A RARE Friday evening match did little to kick-start the weekend for Allotment supporters.
Facing an impressive Whickham outfit, Celtic slumped to another defeat and promotion already looks a pipedream unless someone can be found to put the ball in the net – and some creativity in midfield would not go amiss either.
Ironically, in a match where both sides tried to pass the ball, albeit with limited success, it was a much more direct form of attack that was the key element of the opening stages and led to the visitors taking the lead on the quarter-hour mark.
Michael Hedley, a tall centre-half, possesses a throw-in that makes Rory Delap look like a toddler throwing his toys out of the pram.
Hedley’s throws are low and fast and very difficult to defend against; however, the Allotment defence did well to repel a whole series of the missiles from Whickham’s left flank.
On 15 minutes, the ball went out on the right for a change and the different trajectory seemed to cause mass confusion as the Celtic rearguard failed to pick up their men and a free header was well parried by Aiden Ames, only for the loose ball to be scrambled home by Scott Robson.
The setback stung Allotment and the home side went close to forcing an equaliser twice within the space of a minute.
First, a free-kick 25-yards from the Whickham goal was cleverly played out wide by Liam McIvor into the path of Paul Haxon. The defender cracked in a low drive that forced a fine save from Powell in the visiting goal.
The keeper was soon back in action, with Mark Minto stinging his hands with a rasping drive from the edge of the box.
However, Whickham were causing problems of their own too and a corner resulted in a header smacking off the crossbar, with the rebound put inches wide of an inviting goal.
Paul Cavanagh and Scott Robson were impressing for the visitors.
Meanwhile, Allotment tended to over-elaborate when approaching the final third, often prolonging delivery of a killer pass, such as in the 35th minute when Gary Day held on to the ball for far too long and ignored the threatening run into space made by Liam Hudson.
At the other end, it took a stunning save by Ames to keep the deficit to one goal; the keeper athletically tipping a Cavanagh free-kick round the post when the ball looked destined for the top corner.
The second period followed a recurring theme; lots of Allotment pressure without much working of the Whickham keeper, while the visitors were dangerous on the break.
The decisive second Whickham strike arrived with 13 minutes to go.
Ross Peareth was tripped as he drove towards the box but got his reward for staying on his feet when his low cross was met by Steve Aiston at the far post and he rattled a shot home via the inside of the upright.
There was no way Allotment were going to score twice and Whickham held on to their advantage with few real scares.
The lack of a natural finisher is now becoming critical for Allotment. And if he can introduce a friend who can sprinkle some magic in midfield then so much the better.
Allotment: Ames, Rue, Haxon, Dunn, Stoneman, Little, Bell (Lancaster), McIvor (Henderson), Day (Soulsby), Minto, Hudson. Subs not used: Gordon, Ford.