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Celtic succumb to second successive loss in Manchester Premier Cup Final
Friday 5th May 2017 @ 10:25 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

FC United OF Manchester claimed the Frank Hannah Premier Cup with a 1-0 victory over relegated Stalybridge Celtic at Oldham’s Boundary Park on Thursday.

It only took three minutes for the goal to arrive through Jake Williams, the full-back scoring his first goal for the club as his cross looped over Celts keeper Callum O’Neil and into the back of the net .

FC United looked the more confident of the two sides as they were in the driving seat and it could have been two one eight minutes as Nathan Lowe linked up well with Tomi Adeloye however the latter fired over the top.

Stalybridge created their first opening on twenty two minutes as James Roberts failed to connect at the back-post after a whipped in Daniel Wilkins free-kick .

It was the Celts who nearly levelled on twenty five minutes as Aaron Chalmers found himself free in the box but he could direct his header wide of goal when well placed to score.

Ryan Schofield in the FC United goal was very nearly punished by a lack of concentration as minutes later his failed clearance bounced just wide of Roberts as he was closing the keeper down like a Tiger hunting down its prey . With the half coming to a close United were so close to a second as Adeloye was slipped through Jerome Wright but he was denied by a superb last ditch tackle from Matthew Regan.

The second half started in a slow scrappy fashion with both sides cancelling each-other out in midfield . It was Roberts who created the first real chance of note on sixty one minutes as he saw his shot blocked by Scott Kaye .

From the resulting corner the Bridge thought they had levelled as the ball so nearly broke for Porya Ahmadi but he couldn’t get his foot to the ball to steer it in.

Fc United then sprung into action as Adeloye had another good chance to seal the victory but he curled his shot inches wide of O’Neils goal.

It was the side in Red who were starting to take control of the game as Tom Greaves fired wide after good build up play by George Thomson down the Fc United right .

With seventy nine minutes gone and time running out for Stalybridge they started to test Schofield and it was Roberts who forced a good save out of the on loan Huddersfield Town man .

The game should have been all wrapped up on eighty six minutes as Thomson saw his shot cleared off the line. Stalybridge could have levelled straight away down the other end as Regan could only direct his free header straight into the arms of the young keeper. That was the chance for Stalybridge as Fc United claimed the Frank Hannah Cup for the first time in the clubs history .

Following the match, manager Steve Burr said: ““Considering we had eight players out last night I thought all in all we played reasonably well but I am still disappointed because to come away empty handed.

“You always want to win these games but we can take positives from it as it was a much better performance than the last match.

“We had plenty of possession and played some good football but unfortunately we just lacked that cutting edge.”

Having committed his future to the club, Burr will be hoping to kick-start Celtic’s fortunes in the Evo-Stik Premier Division next season.

However, in order to do this, he will need to make big changes to a squad which has underachieved throughout the entire campaign. He said: “There will be big changes over the summer as to be expected. We want to bring a freshness to the squad and build a competitive one which gives us the chance at bouncing straight back.

“We want to be at the right end of the table and be a team the people of Stalybridge can be proud of.”

Celtic have announced a string of player departures, including: Rio Ahmadi, Aaron Chalmers, Daniel Wilkins, Mathias Bakare, Kristian Platt, Keano Deacon, Kieran Dunbar, Matty Hughes & Darren McKnight.

Oxford United loanee James Roberts has returned to his parent club, while Andy Bishop, Gary Gee, Adam Mather, Grant Shenton, Nick Ryan, Daniel Pilkington, Jude Oyibo & Matthew Regan have all been invited to pre-season training.

Danny Morton has been retained by the club, and an offer of re-engagement has been made to Daniel Wisdom.

By Josh Bunting