A storming second half from West Allotment

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ANOTHER enthralling second half performance guaranteed victory for West Allotment Celtic, as the visitors ran out comfortable 5-1 winners at Tow Law Town.

Paul Stoneman named an unchanged side from Wednesday’s rout at home to Billingham, with the returning Sean Reid having to settle for a place on the bench. Celtic’s expansive game, evident in midweek at Whitley Park, could not be played upon the sodden Ironworks Road turf.

Both sides resorted to hopeful long balls in the cautious opening exchanges, but rarely threatened to get on the scoresheet. Ryan Beal had to be alert to clear the ball from under the nose of Alan Herbert, whilst Kallum McGlen’s effort forced a routine save from Tow Law keeper Richard Gordon. The Allotment defence stood firm in the face of the hosts’ pressure, with Stoneman working hard to prevent Daniel Wilson a clear sight of goal.

However, the back four momentarily went missing at a set-piece, and Allotment paid the price for slack marking. A dangerous free-kick found Scott Brassell completely unmarked, and the captain placed his diving header beyond Beal to put Tow Law ahead.

The home side could have doubled their advantage minutes later, as the rattled Allotment defence almost gifted their opponents a goal. Two consecutive errors of judgement on the halfway line from John Pendlebury and Stephen Little allowed Wilson a clear run at goal, but the striker fired wastefully high and wide.

Let off the hook, Allotment came storming back, with Marc Allen seeing an effort blocked, and David Dormand almost pouncing on a goalkeeping blunder from Gordon.

The in-form forward was not to be denied, and soon got on the scoresheet for the fourth game running. Dormand skipped inside his marker and fired low and hard past Gordon to restore parity.

The former Morpeth Town poacher has been on fire in recent weeks, and grabbed his tenth goal in the last 11 appearances as the game approached half-time. Chris Douglas’ deep free-kick was headed across the area by Stoneman and flicked on by Ian Dunn, and Dormand just pipped Gordon to the ball and nodded Allotment ahead.

After the interval, Dormand could have had his first Allotment hat-trick. A wicked ball from the impressive Michael Bell curled towards the back post, and Celtic’s lone striker came agonisingly close to connecting with the cross. Richard Gordon held another Kallum McGlen shot after good work from Marc Allen, whilst Dormand fired over from the edge of the area as Allotment pushed for a third.

With the teams still separated by a solitary goal, Tow Law were still in the game, and could have levelled, were it not for more profligacy on Daniel Wilson’s part. Tow Law’s number ten created space for himself on the edge of Allotment’s penalty area, but powered his effort just wide of goal.

At the other end, Celtic’s typically clinical winger Dean Lee squandered an even greater chance to give Allotment some much-needed breathing space. Careless passing across Tow Law’s back four allowed Lee to break forward at pace, but, with time to pick a spot, the former North Shields man despairingly fired past the post.

For a brief but telling period, the game hinged upon the finishing of Wilson and Lee, as both had further chances to cancel out or increase the deficit respectively. First, the Tow Law forward cut inside and shot at goal, only for Beal to save and hold his effort.

The Lawyers were soon made to regret the spurned opportunity, as a well worked goal tipped the balance in Allotment’s favour. A neat chip from John Pendlebury down the right flank found the superb Kallum McGlen, and the winger’s sumptuous first-time cross found an unmarked Dean Lee at the back post, who duly nodded in.

Tow Law threatened again through Wilson, who curled another attempt wide, but the momentum was with Allotment. Paul Stoneman’s men made light of the poor playing conditions, confidently spraying the ball around the park in trademark fashion. Ian Dunn released McGlen down the right with an inch-perfect pass, but Allotment’s rising star flashed his effort past the far post.

The writing was on the wall for Tow Law, and another brace from another Allotment goalscorer secured the win for the visitors. The tireless Lee ran onto substitute Reid’s excellent flick, entering the area and lofting the ball over the onrushing Gordon with aplomb.

West Allotment weren’t finished just yet, and completed their second rout in a week courtesy of another returnee. David Henderson was making his second appearance from the bench since rejoining the club, and the tricky attacker ran rings around the Tow Law defence throughout his brief cameo. Henderson evaded two challenges with neat footwork in the box, before chipping the ball audaciously beyond the ‘keeper and the covering defender to take Allotment’s final tally to five.

Once again, West Allotment turned on the style in the second half, playing some exceptional football in spite of the pitch and the low temperature. With 20 goals coming from their last four games, Celtic have plenty of firepower in their ranks – in the starting 11 and on the bench – and will look to register another high-scoring victory in midweek.

Allotment play host to local rivals North Shields in the NFA Senior Cup this Wednesday evening, with a coveted semi-final berth up for grabs.