Harriers Waste Another Opportunity: Stalybridge Celtic 1-0 Harriers
Harriers wasted a golden opportunity to close the gap on leaders Fylde by losing at relegation threatened Stalybridge.
Steve Burr's men had already pulled off one of the shock results of the season by beating Fylde on Saturday, giving themselves an unlikely lifeline, and clearly had the belief that their season was not over yet despite being eight points from safety going into the game.
Harriers made one change to the side that had beaten Gloucester at the weekend, John Eustace swapping around Sam Austin - giving him just his eighth start of the season - and Tyrell Waite.
The visitors were fast out of the blocks and should have had the game wrapped up inside the first five minutes; Austin crafted the first opportunity with a left-wing run and pull back for Daniel Nti who fired wide of the near post. Joe Ironside then missed the target before James McQuilkin's short corner on the right was crossed into the danger area by Ryan Croasdale and then headed over the bar by skipper Keith Lowe.
On a terrible hard, bumpy, surface Harriers weren't at their fluent best, often losing possession thanks to unpredictable bounces. The home side, though, were unable to capitalise on any Harriers mistakes and were lucky to reach the break all-square after Jordan Tunnicliffe headed narrowly wide from another McQuilkin corner.
After the break Harriers should have stepped things up but instead Celtic sniffed another upset and forced their way back into the game. In the 62nd minute they took the lead when Harriers conceded a needless free-kick on the left wing; former Harrier Danny Pilkington whipped the ball across into the goalmouth where it was missed by everybody and took another awkward bounce past Sam Hornby.
Harriers huffed and puffed to get level but couldn't find a way past Grant Shenton in the Stalybridge goal. The best chance fell to substitute Emmanuel Sonupe, making his debut, who saw his shot from an Andre Brown flick on cleared off the line by a defender.