THE Hoops added another three points to keep their league challenge on course but this was no ‘walk in the park’ for the home side.
The first chance came on seven minutes when the home defence was cut open and Willington found himself one on one with Ciaran Fox and tried to lob the Hoops custodian but Fox stretched to tip the ball over the bar for a corner, a let-off for Celtic. Several moments later Raymond Fitzpatrick fed Niall Lavery who fired over and Corner then breached the porous home defence again with Willington seeing his effort cleared off the line after Fox had raced out to cut down the angle.
Celtic then forced a corner but it came to nothing and as the half progressed the visitors, growing in confidence, were dominating the play and Celtic had Fox to thank again for keeping the score blank when a rapid move down the left saw a dangerous cross played low into the area but the keeper got down low to cut it out with two players waiting to pull the trigger. Shortly before the break Fox made another great save to turn a goalbound shot away and at this stage, despite their lowly league position, Chimney Corner could have been two goals ahead.
However, just prior to the break Daniel Ryan should have put Celtic ahead when he burst clear and with the goal at his mercy scuffed a right foot shot past the post to the dismay of the crowd who were already cheering a goal and this left the game scoreless at half time with the Hoops having their keeper to thank for being level.
The home crowd soon had something to cheer about within minutes of the restart when Celtic took the lead after a Fitzpatrick shot was deflected and Lavery, with his back to goal, received the ball and turned to produce a fine finish.
After this the Hoops came alive forcing several saves from the Chimney Corner keeper and having shots blocked by some last ditch defending but somehow the visitors survived and had several breaks into the Hoops half but were unable to create any meaningful chances.
Celtic then made a good move down the left when Haire, Fitzpatrick and Lavery combined well but a last ditch tackle cleared the danger. The second goal eventually came by way of route one when Fox gathered the ball a sent a huge kick well into the Corner half and as the central defender tried to head it clear the alert Fitzpatrick judged the situation perfectly and ran round the defender to gather the ball and deftly lob over the advancing keeper. The ball was cleared by a defender as it was about to cross the line, but the Hoops striker pounced to slam it into the net with 15 minutes left.
Ciaran Ryan, who had put in an energetic shift but was tiring, was replaced by Paul McAnallen who slotted into the midfield but almost immediately Fox was called upon to make another save as the visitors tried to salvage something from the game. The Hoops then went upfield and McAnallen was taken down in the box, the referee awarded a penalty which was converted to leave the score at 3-0.
The visitors kept plugging away and after seeing McVeigh clear a goalbound shot off the line it was only fitting that man of the match Fox was involved in the last action when McAuley hit a fierce drive from the edge of the box and the Hoops keeper dived to his right to turn the ball away and keep a clean sheet.