Heroes, very one of them. A few minutes separated us from a penalty shoot out that could have seen the elimination of Scotland's champions from the Betfred Cup, ending their bid for a quadruple treble. We came as close - and much closer - than almost any other team has since 2016 in defeating Celtic in a cup competition and despite their greater possession, ultimately they had to rely on a fluke and a deflection to defeat us.
This was a day to remember and included one of those moments that will live forever in the memory of every Pars fan. In the 55th minute Mikey Johnston's mishit cross flew beyond Ryan Scully to give Celtic the lead, after we had frustrated them and could even had gone ahead earlier in the game when Kevin Nisbet, through on goal, took a heavier touch than he would have liked and could only poke the ball wide of goal. Then the moment came. 77 minutes on the clock: Pars sub Andy Ryan fought off a challenge from Calum McGregor and broke down the left, into the box and cut the ball back perfectly for Tom Beadling who struck it with purpose and accuracy into the corner of the net. Pandemonium followed in the Pars section of the stands - we had stood up to the country's best team and were now level with them and suddenly in with a real chance of causing a huge upset.
Defensively, we gave as good a performance as any Pars side in living memory. Collectively we were superb but a special word has to go to the outstanding Lewis Martin: a colossus on the left side of the Pars defence who, wearing the number 4 shirt, was faultless and inspirational. Norrie would have been proud of the whole team yesterday and none more than Martin, wearing the legendary captain's number. The current captain, Paul Paton, and vice captain Lee Ashcroft showed great leadership and guided their younger team mates through the game.
With only 5 minutes of extra time remaining, James Forrest's shot was deflected beyond Scully and gave Celtic their second fortuitous goal of the game. There was still time for a Pars free kick to be flighted into the box. Ashcroft fell after Olivier Ntcham had a hand on his back. Appeals for a penalty were turned away by referee John Beaton. The game then ended with Celtic's Lewis Morgan killing time at the corner flag, desperate for the game to end.
Everyone associated with DAFC can be proud: players, management, and the superb backing that the 1200 travelling fans gave the team. We faced up to a team with far greater resources but what they do not have is our unity, on and off the pitch: we are on the road back and this was a significant part of our journey back to the top flight of Scottish football.
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