NEVER mind ‘a game of two halves’, this was a match of three distinct phases which ended with West Allotment suffering a crushing blow to their increasingly slender hopes of retaining division one status.
West Auckland had played the previous Thursday night but it certainly did not show as they tore into Celtic right from the kick-off to run out 7-2 winners.
Allotment ‘old boy’ Daniel Hindmarsh squandered a glorious chance within the opening 20 seconds, running into acres of space on the left flank before slicing a shot wide.
However, the warning was not heeded and some feeble defending allowed Steven Brown to shrug off two defenders on his way to burying the ball beyond the isolated Chris Bannon in the second minute.
Allotment had a reasonable chance to equalise almost immediately but it proved to be a scarce moment of alarm for Auckland as they cut the home defence to ribbons almost at will during the first half.
Two inviting opportunities were wasted by the visitors before they doubled their lead in the 13th minute when a long punt upfield caught the Allotment defence in disarray and Bannon was slow to react – allowing Hindmarsh to reach the ball and loop home a header from the edge of the box.
The real surprise was it took until the 39th minute for the visitors to move further ahead.
The third goal was positively embarrassing as the Auckland forwards had Allotment chasing shadows before the impressive Martin Young’s low cross was swept home by Adam Nicholls.
Three minutes later and it was 4-0 as a disputed corner was played short and Jonathan Gibson lofted a cross to the back post where centre half John Parker had the simple task of heading home.
The manager made two changes at half-time, including removing himself from the fray, and his team made a much better start to the second period.
Still, some credit is due to Allotment for not giving up the ghost and two goals suddenly provided a glimmer of hope.
Substitute Tony Lancaster went close on the hour mark but the ball broke to Paul Chapman and he curled an exquisite shot high into the top corner of the West Auckland net.
Another substitute, Wyn Fremlin, had gone close with a previous free kick but he was more successful in the 74th minute when his drive from just outside the box took a deflection and skidded into the corner of the net.
Sadly, as the game entered its third phase, the visitors scored three times to make the scoreline slip towards the humiliating.
Hindmarsh was in the right place to hook the ball home in the 80th minute after a relatively rare second half attack.
The goal was the equivalent of sticking a knife in a balloon; Allotment simply popped and some tired defending in the 83rd minute allowed Chris Lunn to make it 6-2.
Hindmarsh then missed a sitter before finally completing his hat-trick in injury time, brushing past a series of half-hearted tackles before lashing a vicious cross-shot beyond Bannon.
A sobering afternoon for Allotment then, who look doomed to drop a tier for the first time in the club’s history.
Ironically, fellow-strugglers Jarrow Roofing also lost so all is not lost just yet, but, on this performance it is difficult to see how Allotment can pick up enough points to avoid relegation when facing a home match with Whitley Bay and away trips to Spennymoor and Bishop Auckland.
No one will give up until the cause is lost arithmetically, but the sums are getting harder and harder to add up.
Allotment: Bannon, Hughes, Pendlebury, Dunn, Stoneman (Jewels), Scott, Latimer (Fremlin), Buzzeo (Lancaster), Hamilton, Chapman, Gardiner. Subs not used: Novak, Roper.