WEST Allotment Celtic were outclassed for the second time in what has been a torrid week for the club.
After Allotment’s 6-1 humbling in the NFA Senior Cup at the hands of North Shields, player-manager Paul Stoneman was expected to ring the changes, but most of said changes were brought about through necessity rather than choice.
Stephen Little missed out through injury and was replaced by Simon Wilthew. Captain Ian Dunn began his four match suspension, and Kallum McGlen missed out due to work commitments.
However, Northallerton were on the front foot from the outset, and pinned the hosts back in the opening exchanges.
Towering Town top scorer Adam Emson fired the first warning shot across Allotment’s bow, beating Henderson for pace and shooting just wide of Ryan Beal’s goal. Minutes later, veteran strike partner Carl Chillingsworth caught sight of goal, but also missed the target.
The home side briefly threatened to open the scoring, as neat interplay in the final third afforded Dean Lee a chance to shoot at goal, but Town’s covering defence managed to divert his effort past the post.
Allotment found themselves behind two minutes later. A chipped ball into the box evaded the defence, finding Chillingsworth unmarked in the six-yard box. The 36-year-old may have strayed offside, but the flag stayed down, and the forward duly steered home to give Town an early advantage.
Within four minutes, the hosts were staring at a two goal deficit. An error from Simon Wilthew allowed Emson a free run at goal, and the in-form forward made no mistake from just inside the area.
Mark Fanning’s side were beginning to look rampant against a meek Allotment side, and would have been three goals to the good within the first 30 minutes, were it not for Marc Allen’s timely intervention.
Despite being second-best for much of the half, West Allotment could have reduced the deficit prior to half-time. Liam Hudson, a recent returnee to the starting line-up, expertly brought down a floated ball and turned his marker, but his curling shot sailed over Stephen Craggs’ crossbar.
Paul Stoneman’s men looked a little livelier after the interval, and the player-manager himself was heavily involved in the opening minutes of the second half. The centre-half headed wide under pressure from a corner, but was soon forced to return to his defensive duties. The ever-dangerous Emson had the beating of the veteran defender, but flashed his effort past Beal’s far post.
Allotment’s keeper pulled off a fine reflex save to deny Northallerton a third goal, but went from hero to villain in mere moments.
The unchallenged Beal seemed to be directly under a hopeful long ball, but unexpectedly spilled the wayward cross, dropping the ball into the path of Chillingsworth. The Ipswich-born stopper did well to block the forward’s initial effort, but could not prevent Chillingsworth from completing his brace at the second time of asking.
Northallerton were coasting, urged on by their incredibly vocal travelling support, and only a Chris Douglas interception in the box denied the visitors a certain fourth goal.
Allotment could – and should – have had a way back into the match, but were denied by a spurious offside flag. Hudson raced onto a slide rule pass and lobbed the onrushing Craggs with one deft touch, but, though the forward looked to have timed his run perfectly, the officials ruled it out.
Beal made up for his previous blunder with firm stops to deny Stephen Butterworth and Marcus Laing respectively.
However, with the game all-but out of reach, West Allotment finally began to attack the Northallerton goal. Substitute Chris Hutchinson, making his first appearance since re-signing for the club, did well on the right, and his squared pass found Sean Reid unmarked in the centre. The rangy attacker would have hit the target, but Craggs was equal to his effort, diving low to hold the shot.
The Town goalie pulled off a similar save to deny Michael Bell, before Northallerton finally got their fourth goal of the afternoon. Emson once again raced clear, chipping over Beal to take his goal tally to 17 for the season.
A frustrated Allotment side finally grabbed a consolation in the final minutes, as Paul Stoneman’s header caused commotion in the Northallerton penalty area, and Reid eventually bundled home to deny the Division Two high-flyers a clean sheet.
The harrowing defeat adds to Allotment’s cup woes, with the side having conceded ten goals in their last two fixtures. The coaches and fans alike will hope to see a very different Allotment turn up this Wednesday, as they play host to league strugglers Horden Colliery Welfare.