Former West Allotment Celtic hitman Michael Chilton returned to his old stamping ground in imperious fashion, scoring all Morpeth Town’s goals in their 3-2 win at Whitley Park.
The Northumberland outfit enjoyed plenty of possession without penetration early doors, but Allotment were probing dangerously themselves, David Henderson in particular causing problems.
The midfielder played an integral part in the hosts’ opener on 15 minutes, carrying the ball 30 yards on a mazy run before feeding in Sean Reid, whose turn and low shot beat keeper Niall Harrison via a slight deflection.
The Highwaymen could not break down Allotment’s back four for the best part of half an hour, Keith Graydon seeing long-range drives blocked and Shaun Bell volleying well over the crossbar.
But when the leveller did come, it was via their veteran talisman.
Chilton raced through on goal and lifted the ball over Daniel Mullen, hitting the underside of the bar with the well executed lob. However, it had not yet crossed the line, instigating a desperate foot race between Chilton and John Pendlebury, and the forward did enough to force it into the net, despite the centre half’s best efforts to keep it out.
Central midfielder Ben Sayer went close to restoring Morpeth’s lead, firing just off target, but Allotment spurned the better chances to take a lead into half-time.
Graydon almost scored at the wrong end, inches away from heading Kallum McGlen’s teasing delivery into his own net, before Reid failed to double his tally. An inch-perfect cross-field pass from Marc Dummett found the 22-year-old mere yards from goal, but Celtic’s top scorer could only steer wide from close range.
Ultimately, it was his evergreen counterpart who struck next, putting the visitors ahead on 37 minutes. Chilton latched onto Jake Kallis’ misguided back heel in the Allotment area, leading to intended recipient Pendlebury bringing down the forward. Up stepped the 34-year-old to make it 2-1, despite Mullen getting a firm hand to the spot kick.
Morpeth could not cling onto the lead before the half-time whistle, Allotment striking on the counter with stoppages looming. Kallum McGlen beat the keeper but not the covering Sean Taylor with a low effort, but Michael Bell reacted quickest, speeding after the loose ball and crossing for Reid, whose powerful diving header gave Harrison no chance in the Town net.
McGlen himself came desperately close once more before the half was up, but Allotment had to settle for parity at the break.
The second half failed to ignite in a similar fashion to the first, though Chilton should have scored soon after the restart, somehow failing to poke Taylor’s whipped delivery into the net from six yards out.
Allotment, however, were beginning to find their feet in attack as the hour mark approached. Liam Hudson and Sean Reid linked up exquisitely down the left, the latter unable to finish the fine move with a curling strike.
Hudson fared better when driving inside from that flank two minutes later, a well-struck effort of his own sweeping into the arms of Harrison.
The two teams remained neck and neck heading towards the final ten minutes. Town sent a warning shot across Allotment’s bows from a corner, Michael Hall powering a free header wide.
The Highwaymen grabbed the winner from a similar set piece, Chilton the man of the moment.
The poacher was initially denied by a superb Mullen stop, but Kallis failed to clear his lines, allowing Morpeth’s main marksman to fire home instinctively.
The impressive Taylor almost made it four in stoppage time, shooting wide when well placed to grab a goal of his own, but Chilton had already done the damage against his old side.
For the second game running, a late goal would prevent Allotment from taking a hard-earned point.
Celtic will have to maintain their composure for the full 90 if they are to get a positive result against Guisborough Town at Whitley Park on Saturday.