Bradford Park Avenue failed to make their game in hand count as they were defeated in a goal fest at bottom of the league Stalybridge Celtic.
Goals from Danny Pilkington and James Roberts sandwiched Wayne Brooksby’s first for Bradford and a comedic goal for Shane Killock, both of which goalkeeper Grant Shenton won’t watch back in any hurry, as the sides shared four first half goals.
Two spectacular goals from Aaron Chalmers and Nicky Wroe kept the sides level at 3-3 before Porya Ahmadi won the game for the hosts with his first touch having replaced the injured Chalmers.
The game began slowly as both teams struggled on an extremely poor pitch, James Knowles presenting Celtic with the first chance as he conceded a cheap free kick on the edge of the box.
Up stepped Pilkington, and he curled his effort over the wall and into the bottom corner from 25 yards to put Celtic in front 13 minutes in.
Knowles then made up for his error as he did well to block an effort from Danny Wisdom, as the visitors struggled to get out of their own half.
Stalybridge had another chance halfway through the first period, a low cross from the right just evading Gary Gee before Roberts lashed the loose ball over the bar.
Oli Johnson managed to get in the area up the other end as his shot was blocked away, before good work from Jake Hibbs on his first start for the club allowed the striker to get a cross-shot into the area, which was held onto by Shenton.
Against his former club, Aidan Chippendale saw a shot blocked behind for a corner from which Avenue would draw level in comedic fashion.
The ball was cleared away and as the reset was half-cleared, Killock attempted to head the ball back into the mixer. With no Bradford players around, Shenton called for the ball to be left, only for the expected bounce into his arms to fail, the ball dropping dead on the soggy surface, nutmegging the goalkeeper and trickling over the line.
Avenue were well on top and they took the lead just three minutes later, as Brooksby notched his first goal for the club.
Wroe did excellently to carry the ball forward and strike across goal, but with the ball heading wide Johnson attempted to backheel past Shenton. He got down smartly to save but somehow the weak effort slipped out of his grasp, Brooksby following in and finishing confidently to make it 2-1.
However the visitors switched off and Roberts levelled the game up three minutes on, an unmarked Roberts sliding in from a Danny Morton centre.
Knowles was struggling and was booked for a poor foul as Celtic streamed forward, with the home support disappointed his punishment was not greater.
Both sides made a change at the break but the game got off to a similar start as the first period, a poor Celtic corner the only attack of note in the first 10 minutes of the second period.
Shenton somewhat made up for his errors as Brooksby drove forward and unleashed a powerful effort towards the bottom corner, the goalkeeper doing excellently to push the ball round the post.
And that proved to be a turning point, as Chippendale put in a good delivery from the resulting corner and the hosts attacked, winning a corner of their own.
The ball came in to the back post and an unmarked Chalmers hit a sweet scissor volley back across goal and into the far corner, although Danny Boshell on the post possibly could have kept it out.
However once more three minutes separated the goals, as Wroe netted his fifth goal of the season, lashing a sweet volley into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
Stalybridge hit the post with 20 minutes to play as Avenue seemed to have disappeared back into their shells, half time introduction Keano Deacon somehow failing to convert with a header at the back post.
But it was to be the hosts’ day as Ahmadi was introduced on 73 minutes and netted the winner on 74, finishing confidently from an excellent Wisdom cross.
Bradford introduced Chris Sharp in an attempt to push on, but the pace of the Celtic substitutes began to cause problems.
Worsnop made an excellent double save to deny Ahmadi and Mathias Bakare, before showing impressive acrobatics to tip onto the bar from goalscorer Ahmadi.
Knowles then gave away possession allowing Roberts to come forward and clip the post with a curling effort from 20 yards, before Bakare shot just wide on another breakaway.
Celtic could have realistically made it seven or eight in the final 10 minutes, but their poor finishing was summed up when Deacon rounded Worsnop and found Ahmadi, but he fired horribly over the bar.
However the damage was already done and Stalybridge completed the double over Avenue, leaving Mark Bower’s side just one point above the relegation zone.
Stalybridge Celtic: Shenton, Morton, Wisdom, Hughes (c), Regan, Chalmers (Ahmadi 73), Dunbar, Gee, Roberts, Wilkins (Deacon 46), Pilkington (Bakare 64)
Subs not used: McKnight, Platt
Goals: Pilkington (13), Roberts (39), Chalmers (57), Ahmadi (74)
Booking: Hughes (53)
Bradford Park Avenue: Worsnop, Toulson (c), Chippendale, Wroe, Killock, Knowles, Brooksby, D.Boshell (Sharp 78), Hibbs (Dean 70), Johnson, Rothery (Hill 46)
Subs not used: Nowakowski, Sinclair
Goals: Killock (33), Brooksby (36), Wroe (60)
Booking: Knowles (40)
Referee: Daniel Middleton