A Tony Sullivan hat trick was the highlight of a brilliant team performance as a rampant Stalybridge Celtic destroyed a highly regarded Stanley side at the Crown Ground.The strength of McNeil, who had another superb game for the Celts, the support play of Scott, Parr, Bauress and Ward, and the speed and finishing of Sullivan totally overwhelmed the home defence.
The rout started as early as the 6th minute when Sullivan fired home from 10 yards after seeing a thunderous Andy Scott volley rebound off the bar. Six minutes later Tino raced clear of the defence, rounded the keeper, Speare, and slotted home his second. Stalybridge never looked like being caught after that.
Accrington were restricted to mostly long range efforts in the first half by the strong Celtic defence, and whenever they did break through Ingham dealt with the threat comfortably. Despite seeing their bar rattled just before half-time (if the bar had been round - it would have been a goal) Stalybridge always looked the most likely scorers, and Sullivan came close to completing his treble, forcing Speare to palm away a fierce drive.
Celtic dominated most of the second half and a third goal was only a matter of time. A diving handball to deny McNeil a goal resulted in a penalty. Bauress stepped up. Speare stepped forward from his line before Bauress kicked the ball, and saved the resulting kick. Under ordinary circumstances, the ref would have allowed the save to stand, but then, he should have sent the Burns off. The penalty was retaken, and scored.
On the hour Tony Sullivan laid claim to the match ball after capitalising on hesitancy in the defence to stroke home his third and Celtic's fourth.
Celtic continued to create chances until the end with Jones, Bauress and Evans all going close but it was Accrington who got a deserved, though highly controversial, consolation goal, Substitute Ceraolo sweeping the ball home, after creating several late chances. The three officials must have been the only ones in the ground not to spot a Stanley defender leap and tip the ball away in a style even Magic Johnson would have been proud of!