Celtic swoop to knock Eagles out of the FA Vase

West Allotment Celtic's Michael Bell challenging for the ball during his side's 1-0 FA Vase win over Eccleshill United. Picture by Graeme Jackson.
West Allotment Celtic's Michael Bell challenging for the ball during his side's 1-0 FA Vase win over Eccleshill United. Picture by Graeme Jackson.

David Henderson’s superb 20-yard strike saw West Allotment Celtic progress to the second qualifying round of the FA Vase at the expense of Eccleshill United.

Not one week ago, Allotment had progressed in the nation’s premier competition, defeating Knaresborough Town by the narrowest of margins.

That game was notable not only for the history made at Celtic’s end, but also for the number of cards displayed, including no less than three reds.

Likewise, both Allotment and Eccleshill saw a man apiece dismissed in a fiery second half.

Tony Lancaster and Michael Bell returned to the first team for the Whitley Park clash, but it was another midfielder in the form of United’s Josh Rosenstraugh who was quickest out of the blocks, the winger forcing keeper Ryan Beal to rush out and make a vital tackle before pulling a shot wide in the opening exchanges.

Without Sean Reid to act as the decisive link-up man in attacking midfield, Bell stepped into the role and twice went close to breaking the deadlock.

He could not apply the finish to a Liam Hudson cross, but must have thought he had got on the scoresheet when he met Marc Dummett’s inch-perfect corner. The diving header was perfect, but keeper Weston Murau leapt towards the top corner to somehow save and hold the ball.

Rosenstraugh and Conde both angled shots at goal for the visitors, the latter only denied by the fingertips of Beal.

Just as Eccleshill started to pose a threat, David Henderson sauntered forward and, taking advantage of stand-off marking, unleashed a sweet drive from 20 yards that flew into the far corner and through the net.

Murau and Beal were both called into action by Bell and Flaherty as the half drew to a close, but the second period would see more cards issued than chances created.

Glenn Ford’s late tackle on the edge of the box raised the temperature ten minutes in. Steve Rivera lashed out at Liam Anderson in the ensuing melee, promptly receiving his marching orders.

Anderson himself was cautioned, but withdrawn almost immediately due to his inflamed temper.

Beal tipped over the resulting free kick, but any hope Celtic fostered of capitalising on the one-man advantage was extinguished 13 minutes later when Liam Hudson was also dismissed for a second bookable offence.

The levelled playing field spurred Allotment back into action, and the heavily involved Bell almost clinched it with an attempted chip, palmed behind by Murau.

At the other end, John Pendlebury’s scuffed clearance high across his own six-yard box created a desperate moment of panic amongst the back four, but Burrus’ goalbound drive was heroically blocked by Dummett on the line.

Murau would deny Bell a deserved goal with another fine save at the death, but Allotment would emerge from a stormy Vase afternoon with a well-deserved victory and a prospective tie at home to Nelson.