Basford United bag back-to-back victories
A brace from Aaron O’Connor either side of half-time sealed back-to-back victories for Basford United at Stalybridge Celtic on Tuesday night.
O’Connor gave Steve Chettle’s men the lead after 19 minutes with a close-range effort following a deft touch and excellent work down the right by Terry Hawkridge.
The 37-year-old then fired home a penalty seconds after the restart after Kane Richards was clumsily felled by Steve O’Halloran.
There was a second start and full debut for Hawkridge after he impressed at the weekend as boss Steve Chettle named an unchanged team.
Buoyed by their FA Cup exploits against Stourbridge on Saturday, United travelled north in good spirits and looked bright early on at Bower Fold with Hawkridge well in the mix.
His interception and pass nearly put Richards in on goal on 17 minutes, before threading through three bewildered Celtic defenders only for Rev James’ touch to elude him. However, it wasn’t long before he was at it again.
On the end of a direct pass from Brad Gascoigne, Hawkridge’s deft touch on a sixpence allowed for a wicked cross to fizz right across the penalty area for the loitering O’Connor to prod home the opener.
Celtic offered very little, but always posed a threat with Scott Bakkor and he pulled a shot narrowly wide moments later to keep an otherwise untroubled Adam Collin on his toes.
They may, and arguably should, have equalised on 35 minutes when Ethan Padden latched onto Bakkor’s deflected free kick.
His shot was excellently saved by Collin and Ioan Evans looked certain to draw his side level, but for the heroic, last-ditched efforts of Gascoigne who deflected the follow-up wide.
Ahead at the break and comfortable, United were presented with a fine opportunity to double their lead moments after the restart when Hawkridge’s cross caused issues in visiting ranks.
Half-cleared, James had a second bite, before the ball fell kindly for Richards who was bundled over by O’Halloran and O’Connor stepped up to duly dispatch his second goal in Basford colours.
James had a fine performance on the night and was unlucky not to find Alex Howes in a good position eight yards out, before he, himself, may have added a third from but Louis Hood helped one over his crossbar from a tight angle.
Jay Fitzmartin was introduced just before the hour for the home side and offered a glimpse into why those at the Bolton Wanderers Stadium rate him so highly.
On loan from the Trotters, the young winger skipped around the challenge of two 15 minutes from time and delivered an enticing cross but no-one in blue and white read the danger.
Late on, he did manage to tee up O’Halloran for an effort from range, though his volley – whilst well hit – failed to dip enough to worry Collin and win on the road for United was sealed.
Next up, they welcome Lancaster City to Greenwich Avenue on Saturday (September 11), as they look to maintain their unbeaten run of six.
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC: Louis Hood, Douglas Nyaupembe, Ashley Smith-Brown, Ioan Evans, Keenan Quansah, Steve O’Halloran, Ethan Padden (Luke Barlow 58’), Samuel Wedgbury, Kieran Wells, Scott Bakkor, Jack Ryan (Jay Fitzmartin 53’)
SUBS NOT USED: Shan Killock, Matthew Jones, Reece Nuttall
BASFORD UNITED: Adam Collin, Owen Betts, Ryan Wilson, Dominic Roma, Brad Gascoigne, Declan Dunn, Terry Hawkridge, Alex Howes (James Clifton 82’), Aaron O’Connor (Joshua Scott 70’), Kane Richards (Reco Fyfe 77’), Rev James
SUBS NOT USED: Nathaniel Peters, Jordan Pierrepont
MATCH ATTENDANCE: 289