ALTRINCHAM 1, STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 2
Manager Steve Burr praised his players as Stalybridge Celtic took a giant step towards safety in Evo Stik League, premier division with victory at top-of-the-table Altrincham.
It was the surprise result of the day as goals from Matty Wolfenden and Liam Dickinson enabled lowly Celtic to dent Robins’ promotion hopes.
The win was a massive lift for Celtic who have been battling at the bottom end of the table all season with the club also in serious financial difficulties according to their manager.
Burr said: “We rode our luck at time, but you expect a tough game at the top-of-the-table team.
“There are a lot of problems off the park and we are trying to hold on to players as our squad is thin and bare. They are a good, honest set of lads and I am hoping we can hold on to them.”
Celtic have also suddenly become kings of the road after failing to win away in the league between April and February.
It has ben akin to waiting for a bus and two then arriving together as Celtic have now won three of their last four away from home – and all against leading clubs, Warrington, Workington and Altrincham.
Celtic, who lost loan goalkeeper Jack Walton who was recalled by Barnsley on Friday, were forced to hand academy keeper Aiden Winterbottom a debut in goal, and the 18-year-old from Dukinfield showed what an exciting prospect he is.
“I didn’t tell Aiden he was playing until he arrived at the ground. He came in and did very well.”
Wolfenden fired Celtic ahead after 17 minutes with a clinical finish after latching on to a through ball.
Celtic controlled the opening period in which Altrincham hardly posed a threat.
Altrincham were more of a threat in the second half, but any danger was dealt with by 18-year-old keeper Winterbottom who brilliantly tipped over a header from substitute Josh Hancock and then made a triple save to prevent Altrincham from equalising.
Sam Heathcote, another Robins’ substitute, struck an upright as Celtic lived dangerously.
Celtic could have added a second goal when substitute Theo Bailey-Jones raced clear, but keeper Anthony Thompson denied him and then follow-up efforts from Connor Hughes and Tom Brown.
But Celtic sealed victory in the 88th minute with a terrific goal as Wolfenden released Hughes on the right and his far-post cross was converted by Dickinson at the far post as he fired into the roof of the net.
Altrincham scored a consolation in stoppage time when Celtic failed to clear a corner and John Johnston fired low past Winterbottom who had come so close to keeping a clean sheet on his debut.