Vs: Cwmamman United
Match Type: League (H)
Date: 03-02-2018 14:00
Celtic were without captain Rhys Williams (on new parent duty), Andrew Larcombe taking his place with central defence partner Luke Jones becoming captain. Also starting was Dominic Connor with Lloyd Kinsella and Owen Cook on the bench still not 100% fit to start. Cwmmaman had only won one game this season (on 19 August) and were in 14th place in the league on the back run of 5 successive defeats, but their cause has not been helped by having 6 home games postponed.
United almost got off to a sensational start when, from a free kick which was cleared by Luke Jones, the ball was fed to Tom Blackburn on the right. He crossed to Ryan Thomas who looked certain to score from close range but Lewis Watkins showed amazing reaction to save. Thomas had another chance from a corner which was blocked and Colin Harris following up headed a good chance over the bar. United continued to dominate and it was no surprise when Ryan Hurlow strode down the right and crossed for Chris Allen to give his side the lead.
Blackburn looked to be clean through on goal but was denied by a last ditch challenge by Richard Crees which conceded a corner from which captain Craig Spring’s shot was blocked and Jack Medwin’s follow up shot brought another brilliant save from Watkins. Celtic’s first clear chance was made on 15 minutes by a Rakesh Patel interception which put Chris Ham in but his shot went over the bar. United were not letting up. A long throw by Jack Medwin found Harris completely unmarked but he shot over the bar. Then Hurlow’s cross found Allen and Thomas both unmarked in front of goal but they got in each other’s way and a great chance went begging.
On 25 minutes, and very much against the run of play, Celtic equalised when Callum Wakeham drove forward on the right and put an inch perfect cross onto the head of Dominic Connor, running in unmarked at the left post to head home. United responded with a fierce shot from Blackburn which was tipped away for a corner by Watkins. Patel crossed to Wakeham whose shot was blocked. The ball fell to James Young but he screwed his shot well wide. On 34 minutes Jones conceded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area which Thomas hit well but Watkins made another brilliant save to concede the first of two corners from which Blackburn had a shot blocked and hit another shot wide.
Celtic rallied briefly, Wakeham’s left foot shot deflected for a corner from which Ham shot wide. Wakeham had another chance which he shot over the bar. Then, on 45 minutes, Ryan Thomas ran forward from midfield and shot from 30 yards and watched the ball squirm under the body of the diving Watkins to put United 2-1 ahead.
Half time: Cwmbran Celtic 1 Cwmmamn United 2
Celtic started the 2nd half showing a much sharper attitude and quickly fashioned 3 chances, Young shooting wide. Ham’s effort blocked and then he shot wide. Blackburn drilled a shot across goal which Watkins tipped away from the feet of two onrushing attackers for a corner. Wakeham shot wide. Thomas shot straight at Watkins. On 52 minutes Celtic should have equalised after a great build up between Connor, Young, Ham, and back to Young who shot wide of the gaping net when he should have scored. Chances were coming at both ends. Ham shot over the bar. Blackburn shot wide. Thomas shot over the bar. Thomas’s free kick pass to Harris was blocked. The ball fell to Declan John whose 35 yard shot was deflected for a corner. Then Blackburn burst through to bring another brilliant save from Watkins. A long throw into the box by Wakeham was met by an overhead kick goalwards by Ham from which Bull’s close range shot was bravely pushed away by keeper Chris Curtis for a corner.
Allen drove down the left to hit a shot wide of the far post but thereafter it was one way traffic in the last 15 minutes as Celtic forced the tiring United defence back in their quest for the equaliser. Wakeham and Bull worked the ball to Young whose shot was saved. Bull hit a piledriver over the bar. Thomas screwed his shot wide. On 82 minutes Celtic equalised. Wakeham’s cross fell awkwardly for Ham but he showed fine skill and composure to steer his shot into the net despite desperate lunges by Curtis and a defender to keep the ball out.
Celtic could now sense victory and on 88 minutes fine interplay between Young and Bull set the midfielder clean through but he screwed his shot agonisingly wide of the open goal. In time added on, a Wakeham throw fell to substitute Lloyd Kinsella whose shot was saved by Curtis.
Full time: Cwmbran Celtic 2 Cwmmaman United 2
This was a most entertaining game of football. Celtic were hugely disappointed by their first half display but credit has to go to the visitors who turned in a fine attacking display with Hurlow and Blackburn causing havoc down the flanks. At the final whistle it was United who were hanging on and Celtic would have been encouraged by their superior fitness during the last 15 minutes.
Simon Prangley and James Young both had very good games in the centre of the midfield. Young was disappointed to miss two golden opportunities to score but he was instrumental in setting up the chances in the first place. Callum Wakeham had another good game behind the front two. He has developed a penetrative long throw which produced one of his 2 assists. Up front, Ham and Bull had their quietest games of the season. Josh was kept under tight rein by the Medwin brothers, grandsons of ex Spurs and Wales 1958 World Cup winger Terry Medwin. Chris showed with his 11th goal of the season that even when he is not on song, he has the class and technique to convert a difficult chance.
Man of the match: Lewis Watkins. He probably should have stopped the 2nd goal but he produced a string of great saves without which United would have been out of sight by half-time.
STATS: Corners: Celtic 3 United 9; Shots: Celtic on target 9 off target 11; United on target 13 off target 7
Celtic substitutes: 63 Lloyd Kinsella for Connor; 92 Isaac Powell for Prangley (his Celtic 1st team debut age 17); sub not used Owen Cook
Celtic yellow cards: 70 Luke Jones, 83 Chris Ham
Ref watch: Gavin Townsend is one of the best referees in the Welsh League and he showed why with a fine display in the middle.