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Warrington Town suffer third home defeat

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WARRINGTON Town suffered a third home defeat of the season as they went down 2-1 to Stalybridge Celtic.

Jonathan Ustabasi’s early opener fired Celtic in to a lead they wouldn’t surrender, even with a flurry of chances at the death as the Yellows followed up home losses to Morpeth Town and FC United with another one here.

Neil Kengni seemingly made the points safe with two minutes left in normal time, only for a Ben Garrity header to keep the game alive in injury time, with Sheldon Jordan denied a dramatic equaliser by Stephen O’Halloran on the line.

After back-to-back away wins, the Yellows returned to Cantilever Park with an unchanged team, new loan signing from Chester Iwan Murray taking a place on the bench.

A lacklustre start was punished on the counter attack in the 10th minute, Ustabasi given enough space on the left to enter the box and fire a shot that wasn’t the cleanest across Tony McMillan in to the far corner.

Ustabasi, former Warrington winger Scott Bakkor and Darius Osei were always a threat for Celtic on the break, and with a lead in place, they didn’t have to do anything but soak up the pressure and look to launch counters.

It was the 21st minute before Warrington’s first real sight of goal, Tony Gray’s flick around the corner releasing Dylan Vassallo, the only one of the hosts’ players that looked like doing anything in the opening quarter, and he drove goalwards only to be denied by the feet of Alex Fojticek.

That tidy piece of work by the keeper, on loan from Manchester United, provided the first notable action of a dominant performance, with Fojticek rarely troubled by the numerous balls in to the box the Yellows mustered throughout.

He did have to be helped by left-back Kallum Mantack from the resulting corner though, Garrity heading goalwards from Vassallo’s delivery, the keeper’s left hand just doing enough to enable Mantack to head away.

Bakkor whistled a shot past the far post, before Jack Mackreth had some half-hearted claims for a penalty waved away after a tackle in the box by Mantack.

Stalybridge could have doubled their lead six minutes before the break, Craig Hobson getting up highest to get on the end of Bakkor’s ball in, his header skimming off the top of the crossbar.

In the opening minute of the second half, Bakkor got along the byline and squared the ball in to the danger area with McMillan beaten, only for the Yellows to scramble away, and the travelling fans behind the goal thought it was 2-0 when Ross Dent’s header, after the ball had spiralled in to the air, was fumbled by McMillan on the line, the officials ruling it hadn’t crossed the line.

The introduction of Alex Byrne off the bench saw two immediate chances created from his deliveries, the first Gray forcing a smart stop out of Fojticek before Mark Roberts headed over.

The Yellows were struggling to break Celtic down and the visitors should have sealed the points eight minutes from time, Osei releasing Ustabasi who showed skill to dummy round McMillan, only to hit the post with the goal gaping.

That didn’t prove a costly mistake as with a minute left of normal time, a clearance up field released Kengni through the middle and he kept his cool to seemingly finish the game.

Although Garrity got a customary header, off a Byrne ball in, the Yellows couldn’t rescue a point – even in a frantic injury time incident where Gray’s cross was diverted goalwards first by Mackreth and then by Jordan, only for O’Halloran to get back on the line and clear.

Warrington are next in action at home to Ashton United next Saturday in the FA Trophy.

Warrington Town: McMillan, Beeley (Jordan), Warren, Sephton (Byrne), Roberts, Raven, Duggan, Garrity, Mackreth, Gray, Vassallo (Murray). Unused subs: McCarten, Richards.

Stalybridge Celtic: Fojticek, Walker, Mantack, Dent (Wilkinson), O’Halloran, Smalley, Bakkor, Whitehead, Hobson (Kengni), Osei, Ustabasi. Unused subs: O’Leary, Lees, Freedman.

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Journalist and sport content specialist, who is also editor of Love Rugby League. Formerly ran the official website of the Carling Cup, as well as operating a digital services business in Warrington.

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