Chorley 2 Staylbridge Celitc 0

Promoted Chorley climbed to fourth in the Conference North table after extending their unbeaten start to four games and recording a third consecutive ‘clean-sheet’. They were made to work hard for the win by a competent Celtic side who began in lively fashion but once the Magpies went ahead on 11 minutes they always looked the likelier winners.

Nevertheless victory was not assured until ten minutes from the end, Chris Almond’s goal settling the issue to the delight of home fans in another splendid crowd of 1,022.

Sam Ashton was soon in action saving a fierce snap-shot at his near post but it was the home side who seized the lead.

Almond determinedly retained possession near the corner-flag and laid the ball back to Kyle Jacobs whose fine cross was headed in by James Dean via the far post from ten yards.

Celtic’s most threatening reply was an intelligent speculative 35-yards’ drive by Liam Dickinson which caused Ashton, well off his line, to back-pedal rapidly and at full stretch turn the ball over the bar. It was a brilliant save.

As half-time beckoned, Almond fluffed a clear chance to double Chorley’s lead, shooting beyond the far post with only keeper Lewis King to beat. Stalybridge resumed purposefully after the break and Ashton pulled off a great reflex save from Matty Hughes’ fiercely-struck angled drive.

The introduction of substitute Darren Stephenson clearly sharpened the Magpies’ attack and his pacey runs began to open up the Celtic defence. Jacobs crowned a jinking run into the box with a thumping shot which cannoned off the post, Almond disappointingly steering the rebound wide.

But Almond made amends on 80 minutes with a calm finish following a neat exchange between Jake Cottrell and Stephenson down the left. Cottrell missed a great chance when failing to capitalise on a crafty through-ball and then Almond fired over a gaping goal after a one-two between Stephenson and Dean.

Such was Chorley’s dominance. in the closing stages that they might have finished with four or five.