2016 Men’s D6

Late Comeback Saves Draw Against Evil Empire

Saskatoon Celtic 3  Galacticos 3 (May 30, Umea 5)

Jeff Salisbury for SaskatoonCeltic.com – June 1, 2016

A stolen goal by Jon Bonaise with less than five minutes remaining in the match saved a point for our beloved Celtic. After being up 2 – 0 at the half, Celtic saw its lead quickly switched into a deficit as Galacticos sat back, absorbed all Celtic attacks, and counter-attacked magnificently for three second half goals. Had it not been for a lazy pass out by the Evil Empire’s keeper, and Jon Bonaise’s well-timed tackle to steal the ball, Celtic would have seen yet another second half collapse evaporate what should have been a comfortable three points. Celtic starting striker Stu Robertson provided thoughts on the game after the fact:

“We need to learn how to protect our leads going into the second half. This is the third game in a row where we’ve been up a few goals at half time and have given the game away.”

It was apparent from the opening whistle this was the first of many top-of-the-table clashes between these two sides. Galacticos came off a comfortable win over Misfits FC the previous week and were looking to continue their winning ways. Celtic set up in this season’s preferred 4-5-1 formation to try and control the midfield against the Evil Empire’s 4-4-2, managing to assert authority over the match for large swaths of the half. Neither side was able to create many offensive chances until debutante Nolan Moosomin, subbing in for Stu Robertson, found himself one-on-one with his defender at the top of the penalty area. Cutting inside his defender, Noles lasered a grass-cutter into the bottom corner short-post to give Celtic the lead. Galacticos continued to push play down the wing but Celtic was able to clear out any dangerous crosses. Midway through the first half central midfielder Jeff Salisbury rolled his foot over the ball while challenging for possession in the Galacticos half, winning a bet for veteran midfielder Mike Jones in the process. Celtic kept the pressure up and were rewarded with a late first half goal from Jon Bonaise, with the midfielder going bar-down on his effort from outside the box. It was a highlight reel goal, something rarely seen by seasoned Celtic supporters. Halftime almost came at the wrong time for Celtic, who were maintaining possession but lacking the quality to find a third goal.

At the half Celtic’s temporary physio, some girl that came with Jones, taped up Salisbury’s ankle and he was good to go again. Not having figured out that Galacticos were starting to sit back and counter-attack, Celtic decided not to change anything at the half and trotted back out none the wiser. As the second half began it became painfully apparent things weren’t going to play out as comfortably for Celtic as they did in the first half. Galacticos began absorbing all Celtic forays, leaving their two speediest strikers in line with Celtic’s defenders. The Evil Empire’s first goal came off some smart play by their outside mids, crossing into the box to find an unmarked man who controlled and fired passed keeper Jason Eremondi. Galacticos’ second came off a quick break into Celtic’s end. A botched cross bounced off two Celtic defenders and found its way to the waiting feet of a Galacticos striker, who quickly turned and slotted home to tie the game. Less than ten minutes later Galacticos earned another one of many corners on the night. The corner was quickly taken allowing one of their centre mids made a run from the top of the box and. Remaining unmarked, the Galacticos player volleyed home to give the Evil Empire a 3-2 lead. As the match wore on Celtic started to panic. Kickball ensued from both teams, Celtic trying to make a quick break and Galacticos trying to keep the ball out of their end. Eventually a Celtic clearance found Noles who, under heavy pressure, tried a shot from a ways outside the area. Galacticos’ keeper easily saved it but made the decision that allowed Celtic to save a point. Playing a lazy pass out to one of his central defenders, Galacticos’ keeper doomed his side to only a point as Jon Bonaise quickly dispossessed the defender and streaked in on goal. Keeping composure, Jon put home a left footed effort tieing the game back up. With only seconds left Celtic had a chance to take back all three points but it simply wasn’t to be.

Celtic’s next match is Monday, June 6th at 7pm against La Bamba Cafe Predators at Newsham 3.


Ride The Lightning

Saskatoon Celtic 5  Thundercats 4 (May 25, Forest Park 5)

Jeff Salisbury for SaskatoonCeltic.com – May 26, 2016

Wednesday night saw Celtic’s first action of the 2016 Saskatoon Adult Soccer Men’s Div 6 regular season. Having rained the previous two days, the undersized pitch at Forest Park 5 was spongy to say the least. Celtic was coming off a pre-season loss that featured an ugly second half meltdown, which saw the Fighting Cocks bang in 5 unanswered goals. Hoping to build off their good form from that game’s first half, the boys set up in what seems to be a solid 4-5-1 formation. Nolan Paul wore the gloves as the solid foundation in goal, the back line featured Paul Trimble as the anchor alongside Darren Klassen at centerback. Steve Chiasson and Jason Eremondi rounded out the back line at fullback. Midfield saw Jeremy Haichert and Derek (Hogan) Squires start on the wings, Jeff Salisbury and Mike Stroeder at center mid, and Jon Bonaise in the attacking mid role. Stu Robertson started up top as the lone striker, hoping to not be starved of service as he was against the Cocks. Notable absences were midfielders Mike Jones, Eugene Stesenko, Nolan Moosomin, and Matt Haichert; defenders Iain (two-eyed Iain) Wilson, Rob Blizzard, and Niran Harrison (out for the season after ACL surgery); and striker Ruben Beattie.

With both sides lined up, referee Lotanna Ufondu whistled to start the match. Thundercats, featuring freight train Dave Naccarato, kicked off with the Forestry Farm end at their backs. After a brief spell of possession either way, Celtic found space up the right wing as Hogan played a pass out wide to Jeff Salisbury. Taking a few touches, Salisbury mis-hit a cross that fortuitously floated over the Cats’ keeper, onto the back post and in for Celtic’s opening goal. Celtic quickly got possession back off the kick off and, after working the ball up the field, earned themselves a free kick as Stu Robertson’s attempt on goal was blocked and sent over the end line. Henry Brkic, who subbed into the match, played a brilliant corner that landed straight in the path of goal machine Paul Trimble, who volleyed in Celtic’s second of the match. Jon Bonaise rounded out the first half scoring for Celtic around the halfway point of the half, being put in on goal by a wonderful Mike Stroeder through ball. After fighting off a last ditch challenge from a Cats defender, Jon maintained his composure and waited for the keeper to commit, calmly side-footing home his first of the year.

At this point Thundercats started calling each other out for lack of commitment in defense. Making a few changes in midfield, including moving both Dave Naccarato and Kelly Ashburner into attacking positions, and upping the physicality of their play, the Cats began to assert authority over the game. Minutes after their adjustments, Kelly Ashburner broke in on goal and placed a well taken shot past keeper Nolan Paul. The change in momentum could be felt by the 5 in attendance as Thundercats continued to press high up the field, causing multiple turnovers in Celtic’s midfield. Celtic were also caught with too many midfielders high up the pitch, which led to Ashburner’s second of the game minutes before half time. At the half time whistle the feeling in the Celtic camp was deja vu while the Cats seemed in the ascendancy.

Celtic were fortunate to see half time come when it did, as the loss of control over the match was brutally evident by the 35′. Lucky to be lining up for the second half still a goal ahead, Celtic made halftime adjustments that seemed to neutralize the Cats’ quick breaks and lobs over Celtic’s defense. Paul Trimble and Darren Klassen started playing deeper roles while Jeff Salisbury and Mike Stroeder switched off playing extra cover for Henry Brkic. Celtic’s international signing, Andrey Kharitonov, also made his debut as another striking option, replacing Stu Robertson. Signing for whatever it costs to buy an Independent Grocer franchise from Loblaws, Kharitonov made an instant impact up top, giving Celtic a speedy target to send long balls to. Play went back and forth fairly evenly for the first 20 minutes of the second half, until a mix up at the back saw Thundercats’ keeper miss-punch the ball, putting it right in the path of Paul Trimble.

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A Tale of Two Halves

Saskatoon Celtic 3  Fighting Cocks 5 (May 16, Indoor Turf, Exhibition)

Jeff Salisbury for SaskatoonCeltic.com – May 17, 2016

Monday night’s season opener was truly a tale of two halves as our beloved Celtic disintegrated in the second half, giving away five unanswered goals to see their 3-0 halftime lead evaporate into a 5-3 loss. Celtic started the night off on the front foot, pressuring the Cocks’ midfield into multiple give-aways. Around a quarter of the way into the tilt, Matt Haichert found himself with some space outside the top right corner of the Cocks’ penalty area and squared the ball to midfielder Jeff Salisbury, who calmly side-footed his effort inside the far post for his first goal of the season. Celtic continued on with their high pressure, causing more turn-overs inside the Cocks’ half. A great pass from Mike Stroeder to central midfielder Paul Trimble gave Paul space to take on two of the Cocks’ defenders. Cutting inside both, Paul was then able to smash in a right footed effort inside the left post to double Celtic’s lead. Before the half was out, Trimble found himself in possession just outside the top left corner of the Cocks’ penalty area. Beating his initial man, Trimble was eventually fouled in the box, leading to Celtic’s first penalty of the season. Always cool-headed from the spot, Trimble slotted home his second of the season to bring Celtic’s lead to a commanding 3-0. Or so it seemed.

Fullback Henry Brkic’s halftime advice was obviously ignored as Celtic looked lethargic while the Cocks came out of the gate with renewed resolve. Playing a ball down their right wing, the Cocks’ #15 bent a beautiful cross right to the mark and their top striker finished the play easily, cutting Celtic’s lead to 3-1. The Cocks’ onslaught and Celtic’s subsequent collapse continued, as the Neon Greens-clad Cocks’ exploited the high wide areas repeatedly, sending in cross after cross. Their goal tally quickly eroded Celtic’s first half lead, bringing the game all square at 3-3 by the 60′. Celtic, unable to find answers by learning from their mistakes, continued to concede and eventually found themselves overwhelmed and down 5-3. Celtic starting striker Stu Robertson had a few efforts later on in the match but his attempts ended up off target. Celtic’s last good chance came from midfielder Jon Bonaise who had his blast from the top of the box blocked by a Fighting Cocks defender. The Cocks were able to maintain a majority of the possession throughout the second half, keeping Celtic penned in their own end for large swaths. Mercifully, the final whistle was blown and Celtic, in their fashionable black and graphite hoops, took to the Pleasureway Pub to drown their sorrows.

Rob Notenboom, one of Oskana FC of Regina’s starting wide mids, was in attendance at the match, scouting Celtic to see what competition they’d offer his side in the annual Celtic Invitation in September. We caught up with Rob and he offered up some thoughts on the shocking second-half meltdown and the match overall:

“In the second half it really seemed everyone looked gassed. In the first half everyone was playing with energy, but in the second half that energy was gone. There were a lot of bad decisions made in the second half. Their fullbacks were caught cheating often. Do they even have any natural centerbacks? If we have our strongest line up, and are in game shape, against the team they had out yesterday, we’d lay a lickin’ on em.”

Celtic return in their first action of the regular season next Wednesday, May 25 as they take on Thundercats at Forest Park 5. Kick off is set for 7pm. There will be updates regarding tournament planning immediately following the match.