Celtic welcomed joint league the Welders to Knockramer Park for the first meeting of the sides in several seasons and the honours were even at the finish.
Celtic got off to a dream start when Chris Lavery broke into the Welders box, but was tripped after going past a defender and he got back up to slot the penalty home putting the Hoops a goal ahead with only two minutes on the clock to the delight of the home support.
Stung by this reverse the visitors set about the task of getting back into the game and brave goalkeeping by Conor McCorry in the home goal saved a certain score when Neil Duggan was through on goal.
McCorry was called upon moments later to pull off another fine save after slack play in the heart of the Hoops defence. Celtic then came back into the game with more purpose and wonderful footwork from Barton saw him break free to send a curling shot narrowly wide.
The Welders looked dangerous in attack but the Hoops also showed plenty of threat from Lavery, Raymond Fitzpatrick and Aaron Haire. The game went from end to end but both defences kept a firm grip on proceedings and in the 38th minute a magnificent ball again from Barton found Lavery who ran at the defence but opted to shoot rather than square to the unmarked Barton and the chance was lost while Fitzpatrick squandered another opening when he missed a great opportunity to score with a header.
The Welders began to turn the screw at the beginning of the second half and were starting to look a major threat with the Hoops defenders needing to be fully concentrated on keeping them at bay but Declan McVeigh, John Cochrane, Hutchinson and Adam Rodgers kept very vigilant with their defending
The Hoops also looked dangerous on the break and had players with pace to cut through the Welders defence on the break and in one such instance Fitzpatrick was through but the bounce beat him and the chance was gone.
McCorry continued to make several outstanding saves to keep his side ahead and in the 75th minute a tiring Dale Malone was replaced by Ronan O’Hara with Celtic continuing to ride out the storm with the visitors probably the better side.
The game should have been wrapped up when a great attack resulted in Haire bearing down on goal but just as the Hoops supporters thought they had clinched the game he shot narrowly wide.
On 92 minutes disaster struck when Fitzpatrick clattered into the back of a Welders attacker and a penalty was awarded. Michael McLelland stepped up to equalise with McCorry unlucky not to get a hand to the ball .
With Ards losing this point put the visitors on top of the table with Celtic sitting a respectable fourth. This was a good battling display against a quality side and every man played his part with the McLeans Man of the Match going to keeper Conor McCorry.
Celtic have no game next week due to several cup competitions taking place and resume league business away to Armagh City on 7th November.
The reserves made the short trip to Portadown and after a 1-1 draw after extra time against St Mary’s Res with the goal being scored by Adam Lambert, went out of the Wilmar Johnson Trophy 5-4 on penalties.This week its back to the league to entertain Valley Rangers Reserves at Lord Lurgan Park at 2.00pm.
The Youth team were left frustrated last Saturday after making the trip to Carryduff to play Knockbreda at 10.45am only to be told the referee declared the pitch unplayable after heavy overnight rain leaving everyone very disappointed.