ANOTHER frenetic week in the history of West Allotment Celtic ended on a deeply downbeat note as the team slumped to a disastrous defeat away to relegation rivals Stokesley.
Celtic started the week with a bitterly disappointing 2-0 home reverse against Billingham Synthonia, another club hovering around the relegation trapdoor.
That result was enough to convince the Allotment committee that a change was required so manager Tom Wade left the club; paying the inevitable price for a run of 15 defeats from 18 matches.
Picking up the reins is Paul Stoneman, son of ex-Allotment player Derek, who made almost 500 appearances for the club between 1971 and 1985.
Paul has been turning out for South Shields this campaign but has played professionally with Blackpool, Colchester United and Halifax Town.
The new manager, who is being assisted by Wilf Kielty and Grant Crooks, appreciates he faces a daunting initial challenge, with Allotment having just nine matches to avoid a first ever demotion.
And the early signs at Stokesley were promising, with two good moves in the first two minutes seeing the home goal lead a charmed life.
However, the inability to capitalise on openings has been Allotment’s Achilles Heel all season and, as usual, the team was punished when the North Yorkshire outfit went ahead with their first meaningful attack.
McPhillips hit the post with a low shot and Hume was on hand to sweep the rebound home.
The goal visibly deflated the visitors.
In midfield, both sides took turns to give the ball away, with very little quality on show. Up front, no-one was able to hold the ball up for Allotment, with Martin Roper and Paul Gordon doing lots of chasing around to little effect.
Not that the home side were much better – in truth, it was an awful match between two sides patently lacking in confidence.
Stoneman made two changes at half-time but his plans were undone when David Wells latched on to a rare pass that found its target and he buried a low drive past Chris Bannon.
Lee Hamilton did pull a goal back in the 73rd minute when Novak’s corner found the forward in space.
Hopes that this would trigger a fightback proved unfounded.
The full-time whistle was almost a relief and may well have sounded the introductory notes in what looks increasingly likely to be the Last Post for Allotment’s top-tier status.
Paul Stoneman surely now appreciates the scale of his task.
Allotment: Bannon, Pendlebury, Novak, Hall (Hamilton), Stoneman, Hughes, Dunn, Evans (Buzzeo), Gordon (Latimer), Roper, Gardiner.