The 2013 Football Aid Game 1 at Celtic Park took place midway through May in the late morning. The game itself was filled with excitement from the first whistle; with the Home side taking a 3-1 lead into half-time. However, what the Celtic fans were not ready for was an inspired 2nd half performance by the Away team, which blew the Home team out of the water! The team in Yellow and Black Hoops scoring 5 goals to finish the game with a 6-4 win.
Date: Sunday 12th May
Venue: Celtic Park
Celtic Home vs Celtic Away
Kick Off: 10:30am
Legends: Danny McGrain, Joe Miller, Paul Byrne
Match Officials: Craig Winning, Stephen Queen, Kieran O’Reilly and David Cotter
The Away team got the game underway and it wasn’t long before the Home team made their presence felt when Martin Brown, the right winger, floated a ball into the box. It caused problems for Away Goalkeeper Gary Thomson, who looked to have made a decent fist of punching the ball clear, however the ball bounced off the Right Back Barry-John McGahon before the No 2 proceeded to hoof the ball downfield to safety.
This was an early sign of things to come for the Home side, who didn’t take long to find the back of the net. A throw-in down the left side allowed the Home side’s No 10 Steven Costello to run past the halfway line, before exchanging a neat one-two with No 9 Craig Wright. When Wright was fouled the referee correctly waved play on as the Home side still had the ball, and this proved to be a crucial call. Steven Costello neatly played a through ball into the box, which was met just before the Goalkeeper by the Home team’s Right Midfield Martin Brown, who completed his blistering run with a composed run round the Away side’s Keeper, before slotting it coolly into the open net. The Midfielder's composed finish was one a Centre Forward would have been proud of (1-0)!
This set the tempo for the next 15 mins of the game, with the Home side showing more attacking threat and proving to be dangerous when they did create chances. Since coming off the bench the Home side’s No 17 Ciaran McKiverigan proved to be too hot to handle for the Away team’s defence with his quick feet. This proved to be very effective for the Home team and with 20 mins gone Ciaran found the net with a powerful low shot from the edge of the box, doubling the Home side's lead (2-0)
This prompted a quick response from the Away team and after their No 8 Christopher Ward ran past the halfway line towards the box, he quickly off-loaded it to No 71 Shaun Gilbert, who persisted with it in the far right corner before eventually passing it back to Ward who was just inside the box. As the Left Mid received the ball he was taken out from behind by the Home side’s Andy McCabe, giving the referee no choice but to award a penalty to the Away side. The penalty was converted neatly into the bottom right corner of the net by No 71 Shaun Gilbert, providing the Away side with a lifeline after 22 mins played (2-1).
Soon after the crowd were supplied with yet another goal, this time from the Home team. A well played short corner and a one-two led to the Home side’s No 9 Craig Wright playing a smart pass across the penalty area to Martin Brown who smashed the ball Home for his 2nd and his team’s 3rd of the day after 25 mins (3-1).
After such an action packed start to the game the chances dried up a little, with the highlight of the rest of the half being an exciting piece of play after a corner from the Away side. The ball was intercepted by the Home side’s left back, who attempted an advanced rainbow flick, but unfortunately the ball got away from him and it was picked up again by the Away team.
Overall, however, going into half-time the Home side would be feeling very confident that they could go onto win the game and the Away side would be feeling like they had got off lightly with the amount of pressure their back line had faced.
Half Time: Celtic Home 3-1 Celtic Away
Thankfully, the 2nd half didn’t start in the way that the first half had ended, as there was end to end football from the off! The first real chance came for the Home team after a clearance put the No 9 Craig Wright through on goal, however the glory of scoring the goal that might have put his side on course for victory proved to be too much, as he slashed the ball wide, much to his own disappointment.
Just a minute later the Away side forced a corner, it was floated into the box and met by a thumping header from the No 9 Ryan McDonald that went in off the bar and reduced the deficit to just one goal after 51 mins (3-2).
Unfortunately for the Away team their comeback was temporarily halted on 55mins when the Home side’s Martin Brown showed great vision to play in No 9 Craig Wright who had made a clever run outsmarting the offside trap to curl the ball around goalie Gary Thomson (4-2).
After sustained pressure by the Away team they were eventually rewarded with another goal on 60mins, adding to the excitement of the game. Starting from the back the ball found its way to No 17 Paul Kennedy who played a ball across the halfway line to No 71 Shaun Gilbert. Gilbert then used his strength to hold off the Home side’s No 15 Carlo De Marco before being forced wide by goalie Phil Collings. He twisted and turned past two defenders at the by-line before hitting the ball through Phil Collings legs and into the bottom corner of the goal (4-3).
The play in the 2nd half was largely dominated by the Away side’s midfield and only 4 mins after Shaun Gilbert’s goal it proved the difference again, and this time it was his centre-forward partner Ryan McDonald getting on the score-sheet again. The ball played in by Centre Mid Andy McCabe released the deadly striker again and he deftly chipped the ball Messi style over Phil Collings in goal to level the scores with 20 mins to go (4-4).
Just 2 mins later Shaun Gilbert was in again for the Away team but his shot from a tight angle needed a good save from Phil Collings in goal. From the resulting corner Gilbert caught the ball cleanly out of the air on the volley and it needed an even better save from Collings to keep his team level.
After 70 mins Shaun Gilbert proved his worth again up front, winning a free-kick just outside the penalty box. There then followed a cue of players all wanting to take the kick and showcase their hidden Bale. After much conferring the free-kick was eventually taken but it went narrowly wide of the left post after a deflection.
Whatever Legend Danny McGrain had said to the Away team at halftime, it must have been inspirational! A nice ball played in from the halfway line by No 16 Donald Nicholson into the prolific Ryan McDonald, forced Goalie Phil Collings to come running off his line, hoping he could tackle the Striker before he got to the ball. However, the No 9's quick feet allowed him to take the ball past Collings and find the back of the net from the edge of the box, bagging a hat-trick for himself and putting his team ahead with 15 mins to play (4-5).
With 10 mins to go it was the Away side who continued to pile on the pressure. This time it was the dangerous figure of Centre Forward Shaun Gilbert who had a clear header after a cross from the Right Back but he just failed to score when his headed effort was smartly saved by Collings, once again saving his team.
With just seconds remaining on the clock the Away team put the final nail in the coffin and ended any hope of a Home team comeback. Again, Shaun Gilbert was involved, running down the left wing before swinging the ball across to No 15 James Prentice, who snuck the ball past Collings and tapped it into an open net to increase his side's lead (4-6).
There was just time for the Home team to take the restart before the final whistle went, and despite coming up 2nd best in the end they should have been happy with their overall performance, at least in the first half.
The game was, to use an old cliché, very much a game of two halves. The first largely dominated by the Home team, bar one mistake leading to the penalty. However the performance by the Away team in the 2nd half was one to be remembered, completely out-playing their opponents all over the pitch. A special mention must be made for their Centre Forwards Ryan McDonald and Shaun Gilbert who both played outstandingly scoring some wonderful goals, worthy of a ‘Celtic’s best ever goals’ reel. Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable match filled with chances for both teams, a raft of good saves and a number of excellent goals.
Now all that was left was make the traditional post-match trip to the Trophy Room!
Full Time: Celtic Home 4-6 Celtic Away
Man of the Match Home: Martin Brown
Man of the Match Away: Ryan McDonald
Moment of the Match: Phil Collings
Home Team: Phil Collings, James Derby, Joe Miller, Ciaran Carey, Stephen Duffy, Michael Clarke (C), Martin Brown, Philip Cadle, Craig Wright, Steven Costello, Mitchell Bavidge, Gary Wilson, Carlo De Marco, Kevin Jordan, Ciaran McKiverigan
Home Manager: Danny McGrain
Home Mascot: Dominic Jordan
Away Team: Gary Thomson, Barry-John McGahon, Paul Byrne, Stefano Lepore, Edward Cuthbert, Brian Ward, Ryan Gilbert (C), Christopher Ward, Ryan McDonald, Salvatore Lepore, Shaun Gilbert, Andy McCabe, James Prentice, Donald Nicholson, Paul Kennedy
Away Manager: Danny McGrain
Away Mascot: Leah Gilbert