Celtic made the trip to Limavady last Saturday and came out on top of a seven goal thriller in a game in which both teams served up a feast of attacking football.
Dale Malone drew a save from the home keeper on four minutes while Raymond Fitzpatrick headed just over from a corner. The Hoops opened the scoring on nine minutes when Daniel Ryan broke through on the right and hit a blistering shot the keeper could only parry as it went into the net. The Hoops kept up the momentum and it was no surprise when on 20 minutes Celtic extended their lead. Malone received the ball outside the penalty area, turned and fired a left foot shot which took a deflection and nestled in the net.
After this Limavady started coming into the game and Ryan Henderson was booked for a blocking foul but on 31 minutes the home side reduced the arrears after a free kick was blocked on the edge of the box and Gareth Brown scored despite Michael Goff in the Hoops goal making a tremendous attempt to save.
Inspired by this breakthrough the home side took the game to Celtic but the Hoops defence stood firm with John Cochrane and Declan McVeigh in particular keeping a tight grip on the home attackers.
Lavery swung over a dangerous corner which the keeper dropped and the ball was cleared off the line after a skirmish in the box. Henderson took a knock and hobbled to the bench to be replaced by Jason Rodgers and right on the whistle a Celtic shot was stopped by a defender’s hand as it went towards goal but the referee turned down the Hoops protests.
Minutes after the restart Limavady equalised when Friel hit a right footed shot from the edge of the box and on 55 minutes Ryan and McVeigh combined brilliantly down the right wing with McVeigh’s cross reaching Fitzpatrick who unbelievably fired the ball over the bar. Two minutes later he made amends when Ryan and McVeigh played a short corner and Fitzpatrick headed home. Stung by this Limavady roared back and broke down the left for Andy Ferris to hit a shot across Goff’s goal and into the far corner to level at 3-3.
Chris Coleman replaced Campbell and the game got even faster with Malone and Rooney covering a lot of ground in midfield and Ryan putting the home side under pressure with blistering pace as Celtic showed determination to take all three points and indeed this was a great game for the spectators with end to end play. Celtic took the lead again on 72 minutes with a superbly crafted goal. Malone left two defenders in his wake to deliver a great cross with Ryan lurking around the penalty spot and the Hoops striker smashed a perfect volley into the back of the net. On 84 minutes Friel sent a shot towards Goff’s goal and the ball looked to be drifting wide but it hit the bar and the Hoops keeper made a sensational save from the follow up shot to keep the Hoops in the lead.
The game ended in controversy when Goff collected a loose ball in the Hoops area and the referee called McVeigh and produced a red card and he then gave the Hoops keeper a signal to play the ball and blew for full time.