JONATHAN Ustabasi experienced an afternoon to forget as Stalybridge Celtic were held to a goalless draw in their friendly at Glossop North End.
Eight minutes after missing a penalty, which would have maintained Celtic’s 100 per cent pre-season record, the forward limped off with a hamstring injury.
Ustabasi reported it was a pull rather than a tear but is still likely to be out of action for several weeks.
Celtic, who had beaten North West Counties League clubs Cheadle Town and Abbey Hey, stepped up against North Premier League opposition.
And Celtic were lucky to emerge unbeaten in what was a poor performance.
Had it not been for goalkeeper Tom Stewart, who pulled off three notable saves to make it three clean sheets in a row, they would have lost.
The defining moment of the match came in the 35th minute when centre half Tom Wilson won the penalty – he was fouled after going upfield for a free kick.
Ustabasi stepped forward only for his poorly taken kick to be relatively easily saved by Dale Latham diving low to his left.
Not long after, Ustabasi pulled off and that was the end of his afternoon.
Celtic manager Simon Haworth described the friendlies – he has almost a dozen pencilled in – as primarily being about regaining match fitness after the lengthy lay off.
He also pointed to the absences of striker Mike Burke and Damani Holness whole others are still striving to regain sharpness.
“We lost nine games of the end of last season and had the summer break, so it has been a long time since we have played,” he said.
Haworth, who believes his squad may need four further signings, also pointed out there were trialists involved at Glossop which further disrupted the team’s rhythm.