ABBEY HEY 0, STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 3
Trialist Sope Awe could be the answer to Stalybridge Celtic’s search for a striker.
The front man, recently released by National League North side Chorley, scored twice in their opening pre-season friendly at Abbey Hey.
Awe, who comes from Blackburn, impressed Celtic manager Simon Haworth who was a former Premier League striker and Welsh international.
Haworth said: “We are looking for an experienced number nine which Sope isn’t.
“However, if he keeps playing like that, he could be the one. He has done well in training,
“We will have to see if he can score against opposition from a higher level.”
Awe, who is studying for a degree in business and marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, certainly caught the eye for Celtic who kicked off with eight new signings in their starting line-up and two trialists with Keano Deacon the only player remaining from last season.
Matty Hughes, another new signing, was unavailable, as was new-boy Scott Burton who was ruled out through injury while player-coach Stephen O’Halloran was visiting family in Ireland.
Celtic began well with left wing back Stephen Brogan striking the bar with a well-executed free kick in the ninth minute.
As the ball was recycled, Awe rifled home a lot shot to put Celtic ahead.
Scott Bakkor, returning to the club for a second spell, forced a decent save from home goalkeeper Ross Heywood.
Awe then struck an upright as Celtic ought to have had more than one goal of show for their efforts in the opening period.
Celtic doubled their lead in the 53rd minute when Awe raced through on goal from a quickly taken throw in and coolly slotted a shot low past Heywood.
And it was soon 3-0 through a Bakkor penalty after Connor O’Grady was fouled by Josh Griffin.
Substitutes Freddie Sass and Louie Chorlton had chances to add to the lead, the latter’s effort cleared off the goalline.
Celtic were rarely troubled defensively, though in stoppage time goalkeeper Grant Shenton made an unbelievable reflex save to turn Zak Crosswaite’s shot on to the crossbar.
Haworth was delighted with their opening friendly.
He said: “We have come here for the last couple of seasons pre-season and been outplayed – they were the better side last season.
“This was a good workout and, after seven months without a game, it was about getting minutes for the players.
“The performance was a bonus and the experienced players we have brought in managed the game well.”