Hednesford Town’s home campaign came to a disappointing end following a late rally from relegation-troubled Stalybridge Celtic.
Manager Rob Smith once again found himself down to the bare bones when it came to selection with Jordan Tunnicliffe having returned to Kidderminster Harriers and James Hurst injured.
There was a return to the side for Ben Bailey though and it was he who opened the scoring inside the first minute as the centre half powerfully headed home from 12 yards out, following a long throw into the penalty area.
The visitors very nearly made an immediate response as they earned a free kick on the edge of the box in the second minute, only for Dan Crane in the Town goal to deny Aidan Chippendale.
Despite a succession of corners for the Pitmen, it was the away side that were closest to troubling either goal and they almost got their equaliser in the 24th minute. Chippendale got in behind the defence but his powerfully-driven cross was turned away in front of goal by Bailey with Chris Simm waiting to pounce.
Simm was denied seven minutes later by a fantastic save from Town keeper Dan Crane who turned the ball onto the bar when the striker unleashed an effort on goal after finding room in the penalty area.
The visitors went close again in the 36th minute as Matthew Hughes headed against the post.
Although Hednesford had lots of the ball in the opening exchanges of the second half they couldn’t force any real chances on the opposition goal.
In fact it was Celtic who came closest first as danger man Simm should really have equalised in the 63rd minute, only to shoot straight at Crane before the keeper then made a smart save from Chippendale and a further one from his own man Richard Batchelor.
Hednesford almost made them pay for these chances, only for Steve Diggin to be denied and then seeing the ball cannon off him behind for a goal kick.
This would turn out to be crucial for the visitors as they equalised with seven minutes to play. Although the ball was partially cleared it fell perfectly to Chippendale who unleashed a fantastic volleyed effort from 25 yards which found the bottom corner of the net.
For the second week in succession Hednesford were to concede a goal in stoppage time as a free kick was played into the box and Simm flicked it on to score at the near post.
The Pitmen will be looking to end their season on a high note next Saturday as they travel to Brackley Town for the last game of the campaign.
Hednesford Town: Crane, Todd (Diggin 73), Walker, Bailey, Westwood, Thorley, Osborne, Kerry, Rushton, Thomas, Batchelor
Subs not used: Robinson, Hurst
Stalybridge Celtic: Etheridge, Wylie, Crowley, Galinski, Hughes, Potts (Allen 60), Chippendale, McKenna (Ennis 76), Simm, Powell, Mudimu
Subs not used: Kerr, Wigley, King
Star Man: Dan Crane
Entertainment Rating: Three Stars