A MUCH changed Altrincham side withstood a lot of second-half pressure to book their place in the semi-final of the Cheshire Senior Cup.
James Lawrie was the sole starter of this game who had also begun Alty's last league game as manager Lee Sinnott brought in four youth-team players for their first-team debuts. And a fifth was soon to follow as Joe Mwasile succumbed to an early injury and was replaced by Max Pouncey.
Celtic, embroiled in a relegation battle in the league, also fielded a much-changed team, with only four starters from their most recent Skrill North match. It was the visitors who had more of the ball, especially in the second half but their shooting was generally poor. Those shots which landed on target were competently saved by youth keeper Josh Samberg.
But it was Altrincham who took a 26th minute lead. A shot from James Lawrie was beaten out and fell to Kyle Perry to record his tenth goal of the season, the third Alty man to reach double-figures this season.
When Perry doubled the lead just after the break it was likewise a comfortable shot into an unguarded net after Rob Gilroy's incursion into the box had been halted and the ball had run loose to the big striker.
But a prolonged period of slack play from Altrincham saw them giving the ball away frequently and having to withstand some sustained Celtic pressure as a consequence. When Alty's former Stalybridge midfielder, Greg Wilkinson, lost the ball, it led to Sean McConville scoring with a fine strike past Samberg after 66 minutes to make it 2-1.
Soon afterwards, Perry should have wrapped the game up and completed his hat-trick when he took a penalty kick awarded for a foul on Lawrie. But, though he hit the ball well enough, it was too close to keeper East, who saved the spot kick.
Celtic continued to push forward but Altrincham held out, with the visitors feeling aggrieved at a series of refereeing decisions whih they felt had gone against them.
Alty now play Tranmere Rovers, away, in the semi-final. This Saturday they have a vital league match, away at Brackley Town.