It can be a cruel game when you are down on your luck as struggling Stalybridge Celtic discovered following their home game against high-flying Basford United.

Celtic’s encouraging performance deserved more, and any neutral observer would have found it hard to comprehend they are second bottom of the Northern Premier League’s premier division with a paltry two points from their first seven league games.

But manager Simon Haworth believes he has seen green shoots of recovery since the embarrassingly bad 4-0 home defeat to Buxton.

Since then Celtic have drawn at Atherton Collieries and lost by one goal at Gainsborough Trinity and home to Basford United.

Haworth said: “In the last seven days we have seen progress.

Dougie and Harry Freedman

“We have had good performances in our last three games, and it is just a case of turning them into points which is probably down to a lack of confidence.

“We have played well in the last week, had chances to win at Atherton and against Gainsborough and Basford when we were the better side.

“We just need to cut out the silly defensive errors which are providing costly.”

On a rainswept afternoon at Bower Fold, when conditions were often monsoonal, it proved a fascinating battle between sides managed by Haworth and Steve Chettle who both had distinguished playing careers.

Chettle, in his second season as Basford manager, is the third highest appearance holder in Nottingham Forest’s history.

Celtic had two great chances to take the lead in the opening half when Jonathan Ustabasi’s drive was deflected and was looping in until goalkeeper Jordan Pierrepoint did well to turn it over.

Charlie Doyle also headed narrowly over from Nic Evangelinos’ corner.

Sandwiched in-between was Basford’s 37th minute matchwinning goal from the manager’s son Callum.

Celtic failed to deal with a low cross from the left and Chettle junior nipped in-between the two centre backs to score his first goal for the club from close range.

Amazingly this was Basford’s only shot on target in the whole game.

Celtic, by contrast, had four great chances to wipe out the deficit in the second half.

Two wonderfully struck free kicks from Evangelinos were each time brilliantly kept out by Pierrpoints while centre backs Matty Makinson and Stephen O’Halloran both had efforts just off target.

Celtic also failed to take advantage of having an extra man for the last 19 minutes when Basford had central defender Lewis Carr sent off for a second booking in the space of 11 minutes.

  • Former Scotland international Dougie Freedman was at Bower Fold to watch his son Harry plays for Celtic.

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