TROY Wood was carried off on a stretcher as Worcester City had a day to forget at Stalybridge Celtic.

Wood, one of three City players to suffer injuries in the 1-0 defeat, went over on his ankle just before half-time at Bower Fold and needed to be replaced by Shabir Khan.

The winger was joined in the treatment room by captain Chris Smith, who hurt his back, and Jamie Price with a thigh problem.

Smith and Price were replaced at half-time by William Ricketts and Mark Danks as Worcester were forced to gamble on the rest of the team making it through to full-time unscathed.

Richard Dryden's heart must have been in his mouth when Jon Munday went down in a heap just past the hour but the on-loan Kidderminster defender shrugged off the knock and soldiered on.

As for the game, City gave as good as they got in an even first-half punctuated by blizzards and glaring sunshine, but were gradually over-run after the break and were second best once James Dean had given Stalybridge a 69th-minute lead.

The hosts might also have increased their lead but for a mixture of last-ditch defending and keeper Cameron Belford.

Dryden's side looked lively early on with Wood using his pace to take advantage of some wayward Celtic passing and poor kicking from keeper Martin Pearson, making his home debut in the absence of Paddy Gamble.

Craig Wilding, once again paired up front with Matt Dinsmore, tried his luck from 40 yards after seven minutes in one of City's few efforts on goal.

The visitors did force three corners in quick succession late in the half but Gary Walker's deflected shot was the closest they came.

Stalybridge, dangerous down the flanks, fared slightly better with Andrew Smart forcing Belford to help his 13th-minute free-kick past the post.

Dean issued warning of his ability with a drive that shaved Belford's bar on 26 minutes but that was as good as it got for the hosts before the interval.

Smith clattered Ashley Wooliscroft to earn himself a 10th yellow card of the season.

However, the Worcester skipper could be an injury doubt for any suspension after going down holding his back just past the half-hour.

Smith, as with the struggling Price, managed to make it through to the break but Wood was not so lucky.

The teenager charged into the box on another of his surging, if sometimes fruitless, runs but ended up crumpled on the floor, appearing to go over on his ankle despite there being no challenge from a Stalybridge player.

There was a brief delay while Wood was treated before he was carried off and replaced by Shabir, himself returning from injury.

Following the half-time switches, City emerged with Danks on the right flank, Aston Villa graduate Ricketts at right-back and Nick Colley, whose performance against Kidderminster had earned him a rare start with Emeka Nwadike and Walker in midfield, on the left.

Stalybridge went close six minutes after the re-start when, following a Ryan Clarke error at centre-half, Chris Hall's header was pushed past the post by Belford. Dinsmore then warmed the palms of Pearson from distance at the other end.

Steve Burr's side, looking to make it seven victories on the spin, were becoming more dominant and took a deserved lead through Dean.

Steve Torpey combined with Hall down the left and the latter's cross was driven into a crowded six-yard box where Dean forced the ball past Belford.

The visitors had a golden opportunity to draw level within minutes when Wilding, later booked, dispossessed keeper Pearson in the penalty area but was unable to find a City player in space with his cut-back.

Stalybridge replaced goalscorer Dean with Matty Barlow as the clock ticked down but they still had chances to make their position more comfortable.

First, Hall's shot was deflected behind following a comical series of events which saw both Shabir and Munday hack successive attempted clearances towards their own goal.

Hall then had an effort cleared from inside the six-yard box before Belford produced a fine save to push Terry Barwick's powerful drive over with four minutes remaining.