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Lesson in finishing
Vanarama National League North
Sun, 1st January
Stalybridge Celtic13Hyde United
Jennings 90(p) Grey 66
Spencer 73
Platt 83(og)
Attendance: 1806DetailsIain Benson

Celtic can have no complaints with the score-line, which was a lesson in finishing by the league leaders, who converted their chances.

The first half was very even, both sides cancelling each other out more than creating similar chances. Reece Greay and Stephen Brogan both went wide with early free kicks, whilst a good move saw Connor Jennings sweep in on Brogan and Phil Marsh’s lay off, hitting the ball well, but straight down Dave Carnell’s throat. At times, Celtic could have been accused of looking for the perfect chance. The perfect chance came right before half time with Marsh the final strike in a set-piece play that Carnell did well to top, the loose ball coming to Connor Jennings, who took slightly to long and Danny Hall got across to block Jennings’s shot.

Celtic looked to be the better team at the start of the second half, Bembo-Leta allowed to get forward, a one-two with Jennings’s in the box, and he brought the best reaction stop out of Carnell, before Jennings was given a gift as Phil Marsh was robbed, the high ball requiring putting in the back of the net, Jennings let the ball fall, and Carnell got across to block.

Hyde showed Celtic that sometimes, simple is best. A free kick knocked sideways, Reece Grey was twenty-yards out, and hit it through a crowd, where a slight deflection put the ball beyond Jan Budtz.

Celtic went looking for the equaliser, with Andy McWilliams firing over, and Connor Jennings curling an effort over the defence, but not over Carnell.

With Celtic pushing forward, gaps appeared at the back. When a pass between Wilkinson and Hobson was intercepted, suddenly Scott Spencer had the whole park to run into to latch onto Andy Pearson’s ball, and he did. Chris Lynch did well to get anywhere near Spencer, but it was too late as one of the league’s top scorers unleashed an unstoppable shot that Budtz could not reach.

Hyde were willing to take a chance with their shots, but still Celtic looked shot shy. Bembo-Leta went close after looking for the pass first, and Jennings also fired over the bar as he cut inside, but it was a cross come shot that cleared the bar. Hyde’s willingness to shoot earned them another goal, an acute angle drive from Spencer a stuck out foot from Kristian Platt and the shot was lifted over Budtz and Hyde had a 3-0 lead.

There was a consolation goal for Celtic, when Adam Griffin tripped Connor Jennings in the box. With Marsh having been replaced by debutant Nick Rogan, it was up to Jennings to take the spot kick. Jennings kept his cool and produced the perfect penalty.

It was too little too late for Celtic who watched their unbeaten home league record that stretched back to January 2011, vanish with the final whistle and watched Hyde extend their lead at the top of the table.

Celtic Line-up:Jan Budtz; Joel Bembo-Leta; Andy McWilliams; Kristian Platt; Chris Lynch; Jack Rea; Stephen Brogan (Mitchell Austin 77 mins); Greg Wilkinson; Phil Marsh (Nick Rogan 66 mins); Lloyd Ellams (Craig Hobson 60 mins); Connor Jennings
Unused Subs:Dennis Sheriff; Arthur Gnahoua
Hyde United Line-up: Dave Carnell; Josh Brizell; Adam Griffin; Danny Hall; Gianluca Havern; Tunji Moses; Andy Pearson; Callum Byrne (Sean Williams 78 mins); James Ellison (David Poole 83 mins); Scott Spencer; Reece Grey (David Broadbent 87 mins)
Unused Subs: Matt Berkley; Harry Winter