Stalybridge Celtic manager Simon Haworth viewed it as a “positive result” as Stalybridge Celtic opened their Evo Stik League, premier campaign with a home goalless draw against Mickleover Sports.
Haworth’s first competitive match with his new-look side – only three of the starters remained from last season – contained encouraging signs.
Celtic defended superbly and restricted one of the division’s better sides to hardly any chances while there was plenty of energy throughout the side.
What Celtic lacked was a creative element as they had precious few chances, Haworth pinpointing the absences of midfielder Glenn Rule and winger Luke Wall as being big misses. International clearance had not been gained as the pair had last played in Wales.
“We missed Glenn’s passing and ability to pull strings in midfield and Luke’s ability to get at opposing defences,” explained Haworth who conceded both sides were still probably a “little short” in their preparations for the new season.
Celtic certainly acquitted themselves better than last season when they lost 5-0 at home to Mickleover whose player manager John McGrath and Pablo Mills had played 900 Football League games between them.
It was a game in which both sides could effectively have played without a keeper as Jake Turner and former Celtic stopper Lewis King were almost redundant.
Celtic made a bright start as Michael Clarke glanced a header narrowly wide and Scott Bakkor tested King in a bright opening five minutes.
The best chance of the opening half and the game for Celtic was when Matty Wolfenden broke clear only to stub the ground when he took aim and promptly tripped himself up.
Mickleover only chance of the opening half was a header from Niall Doran that flew narrowly wide.
Celtic created next to nothing in the second period, Bakkor tasting Lewis again in the last minute with an angled shot.
Mickleover came strong late on, but Celtic defended well, notably when Nathan Jarman’s effort was headed off the line by Niall Flint.