West Allotment Celtic opened their pre-season programme with a hard-fought win against Shankhouse in midweek.
Player-manager Paul Stoneman used Celtic’s first warm-up match to run the rule over his squad at Seaton Burn College, which included new signings Chris Bannon, Michael Latimer and Ryan Anderson, as well as potential signings Roy Gordon, Ryan Page and Lawrence McKenna.
The Northern Alliance outfit started the brighter of the two sides, scooping a speculative effort over keeper Ryan Beal’s crossbar.
But Allotment took the lead with their second genuine attack of the evening.
Eighteen-year-old debutant Anderson, a member of the club’s development side, had a goalbound shot charged down in the box, but made no mistake from the ensuing corner, steering Stoneman’s second ball home from close range.
The early goal boosted Celtic, who should have doubled their lead, only for captain Ian Dunn to head Marc Dummett’s corner wide from six yards out.
At the other end, his namesake Paul flashed an effort wide of goal, and his strike partner dragged the ball just past Beal’s near post.
Shankhouse continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides in a largely scrappy encounter, firing two golden chances well over the crossbar.
Allotment almost took advantage of the opposition’s profligacy as the half drew to a close, but Liam Hudson could not apply the finish after good work down the left from Anderson.
Allotment made the customary raft of changes after the restart, but both sides struggled to hit the target.
Another Hudson strike flew well wide and an effort from Shankhouse’s Dunn managed to evade second-half keeper Bannon, but bobbled agonisingly beyond the far post.
The returning Celtic stopper was soon forced into action, getting down well to tip away a goalbound strike.
But Stoneman’s men remained unduly troubled by their enthusiastic Alliance opponents.
Allotment could have extended their lead late on but Michael Bell was twice denied at the near post by two fantastic reflex saves.
Ultimately, Celtic had to settle for a comfortable if narrow victory.
More importantly, last year’s Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup winners will be pleased with the workout.
Allotment will hope to build upon their solid start to pre-season when they take on Whitley Bay at Hillheads on Tuesday night.