They may have made hard work of it, but West Allotment Celtic kept the pressure on their promotion rivals as they back from behind to defeat Darlington Railway Athletic.
David Dormand’s second-half brace cancelled out David Webster’s opener, securing an all too narrow victory at a windswept Whitley Park.
Allotment’s lone striker had to wait just two minutes for his first chance to arrive.
Liam Hudson started as he intended to continue, beating David Mitchell for pace down the left and whipping a cross into the middle, where Dormand flicked his header wide of goal.
On a pitch that had taken its share of punishment during another the past four weeks, Celtic had the upper hand, containing the sporadic threat that the Railwaymen posed on the break.
Louis Whensley’s thumping shot could not find its way through a crowd of bodies, whilst makeshift full back Michael Bell made two vital interceptions when RA drilled low balls across the box.
The home side should have taken the lead prior to the half hour mark, but another aerial effort from Dormand failed to hit the mark.
Tony Lancaster has been in eye-catching form since his return from injury, and he looked in top form on the day, moving into the right channel and supplying a terrific cross, with the unmarked Dormand its target. The poacher rose to meet the delivery but could only look on as his attempt floated beyond the post with keeper Matt Calvert beaten.
Stepping it up a gear, Allotment fashioned two more chances through Hudson, one comfortably saved and another shanked over the bar from within the penalty area.
A flurry of opportunities came soon after, the result of a frantic scramble within the RA box.
The lively Sean Reid danced his way into the danger area, but even with plenty of defenders in attendance, the visitors could not clear their lines. The ensuing series of ricochets saw both Reid and Dormand come close to stabbing home before the former found a decisive yard of space – only to slide his effort past the far post.
Despite dominating the passage of play, Allotment would find themselves behind before the half-time whistle sounded.
RA captain Webster whipped a set-piece towards goal that, with a little help from the wind, deceived Ryan Beal, curling back towards the centre of goal and into the net.
Paul Stoneman’s charges did not dwell on their missed chances for too long during the interval, levelling within five minutes of the restart.
Having spurned the game’s best chances, it was Dormand who broke clear of the back four, placing a sumptuous strike beyond Calvert into the top corner.
He should have had the opportunity to double his and Allotment’s tally minutes later, having broken forward on the counter to support Hudson. Two-on-two and racing towards goal, the winger could have slipped in his attacking counterpart for a simple finish, but instead went it alone, ultimately firing a tame effort towards the relieved Calvert.
The game was firmly in Allotment’s favour, the hosts carving out a number of openings as the half progressed.
Lancaster sliced a first time effort high and wide from eight yards out and saw a more accurate effort palmed away by Calvert.
Twice Celtic saw goals correctly disallowed, whilst at the other end Webster reminded Beal just how dangerous he was from set pieces, flashing a lower drive inches wide of the far post.
Even when time was running out, it looked like there would only be one winner, and Celtic’s quality and sheer relentlessness ultimately won out.
A natural attacker, Bell burst forward in possession from his right back role, whipping an immaculate looping cross towards the on-rushing Dormand at the back post. The forward managed to divert the delivery past Calvert with his head, the ball eventually spinning over the line in tantalising fashion.
A deflated Darlington side had no response, having come within ten minutes of plundering a point from North Tyneside.
Having missed out on a month’s footballing action due to the adverse weather conditions, West Allotment could be forgiven for their initial rustiness.
Nevertheless, the players dug deep to secure three deserved points, maintaining their current promotion position in division two.