The defence of Whitedale’s Premier League crown got underway against an in-form Celtic side at Seafield on a perfect night for football. The two teams faced each other just 4 days previous, with the hoops running away as 4-2 winners in the quarter final of the Madrid Cup.
And the home side continued where they left off in the previous fixture, racing into a 3 goal lead in a crazy opening 16 minutes.
Firstly, wide-forward Brendan Johnson opened the scoring with a slightly unorthodox left-foot finish with the balling looping in off the post following a good run and cross by Tom Moncrieff.
And just a couple of minutes later, it was 2-0 when a Saul Sim cross was unfortunately diverted into his own net by Duncan Fraser who couldn’t get his feet sorted out in time.
Just when Whitedale thought they had their breaths back, they found themselves 3 goals behind when Johnson added his second with a clinical finish past Finlay Leslie following a looping ball over the top of the defence.
After the extremely frantic start, both teams settled down and Whitedale’s midfield trio of Lorne McNiven, Duncan Anderson and Ali Scott were beginning to pull the strings. However Celtic were always a threat on the break with Kennedy Moar in particular causing all sorts of problems down the left.
The home side had several chances to add to their lead with midfield runners James Aitken and Connor Regan both trying in vain to round Leslie in the Whitedale goal.
On the half hour mark, Whitedale found a potential route back into the match and it was another unusual finish this time off the thigh of Anderson. Ali Scott found space down the right hand side and whipped in a delightful ball into the path of Anderson whose thighed finish looped over the onrushing Keane Haynes and into the Celtic net.
The remainder of the half was played out without much to report, Whitedale knowing they had everything to do in the second period to keep the defence of their title on track.
Celtic brought on the more defensive-minded Billy Buggy at the break to sure things up while Whitedale also brought on Alex Arcus at full back as they searched for a second goal.
Whitedale pair Greg Tulloch and Bobby Scott were seeing more of the ball and were proving a threat on the break but Celtic’s defence were in no mood to let anything through and Haynes remained untested for large spells of the half.
When he was called into action however, he was more than up to the task, expertly tipping an Allan Johnson strike over the bar at a crucial time in the match.
Aitken had a couple more shots saved by Leslie and Moar headed wide at the back post as Celtic looked to kill off the tie and secure their second win in a week against the men in orange.
The home side brought on a further three substitutes to freshen things up and played out the remainder of their match relatively comfortably to record their third win of the season, more than they managed in the whole of last season. Best on the night for the home side were the tireless front three of Johnson, Moar and Sim while best for Whitedale was Bobby and Ali Scott.
CELTIC TEAM: K Haynes, R Smith, J Clubb, J Bradley, E Smith (B Buggy), C Regan, J Aitken, T Moncrieff, B Johnson (L Spence), S Sim (S Orlowski) & K Moar (R Grant)