A MISSED penalty cost Warrington Town as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at home to Stalybridge Celtic.
An own goal by Tony McMillan ended a run of more than a year without an away win for the visitors, for who ‘keeper Jack Walton saved a poor spot kick by Yellows striker Joe Piggott.
It was a disappointing end to a six game unbeaten run for the hosts, against a team who were third bottom before kick off having drawn two and lost 10 of their 12 away games this campaign.
The first half was a turgid affair with neither side creating anything in the way of chances, despite the relatively fast pace.
Warrington ended the opening 45 minutes with their tails slightly up, Piggott heading wide at the near post from an in swinging Will Hayhurst corner and then drilling a shot wide of the keeper’s right hand post.
After the break, the entertainment was marginally better but it still took until the hour mark for a chance, Warrington hitting the visitors on the break with Jamie McDonald, who set up Devarn Green for a shot over the bar.
That prompted a period of sustained pressure from the Yellows where they should have taken the lead.
Jack Higgins won the knock down from a deep free kick to set up Liam Goulding, who created space for the shot which was too hot for the ‘keeper to handle but he recovered before anyone could react for the rebound.
Substitute Stephen Milne then ran down the right and drilled a ball across that was diverted beyond Green and the Yellows were starting to pepper the box with crosses.
The best chance came on 65 minutes when Piggott’s flick off a corner was diverted goal wards at the back post by Goulding and it was somehow kept out by the outstretched leg of Walton.
Another cross, this time by Green, was mishit by Goulding but a deflection almost took it in.
But just as it looked like a Warrington goal was coming, they were hit by a sucker punch on 74 minutes.
A nothing ball in to the box looked simple enough for McMillan, but under pressure from Matthew Wolfenden and seemingly waiting a whistle for a foul, he punched in the air and the ball span off and in to the back of the net.
That gave Stalybridge something more to defend and the game resumed its previous pattern.
A sharp ball by Milne was met by Higgins in front of his man at the near post, his diverted just over the bar and then Milne fired wide on the turn from the edge.
A golden opportunity for an equaliser was presented six minutes from time when Milne was brought down in the box, and with usual penalty taker Sean Williams unavailable, up stepped Piggott on his home debut and his weak penalty was comfortably saved.
The visitors perhaps thought justice had been done as they felt aggrieved at the decision and it proved to be decisive.
In stoppage time, Goulding met a Milne cross with a dipping header that Walton scrambled away from under his bar and that proved to be the final chance.
Warrington will look to bounce back with a second successive home game against Mickleover Sports on Saturday.
Warrington Town: McMillan, Carden, McKeown, Barnes, Higgins, Goulding, Green (Bakkor), Beeley, McDonald (Milne), Piggott, Hayhurst (Kinsella). Unused subs: Davis, Bakare.
Stalybridge Celtic: Walton, Morton, Honeywell, Brown, Ashworth, Killock, Bailey-Jones (Charles), Roberts, Dickinson, Wolfenden, Hughes. Unused subs: Holgate, Taylor.