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FA Cup match preview

Cup fever takes hold again this weekend as FC United welcome Blue Square North side Stalybridge Celtic to Gigg Lane for what could be a memorable encounter in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup. Craig Phillips provides this preview"¦

The Reds come into the game in good form having come back from 3-1 down to beat Stocksbridge Park Steels 4-3 last Saturday, before demolishing Nantwich Town 4-0 on Wednesday evening and will be full of confidence despite being the underdogs against the team from the league above.

United have so far beaten Sheffield and North Ferriby in the cup to get to this stage and know that they stand just two games away from a dream spot in the first round proper of the competition in only the club’s third season in the world’s oldest cup competition.

Sunday’s game is also 70s day at Gigg Lane which can only add to the special atmosphere that big cup games bring and the excitement of the one-off tie usually generates something special on and off the pitch.

One man who won’t be caught up in the excitement is FC United manager Karl Marginson who will have to remind the players to keep their minds on the game against difficult opposition to get the job done.

Sunday’s opponents are Stalybridge Celtic; who are this year celebrating their centenary season, and are currently flying high in the Blue Square North. The club were; of course, formed in 1909, and originally played for two seasons in the Lancashire and Cheshire Amateur League before turning professional and joining the Lancashire Combination in 1911.

Celtic were members of the Cheshire League for more than 60 years before the league’s merger with the Lancashire Combination in 1982; to form the North West Counties League, but had won their only title in that league in 1980.

The club had more success in the North West Counties, winning the league in 1984 and 1987, when they were promoted to the Northern Premier League. Another five years passed in the NPL before Celtic won the title and with it promotion to the Conference. They spent five years there before being relegated back to the NPL in 1998 after finishing bottom of the Conference.

In 2001, the club enjoyed arguably its best ever season - achieving an historic treble which saw them win the Cheshire Senior Cup, UniBond President’s Cup and the UniBond Premier League.

Celtic became founder members of the Conference North in 2004 and in 2008 had the opportunity to get into the Conference for the third time in the club’s history when they reached the play-off final. Unfortunately, they came up against Barrow who beat them 1-0 and with that took their rightful place in the national Conference. FC United’s Simon Garner was in Stalybridge’s beaten team that day.

Celtic are on a good run this season and find themselves unbeaten in eight games in the league; which followed a run of three straight defeats early in the season. They demolished Stocksbridge Park Steels 7-2 in the last round of the FA Cup to set up Sunday’s tie.

Celtic warmed up for the game by beating Redditch 3-0 last Saturday; a win which saw them move up to fifth place in the league, just three points off top club Droylsden, and sees them occupying one of the four play-off spots in the league albeit at this early stage of the season

Joe O’Neill is the club’s top scorer this season with six goals and comes into the game in good form having scored four goals in his last three games.

Sunday’s game is the usually 3pm kick off and admission is pay on the gate at £7.50 for adults, £5 concessions and £2 under-18s. So get yourself down to that football ground for what should be a truly memorable day.

Team news from Margy to follow on Friday.

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First Posted ~ 11:45 Thu 8 Oct 2009
News ID ~ 2459
Last Updated ~ 12:56 Mon 21 May 2018