Stalybridge Celtic 3 Boston United 3: Never-say-die Pilgrims fight back for a point

Lewis King.
Lewis King.

Boston United fought their way from 3-1 down to earn a valuable point at Stalybridge Celtic.

In a thrilling, end-to-end contest, both sides had to make do with a share of the spoils.

But it will be the Pilgrims who - looking to bounce back following two straight defeats - will be the happier of the two, due to their never-say-die fightback.

Lewis King was back in goal for United, having missed last week’s FA Trophy exit at Tamworth due to being cup tied.

But there was no rust as he did well early on to brush Sean McConville’s drive off target.

It was a case of perseverance paying off that saw Stalybridge take the lead in the ninth minute.

A goalmouth scramble saw Liam Marrs and King both block efforts before Phil Marsh slid home the loose ball from close range.

And Celtic’s lead was doubled due to a moment that was as brilliant as it was bonkers.

Boston’s Marc Newsham was hacked down in midfield, only for ref Steve Copeland to bizarrely award the hosts the free kick.

And from 30 yards out Kristian Platt wonderfully curled home his free kick, well beyond King’s reach.

Dennis Greene took a gamble prior to kick off, selecting left back Netan Sansara in attack.

And after he saw an early header fly off target, he pulled one back for the Pilgrims.

Marc Newsham’s square ball was fluffed by Celtic stopper Arran Jameson, allowing Sansara to tap home from almost on the goal line.

Sansara looked Boston’s most potent attacking threat in the first half and were it not for a good stop from Jameson and a deflection, he may have brought his side level.

Bower Fold has been a bit of an injury jink for United in recent years, with Mark Robinson and Nathan Stainfield both being hospitalised due to injuries sustained in the north west.

And it was more of the same as both Ricky Miller and Rene Steer were forced off the field before half time, Spencer Weir-Daley and Ben Fairclough taking their places.

But before the interval there was still time for King to pull off another top save - this time pushing Andy McWilliam’s dipper wide.

Boston looked more direct after the break, and Jameson managed to deny Weir-Daley, Fairclough and Ian Ross, albeit very unconvincingly.

Marsh grabbed his second of the game in the 66th minute as he charged through on United’s goal, rounded King, and slotted home from a tight angle.

But two minutes later Fairclough dragged the Pilgrims back into the contest with a thunderous strike which gave Jameson no hope from 25 yards.

At the other end, McConville attempted a powerful dig of his own, but yet again King pulled off another vital save.

And the importance of that stop was proven in the 74th minute when Newsham pulled the Pilgrims level.

After Jameson parried Ian Ross’ drive, the forward slid home his 99th for the club from close range.

Carl Piergianni’s header almost nicked it for Boston late on, but a goalline clearance denied him a goal while, at the other end, Marsh netted, only to see his strike ruled out for offside.

CELTIC: Jameson, Bleau, McWilliams, Warburton, Tunnicliffe, K. Platt, Pepper, Haywood (Briggs 59), Marsh, McConville, Ennis (Buckley 79); Subs (not used): Anoruo, C. Platt, Ellison.

UNITED: King, Marrs, Steer (Fairclough 40), Marshall, Garner, Piergianni, Ross, Sansara, Miller (Weir-Daley 13), Newsham, Galinski (Hall 78); Subs (not used): Milnes, Vince.

Ref: Steve Copeland.

Att: 334.