Allotment rue missed chances against Esh

Simon Wilthew after scoring the last-minute own goal.
Simon Wilthew after scoring the last-minute own goal.

A host of chances spurned in the first half, and an own goal late in the second, consigned West Allotment Celtic to their second draw in four days as Esh Winning snatched a 1-1 draw at Whitley Park.

For three games running, Allotment have failed to press home their dominance in the opening 45 minutes, losing momentum and concentration after the interval.

They paid for the price for it with a solitary point at Norton and Stockton on Wednesday night – and Saturday’s game followed much the same pattern.

The visitors had lost seven consecutive games prior to their trip to North Tyneside, but performed better than their league position would suggest.

The Stags’ Lewis Herron blazed an early effort over, before the away side worked the ball forwards to Lee Guthrie, who had drifted in behind the back four. The forward took his chipped shot early in an attempt to outwit keeper Ryan Beal, but the ball sailed wide of his far post.

As they so often do, Allotment started even brighter than their opponents, playing slick ten-yard passes and moving the ball around comfortably in the final third.

Michael Bell sliced their first chance wide, failing to connect with Dormand’s unintentional knockdown.

Guthrie briefly reminded Celtic of the threat that the visitors posed, almost slipping in on the right flank, denied a shot at goal only by the sliding Simon Wilthew.

Despite trying to match their hosts in the middle of the park, Esh looked suspect at the back, and were soon the orchestrators of their own downfall.

A woefully short back pass to Ryan Graham was collected by Dormand, who could not cleanly round the keeper on his first attempt, but fired into the back of the net the second time around.

The Stags’ defence almost experienced a painful sense of deja vu as Dormand raced onto another poor ball aimed towards the keeper, and, though he rounded his adversary successfully, the angle proved to be too narrow, with his hot instead nestling into the side netting.

Pendlebury and Henderson both saw shots blocked, and a wild Sean Reid strike flew harmlessly wide as Allotment played some of their most positive football.

Esh’s only chance to level was a controversial one that went against the unwritten rules of fair play.

Though one of their own lay prostrate on the floor, Guthrie raced past the static Celtic players. Beal did well to force the forward wide of goal before Ford tracked back to collect the tame effort on the line.

Thereafter, West Allotment should have been at least two clear at the interval, but their goalscorer’s profligacy proved costly.

Another defensive error, this time from captain Mark Swindle, afforded Dormand copious amounts of space and time to bring the ball down and place it past Graham.

Instead, the striker rushed his half-volley, sending it high over the crossbar.

He soon had a chance to make amends, beating the Esh back four for pace, but once again could not beat Graham, who palmed away his latest attempt.

Somewhat predictably, Celtic failed to craft the same number of goalscoring opportunities when they returned for the second half.

A fluffed Dormand overhead kick and a wide strike from Ian Dunn were all that the hosts could muster, emboldening their ever-improving opponents.

Beal kept out a shot from substitute Anth Rodgerson with a fine low stop to his right, but Allotment remained comfortable leaders.

The ante was upped by the Stags’ reaction to what they erroneously believed to be a stamp from the captain, resulting in a full-scale shoving match between the majority of the outfield players.

The perceived injustice fired up the County Durham side, who went close through Herron’s vicious strike that skimmed the outside of the post.

The Allotment keeper was called into action again soon after, getting a hand to Wilthew’s wayward header from a corner, before Ford once again cleared off the line.

Beal looked to have finally been beaten with less than ten minutes remaining, as Graham Stephenson’s neat touch rounded the keeper – but Wilthew got between the midfielder and the net, courageously blocking the goalbound strike.

The same player should have levelled moments later after another Rodgerson effort was parried into his path, but he blazed over with the goal at his mercy.

A wide Stoneman header from Douglas’ corner provided brief but fruitless respite as Esh Winning pressed, peppering the goal with cross after cross – and finally got their reward, albeit with their least dangerous ball into the area.

A deep delivery looked to be floating harmlessly towards Beal, but the unchallenged Wilthew rose to head the ball beyond his stranded keeper and into the back of the net, shattering Allotment’s wavering resolve.