It was a bright and clear day at Celtic Park for the final matchday of the Football Aid 2014 season. The 1st game of the day looked to be heading for a comfortable win for the Celtic Home side at half time; however the 2nd half proved to be much tighter, with both teams getting amongst the goals. However the Away team's excellent attempt at spectacular come back weren't quite enough and the clinical Home team held on for an impressive 7-4 win. Despite the outcome everyone came away satisfied with their performance and will have happy memories of a great occasion which was played in an extremely sporting spirit from the 1st min to the last.
Date: Friday 30th of May 2014
Venue: Celtic Park
Celtic (Home) vs Celtic (Away)
Kick off: 10:30 am
Legends: John Kennedy, Tom Boyd, Joe Miller
Match Officials: Stephen Graham, Ian Hart, Ruan Birch and Tony Fullerton
The morale was high in both changing rooms as game time drew nearer and after quick team talks from Legends John Kennedy, Tom Boyd and Joe Miller the players walked out onto the pitch to loud cheers from the spectators. The Away side wearing the Yellow change kits won the toss and elected to stay down the Jock Stein end while the Home team kicked off.
Possession moved back and forth between the teams as they looked for an early goal to put them in the lead. The passing was fluid and the ball went from end to end, with no goals forthcoming. However the Home team broke the drought, when a low cross came into the box and was controlled by No 11 Ryan McDonald who passed to Captain Mark Price. The No 10's shot was stopped by a defender but the 2nd effort from centre mid Mitchell Cameron made it past the Keeper and into the right hand edge of the net, giving the home side the lead in the 17th min (1-0).
Play was tense as the ball went from end to end with both teams search tirelessly for the back of the net. The question was who would crack next? There were chances aplenty for both side but goalkeepers Paul Gallagher and David Burns were doing very well to keep any efforts out, however it wasn’t quite enough to stop the Home team though. Captain Mark Price passed into space to find his Centre-Mid partner Mitchell Cameron who proceeded to put a great cross into the middle where Striker Nigel Drein slid in for a great finish that goalkeeper Burns was unable to stop. The Home side were now two goals ahead in the 22nd min (2-0).
Even though the Away side were right back in their faces the Home team refused to let them past and they stunned the Away side by pulling further ahead two mins later. A long pass forward was collected by Striker Ryan McDonald who then slipped the ball between two defenders to Nigel Drein. The deadly striker avoided the defender closing on him and played the ball just over the sliding figure of keeper Burns and into the back of the net. Drein had notched his 2nd goal in as many mins and the Home team were now a full 3 goals clear after just 24 mins (3-0).
And they weren’t finished there. Both sides continued to exhibit great play but it was the Home side who secured their 4th goal of the game, late in the half. The Home team continued to go on the attack and had two very close shots on goal, one of which hit the crossbar and the other which was only stopped by a goal line clearance from a defender. The goal came, though, when Mitchell Cameron played another great pass to Striker Ryan McDonald who was in space. McDonald got off a great shot under pressure and from a difficult angle, which slipped under Keeper David Burns’ dive and into the back of the net. This gave the Home side a 4 goal lead going into half time, which duly arrived just 5 mins later (4-0).
While both teams had played well in what had been an exciting half, the team in Hoops had seized the initiative and taken control. However the Away side had been very unfortunate in front of goal, with keeper Paul Gallagher performing well to keep out their shots on target. Naturally spirits were high in the Home dressing room at half time and they revelled in their lead. The Away side, while quieter, resolved to go back out and turn it around in the 2nd half and they game very close to doing so.
Half Time: Team (Home) 4 – 0 Team (Away)
The 2nd half was a different story for the Away team. The break seemed to have given them new life and they were the 1st on the scoreboard when the game resumed. It came about after a mis-placed pass from the Home team arrived at the feet of sub Michael McGeachen. He then put a great long ball forward which Kevin Curran out paced the defence to pick up, the No 11 then carried the ball all the way into the box before firing a low shot which flashed past the Keeper, just as a defender came charging in. The Away side were now deservedly on the scoreboard in the 56th min (4-1).
Despite creating yet more chances on goal the Away side were unable to covert them and they allowed the Home side an opportunity to strike back. The ever impressive centre mid Mitchell Cameron came out of nowhere to dispose his opposite number on the Away side. He then carried the ball into box and evaded a defender before getting in a shot that skidded across the ground while narrowly avoiding the diving keeper, before hitting the right hand post and nestling in the back of the net. This gave Cameron his 2nd goal of the day and restored the Home side's 4 goal lead in the 63rd min (5-1).
The Away side continued to be unlucky as their opponents capitalised on a loose ball which was seized upon and sent forward to No 11 Ryan McDonald. He carried it to the edge of the box then played a simply pass to No 16 Andrew Smith, who came sprinting in before sending the ball past goalkeeper Paul Gallagher and into the goal in off the post. His head over heels somersault celebration was well deserved after he had put his team 5 goals ahead with 70 mins on the clock (6-1).
This was the last straw for the Away side who were done conceding goals and they struck back with the next 3 goals. The 1st of these came on 72 mins from No 17 Michael McGeachan who collected the ball after the defence blocked a shot just outside the box. McGeachan faked to go one way before firing a shot another, past multiple defenders and keeper David Burns into the bottom left corner (6-2).
Their next goal came from No 5 Jonathan Heaney after a free kick from No 14 Marcus Barton. The kick came curling in over the wall and the Keeper made a great save but was unable to keep out the 2nd shot from Heaney, who blasted the ball into the back of the net on 81 mins (6-3).
The Away team's devastating spell saw them score a 3rd goal on 84 mins, and it came from the boot of McGeachen again, making it his 2nd goal of the game. Centre Half Kevin O’Donnell stole the ball in his own half and carried it most of the way up the pitch before passing out wide to Michael McGeachan. He virtually repeated his pervious goal as he faked and then sent the ball at goal where Paul Gallagher’s touch couldn’t quite stop it finding the net (6-4).
The goal-scoring wasn’t over there though and even though the Away side strived valiantly to level the scoreline the Home team were able to put one over on their opponents once more. A pinpoint cross came in from Legend Tom Boyd at the edge of the box and Ryan McDonald showed great striking instincts to be in the right place at the right time to head the ball into the net and complete the scoring for the Home side in the 86th min (7-4).
The game ended shortly afterwards, with the final score 7-4 to the team in Hoops, however the Away team could certainly be proud of their performance, especially in the 2nd half when they very nearly completed a spectacular comeback. The Home side however, had played superbly throughout and managed to retain their lead to the end. Both teams had played their hearts out and had created an incredibly exciting game for the watching Celtic fans in the stands, and both sets of players received a deserved standing ovation as they left the pitch.
Full time: Celtic (Home) 7 - 4 Celtic (Away)
Man of the Match Home: Mitchell Cameron
Man of the Match Away: Gary Wilson
Moment of the Match: Andrew Smith (Home)
Home Team: Paul Gallagher, Thomas Doherty, Tom Boyd, Gerry Stuart, Carlo De Marco, Mitchell Cameron, James Barton, Paul Walker, Nigel Drein, Mark Price (C), Ryan McDonald, Martin Brown, Shaun Ennis, Andrew Smith, James Cameron
Home Manager: John Kennedy
Home Mascot: Michael Edgar
Away Team: David Burns, Mark McFall (C), Joe Miller, Kevin O’Donnell, Jonathan Heaney, Kevin Whitehead, Dariuz Buskie, Paul McKenna, Kevin O'Dowda, Gary Wilson, Kevin Curran, Marcus Barton, Jonathan Heaney, Colin MacDonald, Michael McGeachan
Away Manager: John Kennedy
Away Mascot: Lewis Wilson Hughes