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Match Report - Stalybridge Celtic FC vs Newcastle Town FC (09/03/2024)


By Chris Gibbs

Stalybridge hold on for fortuitous victory

Stalybridge Celtic 2 - Dwyer (11, 45+2)

Newcastle Town 1 - Avery 45 (pen)

Our faint hopes of making the play-offs were dealt another blow in east Manchester as a slightly more streetwise Stalybridge Celtic held on for a narrow win and end their own run of six league games without a win.

All the goals came in a breathless first half where we were awarded two penalties – one was scored by Jake Avery, the other from Tommy van der Laan was saved – dominated completely after going behind and then went behind for a second time in first half injury time despite levelling things up on 45 minutes. Chaotic doesn’t come close.

We fielded two changes to the side that had lost 3-1 at City of Liverpool 12 days ago, skipper Tommy van der Laan and Josh Jordan coming back into the starting XI with Niall Osbourne on the bench while Isaac Graham missed out after getting a knock in training on Thursday.

After a bright start, we fell behind in the 11th minute as Aaron Dwyer finished confidently on the volley having been allowed too much space in the middle.

Falling behind was the cue for us to launch a flurry of attacks on the Stalybridge goal: Jake Avery forcing a good save from Luke Hewitson, a deflected Callum Holland shot dribbling against a post and behind after a heavy deflection left Hewitson wrongfooted, before a golden chance came to equalise as Avery was upended in the area and Tommy stepped up to take the spot kick.

However, Hewitson rescued his side again by turning the penalty behind for a corner.

The chances kept coming as Callum Holland forced Hewitson to make a strong save down at his near post, but our momentum was stalled when Jake Twyford when down with a bad knee injury which may have ended his season.

A minute before the break, Callum Holland spread the play out to Niall Osbourne who was on for Twyford. Niall put in an early ball which was handled in the area, and this time Jake Avery stepped up to score his eighth goal in eight games from 12 yards.

A 1-1 scoreline going into the break was the very least we deserved for our dominance, but three minutes of injury time turned the game on its head again. A wonderful through ball from Jack Sherratt put Avery in again but this time he finished weakly and then as play switched to the other end the home side restored their lead with a thumping header from Dwyer – his 17th goal of the season as we switched off at a corner.

There was still time for Stalybridge to have a very strong penalty shout of their own, but the half time whistle brought a pause to the madness.

The second half by comparison was relatively uneventful, which suited our hosts. Our best chance came in the early stages as Tom Jones was through on goal but Celtic’s centre half Craig Hobson – already on a booking – made a well-timed tackle to put the ball out for a corner.

Play became scrappy and we lost our way. We gave a debut to Eric Yahaya who replaced Jones for the last 20 minutes but there was simply no way through a determined Stalybridge defence as the game fizzled out to end the day in disappointing fashion.

City of Liverpool, who today made it into the play-offs, are our next opponents as we return to Buckmaster Avenue to try to avoid a third successive defeat. We now need to regroup and make sure we come back stronger.

Man of the match: Jack Sherratt

Team: Slinn, Derbyshire, Ritchie, Van der Laan, Jordan, Stubbs, Holland, Sherratt, Avery, Jones, (Yahaya 72), Twyford, (Osbourne 27).


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