Match Report -
You cannot be serious
By Debbie Taylor

A harsh late decision robbed Stalybridge of a hard fought 3 points at Bower Fold.

Both teams came to the 'Fold with unbeaten records. Celtic knew before hand that it would be tough. The Seasiders have a reputation for making the home team work hard for any share of the spoils.

But it was Celtic who started the most brightly, having most of the possession and shots on goal. Apart from a coming to collect the ball from hopeful long-balls, Ingham had a relatively relaxing first half, while Campbell in the the Whitby nets pulled of a string of fine stops, rushing from his line on more than one occasion to reach a ball before an attacker.

However, after half an hour, Sullivan raced into the box to meet a McNeil cross with inch perfect precision to give Celtic the lead. Whitby almost responded with a fine shot from Gary Messer that Ingham saved, and within seconds, the Celtic number one pulled off another fine save to deny Chillingsworth.

Harry Dunn (Whitby's manager) must have had said some stern words in the dressing room, for the Seasiders came out with a renewed determination. They took their last five minutes of the first half and kept on in the second.

The game got a little scrappy, with some dubious refereeing decisions given seemingly arbitrarily in which ever direction the referee was facing. Unfortunately, the ref seemed to be facing the Celtic goal an awful lot. In the last quarter of an hour of the game, the ref gave in quick succession free kicks to Whitby, encroaching closer and closer to the box.

On the 80th minute, the referee came to the bizarre conclusion that McNeil had handled twenty yards from goal. Logan lofted the ball into the box onto which substitute Ludlow pounced. The ball was cleared by Parr, but, after consultation with the linesman, who, in my opinion had a difficult job seeing through the crowd of players, gave the goal, deciding that the ball had crossed the line.

The remaining ten minutes saw Celtic step up the pace again, desperate to regain the lead, without ever really troubling the Whitby 'keeper. The pressure left an opening for Chillingsworth to squeeze through and launch a vicious strike on goal. An agile Ingham kept Celtic in the game. Campbell returned the favour for Whitby a minute later when he tipped a Sullivan scorcher around the right post.

All in all, a fairly even game, with some poor refereeing decisions crippling what could have been an entertaining second half.