Celtic off the rails against leaders Shildon

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AFTER three successive wins, scoring eight goals and conceding none, Shildon proved too strong for West Allotment Celtic as they won 4-0.

The Railwaymen, sitting at the top of the league upon their arrival at Blue Flames despite recent damaging away defeats, were clearly in the mood to stop the rot and were aided and abetted by a strangely subdued and nervy home outfit.

Shildon slipped into top gear from the off and Allotment rarely got over the half-way line in the opening quarter of an hour.

The visitors were assisted by a more defensive formation set up by Celtic; a move that, after the game, manager Tom Wade accepted was perhaps a tactical error.

Lee Hamilton and David Molloy took turns at trying to try and provide an outlet up front but it was a thankless task against a watertight Shildon rearguard.

A number of Shildon’s attacking moves centred on their right flank, where the diminutive winger Sam Garvie provided a constant threat with his pacy and direct running.

The only surprise was that it took until the 18th minute before Shildon moved ahead.

Once again a ball played in from the visitors right was the origin of the problem and it was picked up by Daniel Richmond 15-yards from goal; the striker was facing away from the goal but did well, albeit unchallenged, to swivel and hook a shot over Chris Bannon.

The home keeper made two more saves before being beaten again in the 22nd minute.

Gareth McAlindon lost possession in midfield and it did not take long for the ball to be played into the path of Richmond and he duly slipped it under the exposed Bannon to notch his second strike of the afternoon.

A pivotal moment occurred almost immediately upon the restart when Matty Wade, Allotment’s young midfielder, lashed in a shot from outside the box.

The ball crashed off the upright and back into the path of Lee Hamilton but, with the unguarded goal gaping, the forward hit a panicky effort over the crossbar.

An immediate reduction in the deficit might just have shocked the Railwaymen and boosted the home side, but instead the visitors moved three goals clear in the 35th minute.

Kevin Hughes, struggling with a knee injury that eventually forced him out of the action, gave away a free kick on the edge of the box and Craig Price smacked in a low drive that seemed to be heading nowhere until the ball took a series of mad deflections.

Chris Hughes took final credit for applying the final touch.

The game was over by the interval and the second period was largely a non-event, although matters did get spicy at times as the visitors reacted with ‘Wenger-esque’ fury to hard but fair tackles.

Allotment gave a much better performance in the second half but still conceded a further goal when a slick move released Garvie and he moved into the box before cracking an angled drive beyond Bannon in the 72nd minute.

So, an afternoon for Allotment to forget; instead the team must remember and build on the three victories that preceded this match.

Those matches gleaned nine vital points, points that allow Celtic to have a fighting chance of retaining their first division status.

With all of the teams involved in the relegation scrap due to play one another, it promises to be a fascinating, if nail-biting, final six weeks of the season.

Allotment: Bannon, Pendlebury, Novak, Hughes (Buzzeo), Scott, McAlindon (Latimer), Molloy (Roper), Hall, Hamilton, Wade, Gardiner. Subs not used: Evans, Dunn.