Encouraging shouts from both sets of players edging on their teammates were being exchanged as the whistle blew and the Syngenta ball rolled to begin the second half. Much like the first half the two teams came out strong battling hard in the mid section. After a Celtic chance was critically swept away by Syngenta, a run from Shane McCann was the build up for the unordinary to change the game – he forced McKenna into a slide tackle which took an unfortunate ricochet off his shin and slid past his goalkeeper in the bottom left corner, the deadlock broken for Syngenta.
On the stroke of the 50th minute the Grangemouth outfit looked to further their lead with Coulter getting in the right positions on two consecutive chances both marginally going by the post. Syngenta were slowly beginning to close in, but unsung hero Ronan Fox dug in his heels and lifted his team from the back foot of midfield to begin pushing passes into the right areas, using Celtic’s speed down the flanks. After being awarded a free kick on the edge of the Syngenta box, Celtic faced a series of ricochets that were soon swept up.
Coulter then diverted the new change in dominance with a long run from his own half down the left flank and forced a corner with a silky back-heel. Celtic quickly shot back the fire with a series of intricate passes and slotted past the Syngenta keeper on the 66th minute, but was just caught offside.
The momentum began to build again for Celtic and only a minute later on the 67th a piece of individual heroism from Fox slid the ball beautifully between two defenders which connected with McBeth’s equalising right foot. With both teams back on level pegging the game went back to being midfield orientated until the referee awarded a free kick in favour of Syngenta when Celtic’s McKenna knocked the back to the arms of Matthew Boyle – the defence showed its will to win and forced the clearance but Syngenta continued applying the pressure with the decider coming just two minutes later. With previous chances just out of grasp for Coulter he made his own luck by sliding past three players including Boyle and smashing home with his left foot.
In the dying minutes Celtic were down but showed no sign of giving up with another goal being cut offside in the dying minute. With both teams displaying creativity, ambition, technicality and skill to a high level and on the day it was Syngenta’s perseverance which decided the result and with the absence of Cammy Logan who suffered a shoulder-break just two weeks before the tie.
Celtic were by no means poor and the clash could have went differently on another day but gracious in defeat the Celtic manager displayed true sportsmanship by congratulated the Syngenta squad in the dressing room after the final whistle.