It took Celtic seventy minutes to get into the game, by which time they were two goals down.
In intermittent driving rain, Stafford started with intent. Though Liam Tongue’s free kick went close, it was Stafford that were getting closer. A good cross in from the left wing by Joe Cuff found former Celt, Theo Bailey-Jones, for a free header than he looped over Jake Turner for the opening goal.
Neil Kengni went close to grabbing an equaliser, but his driven shot was blocked by the leg of Sam Coulson to deny Celtic a way back into the game, whilst Joshua Solomon Davies did the same to deny Cuff, and Chris Smalley blocked Jake Charles as Stafford looked for a second goal. Turner pulled off a superb save when Andrai Jones got a free header from a corner, keeping Celtic in the game as the first period came to a close.
Stafford continued their form when the second half began, with Celtic chasing shadows. The second goal was contested by Turner, who maintained he prevented Luke Jones’s bundled effort off Bailey-Jones’s deep cross from crossing the line. It was given, making Celtic’s task even harder.
However, loan signing Andrew Scott seemed to be growing into the game, and by the seventy mark he changed the tide of the game, an optimistic thirty-yard shot when he was given too much space. The shot flew narrowly wide but it seemed to give Celtic a confidence boost they’d been lacking. Smart got another chance, twenty-five yards out, he fired in a cracking shot that flew into the top corner, former Celtic keeper, George Sykes-Kenworthy unable to reach it.
Ross Dent went close to equalising from a corner, but it took until stoppage time for the breakthrough to come, when Solomon Davies put the ball down the line and Neil Kengni knocked it past another former Celt, Josh Green, to go clear on the Rangers goal. Sykes-Kenworthy came out of his box, but dithered. The Rangers’ keeper was left with an impossible choice, but Kengni gave him no time to decide with a perfect lob, up and over with no chance for any one to stop it from sailing into the back of the net.
It was a fantastic finish after a game that took Celtic far too long to get going in.
|7||Bailey-Jones, Theo||> 88|
|10||Haworth, Andy||> 69|
|11||Cuff, Joe||> 76|
|12||Benns, Harry||< 69|
|14||Banks, Lewis||< 88|
|15||Sherratt, Jack||< 76|