Dogged Gloucester City fought until the final minute to claim their first home win of the season against Stalybridge Celtic.\r\n\r\nDefender Tom Hamblin sealed a brace of headed goals three minutes into injury time to seal the victory after City bounced back from being two goals down within the first 25 minutes.\r\n\r\nThe win wasn’t even on the horizon when the Tigers got off to a stuttering start, goalkeeper Mike Green bringing down Greg Wilkinson just inside the box three minutes in and conceding a penalty. Adam Pepper stepped up to the spot and gave Jim Harvey’s men an early lead.\r\n\r\nAn injury to Jack Harris with just over 15 minutes played forced an early substitution and a shuffling of Gloucester’s back line. Defender Mike Green swapped from right back to left back, with substitute Jordan Tillson filling in for Green.\r\n\r\nLooking uncertain the Tigers faltered, looking good in patches but shaky at the back. Stalybridge took advantage, with Jack Laird nipping down the left and lobbing keeper Green to make it 2-0 on 22 minutes.\r\n\r\nThe second goal was a wake up call, something switched and City began to play, lofting the ball up field over the heads of the diminutive Celtic squad. A backpass to Alex Cairns, feeling the pressure from Will Morford saw City handed a free kick inside the box.\r\n\r\nAll 11 Stalybridge players took their places on the goal line as Lewis Hogg knocked the ball to Darren Mullings. Despite 22 legs in front of him Mullings powered the ball into the back of the net.\r\n\r\nWith the Tigers’ tails now up a second goal didn’t look far off. But the visitors were deadly when the ball was on the deck, passing swiftly through midfield. Defender Green was forced to make a brave challenge on 37 minutes after fumbles from both Tom Hamblin and Matt Coupe in front of goal.\r\n\r\nHamblin was in action at the other end moments later, calmly nodding the ball past Cairns to draw the scores level before the break.\r\n\r\nGloucester could have made the dream start to the second half when Tom Webb appeared to be pulled down in the box a minute in but no penalty was awarded.\r\n\r\nLewis Hogg, bossing the midfield with his relentless energy, almost set up Darren Edwards, before George Washbourne saw a shot saved as the pace of the game remained frantic.\r\n\r\nBut a lapse of concentration saw Stalybridge take the lead once more on 68 minutes, Mitchel Austin running from his own half and leaving Hamblin and Coupe stranded before coolly beating keeper Green.\r\n\r\nSubstitute Steve Davies drew it level again six minutes later with a powerful header from another Hogg corner leaving it all to play for with 15 minutes to go.\r\n\r\nMorford, Davies and Edwards all tested Cairns as the minutes wore down and the game looked to be heading for a well earned draw. But, perhaps mindful of late goals costing them dear in recent weeks, City had one last push with a minute left of stoppage time.\r\n\r\nOnce again it was Hamblin, once again it was a Hogg corner as the towering centre half headed home an emphatic winner.\r\n\r\n\r\nGloucester City: M Green YC, M Green, J Harris (J Tillson 19), M Coupe, T Hamblin, T Webb YC, L Hogg, D Mullings, D Edwards, W Morford, G Washbourne (S Davies 62). Subs: A Corrick, M Liddiard, B Hunt\r\n\r\nStalybridge Celtic: A Cairns, K Bleau, M Lees YC, T Ryan, J Bembo-Leta, J Barrow, A Pepper (C Warburton 72), G Wilkinson, J Laird (J Mullan 67), C Gregory YC (D Sherriff 67), M Austin. Subs: K Platt, J Lindsay\r\n\r\nGloucester City: 4 (Mullings 27, Hamblin 38, 90+3, Davies 78)\r\nStalybridge Celtic: 3 (Pepper pen 3, Laird 22, Austin 68)\r\n\r\nRef: Colin Lymer\r\n\r\nAttendance: 252\r\n\r\nStar man: Mike Green (defender)
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