked cross shot only to see it hit the post and bounce away to safety. Craig Jones hit a free kick over the bar. Biddlecombe finished a long run with a shot saved by Watkins. Penry played Bull in but the striker’s shot was saved. Bowen headed a corner over the bar.
Celtic’s final change was Adrian Maguire for Larcombe. Ham had two shots, the first deflected for a corner, the second coming off a Celtic body for a goal kick. Bowen’s shot was saved by Watkins. Belle shot wide. Kinsella’s cross was headed back into the goal area by Maguire where Ham produced a skilful overhead kick which McCreesh, at full stretch tipped over the bar for a corner.
In time added on Hurley’s shot was cleared. A cross from Young was headed goalwards by Connor but MccCreesh beat the shot away. Kinsella shot wide. In the dying moments Belle delivered the coup de gras when he pounced on a mistake by Young to stride forward and calmly place the ball into the net.
Full time: Celtic 0 Port Talbot 3
3-0 sounds like an easy win for the Steelmen. Their strength is their strike pair of Belle and Bowen who between them had 14 chances (9 on target 5 off). Celtic’s chances fell mainly to their talented twosome Bull (3 shots) and Ham (7) and although Celtic drew a blank against some inspired goalkeeping by McCreesh, boss Lee Challenger will be encouraged by his team’s spirited 2nd half display in which they fashioned 15 chances.
STATS: Celtic shots on target 10 off target 8; Port Talbot shots on target 13 off target 9
Man of the match: Simon Prangley who played in his favoured deep centre midfield and played the ball around with his usual panache.
Ref watch: Daniel Richardson has recently come to Wales from England where he refereed at a higher level than Welsh League. Celtic were livid he did not award a penalty when Bull was upended in the 2nd half. That apart he had a good match sensibly keeping his cards in his pocket even though a FAW assessor was present.