Henderson hat-trick completes fight-back
Willington Quay Saints staged a remarkable comeback on Saturday as they scored four goals in the last 20 minutes to recover from 3-0 down to beat Bedlington Town.
Veteran Mark Henderson completed his hat-trick and the turnaround with the last kick of the game, making it five wins in a row for the vastly improved Willington side.
Quay made one enforced change, with top scorer Ross Thirlaway missing Phil Doolan slotted back in at left-back with Karl Charlton moving into an advanced position on the left.
The visitors took a second minute lead with the game’s first attack, A foul on the edge of the box gave Bedlington a free kick 20 yards out and they took full advantage as forward Andrew Mcllenan curled the ball through the wall into the bottom corner.
Youngster Joe Connor almost got Saints level as he cut inside his marker before curling a tremendous effort off the underside of the bar with a Bedlington defender just getting to the rebound before Glen Johnson could fire home.
The home side were cranking up the pressure, especially when Doolan’s long throws were going in and Bedlington did admirably to defend them as they threw themselves at a series of shots to protect their lead.
That lead was doubled just before half-time in fortunate circumstances. A low cross from the right hand side saw Saints defender Noel Clynch slice the ball towards keeper Peter Lowery who could not keep the ball out.
Saints should have pulled a goal back straight after the break as a long looping ball found Charlton free at the back post, but from close range his powerful effort cannoned back off the bar when he looked all the world to score.
Bedlington looked to have sealed the points on the hour as they scored their third of the afternoon.
Youngster Allan Luke raced through on goal. His first shot was bravely blocked by Clynch but the ball fell back to the striker and his second shot was saved by Lowery but the ball fell once again into his path and he tapped home at the third attempt.
Youngster Joe Connor then gave Quay a glimmer of hope with a fine individual effort, cutting inside his marker once more his curling left foot effort sailed past the keeper into the top corner for his third goal of an impressive debut season with Saints.
Quay made three substitutes as they they tried to salvage something from the game, Matty Adams, Gareth Pugh and Andy Breheny replacing Glen Johnson, Stephen King and Mark Wilkinson as Saints went on the attack.
Henderson then turned the game on its head with two goals in a minute. First he curled home his fourth free kick of the season, bending the ball round the wall and into the corner to make it 3-2, then after sheer panic in the Bedlington backline Henderson slammed the ball into the roof of the net to square the game up with ten minutes remaining.
In the reverse fixture Saints had come back from 3-0 down at half-time to beat Bedlington 4-3, and after the equaliser this looked to be happening again, but Bedlington had other ideas and it took a wonderful one handed save from Lowery to deny Mcllenan.
Quay, looking for a repeat of the away game, then went close as Matty Adams shot just wide with just two minutes remaining.
With just seconds left on the clock Saints piled players into the box with Doolan lining up a long throw just inside the Bedlington half, the throw caused panic again as Gareth Pugh flicked it on and Henderson pounced to fire the ball into the corner from six yards, sparking wild scenes of celebration amongst Saints players, staff and fans with the final whistle coming seconds after the restart.
Willington are now third in the table after a fifth win in a row, which is great going for a side that only won two games in the whole of last season.
Henderson grabbed his ninth Saints hat-trick, none more memorable than this one.
Willington Quay Saints: Lowery, M Austin, Wearmouth, Clynch, Doolan, King (Adams 73), Wilkinson (Breheny 70), Charlton, Connor, G Johnson (Pugh 73), M Henderson.