Three year winless stretch in competition ended at Parkside Road
Stalybridge Celtic ended a miserable run of three successive defeats in the F.A. Challenge Cup at Kendal today [26 September]. Prior to today, the ‘Bridge had lost to Shildon (1-0) in the previous season, and to Worksop Town (5-3) before then, in 2013.
The last time Stalybridge Celtic reached the 4th Qualifying Round was 2012 when they lost to Stockport County. As for the last time they reached the 1st Round Proper, 2003 against Barnet. Following a 2-2 draw at Underhill, Guiliano Grazioli netted for twice the Bees in the replay.
In today’s fixture, the ‘Bridge beat Kendal Town 3 – 2 at Parkside Lane. Town began the first half playing downhill on their undulating pitch. They caught the ‘Bridge cold with a goal in the 2nd minute by Tom Kilfin. This was cancelled out by Steve Tames‘ fifth minute goal at the Park Side Road end.
Throughout most of the first half, Stalybridge Celtic threw what they could towards Town’s keeper, Rick Whiteside. Every time they were thwarted, coming off a Town defender. By the 34th minute, the Westmorland side restored their lead with Dan Wilkins. Shortly after kick off, the ‘Bridge lost their spark.
For most of the second half, it seemed as if the ‘Bridge were resigned to defeat by lower league opposition again. The possibility of a third successive defeat by a club below them loomed.
In the end, it the Celtic’s superior fitness and confidence which stymied this possibility. The turning point was the 64th minute substitution of Aaron Chalmers with Dale Wright. Slowly but surely, confidence was regained. Thirteen minutes later came hope. Hope in the form of Alex Johnson‘s equaliser in the 77th minute. The Westmorland side plugged away, but the gulf between ‘Bridge’s and Town’s fitness was telling.
Just to rub it in for the hosts came Celtic’s second substitution. Replacing the ‘Bridge’s first scorer Steve Tames in the 78th minute, supersub Darius Osei. So far this season, Darius has proved his worth in the forward line, usually as the game changing substitute. He is set to become one of Celtic’s best prospects from their youth team since Connor Jennings.
In the 81st minute, Darius Osei scored the all important winner towards the goalkeeper’s left. The 70 or so ‘Bridge fans were in rapture. Was the three year hoodoo broken? Still the hosts plugged away trying to force a replay. A corner for the hosts and a last attempt at goal was thwarted by the Celtic defence and a well timed save by Tony McMillan.
By full time, Stalybridge Celtic emerged victorious. Not only had they ended a three year hoodoo, they also ended a five year run without an away win in the competition. The last away win for the ‘Bridge in the F.A. Cup was Warrington Town in the 3rd Qualifying Round, in October 2010.
- Final Score: Kendal Town 2 (2) (Kilfin 2, Wilkins 34), Stalybridge Celtic 3 (1) (Tames 5, Johnson 77, Osei 81);
- Bookings: Kendal Town, 2; Stalybridge Celtic, 0;
- Attendance: 323 (Kendal Town’s highest of the 2015 – 16 season to date);
- Referee: Glen Hart (Darlington);
- Assistant Referee (Red flag): Christopher Ellis (County Durham);
- Assistant Referee (Yellow flag): Liam Hewitt (Scarborough).
The draw for the F.A. Cup Third Qualifying Round will be made on Monday 28 September 2015 by 11am. Full details will be available on The F.A.’s website.
S.V., 26 September 2015.