WEST Allotment Celtic crashed out of their second cup competition in as many weeks, going down 5-1 at home to West Yorkshire side Thackley in the FA Vase.
With player-manager Paul Stoneman out and Simon Wilthew nursing an injury, Allotment were forced to ring the changes at the back, with regular centre-forward Sean Reid deputising alongside Stephen Little in defence.
Prolific striker David Dormand, a recent acquisition from league rivals Morpeth Town, made his debut up front for the home side, who were looking to bounce back from last weekend’s FA Cup defeat away at Spennymoor.
The home side suffered yet another injury blow after just 13 minutes, as promising midfielder Kallum McGlen was forced off.
Aiden Ames comfortably saved efforts from dangerous duo Matt Hall and Adam Hill, and Little’s last-gasp challenge denied Nicky Matthews a clear shot at goal.
There was little that Allotment’s reliable goalkeeper could do about Thackley’s opening goal. Adam Hill’s pinpoint cross found the completely unmarked Chris Davey, who guided his diving header into the net.
Having gone behind, Allotment upped the ante, and squandered two quickfire chances to level the scores. A lofted corner was nodded down by Reid into the path of Celtic new boy Dormand, but the debutant’s low shot was blocked.
Moments later, an inch-perfect through ball found Ian Dunn in acres of space. However, amidst cries of handball from the opposing side, the captain fired his shot too close to keeper Mark Bower, who made an excellent save.
But a stoppage-time set-piece put paid to any hopes of an equaliser. Davey lofted a sublime free kick over the wall and beyond Ames from 30 yards out.
Allotment showed more attacking intent after the restart. Reid headed off target from a John Pendlebury free kick before curling a set-piece wide.
For all the redoubled effort, it was Thackley who grabbed the game’s third goal. The excellent Hill scoring.
Ames again spared his side’s blushes, palming away Davey’s header, then the covering Pendlebury cleared off the line.
Then Tony Lancaster surged into the box to meet Michael Bell’s through ball, only to be bundled to the floor by a late challenge. Usual centre-forward Reid stepped up to the spot, smashing the ball into the back of the net to give Allotment an unlikely route back into the match.
The improbable comeback ended before it had truly begun as Allotment conceded a penalty of their own and it was 4-1.
Thereafter, Allotment only ever threatened from set pieces, with Reid and Bell both curling efforts just wide.
However, Thackley were not to be denied, and completed the rout ten minutes from time as full-back Josh Eastwood selflessly squared the ball to Hill, who tapped into an empty net from close range. Substitute Andy Tasker almost made it six with seconds remaining but his effort rebounded off the woodwork.
The scoreline in no way flattered the visitors, who were assured in possession and dogged without it. Paul Stoneman may take some positives out of the game, notably the performances of Ames and Pendlebury, but will hope that his side can put the defeat behind them in time for Wednesday’s league trip to Darlington Railway Athletic.