Blue Square Bet Blue Square North
Stalybridge Celtic 3
Boston United 0
Goals: Celtic - Gnahoua 34, Hobson 87, 90
SOMETIMES a scoreline fails to reflect the balance of a football match.
Saturday’s match at Bower Fold was one of those occasions.
While Stalybridge Celtic arguably deserved their home victory, a three-goal margin was extremely harsh on the plucky Pilgrims who had battled throughout and were strongly in contention until three minutes from time.
United were denied by a spectacular Jan Budtz save in the fourth minute, with Marc Newsham's curler tipped to safety as the Pilgrims seemed certain to take the lead.
Chances were at a premium in the first half and although Stalybridge bossed the possession stakes, Boston gave as good as they got.
The deadlock was broken on 34 minutes. Phil Marsh assisted from the left and youngster Arthur Gnahoua applied an assured finish from 15 yards.
With the slope and strong wind in their favour after the break, the Pilgrims pushed strongly for a leveller, despite not creating too many clear-cut chances.
Boston's level of adventure grew as the half went on but Celtic picked them off twice in the closing stages. Jack Rea’s corner fell kindly for Craig Hobson to stab the ball home and when Celtic broke five-on-one in stoppage time, Hobson added his second past a stranded Paul Bastock.
Budtz had earlier made a magnificent save to deny Kevin Austin, but the Pilgrims were left to contemplate their fifth successive defeat at Bower Fold.
There was also a late debut for the reserves' 15-goal top scorer Tony Edwards.
Stalybridge Celtic: Jan Budtz; Joel Bembo-Leta, Chris Lynch, Rhys Meynell, Andy McWilliams; Jack Rea, Stephen Brogan, Greg Wilkinson (Callum Warburton 65); Connor Jennings (Mitchell Austin 85), Arthur Gnahoua (Craig Hobson 65), Phil Marsh. Subs (not used): Adam Kay, Craig MacGillivray (GK).
Att: 506 Ref: Jason Whiteley.