STOCKSBRIDGE PARK STEELS 1, STALYBRIGE CELTIC 3
STOCKSBRIDGE may have the name but it was Stalybridge Celtic who showed the ‘steel’ as they triumphed in Sheffield in the preliminary round of the Emirates FA Cup.
In an absorbing tie broadcast live to the nation on the BBC’s red button, Celtic had to weather periods when they were on the back front before finally prevailing against a Stocksbridge side that has now not won in the FA Cup for 12 years.
Ultimately, they possessed the cutting edge that their opponents from steel city lacked as goals from Mike Burke, Krisel Prifti and substitute Keano Deacon saw them home.
And it was also a sizeable pay day for Celtic who collected a £1,444 winners’ cheque, £1,000 television facility fee and a half share of the 300-capacity gate at the Eco Power Environmental Stadium.
Manager Simon Haworth was delighted with the way his side managed the game.
He explained: “We had to defend for long spells against a physical and direct side and our new back four stood up well, especially young centre backs Tom Wilson and Luke Barlow.
“We had enough quality to create five or six good chances and take three of them.
“Our first from Mike Burke was a brilliant finish and he may be should have had two more.
“Keano Deacon, who has been struggling with injury, came on and scored a fabulous third goal. What a great weapon to have.”
Celtic, who had won on their two previous FA Cup visits to Stocksbridge, took an 11th minute lead through Burke who latched on to a long through ball and lobbed advancing goalkeeper Ed Hall.
But in the opening half hour, Celtic goalkeeper Tom Stewart had to make three decent stops to deny Josh Nodder, Luke Mangham and Kurtis Turner.Steels equalised in the 30th minute when Scott Ruthven drove home a low free kick from 30 yards after Scott Sephton had conceded a foul.
Celtic regained the lead just short of the hour after Sephton’s shot was deflected, Steels failed to clear and Prifti pounced to find the net from close range.
They had chances to seal victory as Burke headed narrowly over while Jonathan Ustabasi and Charley Doyle also went close, the latter denied by a goalline clearance by Robert Ludlam.
Celtic had substitute Karl Hawley booked, even though he was unused. It was for his part on a touchline melee involving players from both teams.
The pivotal moment of the match came in the 83rd minute when Ruthven’s superb shot on the turn struck the crossbar, Nodder’s follow-up was well saved by Stewart while two other goalbound efforts were blocked.
Celtic made certain of victory in the third of four added minutes. Right-back Kallum Mantack made a dangerous break and released Deacon who danced through the home defence before firing high into the roof of the net.
It sparked joyous celebrations as the player ran towards their 130 fans behind the goal as they knew victory was assured.