A series of missed opportunities from both sides meant that Farnborough were only able to snatch a point from this game.
From the off, it was plain that Farnborough were a well organised side, with Rocky Baptiste their main target man. However, some canny management by Paul Futcher, putting his son, Ben onto the tall striker effectively nullified the lethal Farnborough front man.
However, at the other end, chances were to go begging several times, and luck has deserted this Celtic side this season, with two penalty decisions missed, and some nasty tackles left unpunished.
Celtic opened the attack when Steele raced through and earned a corner, however, Farrelly caught the ball in and launched up field for Vansittart latch onto, producing a diving parry from Ingham, putting the ball out for a Farnborough corner. Steve Bushell was on hand on to race off the back post, and block the shot.
Minutes later, the first of the nasty, unpunished fouls occurred when Baptiste turned off Ben Futcher to chase a ball from Lenny Piper. Ingham was down to smother the ball quickly, but Baptiste decided to have a swing anyway, kicking Ingham whilst on the floor. The ball rolled loose, and Vansittart mis-kicked it past the post, despite the whistle being blown for the foul on Ingham. Ingham stayed down for some time, receiving treatment, but Baptiste's cynical foul went unpunished.
Annemarie gave the go ahead for Ingham to continue, but it was clear that the Celtic number one was in pain. His kick up field though reached Steele who was brought down about ten yards from the penalty box. Bushell put the ball into the box, aiming for Futcher's head. Futcher couldn't reach it, and Farrelly plucked the ball off Courtney's head as the ex-Marine striker stooped to nod it home.
Courtney again proved dangerous, putting Steele through with a ball that Steele chased, but it zipped slightly too fast for the pacy striker, and went harmlessly out.
Farnborough were aiming for a counter attack goal, and as Celtic committed me up for free-kicks and throw ins they spread the ball down field for Baptiste and Vansittart to work with. Patterson caught one such ball, and managed to fire his shot off as Scott closed him down, blocking the shot which fell to Danny Jones. Jones snapped at it, and Ingham did not need to move to catch it.
Boro had got the bit between their teeth, and pressed the Celtic defence, putting a lot of balls into the box for the defence to try and deal with.
However their attackers were having an off day of stupendous proportions, none more so than Vansittart, who had one shot that was so wild, Ingham had to trot to the corner flag to retrieve the ball! However, Piper was proving a handful with his balls, and it took all of Scott's defensive abilities to deny Patterson an easy shot as the latter got onto a Piper cross. Scott and Patterson went for the same ball, Patterson won the contest, but Scott won the war as the ball went harmlessly wide.
After this, it was obvious Ingham was struggling, and he was replaced by Fish, for David's conference debut.
This break in play allowed Celtic to gain some initiative back, and after Fish's first touch to kick the ball down the field, which Baptiste brought down with the aid of his hand, Bushell was able to put an excellent ball into the box. Unfortunately, despite Futcher's height, he was just not tall enough to get onto the ball. Bushell would get plenty of free kick practice as Farnborough Town continued to foul around the penalty area, but despite this, and Steele's trouble marking around the box, the final ball just would not fall correctly.
Again, after the free kick was caught by Farrelly, Farnborough broke rapidly, with Patterson getting into the corner, and putting in a cross that Matthew Woods could only put out for a corner. Vansittart would rue yet another missed opportunity as he went unchallenged to the corner, but could only head wide.
Farnborough had a series of elaborate hand gestures by the corner takers to indicate which corner would be coming in. Piper would lift the ball into the air, and the players in the box would run around in an arc to the penalty spot, when he waved his arms, they all ran to the back post, and when he waggled his leg whilst patting his head, they all called his psychiatrist.
Celtic figured out the codes after he had performed each routine once, making Farnborough's corners ineffective.
Boro were not the only team capable of breaking, and Scott and Steele interchanged with some ten yard passes to bring the ball up field rapidly.
Scott's final through ball to Courtney was excellent, but Annon was alert to the danger, and levered the smaller man off the ball.
Finally, Farnborough received some punishment for the numerous fouls, when Steele had his legs swept from under him by a Tim O'Shea who must have thought himself immune from prosecution.
Bushell swept the ball across to Parr, who whipped in a good first time ball to the far post. Futcher managed to get his head to the ball, nodding it across the face of the goal. No Celtic player was there to slam it home, and Steele could not keep it in.
Bushell got to try again moments later as Annon brought down Courtney for the umpteenth time. Steele was the target this time, he brought it down for Parr, who's vicious strike struck the post, rebounding out for Crookes to run onto. Crookes slipped the ball into the six yard box where Matt Woods and Steele were waiting. Despite three Farnborough defenders, Woods stretched his leg the furthest and steered the ball past a stationary Farrelly.
One nil to Stalybridge - the first time that they have taken the lead this season.
Farnborough were not about to sit back and let Celtic bask in their first lead. Piper whipped in a cross almost from the kick off, which Woods put wide, despite being alone in the box. Bushell was on hand on the far post to block Vansittart's shot, and allow Steele to run at the Farnborough goal.
Alone, he had to take on three defenders and the keeper. It took a last ditch tackle from the last defender to stop him breaking through and doubling the Celtic lead.
Wood tried to help the visitors out with a back pass of nightmarish proportions that Fish was never going to get to before Baptiste, but last season's hero Dominic Crookes was back in the starting eleven, and he showed why, covering the ground like a whippet to slide in and dispossess Rocky before the striker could think what to do with Wood's gift.
At the other end, as the half closed, Bushell's attempts at putting the ball onto Futcher's head were getting better, as he landed a free-kick right on the defender's head, but there was no power from the centreback, and Farrelly caught it easily.
Sensing that time was running down, Jones had a wild shot from near the half way line that just made him look stupid as it went wide, and over. And they continued their campaign of trying to whittle Celtic down a man at a time, when Patterson elbowed Steve Wood in the head in the Farnborough penalty area. Celtic did not end with a penalty, as the referee failed to see the offence. The half time whistle blew instead, allowing Wood to come out in the second half with stitches. This would not be the last penalty appeal Celtic would have ignored.
Jones started the second half as Farnborough had finished the first, putting a dangerous ball into the box. The rest of the Farnborough team had yet to come up from the half way line though and went harmlessly out. Fish punted it up field, and Parr latched onto it, when robbed by Patterson, Parr marked his home return with a yellow card, with an innocuous looking tackle that left Patterson lying on the floor as though dead. As soon as the card was produce Patterson sprinted off up field. Cynical?
More balls into the box tested the defence. With Crookes back, they never looked seriously threatened, despite struggling to clear the ball for long periods of time. But when they did clear, they got up field rapidly, and they used the dead balls produced, either a corner, or free kick or throw.
From one such throw, Courtney squared to Steele, who held off the attentions of O'Shea long enough for Courtney to get into a good position. Steele fed him an idea ball. Unchallenged, Courtney went for a curling shot that beat the keeper but unfortunately clipped the top of the bar.
Celtic's unlucky spell continued, when Courtney and Wood one-twoed before Wood gave a little dink over the top of the back four, which Steele raced onto, but was caught offside. He would be adjudged this way three times in the next few minutes, despite for the first two being on-side, and for the second, not interfering with play.
Courtney avoided the offside trap to get onto a Wood ball, which put him through on the keeper, but he fired wide.
Wood gave away a free kick in a dangerous area, and after an elaborate routine which eventually saw Warner put the ball in, Futcher and Baptiste went for the same ball. Futcher got there first, heading it onto Baptiste's head, and out for a goal kick.
Steele was still looking for the second, when Celtic could get the ball up to him. A Ward cross saw him stoop and head, bringing an excellent save from Farrelly, who also held onto the ball, to stop the striker poaching the rebound.
In the end to end see-saw of a match, Farnborough won another corner.
Watching the antics with the ball being lifted into the air, Crookes guess right, and cleared the ball. It fell to Patterson 40 yards out, whose shot was only narrowly wide.
Good vision from Wood saw Parr free near the edge of the box. A precision pass found the local lad, and his thunderous shot produce a class save, the rebound fell back to Parr, under the attentions of defenders, he squared to Ward who crossed the ball in. It was falling nicely to Steele, and the keeper had over extended himself, falling backwards. Nobody touched the keeper, but Steele was adjudged to have brought down the man twice his height and three times his weight, free kick.
A substitution by both teams saw Jones replaced by Lenny Piper's brother Chris, and Bushell replaced by Murphy, making his home debut. However, neither substitution changed the pattern of the game; with Lenny Piper getting onto brother's Chris's corner to produce a fine flying save from Fish.
Fish has a powerful kick on him, and he turned the defence to attack with a long punt up field for Courtney, who cushioned a ball to Steele. Steele's shot beat the keeper, but Annon managed to get a leg onto it to deflect for a corner. Which was caught by the keeper.
After running himself ragged for over an hour, Steele was replaced by McNeil, and not to be outdone, Farnborough took off an ineffective Taggart to replace with Bonfield. Again neither sub changed the way the game played out. Baptiste, shepherded by Futcher, continued to miss glorious chances with wild shots, whilst Vansittart was kept out of the game by an on form Crookes.
Futcher beat Baptiste three times in quick succession, first granting Boro a corner, then clearing it, before Patterson put it back in, only to see Futcher clear it a third time.
On the counter, Wood fed McNeil with a long pass, McNeil held it up well as the Celtic team surged forward. McNeil laid the ball off to Wood and turned his man. Wood returned the ball, aiming for McNeil's path, and though McNeil stretched, he was unable to open his conference account with the ball inches beyond his boot.
McNeil was harder to foul than Steele, but still Annon did his best, granting Celtic a dangerous looking free kick. Murphy whipped it in for the near post, only to see the referee save it for a goal kick! Talk about playing against twelve men!
In the few minutes of Celtic dominance, Wood could have sewn the game up. Murphy took a throw, giving it Courtney, who flicked on to Parr. A nice one touch move saw Parr return it to Courtney, who slipped it square to Wood.
Wood's thunderous shot should have hit the target, but he steered it wide with the keeper beaten. If we are to win games, we have to take these glorious chances, as luck certainly is not on our side.
Scott made his own space, taking on half of the Farnborough team to get into a shooting position, but his cheeky lob over the advancing Farrelly, saw him clear the bar as well.
Baptiste was finally removed from the game, having been ineffective against the Celtic defence, and was replaced by the dirtiest player I have seen for many a year. Bunce came on to muted Farnborough fans cheering, and immediately fouled Ward.
Murphy put the ball in, the nod on was deflected for a corner. Again Murphy swung the ball in, the keeper could only palm the ball across the face of his own goal. Courtney's shot was deflected out to Murphy coming in from the corner flag, who rebounded with Wood to get into the box, before a crashing tackle by Lenny Piper allowed Boro to clear.
Crookes put the clearance out for a throw under pressure from Vansittart. It came to Patterson, who lobbed it into the box for Lenny Piper to nod under the diving Fish.
Off the kick off, Wood fed Ward, who put a ball into a crowded penalty box. Bunce did not even look at the ball, he elbowed Murphy blatantly in the face. It should have been a penalty, but it took until Farnborough cleared the ball, before the referee noticed that there was a Celtic player wearing blue, white and red. Murphy was lying on the floor, with blood pouring from a gash above his eye. The ref stopped play, did it cross his mind as to how it happened? He had a good long talk with Murphy as Annemarie stitched up her second head wound of the day. Having made three substitutions, Murphy was bandaged up, and played on.
Within seconds, Bunce (who had not yet hit a ball) crashed into the back of Murphy as though trying to break his legs. The referee could not fail to see that offence, and immediately issued a red card. Bunce had not been on the pitch for ten minutes, had committed three seen fouls, two unseen fouls, and then complained when he got sent off for a career threatening tackle! He had not, in his time on the pitch, kicked a ball.
More bad luck was to dog Celtic as the game came to a close.
Parr's header from a corner was deflected around the post by Annon, but a goal kick was awarded.
And it looked as though the last five minutes would see Celtic's luck desert them completely, as Annon up field for a corner, looking for the winner, latched onto the corner and produced the very best out of Fish, diving low to his left.
Wood tried to put Courtney through after the latter had been brought down (again) near the box, Farnborough cleared for a corner. The keeper punched the corner clear, which Murphy put back in. This time Annon cleared right up field for Warner to chase. As the defenders closed Warner down, he unleashed a shot which again tested Fish and found him on excellent form.
The referee blew for full time, leaving a battered Celtic looking at a draw snatched by Farnborough, which was probably a fair result given the chances missed by both sides.
But, with a bit of accurate shooting from several players, and a bit of vision from the referee, Celtic could have been comfortable winners in this game. Bad luck, like good luck has to run out, and Celtic have the quality to weather roughshod tactics like Farnborough's. It is just a matter of time before the tide turns.