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MATCH REPORT Stockport County 3-1 Stalybridge Celtic
Tuesday 7th February 2017 @ 10:42 by Tom Greggan
Football Sports Stalybridge

Stalybridge Celtic were left aggrieved after a controversial penalty decision cost them dearly in their 3-1 defeat at Stockport County on Saturday.

Celtic made the short trip to Edgeley Park hoping to build on the point earned at Curzon Ashton in the week and close the gap between themselves and the teams outside the relegation zone.

But they paid the price for a slow start when they fell behind in the eight minute. It was classic route one; a long ball from the goalkeeper was flicked on by Stockport striker Josh Amis. Danger man Danny Lloyd beat Danny Wisdom to the ball and poked it past Grant Shenton into the bottom corner.

Stockport were full of confidence after a 3-0 win at Brackley Town on Tuesday night and continued to have most of the ball in the first half without creating much. They were dangerous from the wings with Lloyd and Elliott Osbourne receiving great support from the full-backs. There were plenty of great crosses into the Stalybridge area but time after time, nobody was there to get on the end of them.

Stalybridge actually fashioned the best chances of the half. Adam Morning saw a powerful shot blocked and from the resulting corner, Kieran Dunbar’s effort was deflected over. Morning could have equalised again in the dying seconds of the first period but he flashed his shot wide.

The second half was much better from a Celtic perspective and they found an equaliser just two minutes after the restart. Celtic targetman Sefton Gonzales got onto the end of a long ball in between Stockport’s centre backs and held the ball up well. He laid the ball off to Kieran Dunbar, who didn’t even have to break stride to meet it, and his placed effort from the edge of the box arrowed into the top corner to make it 1-1.

That sparked the game into life and Stalybridge were going toe-to-toe with their playoff chasing neighbours although both sides struggled to create any clear cut chances. The home support wanted to see a red card shown to Matty Hughes after an hour when he brought Danny Lloyd down on the edge of the box. The Stockport bench protested that he was the last man but two Celtic defenders were covering and Hughes was booked.

The game changed in the 75th minute when Danny Lloyd went down in the area, under seemingly minimal contact from Danny Wilkins and the referee pointed to the spot despite furious complaints from Celtic. Lloyd stepped up to score his 19th goal of the season, although Celtic ‘keeper Grant Shenton will have been disappointed to see the ball squirm into the corner after he got a strong right hand to it.

That goal knocked the wind out of Celtic and a late glancing header from Stockport substitute Jimmy Ball put the game to bed in the 87th minute. Stockport will feel like they deserved the three points, but Celtic were on the end of the kind of luck that seems all too common when you’re fighting at the wrong end of the table.

Celtic’s misery was compounded as fellow National League North strugglers Bradford Park Avenue picked up a win at Curzon Ashton. The Celts are now twelve points from safety with fourteen games left to play.