Alsager Town 0 Stalybridge Celtic 1

Tuesday 23rd September 2008
Alsager Town 0 Stalybridge Celtic 1
Cheshire County FA Unibond Senior Cup First Round
At: The Town Ground
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Programme: £1 (12 pages)
Attendance: 53
Weather: mild
Duration: first half: 46:11; second half 49:14

An early goal proved the difference as Alsager Town bowed out of the Cheshire Senior Cup despite a battling performance. The tie was settled in favour of Blue Square North Stalybridge thanks to a close range effort from defender Tom Sharpe, on-loan from Nottingham Forest.

However, Alsager manager Neil Gill was pleased with the performance of his side which included several fringe players.

“They are three leagues higher than us so I thought we showed good character right to the end,” said Gill.

“It was just a little scrappy in the first seven minutes.

“Tonight was about giving some of the lads who haven’t featured at the start of games throughout the season some minutes (on the field).

“I told the lads they didn’t do themselves any harm.

“They did the club proud.”

There was early danger for the Bullets when defender Nathan Griffiths got in a vital challenge inside the area to deny Nathan Ellington a clear shooting chance.

Celtic keeper Paul Phillips needed to dive at the feet of Drohan who took the ball forward into the visitors’ area.

The winner came from a set-piece. Danny Wood delivered a corner from the left which has helped towards goal by Barry Keeling and forced over the line at close range by Sharpe.

Alsager looked to get back on level terms and Kyle Griffin sent a well-struck drive flashing past the post.

However, Stalybridge, with a side also including several fringe players, went close to doubling their advantage. Ellington curled a long-range free-kick just wide and Nick Platt also headed against the bar.

The start of the second half saw Alsager play with more urgency thought Ellington sent a free header wide just before the hour mark.

Craig Ellison was hurt making a double save from Matty Barlow and Ellington. The brave keeper was able to continue after treatment.

The arrival of substitute Dave Roberts added pace down the left and he forced Phillips to concede a corner with a rising drive.

A flowing move involving Drohan and Andrew Whitney set up another chance for Dave Roberts who fired just wide of the left-hand post.

Ellison kept his side in contention with another double save, holding a well-struck effort from Michael O’Connor after blocking Paul Sykes’ initial shot.

In stoppage time, Joe Roberts volleyed over a chance set up by Drohan but that equaliser to force extra time didn’t come.

On Saturday, Alsager return to league action with a home game against Abbey Hey.

Alsager Town (white/black/black): 1. Craig Ellison, 2. Kurt McCarthy, 3. Lee Duckworth, 4. Dave Chambers, 5. Nathan Griffiths, 6. Tom Swann, 7. Kyle Griffin, 8. Lee Jones (capt), 9. Andrew Whitney, 10. Matt Wooley, 11. Tim Drohan. Subs: 12. Vincent Francis (not used), 14. Dave Roberts (for Swann, 65), 15. Adam Davenport (for McCarthy, 83), 16. Joe Roberts (for Wooley, 88), 17. Kurtis Gill (not used).

Stalybridge Celtic (blue with white sleeves / blue / white): 1. Paul Phillips, 2. Greg Wilkinson, 3. Rhys Maynell, 4. Tom Sharpe, 5. Nick Platt, 6. Barry Keeling, 7. Danny Wood, 8. Keith Briggs (capt), 9. Lee Ellington, 10. Nathan Joynes, 11. Andy Smart. Subs: 12. Michael O'Connor (for Maynell, 68), 14. Steve Torpey (not used), 15. Paul Sykes (for Ellington, 83), 16. Matty Barlow (for Joynes, ht), 17. Steve Burr (not used).

Referee: Robert Jones.
Assistants: Mike Sherwin and Neil Proctor.

0-1 Tom Sharpe (7)

Alsager: Tim Drohan (YC, 35)
Stalybridge: none