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Stalybridge Celtic 3 – 2 Harrogate Town

In an incident packed match at a wet, sparsely populated, Bower Fold, Town were defeated 3-2 after losing a two goal lead.

The kick off was delayed for almost twenty minutes due to the failure of one of the floodlight pylons, although both managers had agreed to start, they were overruled by the referee.

The Town camp were up in arms after only two minutes when Liam Hardy was bundled down in the area,but Referee Simeon Lucas waved away Town’s claims for a penalty.

However,the recalled Adam Nowakowski soon made his presence felt when his through ball was cleared back to him and he chipped in via the underside of the crossbar with keeper, Matty Urwin, stranded.

A wicked Craig Nelthorpe cross found no takers, but on ten minutes Town doubled their lead with a superb goal.

Nowakowski’s 40 yard crossfield pass dispatched Nelthorpe down the left and his first time centre was brilliantly sidefooted home by Hardy.

Stalybridge,prompted by the influential left back,Andy McWilliams, hit back strongly.

Nelthorpe fouled Sean McConville and Kristian Platt’s free kick was diverted for a corner,from which Callum Warburton’s deep cross rebounded from Town’s upright.

Anton Brown was then on hand to hook the ball away from close range to keep Celtic out.

Celtic began to control the midfield and Tom Buckley shot narrowly wide,before McConville’s rising drive flew over the top.

Town squandered a great chance of a three nil interval lead when Chris Hall broke through on the left but his shot from a tight angle was parried by Urwin, although Hardy was unmarked in the middle.

After early second half pressure by Celtic, the game took a dramatic turn in the 55th minute.

Celtic’s half time sub, Obi Anoruo, was brought down by Craig MacGillivray and the keeper was shown a straight red; the referee awarded a penalty,although many in the small crowd thought it could have been just outside the area.

Leigh Franks took over in goal but had no chance with McConville’s well struck spot kick.

Town battled manfully with Franks saving well from Anorua and McConville.

Unfortunately for Town, on 70 minutes, Franks earned himself a yellow card and conceded a second penalty when he brought down Anorua,but he made amends with a brilliant save from McConville’s penalty.

It was one way traffic and Celtic equalised after 76 minutes when Greg Wilkinson tried his luck from 30 yards and the wet ball slipped from Franks’ grasp and trickled over the line.

Town’s hopes of salvaging a point disappeared in the 83rd minute when McConville’s near post cross was turned in by Anorua.

Michael Woods and Dominic Rowe were late replacements for Hardy and Nelthorpe, as Town sought a leveller, but it was Hall who spurned a chance deep into stoppage time when he headed Cleveland Taylor’s cross wide.

Town 1 MacGillivray,2 Bloomer, 3 Merris, 4 Nowakowski,5 Franks, 6 Killock (c), 7 Taylor, 8 Brown 9 Hall, 10 Hardy ( Woods 87 mins), 11 Nelthorpe (Rowe 87 ).

Unused subs, 12 Bolder, 15 Worsfold, 17 Samuels.

Sent off MacGillivray, Booked Killock, Franks, Hardy,Nelthorpe.

Scorers Nowakowski 4mins,Hardy 10 mins. Att 170

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