Hucknall Town managed to claw a draw from the jaws of victory, conceding goals in the 89th and 90th minute, against a Stalybridge side who never stopped running, and were never quite out of the game, and who's second half performance probably deserved a point. Town will be disappointed not to have killed off a game they looked like winning.
Hucknall started the game missing Player/Manager Phil Starbuck (Groin) and Steve Lenagh (knee). They welcomed back Russell Cooke, and Nathan Hollingworth, and with 3 centre forwards in the line up had an attacking side.
A first minute mix up between Celtic Keeper Dootson, who was guilty of dropping the ball in dangerous positions all night, and number 4 Terry Bowker nearly let in Scott Huckerby, but the ball was cleared for a corner. Stalybridge's first shot coming in the 6th minute, a tame effort from Wharton gently running in to the arms of Ryan Young. On 15 Jerome Fitzgerald brought down Mark Nangle,and Scott Huckerby's 20 yard free kick was deflected just wide of the post for another corner. A minute later Steve Prindiville had to be sharp to bring the ball away from Marcus Hallows. On 21 minutes Town had the ball in the net, but the linesman had spotted a handball by Mark Nangle and it was chalked off by the ref.. Hucknall were grateful to Ryan Young on 26 minutes, he pulled off a point blank after a Stalybridge corner was headed goal-wards from a group of players. Scott Huckerby was again unlucky on the half hour, his goal bound volley from the edge of the box cleared on the line by Bowker.
The only surprise of the first half was that it finished goalless, after good entertaining football from both sides.
The second half saw Stalybridge start the stronger and for the first 10 minutes they dominated without putting Ryan Young under any pressure, and it was Town who took the lead on 65 minutes in comical fashion. A free kick on the left was swung in by Scott Huckerby, and with Gary Ricketts in close attention, Stalybridge keeper Dootson dropped the ball once to often, and Gary Ricketts was on hand to poke the ball home from a tight angle. 2 minutes later the game seemed to be all over, Mark Nangle robbed the ball off Dave German, and made his way into the box on the left, he beat 2 more players and squared the ball to Scott Huckerby who slammed his shot home from 20 yards. the next 10 minutes were all Hucknall, as they looked to score a third. This proved to be elusive, and Stalybridge fought there way back into the game. Russell Cooke was booked for a late challenge after 76 minutes, as once again Town looked to rest on their laurels, and sat back as Celtic came at them. On 89 minutes Celtic scored what looked to be a consolation goal, a terrific corner was swung in to the 6 yard box, an Marcus Hallows was on hand to touch the ball home from a yard out. Stalybridge then raced at the Hucknall defence, and on 90 minutes good work down the right by Eastwood, saw the ball squared to the edge of the box, and in a mirror image of Huckerby's goal, Kevin Parr hammered home the equaliser to the delight of the travelling fans.
The final whistle was greeted with delight by Stalybridge, and a shudder from the Hucknall faithful, another good performance by Hucknall, but they have to learn how to kill a game off to ensure all 3 points. They get another chance to improve things on Saturday, when they are at home to Colwyn Bay, whilst Celtic return to Belle Vue to face Wakefield Emley under very different circumstances from their last meeting.