Celtic and Ness faced each other for the fifth time this season on Monday night, with the sides still to face each other in the league on Friday night, and this county shield tie was arguably the most entertaining of the lot so far as the sides served up a 5-goal thriller.
Both sides had influential players missing but lined up equally-matched starting 11s, as reflected in the score at the end of 90 minutes in a match that could have gone either way.
The first half was an even and physical affair with a lot of the game battled out in midfield and neither side able to trouble the solid-looking backlines. Nethan Watson was playing on the shoulder of the last defender the whole match and one run led to a chance for Declan Adamson but his shot found the side netting.
At the other end, a trademark marauding run from Tom Moncrieff created space for James Aitken but his shot from range clipped the crossbar with Erik Peterson scrambling.
It was Ness that opened the scoring just before half time in controversial fashion. A freekick into the Celtic box bobbled off a few shins before being smashed home at the back post by Dan Forsyth but Celtic felt a challenge leading up to the goal on Kennedy Moar warranted a foul.
With legs tiring into the second half, the game became stretched and turned into a real end-to-end cup tie and it was anyone’s guess who was going to get the next goal.
Midway through the half, it was Celtic that got the equaliser. Aitken was played in on the edge of the box, turned a couple of challenges before slotting in Moncrieff down the left who finished calmly into the far bottom corner.
And just moments later the turnaround was complete when Aitken won the ball in midfield and again slalomed a couple of tackles before finishing into the top corner from 20 yards.
Both teams added fresh legs to the game, and it was Ness now pushing to get back into the game with midfielder Stuart Copland shooting wide then forcing a good save from Taylor Lynch minutes later.
Going into the last 10 minutes and Ness found a route back into the match through substitute Aidan Grogan. A shot from the left from Declan Adamson was again saved by Lynch but the ball fell kindly to Grogan on the edge of the 6-yard box and the youngster finished well into the roof of the net with bodies closing down.
With extra time looming, the unlikely comeback was completed in the closing minutes when Adamson was fouled inside the box with Tomas Smith despatching the resulting penalty to book Ness’ place in the semi-final against Whitedale. Although there were spells where the match lacked quality, both teams should be congratulated for a well-fought and entertaining game and spectators will be hoping for the same again in their next encounter.
CELTIC TEAM: T Lynch, J Simpson (S Sim), R Smith, J Bradley, T Moncrieff, J Clubb, E Smith, J Aitken, B Johnson, S Odie (L Spence), K Moar