West Allotment Celtic left Whitley Park on Saturday afternoon wondering what could have been, a close-fought encounter with Penrith ending 3-1 in the Cumbrian visitors’ favour.
Again missing key players in Ian Dunn, Ryan Beal, Mark Waite and Liam Hudson, Allotment nevertheless had the early edge against the resurgent Blues, who had won their last three consecutive games by an impressive 3-0 scoreline.
All of the hosts’ early opportunities fell to Dylan Schekoske, afforded only his second start due to Hudson’s absence.
He first found himself unmarked as a Kallum McGlen corner was whipped into the area, but the header lacked the requisite power to unduly trouble Penrith keeper Tom Newton.
The same two players were involved again in the 24th minute, McGlen again the supplier with Schekoske his intended target. A looping delivery towards the back post was met by the Australian winger, but his point-blank header was somehow kept out, not without a slice of luck, by a relieved Newton.
Penrith gifted Schekoske yet another chance to break the deadlock ten minutes later, a loose square ball across the back four finding the 22-year-old instead of a blue shirt. On the edge of the area,
Schekoske looked to curl into the far corner, only for Newton to anticipate the effort and palm it around the post.
With five minutes of the half remaining, it was Allotment’s turn to hand Penrith a gilt-edged opportunity, and it was too good for the visitors to pass up.
Paul Chapman’s attempt to beat Nicky Davidson deep in his own half saw him stripped of possession, and the resulting cross-shot was inadvertently turned in by Allotment centre-half John Pendlebury in a calamitous end to proceedings.
When play resumed, Allotment slowly re-emerged as the better side, right-back Jake Kallis’ powerful runs down the flank causing Penrith no end of problems. However, Dan Mullen had to be at his very best to tip a low Martyn Coleman drive behind at the other end.
The deputising Allotment stopper had no chance with Penrith’s second, a 35-yard screamer from captain Grant Davidson that flew into the top corner.
With 25 minutes left on the clock, Allotment went in search of a way back into the match, but a third goal on the 80th minute put paid to any faint hopes of a comeback.
A sumptuous long ball forward from left-back Jake Smith curled into the path of Coleman, who got the better of his marker before lobbing the ball over Mullen’s head.
Allotment belatedly grabbed a deserved consolation with six minutes remaining, substitute Mark Fenwick crashing high into Newton’s net following good work from Sean Reid, but will feel like a point was well within their grasp against their bottom-half rivals.
West Allotment will hope for a more positive result to match the performance when Cumbrian namesakes Celtic Nation visit Whitley Park this coming Saturday.