Allotment ‘A’ bullish in draw against Longbenton

Ridi Muteba celebrating West Allotment A's second goal in their 2-2 draw with Longbenton.
Ridi Muteba celebrating West Allotment A's second goal in their 2-2 draw with Longbenton.

West Allotment Celtic A held high-flying Longbenton to a creditable 2-2 draw, but might have taken an outright victory on another day as they let a two-goal lead slip from their grasp.

With the first team’s game at Bishop Auckland postponed, all eyes turned to the development squad.

Reece Chapman’s young side did not disappoint, stunning their near neighbours within seconds of kick-off.

A defensive error from the Bulls allowed Ben Jackson to move into shooting range, slipping the ball beneath Martin Dixon to earn his side a shock early lead.

William Nutman almost replied for the visitors, the full back forcing Daniel Gudgin into action.

But Allotment belied their lowly Northern Alliance division two standing with some adventurous play.

It should have been two when Matthew Slater played Ridi Muteba in behind the back four, but the burly centre forward failed to hit the target, whilst Jackson sent a first-time effort flying past the near post.

Fourth-placed Longbenton struggled to get going in attack and gifted Celtic a second goal at the other end on the half hour mark.

A long ball forward from Nathan McKay should have been intercepted by Dixon, but the ball bobbled past the stricken keeper, affording Muteba the simplest of finishes into an empty net.

Miles Mason and Robert Edwardson both dragged shots wide as Longbenton attempted to rouse themselves, and frustration looked to get the better of them as half-time approached, Anthony Brown fortunate to escape with a caution for an off the ball kick.

Allotment could even have been out of sight at the interval, but the gods smiled upon their opponents, a handball in the Longbenton penalty area going unnoticed - or at least unpunished - by the referee.

A vitriolic half-time team talk seemed to do the trick for the orange-clad outfit, who halved the deficit within minutes of the restart.

Nutman took advantage of Ali Scott’s missed clearance, slamming past Gudgin to drag Longbenton back into the contest.

Edwardson himself would have levelled matters before the hour were it not for a fine block from Jonny Maddick, and only the fingertips of Gudgin kept David McDonald from equalising with a 20-yard strike.

Having survived the brief onslaught, Allotment rediscovered their earlier verve with Dan Surley at the heart of their best creative work.

His square ball found Jackson towards the back post and he shot narrowly wide before the 18-year-old engineered a shooting opportunity of his own, only for the one-on-one to be diverted behind.

Another of his incisive passes sent Muteba through once more, but Dixon denied the forward a second with his legs, before the South African sliced another good chance to double his tally.

Allotment would rue those spurned opportunities when McKay tripped David Kane in the box. Connor Graham, briefly a member of Allotment’s senior side, stepped up to dispatch the penalty, drawing the improved visitors level with 20 minutes remaining.

Both sides had chances to claim the win outright but the decisive goal would elude both in a frantic finale.

Graham may have thought he had won it with a pinpoint set piece but Gudgin was there again with a superb diving stop, and the indomitable Maddick – a recent returnee from a serious cruciate ligament injury – heading an in-swinging corner off the line.

At the other end, Slater’s angled drive towards the top corner drew a fine reflex stop from Dixon, and Muteba flicked a final chance over the crossbar.

The bubbling tension between the two sides finally boiled over in stoppage time with Graham particularly lucky to remain on the field of play, a purported off the ball incident again unsighted by the man in the middle.

The two teams left the field of play at Longbenton Community College with 11 players and one point apiece.

It ended a three-game losing streak for Allotment, bringing the Tynesiders their first point in the process, but they may regret the pleasing performance did not earn them all three.