A moment of controversy soured the match and turned it permanently in Stockport’s favour.
Celtic looked to be the team on top in the first half, with Jimmy Ball twice going close with rockets of shots that required Ben Hinchliffe to be on top form to tip them over the bar. Callum Bagshaw also went close with a scissor kick from close range that cleared the bar, as did Nick Ryan’s header from a corner, though from a second, he did get his shot on target, but straight at Hinchcliffe. Hinchcliffe was there again, this time flying across the face of goal to palm Andy Owen’s curling diagonal effort away.
Celtic were made to pay right on the stroke of half time when pressure from Stockport saw the ball hacked clear as far as Callum Meppen-Walker, thirty metres out, he fired a decent enough shot in, but the distance and speed should have given Tony McMillan no issues for Stockport’s first shot of the match, but it flew just inside the post.
Celtic started the second half as they had played the first, fighting for every ball, pressuring the visitors. Kristian Platt blazed an early free kick over but then a good move saw Danny Wisdom turn his marker and feed the ball back to Jimmy Ball, his shot had no backlift as it flew into the bottom corner.
Andy Owens outpaced the Stockport defence, but again, Hinchcliffe was on top form to deny him and soon enough, somewhat against the run of play, Celtic made a terrible meal of trying to get the ball clear from a simple ball crossed into the box. It eventually came to John Marsden at the edge of the box, and he fired through the crowd giving McMillan no chance.
Josh Amis fired over the bar when he looked odds on to score. However, when Amis did get his goal, their celebrations went unnoticed. After a legitimate clash in left Aaron Chalmers unmoving in the middle of the park, controversially the game continued. With Celtic players rushing to their stricken team mate or to the referee to get the game stopped, Tony McMillan and Nick Ryan were the only players left to defend against several attacking County players. There was no contest. The ball was lifted to the back post, where Amis was on hand to head in.
To add injury to insult, Chalmers needed hospital treatment and Celtic had no substitutes left. County took advantage of their shaken and outnumbered hosts, with Adam Thomas left unmarked where Chalmers had been, his ball to Josh Amis allowed the goal-scorer to nearly add to his tally, his shot crashing back off the post.
There was a chance for a conciliatory goal in stoppage time when Stockport’s overly rough tactics on set-pieces was finally punished as Moppen-Walker dragged Ryan down and Kristian Platt stepped up to take the spot-kick, but failing to get any kind of power, allowing the outstanding Hinchcliffe to get across to it.
Maybe Celtic should have played to the whistle at 2-1, but with Chalmers motionless in the middle, that was far more important than three points.
|4||Meppen-Walker, Callum||> 90|
|9||Odejayi, Kayode||> 61|
|11||Lloyd, Danny||> 70|
|12||Carney, Craig||< 90|
|15||Thomas, Adam||< 70|
|16||Amis, Josh||< 61|