Reid and Douglas in the driving seat against the Mechanics

A Sean Reid brace and a rare goal from Stephen Little proved enough to see West Allotment Celtic past a new-look Washington outfit, holding off a late charge from the hosts to win 3-2 on Saturday afternoon.

The rejuvenated Mechanics have experienced an upturn in fortunes since Stephen Hutchinson took the reins in September, losing just one of their last eight games.

But Allotment emerged with the edge in an often scrappy and disjointed encounter at the Nissan Sports Complex.

Celtic were first to probe, a long throw from David Dormand making its way into the box with keeper Neal Atkinson getting there just ahead of Liam Hudson.

The 25-year-old keeper was soon called into action once more, parrying away a Reid strike before beating Dormand to the rebound.

Another trademark throw from Dormand was flicked into the path of Ian Dunn by his player-manager Paul Stoneman, but the captain could only send a looping header over the crossbar.

Conversely, returning Allotment custodian Ryan Beal had little to do in the opening minutes, or indeed the first half, with Ryan McGuinness’s wayward effort constituting the Wash’s only attempt on goal.

They may have provided the visiting keeper with a more meaningful test had James Fairley’s dangerous cross not been cleared from danger by the faultless Little.

With little quality on show from either side, a goal always looked likely to come from a set-piece, and so it proved after 29 minutes.

Reid did not have to rise to meet Chris Douglas’ fine corner, instead cushioning his header in at the back post to put the away side ahead.

The goal brought Allotment out of their shell and some fine football from David Henderson should have yielded a second within minutes.

The fleet-footed midfielder embarked upon a 30-yard run, bamboozling at least three defenders en route to Washington’s final third before laying it into the path of the onside Dormand. However, the striker dallied on the ball, affording Alan Oliver the opportunity to recover and muscle possession away from him.

Celtic did not dwell on the miss, extending their lead five minutes before half-time.

The same two players were once more involved in the goal, Reid nodding home an inch-perfect Michael Bell cross, after neat interplay from the latter and full back Douglas down the right flank.

It could have been even better for Allotment heading into the break, but Atkinson back-pedalled well to tip over Hudson’s audacious chip, whilst Dormand’s well-struck effort moments later was too central to unduly trouble the keeper.

Nevertheless, Allotment took a commanding lead into the break, and, despite two changes from the home bench, continued where they left off.

Marc Dummett’s pinpoint pass towards Dormand was expertly brought down by the forward, who lashed a half-volley into the side netting.

Stirred by some undoubtedly strong words in the dressing room, Washington belatedly created their first real chance of the afternoon, a goalmouth scramble drifting out towards Aaron Croft just inside the area, but the full back, pushed into midfield for the second half, drilled harmlessly wide.

Just as the hosts looked to halve the deficit Celtic got a third, with Reid and Douglas taking centre stage once again.

The latter’s corner created havoc in the box, the ball never settling in the six-yard area, before Reid got a decisive touch back towards Little, who finished - and celebrated - emphatically.

Allotment may have been three goals to the good with little more than ten minutes left on the clock, but they allowed their hosts to creep back into the game late on.

A clumsy tackle from Little on the edge of the area handed Michael Coughlan a shooting opportunity, and he took it with aplomb, curling a low free kick around the wall and into Beal’s far corner.

Their tails up, Washington pressed for a second, looking to initiate what seemed to be the most unlikely of comebacks.

Paul Kane saw an effort bobble wide of the near post, before centre half Nathan Johnson forced a fine save from Beal, his rasping drive pushed away from danger by the Suffolk-born stopper.

He was almost caught out by a speculative wayward cross from McGuinness that dipped towards the top corner, only to nestle onto the roof of the net, before the left back skied a more meaningful effort moments later.

The game was well beyond its allotted stoppage time when Washington did find the target, Kane collecting a pass from the right and curling high into the net, but any jittery nerves amongst the away supporters were soon calmed by the final whistle moments later, signalling the end of a contest that Celtic should have won in more comfortable fashion.

That said, the battling performance – and the three points that came with it – pushes West Allotment back up to fourth, leapfrogging Northallerton Town and maintaining contact with the top three.