Atherton and Stalybridge shared the spoils following a fantastic game of football. Both teams were intense and full blooded from the off, beginning a great advert for NPL football as the division begins to compete with a Winter World Cup. Throughout the first half, both teams maintained spells of pressure, though the hosts edged the number of chances created. The most notable opportunities came through Gaz Peet coming close through an early free kick, before Scott Bakkor beat the defence with skill minutes later, only to fire straight at the on form Greg Hall.
The game was blown wide open at the start of the second half, Ethan Kershaw set up Bakkor to score an exquisite lob over the onrushing Hall, deserved following another hard working performance.
The lead didn't last long. Chris Dagnall, who was sent off on his previous appearance in Atherton, produced a world class volley from the edge of the box to equalize. Though the Colls continued to edge the possession and opportunities throughout the open second half, Stalybridge were more than good value for the draw.
A flash point came in the dying minutes, Godwin Abadaki correctly received a straight red card for a dangerous lunged challenge on Arran Pettifer, the young Bolton loanee having been targeted by the visitors throughout. Upon the final whistle, the raucous Celtic faithful celebrated a hard-fought point, whilst the Collieries departed frustrated not to claim more.
Colls: Nico Defreitas-Hansen, Clive Smith, Gaz Peet, Joel Amado, Danny Lafferty, Luca Defreitas-Hansen, Ethan Kershaw (82' Arran Pettifer), Jack Lenehan, Scott Bakkor, Aaron Smith (85' Jay Fitzmartin), Marcus Cusani -
Subs (Unused): Adam Rooney
Man of the Match: Jack Lenehan
sponsored by Die Familie Anderson