Dismal display leaves Celtic back in a relegation fight

Close skill and footwork gets Raymond Fitzpatrick into the box but he can't hit the target. INLM12-716.
Close skill and footwork gets Raymond Fitzpatrick into the box but he can't hit the target. INLM12-716.

The Hoops slumped to a shock defeat last Saturday losing to Chimney Corner and are now in a relegation battle as Killymoon Rangers beat Wakehurst to close the gap to two points between the sides.

Although Sport and Leisure Swifts are at the bottom of the table seven points behind the Hoops a tally of 2 points from the previous 12 has seen Celtic fail to put any distance between themselves and the sides at the low end of the table.

Celtic started off the brighter team and Niall Lavery blasted a close range effort over the bar when some composure would surely have yielded a score. Despite being the more dominant with Conor Forker, Raymond Fitzpatrick and Dale Malone all missing chances none were as clear as Fitzpatrick’s when he beat two men inside the penalty area and contrived to hook his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

Corner had several attempts but didn’t trouble Ciaran Fox in the home goal and as the half time whistle approached it was looking like neither side would score.

The second period saw the visitors getting more of the play but the overall standard had deteriorated as neither side looked convincing although Corner missed a sitter before Celtic applied more pressure.

In the 65th minute Shane McCabe who along with Jonny Montgomery had been keeping a tight grip on the Chimney Corner attack had to be replaced by Christopher Coleman due to a groin injury and although the Hoops forced the play a combination of “backs to the wall” defending and several last ditch saves by the keeper kept the score intact.

With time running out manager Colin Malone replaced Forker and Jason Rogers with Michael Toland and Ciaran Rooney, making his first appearance since signing from Portadown,but within two minutes a hopeful ball was played towards the Celtic defence and Coleman under a bit of pressure from a Corner forward passed back to Fox but as the Celtic keeper ran out to clear the ball upfield he missed his kick and the ball trundled slowly into the net. Shortly after this Malone had what looked like a perfectly good score ruled out for offside and despite applying more pressure they failed to breach the visitors rearguard. It is perhaps a true reflection of the game that an own goal settled the affair as both sides could have played to midnight and probably wouldn’t have scored a goal. With high flying Annagh Utd coming to Knockramer Park on Saturday the Hoops will need to up their game considerably if they are to take anything from the fixture although on a positive note Declan McVeigh and Caolan Campbell will both be available for selection after sitting this one out due to suspension.

This was the first time Chimney Corner have taken maximum points from Celtic since the formation of the league and the Hoops must start winning their home games or they could be in serious trouble with games against the teams around them coming up at the end of the season.