Vs: Llanelli Town (R2)
Match Type: Welsh Cup (H)
Date: 04-11-2017 14:00
Celtic went into this game against the Welsh League’s glamour side under no illusions that this was going to be a tough test, but they were buoyed by the knowledge that they had won their two previous home games against Town including a win in the Welsh Cup 1st round in 2014/15.
Celtic restored Owen Cook, Lloyd Kinsella and Lewis Watkins to a full-strength starting line-up. The Reds were missing star striker Lee Trundle, on match day ambassador duty with Swansea City. From the off, Celtic demonstrated they were up for the task forcing Town to concede two corners and two free kicks, the second of which saw full back Kurtis March booked for a foul on Cook. Town tried two speculative shots, the first from 40 yards by Liam Samuel, the second from Joe Clarke from 30 yards, both going wide.
Celtic’s best chance to date came in the 26th minute when Chris Ham, Josh Bull and James Young combined to set up Kinsella who cut in from the right to whip his shot just wide. Then Bull and Cook set up Ham who sliced his shot wide. A free kick by Kinsella found Cook at the far post. He headed the ball back across the goal to Simon Prangley whose shot from 30 yards went wide. On 30 minutes Town had their only corner of the match from which Celtic broke quickly. Ham fed Kinsella on the left. His shot was blocked and the ball fell to Ham who embarked on a weaving run down the left but put his shot into the side netting.
Town forced two chances from quick breaks. The first found March whose shot was inches over the bar. The second, from a long ball out of defence, was met first time by Jordan Follows who stretched out a boot to scoop the ball over the bar. The visitors were having a good spell, and next Samuel passed to Chris Jones whose cross was put over the bar by Clarke. In the 37th minute Town took the lead. A long ball out of defence appeared to be over-hit. Lewis Watkins sprinted off his line to catch the high ball but spilled it straight to Clarke. In a move which appeared to take an age like a slow motion reply, the Reds skipper could have shot from 6 yards with Celtic scrambling to cover the goal but had the presence of mind to play the ball sideways to Follows who was completely unmarked and he slotted the ball into the empty net.
Half time: Celtic 0 Llanelli Town 1
In the first attack of the 2nd half, on 48 minutes, Celtic equalised. Rhys Williams played the ball forward to Owen Cook who found Kinsella in acres of space going down the right flank. The winger closed in on goal unchallenged and smashed an unstoppable shot high into the roof of the net for his 1st goal of the season. Next up a long kick from Watkins was headed on by Ham to Bull who volleyed wide. From a corner on the Celtic left, Ham’s curling cross dipped and hit the roof netting. The Reds had a great chance down the left when the assistant referee failed to flag for a throw-in and Chris Jones burst forward, cut in and shot. However Watkins was off his line and made a great save to parry the ball. Bull had a shot blocked and then hit a right foot shot (yes with his right foot!) which keeper Scott Coughlan pushed away. Follows was booked for backchat when the referee did not give what appeared to be a clear free kick for a foul on Chris Jones.
A soft shot from Ross Jones was easily saved by Watkins. Kinsella had a shot blocked, the ball fell to Cook whose shot was saved by Coughlan. Robert Thomas was booked for a cynical challenge on Rakesh Patel. Coughlan saved from Cook. A Ham free kick was deflected by the Reds defensive wall for a corner. Then Kinsella hit a great 35 yard shot which brought a terrific save at full stretch from Coughlan to push the ball away for a corner from which Andrew Larcombe brought a diving save from the inspired keeper. A through ball from Young turned into a shot when it was left by everyone on its passage, requiring Coughlan to touch the ball away for Celtic’s 7th corner.
In a rare attack by the visitors, substitute Jordan Davies hit a cross from Chris Jones over the bar. A shot from substitute James Loveridge was blocked. It fell to Clarke who headed straight at Watkins. The game went into time added on and in the 93rd minute, Bull had the ball on the right bye-line. In typical fashion he wriggled his way past March who brought him down to receive his 2nd yellow and therefore a red card. Chris Ham stepped up for the penalty and confidently drove it to Coughlan’s left for the winning goal.
Full time: Celtic 2 Llanelli Town 1
This was a great win for Celtic, bringing back memories of their glorious cup run two seasons ago. There were fine performances right through the team. In defence the two full backs Rakesh Patel and Richard Crees were rock solid, Crees demonstrating immaculate timing with his challenges and interceptions in his best match of the season. But Celtic won this match with their dominance driving forward from midfield. Owen Cook is improving match by match with his intelligent passing and in finding shooting opportunities. James Young is having a purple patch. His second half performance was quite outstanding but man of the match was Lloyd Kinsella. Another player who has improved match by match, he raises the tempo of the game whenever he has the ball going forward.
So Celtic advance to the 3rd round of the competition and are the only 1st Division side which is still in both the Welsh Cup and League Cup. Finally, Celtic would like to complement the Llanelli supporters for their excellent conduct on the afternoon despite the disappointment of defeat. They raised the crowd to a best of the season 121 to whom Celtic introduced their new public address system which Malcolm Jarrett operated with great gusto. Shame about the loud music though.
STATS: Celtic: Corners 7; Shots on target 15 off target 8; Llanelli: Corners 1; Shots on target 5 off 5.
Celtic substitutes: Iolo Jones for Prangley (68); Callum Wakeham for Cook (93); Adrian Maguire for Young (97).
Ref watch: James Burgess was not popular with the visitors for the number of free kicks he gave against them especially in the 2nd half, but this was a reflection of Celtic’s dominance as the game progressed which reduced the Town players to making the fouls. The penalty decision was hotly disputed. However such is Josh Bull’s trickery with the ball at his feet that the defender has a choice, don’t challenge and let him clean through on goal or stick out a leg to try and tackle. March did this, clearly didn’t win the ball and paid the price. However the biggest mystery was where did James get the 7 minutes time added on from?