Celtic booked their place in the next round of the FA Trophy with a great second half performance and a simply sublime finish by the mercurial Connor Jennings.
Stockport were the better team in the first half, closing Celtic down, forcing mistakes and carving some great chances. Although Celtic got the first chance, a tame effort from Stephen Brogan that was bread and butter for County keeper, Matt Glennon, it was County that scored first, after a warning from Tom Elliot that struck the upright. Danny Rowe dropped the ball off to Sean McConville with his back to goal. McConville who scored the equaliser on Saturday to set up the tie had a lot to do, but danced his way through the box showing great composure and excellent footwork to get within feet of the goal line before sending Jan Budtz the wrong way and stroking in the opening goal.
County were on top, and seemed content to sit on the one goal lead, ensuring Celtic couldn't build anything, and forcing shots from distance. One such shot from Lloyd Ellams was a rocket, but took a wicked deflection the wrong side of the post; whilst Connor Jennings effort required a smart stop also from Glennon. But these were rare attacks with County looking comfortable at the half time interval for their one goal lead.
Stockport started the second half the stronger too, with Jan Budtz again the hero, denying a rising rocket from Chris Blackburn, and then a superb double save, first denying a strong effort from Elliot and then getting up to palm away the rebound shot from McConville. John Nolan was the next to try his luck from an uncleared free kick that brought yet another fine save from the Danish keeper. And when he was beaten, as he was by Ryan McCann's effort, Joel Bembo-Leta was on hand to hack away inside the six yard box.
Against the run of play, Celtic were level. Although Celtic were getting more into gear in the second half, the goal steadied nerves and Celtic never looked back. A long punt by Jan Budtz was missed by Andy Halls but not by Greg Wilkinson who cut into the box, and from the tightest of angles, curled the ball past Glennon and into the top corner.
Suddenly it was all Celtic. Brogan poked a twenty-yard effort wide, and Lloyd Ellams forced Glennon into a good stop, tipping his blistering effort around the post, with Craig Hobson heading narrowly over the angle of post and bar. Brogan tried his luck with a couple of free kicks around the box after Stockport's defending that had looked so composed in the first half started to creak. Both were narrowly over the bar, but Celtic kept coming. Hobson didn't connect with his effort properly, for which Glennon was thankful as it was still flying as it came to him.
Stoppage time arrived with both Hobson and Jennings going agonisingly close to grabbing the winner, before Lloyd Ellams's quick feet allowed him the time to lift the ball over the defence, for Jennings to turn off the shoulder of Carl Piergianni and lifted the ball past Glennon in a goal that was worthy of winning any match.
With only minutes remaining, it was a case of keep the ball for Celtic, something they did well, frustrating the visitors right up to the final whistle and set up a second round tie for the second time in two years away at Guiseley.
|7||McCann, Ryan||> 90|
|8||Nolan, John||> 74|
|9||Rowe, Danny||> 68|
|14||Coles, Aaron||< 68|
|15||Sheridan, Sam||< 74|
|16||Darkwah, Cam||< 90|