The score line may have read nil-nil but to conclude that it was a bore draw would be a huge disservice to the amount of effort put in by both teams, in this battling encounter between two of the leagues more physical sides.
Given previous games against Hooligans Filmworks (formerly Core FC) have usually been separated by the odd goal, and the fact that Hooligans have only conceded 2 goals so far this season in the TSSL, the game was always going to be a tight affair.
Hooligans got the action underway and it was not long before the sobering brutalities of war kicked in. Curley's now routine habit of arriving 15 minutes after the game has started regardless of what time the Kick off is, proving the Sheriff's financial penalties may have to be revised, was introduced to the action and took little time to rustle some feathers. With their number 16 firmly set in his cross hair, hand bags were drawn off the ball, leaving the ref no option but to book both Curley and, in a case of mistaken identity, their number 4.
With roughly 20 minutes on the clock, Celtic registered their first real chance of the game. Bredin, back after 3 weeks recuperating on the treatment table following an ankle injury, came off the bench adding some much needed zest to the forward play. Rodrigo, who was having a commanding game in the middle of the park, threaded a defense splitting pass through to Bredin, who looked odds on to score only for their keeper to smoother the opportunity after cutting down the angle.
Shortly after the Celtic opportunity, the battle claimed its first victim. A 50-50 tackle just inside the Celtic half in which both Morales and their right back were fully committed to, left the latter worse off and unable to continue. The crunching tackle demonstrated how much both sides were willing to put on the line, as the game looked to be in danger of boiling over, but Celtic will have hoped that the game ending injury to their right back was not too serious.
Celtic kicked off the second half and looked to build on the solid performance their back line was producing. Stuckmann's ample 6ft 5inch frame was making light work of the Hooligan attack, mopping up the long balls with German like efficiency. The onlooking family proving to be a good omen as Stuckmann's display was fast becoming a man of the match performance.
With the defense unlikely to be breached, Celtic continued to chip away at Hooligan in search of the elusive opening goal, which had it have come, surely would have opened up the play. Midway through the second half, Celtic had two chances in quick succession. First Bredin was released down the left wing, and after getting to the byline squared the ball to the advancing Roberts, who was agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock. Moments later on the opposite wing, Morales manage to square another ball from the byline, to Bredin who unfortunately could not guide his effort goal-wards after a late run to the front post.
For all the chances Celtic were producing, it was arguably Hooligan's who had the most clear cut goal opportunity. With the Celtic defense finally breached, their striker who only had to pull the trigger from 6 yards out, was left bewildered after a last ditch tackle from McCallum saved what looked like a certain goal.
At the opposite end of the field, Celtic had probably their best chance of the game when they were denied what look like a stone wall penalty. Prior, after a twisting and turning run into the box, which left several opposition players in his wake, was eventually cruelly hacked down only for the offense to go unspotted by the perfectly placed referee, who claimed he "didn't see it". The referee's sole indiscretion on what was otherwise a very well officiated game (which I never say) could only have been down to his eyes being crossed after the mesmerizing run of Prior.
After an epic battle between two fiercely contested sides, that saw everything from crunching tackles to inarticulate touchline bickering, in the end both sides will probably be happy with a draw and a share of the spoils. Celtic, may have only picked up 1 point but they claim their first clean sheet of the season and remain unbeaten in the TSSL so far, in what continues to be their best start to a campaign. Attention will now turn to the second fixture of a grueling double header weekend, as Celtic look to defend their League Cup title against Morton.