A rampant display from Stalybridge Celtic saw an injury-ridden Gloucester City defeated at Bower Fold.\r\n\r\nIt was seemingly a game too far for Dave Mehew’s valiant Tigers who were, once again, down to the bare bones as they travelled to Tameside.\r\n\r\nWith a make-shift defence, featuring only Sam Rawlings in his natural position, and two strikers playing their penultimate games of the season due to upcoming surgery; it saw the Tigers soundly beaten.\r\n\r\nA two goal salvo from Mitchell Austin and strikes from Tom Buckley and Chris Hall sealed Gloucester’s fate.\r\n\r\nHowever, City had the better of the opening exchanges and came close to taking the lead twice early on.\r\n\r\nFirstly, Will Morford had sailed down the right wing, cut inside and placed a sumptuous ball into the path of Tom Webb whose shot blasted over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area.\r\n\r\nWebb then turned provider after his typical persistent style of play found room for a cross into teenage starlet Joe Parker, who saw his glancing header bounce just wide of the upright.\r\n\r\nHowever, on ten minutes the outlook of the game changed completely.\r\n\r\nAustin skipped through a gaping City defence, took the ball past an out coming Mike Green and slotted the ball home from a tight angle to place Celtic ahead.\r\n\r\nWith the half-time whistle looming, City’s stand-in centre back, Jack Harris seemingly tweaked his hamstring, adding to Mehew’s injury woes, and saw Steve Davies come on for the Tigers.\r\n\r\nThe half left a lot to be desired but City still had a chance heading into the second period.\r\n\r\nThat chance faded on 55 minutes after the Tigers were caught messing with the ball around the edge of their penalty area, Celtic pounced and found Buckley on the right who smashed home to double their lead.\r\n\r\nThe margin was increased eight minutes later after a stupendous defence splitting ball from Lewis Hatch made its way to Austin who unleashed the ball into the net with stone cold precision.\r\n\r\nIt could’ve been four soon after but only a brilliant save from Green denied Buckley his second of the afternoon.\r\n\r\nHowever, City’s resistance slipped for a final time after Hall was played through and his shot was too powerful for Green as it slipped past the keeper and trickled in for a fourth.\r\n\r\nTo add to the Tigers huge injury list, Rawlings took a knock late on and had to be replaced by a half-fit Chris Holland for the final minutes.\r\n\r\nDespite the scoreline, City pressurised the Stalybridge defence and were close to being rewarded but Darren Edwards’ header from close range produced a ‘save of the season’ candidate from Alex Cairns to deny the striker.\r\n\r\nStalybridge Celtic: A. Cairns, K. Bleau (O’Connor 78), M. Lees, K. Platt, J. Bembo-Leta, P. Haywood, T. Buckley, C. Warburton (Pepper 45), M. Austin (Parkhouse 63), L. Hatch, C. Hall\r\n\r\nSubs not used: J. Lindsay, C. Gregory,\r\n\r\nGoals: Austin 10, 63, Buckley 55, Hall 77\r\n\r\nGloucester City: M. Green, S. Rawlings (Holland 83), D. Andrew, M. Liddiard, J. Harris (Davies 42), T. Webb, L. Hogg, J. Parker, D. Edwards, W. Morford, A Mann\r\n\r\nSubs not used: D. Mehew, M. Green\r\n\r\nAttendance: 344

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