MACCLESFIELD FC 0, STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 0
Stalybridge Celtic’s pre-season preparations has been hit by an outbreak of Covid-19 which has swept through the Bower Fold club.
Ten players have tested positive forcing the club to field teams of trialists and youth team players in pre-season friendlies against West Didsbury and Chorlton and Oldham Athletic.
A period of self-isolation ended and eight of the players were back for the friendly at Macclesfield FC where only Scott Bakkor and Shane Killock were still absent.
More important than the result was getting players back on the pitch for Celtic.
“Many of the payers had not trained for 10 days so giving them minutes was the most important thing,” explained manager Simon Haworth.
A sweltering afternoon, in which temperature nudged 80 degrees and water breaks were needed, Celtic were held against a reformed Silkmen side which must begin life in the North West Counties League after being expelled from the EFL at the start of last season.
With local businessman Rob Smethurst investing £4 million in a new 4G playing surface that can be used 24/7 and carrying out extensive ground improvements at the leasing.com Stadium – it is no longer Moss Rose – and Robbie Savage installed as director of football, it a new beginning for the new club.
But there is an old hand at the helm, playing legend Danny Whittaker who is manager and still turning out aged 40 and the midfielder is still as lean as he was at his peak. He is assisted by Peter Band who has managed Hyde United, Mossley and latterly Glossop North End.
It was a match where chances were at a premium.
In the opening half, Sope Awe fired wide for Celtic while Matty Hughes struck an upright in stoppage time.
Macc’s two best chances fell to Laurent Mendy who forced a decent save from goalkeeper Grant Shenton and then blazed over from in front of goal.
Former Mossley player Aaron Dwyer shot just past the upright for Macc early in the second half.
Whittaker brought himself on and introduced 15-year-old schoolboy Callum West who showed some neat touches.
Celtic had the best chance of the second period in the dying minutes which fell to Turkish trialist Tayo Tek.
The pocket-sized forward, who played for Real Betis’ academy in Spain as a 16-year-old, forced a decent save from Macc goalkeeper Ben Pierce who has been signed from top Northern Ireland side Portadown.