Celtic comeback stuns Benfield in 11 goal bonanza

David Dormand celebrating his third goal.

David Dormand celebrating his third goal.

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West Allotment Celtic twice came from three goals down against Newcastle Benfield, defeating their division one opponents 6-5 in another pulsating pre-season friendly, with substitute David Dormand bagging himself a second-half hat-trick.

After Tuesday’s positive performance at Whitley Bay, player-manager Paul Stoneman would have been hoping for more of the same, but his strong starting 11 were no match for Steve Bowey’s charges in the opening exchanges at Sam Smith’s Park.

The hosts took the lead within the first ten minutes, a Benfield winger out-muscling Stoneman in the area before squaring for an easy tap-in.

The dominant leaders could have extended their advantage minutes later, rattling the top of the crossbar with an effort from the edge of the area.

Despite the fixture representing little more than a tune-up for both sides, tensions began to flare up as Bowey lashed out at Henderson after a challenge by the latter, before captain Dunn reacted similarly to being caught by an opponent, only to be forcibly substituted at the request of the referee.

Benfield took advantage of the circumstances moments later, breaking at pace from a corner and doubling their lead.

The home side deservedly made it three before half-time.

A Benfield forward managed to shrug off two Celtic defenders on the edge of the area before sliding a tame shot past wrong-footed keeper Chris Bannon, leaving Allotment starting at a seemingly unassailable deficit going into the break.

However, the introduction of Dormand galvanised the visitors, who looked to get themselves back into the match within minutes of the restart.

The substitute nodded a Chris Douglas corner into the ground and beyond the keeper to reduce arrears, only for Benfield restore their advantage from kick-off, bustling Glenn Ford off the ball and slipping it around replacement keeper Ryan Beal.

Allotment refused to lie down and soon had a second, courtesy of Dormand.

The instinctive forward raced after a loose ball in the box and was wrestled to the floor by the Benfield keeper, before duly converting from 12 yards.

Hardworking attacker Liam Hudson should have put Celtic within touching distance from a Dormand pass but smashed his close-range effort clear of the bar.

It was left to the unplayable Dormand to haul Allotment back into it, and he did just that, completing his hat-trick with a powerful effort that the Benfield stopper could not keep out.

Despite Allotment’s resurgent second-half dominance, the hosts looked to have secured victory with a fifth goal as a shot reared off the unfortunate Glenn Ford and past the stranded Beal.

That was as good as it got for Benfield, who could not find another way past the back four, with makeshift centre-half Michael Bell putting in a series of crunching challenges to keep the opposition at bay.

The scoreline did not dent Celtic’s confidence and Bell’s defensive partner dragged them back into the game with a fourth, Ford rising highest to head in another superb Douglas delivery.

The unlikely comeback was on with five minutes remaining on the clock.

Dean Lee burst into space down the right and fed Douglas, who contributed yet another assist, flashing a ball across the box for Hudson to ultimately turn home.

Benfield were on the ropes, and, in a game where the win seemed inevitable, they could not even hang on for a draw as the rampant Celtic side took the lead for the first – and final – time.

A corner broke kindly for new boy Ryan Page on the edge of the box and the versatile prospect thumped the ball through the crowd and into the back of the net to complete a gutsy and dramatic turnaround in favour of the visitors.