West Allotment Celtic inched another point towards safety with a 1-1 draw against Whitley Bay on Good Friday as both sides finished with ten men at a wet Whitley Park.
Sean Reid put the home side ahead early in the second half before Peter Watling levelled late on as Allotment were temporarily down to nine men.
Both goalkeepers were called into action early in the contest. Restored Allotment keeper Daniel Mullen was forced to save a Peter Watling effort low down while at the other end Kallum McGlen went closer still, a sweetly struck shot from the edge of the area zipping through the rain but not past Sean McCafferty, who made a sensational stop down to his right.
Marc Dummett struggled against the lively duo of Alex Kempster and Jake Richardson, but it was a challenge from behind on Watling in the area that had Bay fans up in arms. However, the referee, standing at close quarters, deemed the left back to have got something on the ball.
Just as the goalkeepers made one save apiece in the opening minutes, both centre forwards missed gilt-edged chances to nudge their respective sides ahead.
Fifteen minutes in, the tireless McGlen managed to keep the ball in play at the byline, pulling back for Marc Walton. The forward strode past one marker but opted to try and go past another rather than shooting and the ball ran away from the 28-year-old as he moved across the box.
The chance was a decent one, but it was nothing compared to that presented to Watling seven minutes later.
Mullen’s poor pass out wide gifted Bay a throw-in and a two-on-two scenario. Richardson scampered out wide and delivered an inch-perfect cross towards the waiting Watling, but the ex-Team North hitman, six yards out and completely unmarked, somehow headed well over the crossbar.
Paul Robinson was not far from hitting the target with a sweeping free kick for the visitors, but Allotment gained the upper hand as half-time approached, with Reid twice unable to trap or run with the ball in stride when approaching a goalscoring position.
Bay successfully defended a series of late corners as the two sides went in level at the break.
Both number nines were denied after the restart, Watling with a fine diving save by Mullen and Walton from a narrow angle.
But the vital breakthrough came on the 58th minute, Reid meeting an inviting Dummett corner to thump a header beyond McCafferty.
Sub Hylton Laws almost made an impact upon his arrival, forcing a fingertip save from a wide angle after attempting to round Mullen, before teeing up Robinson in the area, only for the Bay midfielder to drill past the far post.
An Allotment shutout looked in jeopardy when Dummett received his marching orders for the second game running, collecting a second yellow with less than 20 minutes remaining, and Paddy Atkinson’s side took full advantage.
With John Pendlebury off the field receiving treatment for a cut, nine-man Allotment could not keep out their rivals, a fine reflex save from Mullen pushing the ball into the path of Watling, who made no mistake this time around.
He could have won it for Whitley, once again from a corner, and would have done had Pendlebury not cleared off the line.
A late injury to Bay’s Craig McFarlane, later revealed to be a broken ankle and torn ligaments, saw parity restored in terms of the number of outfield players, and Celtic almost snatched all three points thereafter, Reid inches away from connecting with a floated McGlen ball towards the back post.
The hosts arguably deserved to pick up their first win in five games, their rearguard action particularly impressive, but that point could yet be crucial in the fight for division one survival.