STALYBRIDGE Celtic edged closer towards National League North safety with a scoreless draw against Gainsborough Trinity at Bower Fold.
The game was almost entirely played into a strong wind which neither side managed to manipulate to their advantage and contributed heavily to the goalless scoreline.
The closest either side came to finding a goal was when Trinity captain Nathan Jarman lobbed Celtic keeper Tony McMillan but the ball crashed against the crossbar and to safety.
The draw ensured the gap between Liam Watson’s side and the bottom three remained at five points, with Brackley Town moving out of the drop zone at the expense Lowestoft Town. The Saints were victorious at Boston on Saturday, whilst the Trawlerboys were beaten 1-0 by Nuneaton.
Stalybridge made two changes to their line-up from last week, opting for the side that played in the second half of the win over Brackley in which they were discernibly better than they were during the first 45.
This meant Alec Mudimu and Ben McKenna came into the eleven at the expense of Aidan Chippendale and Aaron Chalmers. Gainsborough made one enforced change, player/interim manager Dominic Roma brought himself into the back four for the injured Stephen Brogan.
The opening 20 minutes were wholly uneventful, both sides were struggling to adapt to the conditions which were blowing the ball towards one corner of the ground which Gainsborough were defending.
On one occasion, McMillan kicked the ball from his hands and just one bounce later it was a goal kick for his opposite number Jan Budtz, such was the strength of the wind.
The first shot of the match saw the closest we would get to a goal all afternoon when Jarman found half a yard of space 30 yards from goal and attempted a chip over McMillan. The Staly number one was powerless but to watch the ball fly over his head and collide with the crossbar, Jarman was left with his hands on his hips knowing he was inches away from a spectacular goal.
The remainder of the half saw precious little in the way of chances. The visitors were also happy to take their time over restarting play, clearly content to go into the break at 0-0 before a second half in which they would have the perceived advantages of both the wind in their backs and be kicking down the Bower Fold slope.
Just two minutes into the second half and Chris Simm hit the side-netting for Stalybridge after Dale Wright had done very well to thread through for him but the angle proved too tight for the Staly number nine.
McMillan, having experienced the benefits of the wind in the first 45, was now feeling its wrath as his kicks were hanging in the air and often failing to reach the halfway line, meanwhile it was now Budtz capable of enforcing a goal kick at the other end of the pitch when he punted downfield.
On the hour Jarman chased what seemed like a lost cause but did well to keep the ball in play before flashing in a dangerous cross but no team mate could provide the finish it deserved.
With a quarter of an hour to go and the rain lashing down the hosts finally had a spell of continued pressure on the Gainsborough goal, substitute Steve Tames saw his shot deflected wide after a good move involving Simms and Wright.
With five to go, Wright was booked by referee Jane Simms for an atrocious dive in the penalty area when there wasn’t so much as a challenge made on him by a Trinity defender.
As the wind and rain now reached torrential levels, three minutes of stoppage time were indicated and Celtic searched for a winner, Tames and Wright both found themselves on the by-line but unable to find the killer pass.
The last chance of the game came on twenty minutes when Jarman saw a 20 yard free-kick deflected wide of goal and so we finished as we started, without a goal.
This was a game between two poor sides, Celtic still needing points to ensure safety, Trinity marooned in mid-table with only pride to play for, and this combined with pretty difficult conditions contributed towards the end result.
The fact that there was only one shot on target all game tells you everything you need to know. Stalybridge will be happier for the point as they tick towards safety in the sixth tier but this game will not live long in the memory.
Stalybridge Celtic: McMillan, Wylie, Wisdom, Shaw, Higgins (c), Mudimu, Joyce, Wright, Simm, Farrell (Tames 57′), McKenna.
Subs not used: Crowley, Chippendale, Chalmers, Burns.
Booked: Wright, Shaw
Gainsborough Trinity: Butdz, Roma, Lacey, D’Laryea, Quinn, Picton, Yates (Newsham 68′), Russell. Reid (Hodge 68′), Jarman (c), Davis.
Subs not used: Stamp, Binns, Hedge.
Referee: Jane Simms (West Yorkshire)
By Jordan Davies at Bower Fold