So close! On a damp Monday night Belfast Celtic were two minutes from reaching the final of the Steel & Sons Cup. According to the bookies we were heavy underdogs going into the game but from the start the bhoys took control of the match. Fitzpatrick caused Newington all sorts of problems early on and it was he who put a sumptuous cross right onto Gary Warwick’s head inside the first five minutes to fire the Celts into the lead. Sharper, hungrier and looking the more likely to score. Templeton and Beatty forced good saves from Marc Maybin. The Celts withstood some strong challenges and limited Newington to half a chance in the opening forty five.
The second half saw the Celts a little more defensive but still looking in control. D Stuart had chances to make it two, a smart save from Maybin and soon after the bar coming to the keepers rescue - who was definitely living a charmed life by this stage! The second half was marred by the unfortunate injury to James Haughgy. After winning the ball he fell onto his elbow and dislocated it. A special thanks to the medical staff for their great work in popping it back in. Hawky has been in great form this season and we hope he is back at it soon! The chances kept coming for the Celts and Stuart missed from 8 yrds after a great piece of skill and cross from Gazza but as they say in football – if you don’t take your chances… Newington started to mount some pressure on Mark McKenna’s goal midway through the second half and was called upon to make two vital saves to keep Newington out. The first was a cracker, if you get chance check out the highlights on youtube. The game was starting to stretch but Skipper Mark Clarke was having a great game and was in no mood to let Newington back into the game but with the rain pelting down and conditions worsening, the ball slipped out of McKenna’s gloves and fell kindly to Casey who poked it home through a sea of players to force extra-time. By then the cards were mounting up and Gavin Taggart was dismissed for a second yellow in the first half of extra-time. The bhoys luck continued to desert them in front of goal though as well as the gods favouring Newington as they somehow cleared their lines from a goal mouth scramble toward the end of extra-time, meaning the lottery of penalties would decide the game. McKenna stopped the first low to his right and Warwick slotted home to start us off but the Celts next three pens failed to net, bringing this cup run to an end. It is tough to stomach the defeat, especially after bossing the game for large periods and but for the heroics of Maybin it could have been a different outcome. It’s not how you play in the Semi’s they say it’s all about getting to the final and good luck to the two finalists on Christmas day. Clarky picked up the Toals MOTM - little consolation but well deserved nonetheless. There is plenty left in the season and the Bhoys have already vowed to bounce back starting with the Irish Cup fourth round were we host Amateur League side and fellow beaten S&S Cup semi-finalists, Larne Tec OB this Saturday. It was so pleasing to see so many out to support the Celts and we thank everyone for cheering us on. We hope you liked what you saw and invite you visit GRHs to continue your support. The future is bright the future is green and white!