ACCRINGTON Stanley have been giantkillers - but they were on the wrong end of it on Tuesday night as they lost the GLS Conference Cup Northern final on penalties.
Conference North strugglers Stalybridge had already seen off National Conference sides Halifax and Morecambe in the previous rounds and they proudly added another scalp to their list and clinched the final spot against Woking.
And Stanley only had themselves to blame for crashing out of the tournament they had set as one to win.
Manager John Coleman was gutted by his team's below-par show: "We should be seeing off teams like that. We had chances but so did they and we should be winning those games."
The Reds badly needed a boost following their recent stuttering league form and keeper Jon Kennedy returned to the line-up for his first start since breaking his leg in October. And the Reds had him to thank for making some superb saves during normal time which denied Celtic an earlier win.
Midfielder Anthony Barry, signed last Thursday on transfer deadline day, also made his first start and showed some good touches although he couldn't have a big influence on the game.
And it was Celtic who showed they meant business from the off with Kevin Parr scuffing a shot in front of an open goal while Kennedy pushed out a fierce effort from Nathan Wharton with Parr side-footing the rebound over.
Kennedy then acribatically kept out Andy Parton as the home side showed the early passion.
Stanley struggled to make an impact up front and then lively winger Rory Prendergast was substituted on 27 minutes after an altercation with the management who were shouting instructions at him as he went to make a cross. Prendergast answered back and was immediately hauled off to be replaced by Gary Roberts - and the Reds supporters were disappointed to see the fans' favourite go.
The game was then played out in midfield with the Reds lucky not to give a penalty away following Paul Howarth's tackle on Andy Hayward.
But they finally showed some signs of their league prowess when Lee McEvilly's fierce strike almost went through the keeper's legs just before the break - but goalie Phil Robinson managed to stop it on the line.
Celtic continued to force the pace, though, after the break with Andy Haskins' head skimming a Parton cross while former Blackburn Rover Mark Atkins saw a blistering strike sail just inches wide of the goal.
Stanley still showed glimpses with Roberts almost finding the head of McEvilly with one ball in while Roberts' cross whisked across the face of the goal on 73 minutes but was missed by the waiting bodies.
Top scorer Paul Mullin came on on 74 minutes as Stanley looked to settle the tie in normal time.
And they did suddenly look livelier with Jonathan Smith heading over a Howarth free kick.
But still Celtic found ways through the Reds backline with Kennedy punching away a dangerous Atkins shot.
And then, four minutes from time, captain Scott Bonsall charged into the area and his low shot hit the far post with Kennedy beaten. Parton pounced on the rebound but the keeper then pulled off a superb save with his legs to keep the Reds in it.
Stanley still had once chance to clinch it in injury time with Mullin heading over a Steve Flitcroft ball in and then it went into extra-time - the last thing the Reds wanted with a big Conference clash on Saturday.
Flitcroft fired at Robinson and a McEvilly header bounced off the top of the crossbar following a good ball in from Steve Jagielka.
And then it looked as though the Reds had finally found that elusive goal when Mullin headed against the crossbar and McEvilly slotted the rebound home - but it was ruled off-side.
There was more of the same in the second period of extra-time with Mullin producing a point blank save off Robinson before, on 117 minutes, the advantage swung firmly in the Reds favour when Celtic defender Terry Bowker was sent off for a second bookable offence.
But it didn't help and it went to sudden death. McEvilly, Ged Brannan and Flitcroft all converted but their Celtic counterparts were equal to it. Then up stepped Chris Butler and Robinson produced a stunning save to keep out his fourth spot kick.
Celtic's Ben Smith held his nerve to make it 4-3 but then Howarth came up with the goods to put the pressure on the final Celtic penalty taker.
But Andy Hayward made no mistake - and they ran off celebrating a final appearance.
Stanley, meanwhile, were left to reflect on a disappointing night and one less chance of silverware this season.
TEAM: Kennedy, Howarth, Butler, Williams, Smith, Barry (Mullin 74), Jagielka, Craney (Brannan 64); McEvilly, Flitcroft, Prendergast (Roberts 27). Subs not used: Alcock, Cook. Booked (Reds): Jagielka, Butler.