Match Report -
Celtic ease back into the top five
By Iain Benson
Stalybridge sneaked back into the play off places with a comprehensive victory over a Hinckley United outfit fighting for survival in the Conference North. Hinckley had new signing Webster to boost their scoring credentials, and he joined Kelly, Murphy and Jackson as a four pronged attack that kept getting in each other's way.

Celtic were on top from the start of the match, and there only looked to be one outcome. An early Barwick shot was screwed horribly wide after some excellent build up play, before Celtic were handed a great chance when Lavery elbowed Hall in the face inches outside the box. As the last man, the referee would not have been blamed for sending Lavery off ? however a yellow card and a prime spot for a Smart free kick. Smart's kick parted the wall with its ferocity but Bowles was well placed to make the save. Celtic kept coming, exploiting the space down the wings, and a Torpey cross found Garner who saw his shot blocked on the line by Lavery.

Just as it looked like Hinckley were getting their act together, Meechan was released by Garner to run through a static defence and go one-on-one with Bowles. Bowles started to come, and then changed his mind, leaving him stranded in no-man's land only able to watch as Meechan's chip sailed over his head and into the net.

The goal galvanised Hinckley somewhat and they started to put together some football that resulted in a good save from Gamble as Jackson snuck in to head a Webster cross towards goal, and from a free kick, Platnauer got behind the defence, forcing Gamble into another good stop. However, when Celtic got a corner in stoppage time in the first half, it was game over for Hinckley. Woolliscroft fooled Lloyd to get the space for a low cross; Bowles got down well to cut out the cross, but he didn't hold it and the ball fell to Barlow who smacked the ball into the back of the net.

Bowles was subbed at half time by the charismatic Belford, and Hinckley looked the better for a strong team talk at half time. Lloyd headed a free kick goal-wards, and Gamble palmed it away, as he did moments later when Kelly latched onto another free kick. However, Hinckley seemed unable to maintain the momentum, and soon Hall was put through by an intelligent ball from Garner to go one-on-one with Belford. Unlike his predecessor, Belford made up his mind and snatched the ball off Hall's feet.

After a scrappy ten minutes, Hinckley got a trio of great chances, starting at a corner, where Lloyd came in to head top corner, but Gamble got enough of a palm to give Hinckley another corner, that Celtic couldn't get clear, and from a third corner, Gamble did well to grab the ball and ease the pressure.

That pressure was eased still further when Lavery grabbed Ellington's arm near the by line and wrenched the Celtic player to the ground. The penalty was punishment enough for the already booked Lavery. Smart stepped up to take the spot kick, and though Belford got a foot on the ball, it wasn't enough to keep it out.

Hinckley could have been forgiven for letting their heads dropped, but they battled on, and were rewarded by a corner late on. The ball came out to Jackson, but Garner on the post did his job, deflecting the ball out for a second corner, and Gamble claimed to again defuse the situation and guide Celtic into a comfortable stoppage time.

Celtic maintain their great away form this season, and have one more away trip in Northumberland to face Blyth before a pair of home games. Celtic need a win there to keep in the top five.

1Bowles, Sean  > 45
2Bonner, Tom  
3Platnauer, Leigh  
4Lavery, RichardYellow Card 
5OLoughlin, Charlie  > 15
6Byron, Michael  
7Kelly, Leon  > 78
8Jackson, Leon  
9Murphy, Gez  
10Webster, Adam  
11Richards, Rico  
12Quailley, Brian  
14Story, Owen  
15McKay, Billy  < 78
16Lloyd, Callum  < 15
17Belford, Dale  < 45