A CONFIDENT West Allotment Celtic side eased past fellow strugglers Thornaby FC on Saturday courtesy of a Sean Reid penalty and Liam Hudson’s second-half strike.
The visitors dominated proceedings from start to finish, and, were it not for their profligacy in attack, could have won by a far greater margin.
After Allotment’s midweek Northumberland Senior Cup win over Newcastle Benfield, player-manager Paul Stoneman reverted back to a 4-4-2 formation, drafting fit-again Marc Dummett and Liam Hudson back into the starting 11.
Stephen Little also returned to the squad, deputising for the unavailable Simon Wilthew, as Allotment looked to secure back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
The Teessiders would have taken an early lead, were it not for recalled goalkeeper Aiden Ames. An early through ball split the defence, but Gary Mitchell’s goalbound effort was tipped wide by Ames.
The early scare spurred Allotment into action, and the visitors proceeded to dominate the first half.
A neat pass from makeshift right-midfielder Michael Bell found Liam Hudson in space, but the forward’s cross-shot evaded both the back of the net and the on-rushing David Dormand.
The pair linked up again minutes later, as Dormand met Hudson’s sweeping cross in the six-yard area, but the former’s header sailed harmlessly into the hands of Nicholas Farrell.
The home back four had Farrell to thank for keeping the scores level.
Some slick one-touch passing from Dean Lee, Hudson and Sean Reid allowed the latter a clear sight of goal and he attempted to lob Farrell, but Thornaby’s keeper was equal to it, deflecting the effort wide.
Despite dominating, Allotment continued to be frustrated by the home side, and the score remained goalless at half-time.
Some of the travelling supporters were still returning to their seats for the second half as Celtic broke the deadlock.
The magnificent Reid charged into the box, drawing the foul with his fleeting footwork. Undeterred, Allotment’s creative outlet duly converted the penalty.
Allotment could – and should – have doubled their lead moments later.
Another fine Dummett ball into the area was met by Dormand, who could only look on as his header rebounded off the base of the post.
Celtic had dominated in a similar fashion against Darlington RA and Chester-le-Street, but ultimately dropped two points in both fixtures.
Any fears of a repeat were put to rest with 20 minutes remaining. The hard-working Hudson just pipped Farrell to Dummett’s cross, prodding the ball into the back of the net.
Prior to this game, Thornaby had won just one of their last six at home, and they were once again second-best.
Neil Radigan’s men struggled to find one another in the middle of the park, and were frequently exposed by the pace and work rate of Reid, Hudson and Bell.
The Teessiders rarely made headway into the final third, and when they did, they found goalkeeper Ames in top form.
Midfielder Paul Callan would have reduced the deficit, were it not for the outstretched palms of the recalled keeper.
The visitors continued to press for a third and spurned a host of chances.
The impressive Bell shot directly at Farrell, whilst goalscorer Hudson fired over on two separate occasions.
On the balance of play, West Allotment were good value for the win.
Sean Reid’s barnstorming performance from central midfield will give Stoneman food for thought, whilst the return of Hudson to the starting line-up and the scoresheet was undoubtedly a welcome one.
With two wins on the bounce, Celtic will take forward momentum into their next run of home games – After Horden Colliery Welfare this Wednesday it is Ryhope CW on Saturday.