Gainsborough Trinity, not for the first time this season, lost by the odd goal in five away from home in Greater Manchester.
The circumstances were all too similar with Trinity once again starting the game brightly and getting in front, before seeing the game turned on it’s head, losing a man to a straight red card, before showing character and courage to get back into the game, only to be denied a share of the spoils due to a defensive lapse in the closing stages.
Gansborough were a goal to the good just before the quarter hour mark, after the returning James Reid had two bites at the cherry, to swing in a cross from the left, his ball picking out the unmarked Rotherham loanee, Darnelle Bailey-King at the far post to smash home the opener. Despite having some good possession of the ball, the goal sparked Stalybridge into life – and they began to throw everything at Trinity as they looked to get back into the game.
Jonathan Hedge in the Gainsborough goal was called into action on a couple of occasions to deny Celtic advances from range and the frame of the goal was rattled as the pressure mounted Trinity’s number one denying Andy Owens, then denying Danny Wilkins, before Graham Kelly’s mishit cross struck the post with Hedge rooted.
Chippendale followed centre half Gorton’s lead by trying his luck from range – and that should have been the warning, as it was only a matter of time before the hosts found the equaliser and what a strike it was by Aidan Chippendale.
After conceding a soft free-kick in the defensive third, Celtic worked a shooting opportunity with some quick fire one touch passing and Chippendale despatched his effort emphatically into Hedge’s top right hand corner, from fully thirty yards.
On the stroke of half-time, Gainsborough were inches away from restoring the lead, only to see James Reid’s disguised freekick so nearly catch out Tony McMillan in the home goal. Reid’s flighted effort from 25 yards ruffling the roof of the net on it’s way over the bar.
As the second half began to pick up tempo again, Jake Scott found himself on his way for an early bath, challenging awkwardly for the ball, the young Trinity full back launching into a strong challenge that gave the referee little choice but to reduce the visitors to ten men.
Undeterred the ‘Volts’ pressed, but centre back Ioan Evans was unable to time his jump in quite the same way as at Worcester City on Saturday – and he saw his effort sail over the bar.
Celtic stepped up a gear and punished young Brad Beatson on debut, the referee adjudging that the former Sheffield Wednesday youngster had felled Danny Wilkin. The decision gave Andy Owens, the Stalybridge number nine, the chance to give the hosts the lead, which he did – tucking the ball away low to Hedge’s left
As the game wore on, Trinity had a deserved equaliser, despite being down to ten men, Trinity were enjoying their best spell of pressure, Bailey-King, James Reid and Josh Lacey all trying their luck before Reid did find the leveller.
A long diagonal free kick from Jonathan Hedge was headed back across goal by Adam Quinn, and the ex Nottingham Forest man made no mistake, left-footed, from eighteen yards.
Curtis Morrison then went close, his shot from the angle well saved by McMillan, before three minutes into five additional minutes added on time, skipper Matt Wilson was penalised for climbing over Wilkin in the penalty area as the defensive midfielder looked to repel a long Stalybridge Celtic throw in. The referee having no hesitation in awarding the home side their second spot kick of the evening.
In a battle of wits, Owens went the other way with his second spot kick of the night, and despite Hedge guessing right, could only get his finger tips to the ball – not enough to keep the strike out – and consigning Gainsborough to defeat.
Trinity now return to home comforts on Saturday for the first of a home double header, with AFC Telford United the visitors at the weekend, before the arrival of FC Halifax Town on Tuesday.
Stalybridge Celtic: McMillan, Wisdom, Kelly, Gorton, Hughes, Chalmers, Pilkington (Wylie) Platt (Farrell) Owens, Wilkins, Chippendale (Tames)
Subs not used: Mukendi, Ryan.
Goals: Chippendale 38, Owens 59 (pen) 90+3 (pen).
Gainsborough Trinity: Hedge, Scott, Beatson, Wilson, Quinn, Evans, Bailey-King, Thornhill, Worsfold (Morrison), Hazel (Lacey) Reid (Davis)
Subs not used: Wiles, Rothery.
Sending off: Jake Scott.
Goals:Bailey-King 14, Reid 64.