Boss Neal Bishop made three changes from the side beaten by Morpeth a fortnight ago, handing a first start to Jamie Bramwell the on loan Grimsby Town youngster. Bramwell starting in defence in place of Hayden Cann who dropped to the bench. Andrew Wright came in for Bailey Conway, while Isaac Rice started in place of Joe West at full back.

Stalybridge were out of the traps quickly, with DJ Pedro causing problems up top for the home side. The on loan Salford City forward winning a free kick, which Theo Bailey-Jones saw tipped over by Trinity ‘keeper Matt Yates. From the resultant corner, the Blues switched off. And Bailey-Jones found Harry Benns in space. Benns forcing a routine save from Yates. But the Holy Blues failed to heed the warning signs when Benns again found himself in acres of space to steer past an unsighted Yates on six minutes.

Fraser Preston started to come to life, coming in from his right wing starting position, a couple of darting bursts had the Celts worried. First, as he cut in and shaped to shoot left footed, the former Owl didn’t appear to trust his footing. And his hesitation enabled the home side to clear. But it was a moment to make the Stalybridge defence take note, as moments later he was fouled right on the edge of the box, with Referee Joe Moss booking Waldron for his troubles.

From the resultant free kick, Preston crashed his effort off the bar with Greg Hall well beaten. From the follow up, Preston had half a chance, but cleared the crossbar with the hurried attempt. Trinity were just starting to enjoy their best patch of the game, as Waldock broke into the right hand side of the box, but his cross lacked composure, as his centre sailed over the head of the isolated Clayton Donaldson.

Despite the Holy Blues growing into the game – the hosts continued to look a dangerous proposition on the counter. Trinity’s on loan Rotherham United youngster Curtis Durose then forced the only real save of the game by Greg Hall after Waldock had forced a corner – Trinity went short and Wright & Bramwell made attempts to centre, before the loose ball fell for Durose, unfortunately, he couldn’t bag his tenth of the campaign as Hall smothered his effort low to his right.

Dominic Rouse felled Isaac Rice out on the left hand touch line, providing Preston with a great opportunity to deliver quality into the box as the Blues, in grey sought an equaliser. Celtic had other ideas, as they launched a free-flowing counter attack to turn defence to attack in the blink of an eye. Right back Cierran Summers sweeping home from 20 yards, doubling the Stalybridge advantage & giving Trinity a mountain to climb.

The second goal knocked the stuffing out of Neal Bishop’s side as frustration crept in to the Trinity play, with little else in the way of an attacking threat offered, with a sub-par performance in possession.

Half time: Stalybridge Celtic 2 Gainsborough Trinity 0

A half time reshuffle saw Trinity go 5-3-2 with Durose moved to left wing back, and Rice moved to the third centre half position, flanked by Bramwell and Cogill. Despite the change of shape, the service up to Donaldson and subsequent support was forcing Trinity’s leading marksman deeper and deeper. For the second time in the game, Hall appeared to handle outside his area, but for the second time, the assistant felt the experienced ‘keeper was within the confines of his area when he handled. Both looked tight to say the least, but Bish’s boys weren’t getting the rub of the green today.

Durose did brilliantly to beat his man Hanley with a clever piece of skill, but the final ball was lacking as he couldn’t pick out a grey shirt in the in the misty Bower Fold air, that couldn’t mask the performance of the Trinity side.

Waldock’s deep ball into the box resulted in a coming together between Donaldson & Waldron, the home side’s centre back, but play was allowed to continue, until Donaldson returned to his feet with Trinity in possession. Jay Glover then strode forward with purpose, threading the ball through, Donaldson was sent tumbling as Mr Moss said ‘no penalty’ – and in any case, the flag was up, Trinity’s marksman ever so marginally offside.

DJ Pedro continued to be a handful for the Trinity defence, as substitute Bailey Conway was adjudged to have fouled the Stalybridge forward. Bailey-Jones crashing his effort from the dead ball off the same cross bar that was rattled by Fraser Preston in the first half. With just over ten minutes to play, Jack Dyche replaced Preston, but he too struggled to really get into the game as the forwards were deprived of any real service on a disappointing afternoon for Trinity.

Chris Dagnall was forced back towards his own goal, as Trinity forced Celtic’s most senior player into a dangerous position, almost bearing down on his own goal, he forced his own ‘keeper to push the ball behind, conceding a corner, but then dealing with Durose’s set piece, gathering safely beyond his far post. A couple more set pieces failed to trouble the home side, as the Blues failed to score for the third time in four outings away from the Northolme.

Four goals in eighteen minutes away at Stafford show the ability is there, but something is missing – and Bish & Stampy need to work quickly to find the answers as we enter the business end of the season, in with a chance of both the title – and the play-offs. There’s still plenty to play for, but recovering quickly from the blip, and our first back to back defeats of the campaign, will need great resolve. And test the character of the players that have shown us what they are capable of so far.

There’s little time to be downbeat and dis-heartened, as Trinity travel to Liversedge on Tuesday night, in the rearranged Pitching In Northern Premier League clash from Boxing Day. On the same evening, a Gainsborough Trinity XI made up of Under 21s, senior players, and players that have been training with the side, looking for an opportunity also travel to Grantham Town in the Lincolnshire County Cup.

Onwards and forwards, come on you Blues!

The Teams

Staybridge Celtic: Greg Hall, Cieran Summers, Raheem Hanley, Tom Miller Dahrius Waldron, Domaine Rouse, Theo Bailey Jones, Ethan Padden, DJ Pedro, Chris Dagnall, Harry Benns. Subs not used: Godwin Abadaki, Aaron Grewal, Jacob Lara, Glebs Klujevs, Connor Leach

Gainsborough Trinity: Matt Yates, George Hornshaw (Bailey Conway 64), Isaac Rice, Andrew Wright (Joe West 54), Jamie Bramwell, Dylan Cogill, Curtis Durose, Jay Glover, Clayton Donaldson, Liam Waldock, Fraser Preston (Jack Dyche 79). Subs not used: Prosper Keto, Hayden Cann.

Referee: Joe Moss
Attendance: 709

Match report written by Rob Hughes (@AATM_Media)
Photos thanks to Russell Dickens (@bozola900)