STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 2, WARRINGTON TOWN 0
Stalybridge Celtic certainly triumphed over adversity to defeat second-placed Warrington Town as their great revival continued.
In a week that began with five non-contract players and assistant manager Alex Meecham being told they would not be paid due to the club’s serious financial difficulties, Celtic have since beaten Nantwich Town and Warrington Town to make it four straight wins.
Theo Bailey-Jones and Oliver Crowley left, but the rest stayed and the spirit of the players galvanised.
And after last Saturday’s win at Evo Stik League, premier division leaders Altrincham, the side is in a rich vein of form – only two losses in 13 games in 2018. They were bottom for a time on New Year’s Day, but are now 18th and 15 points clear of last place and eyeing a mid-table or even higher finish.
The appeal for Celtic stayaway fans to return and a cut-price ticket offer to season-ticket holders from other clubs contributed towards a season’s best crowd of 615.
It was Celtics’ first home game for five weeks so will help ease the immediate cash-flow problems, though the club says it will be treading a tight line financially for the remainder of the season.
Celtics won the game through two goals scored late in the opening half.
Liam Dickinson broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute with a penalty after Connor Hughes was brought down by former Celtic keeper Tony McMillan as he burst through on goal.
Then in the last minute of the half, Greg Wilkinson hit a screamer from 30 yards into the top corner from an angle, a goal-of-the-season contender.
Yet early in the game came arguably the pivotal moment when Celtic loan keeper Jack Walton pulled off a fine save to turn over a near-post header from Tony Gray.
Warrington enjoyed the lion’s share of second-half possession but were on a road to nowhere as they didn’t create much danger due to Celtic’s stoic defending.
While defensive midfielder and captain Danny Morton was named man-of-the-match, the award could have gone to any number of players.
Centre-backs Luke Ashworth and, in particular Ross Killock, were immense, academy player Jack Taylor confident and measured on his full debut at left-back while Connor Hughes was excellent again.
Hughes wasted two great chances on the counter attack to add a third goal in the second half as Celtic could conceivably won by a wider margin.
- For the latest of Celtics’ financial crisis, read the Stalybridge Correspondent that is out on Thursday.