STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 1, ASHTON UNITED 0
MANAGER Simon Haworth admitted his heart was in his mouth as Stalybridge Celtic snatched a dramatic injury-time derby victory against Ashton United.
Captain Scott Bakkor’s 93rd minute penalty, a cheeky Panenka chip down the middle of the goal, earned Celtic their second win of their Northern Premier League campaign.
Haworth said: “Scott has had four penalties, including pre-season, and taken three Panenkas and one in the bottom corner.
“I have told Scott that people will watch where he puts penalties and to vary them, but that’s Scott!”
The match had goalless draw written all over it until Bakkor won the spot kick in the second of four added minutes.
Bakkor dispossessed left back Harry Spratt and bore down on goal only to be brought down by goalkeeper Greg Hartley, a straightforward decision for referee Jordan Crossley.
Haworth was delighted to collect three points which lifted Celtic to 15th place, though he admitted it was a tightly contested clash.
“You win some, lose some and today it went our way,” explained Haworth who was pleased with Celtic’s solid defensive display and a second clean sheet of the season.
But Celtic’s manager conceded the victory glossed over where they need to improve as the penalty was their only goal in the last three matches.
He continued: “We were a bit toothless and in general our attacking play needs to be better.
“If we can get another striker, and make sure it is the right one, I believe we will be a good team.”
Haworth has released strikers Matty Hughes and Sope Awe after both had failed to make an impact and this provides scope to make another signing.
And the need for a new striker is even more pressing as striker Jack Ryan is suspended for Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup tie against Colne after being sent off at Lancaster City last Tuesday.
Celtic, who had five players injured, had a threadbare bench which included two defenders, two academy players and Callum Harris who was named to make up the numbers but was hurt after straining a muscle in the defeat at Lancaster.
After an uneventful opening, Buxton would have taken the lead just short of the half hour but for goalkeeper Grant Shenton making a decent double save to deny Ben Hardcastle.
Bakkor was by far Celtic’s most potent attacking threat as his drive was turned over by Hartley and then flashed another effort into the side netting when many fans thought he had scored.
Ashton had the better openings in the second period as former Stockport County defender Michael Raynes, Tom Bentham, Jack Redshaw and Tom Warren went close, Redshaw’s 30-yard drive forcing a top save from Shenton as it arrowed towards the top corner.
If there was to be a winner, it looked like Ashton until Bakkor had the final say deep into stoppage time.