0

0

WHICKHAM   0    WAC  0

(Allotment win 4-2 after penalty shoot-out)

 FA CUP (Extra-preliminary round)

01 SEPTEMBER 2020

After a nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out in front of 156 spectators, Allotment overcame Whickham to win their first FA cup-tie since beating Knaresborough Town back in 2014. Although Finn Hodgson has to take special plaudits for three excellent penalty saves, the whole team deserves great credit for knocking out First Division Whickham despite being down to the bare bones due to injuries and suspension.

The on-going impact of Covid-19 was clear at the Glebe, not least in that both teams were having to start their season with a FA Cup tie on a Tuesday evening. The slightly strange atmosphere perhaps contributed to a frenetic start in which both sides rushed passes and failed to settle. Long balls were the order of the day, never an easy option at the Glebe given the sloping nature of the pitch, but the home side did put together a more structured move in the 17th minute, leading to a manic scramble in the Allotment box. It appeared that some desperate defending had just about kept the ball out of the net, only for the referee to point to the spot for a handball somewhere amidst the melee. Jack Robson stepped forward but hit a weak shot that Hodgson comfortably held low to his right.

Whickham possessed plenty of pace and trickery in their line-up but this was often undermined by a witless and consistent wandering into Celtic’s offside trap. Defensively, Allotment were superb under the calm command of new captain Michael Scott, with eighteen-year-old debutant Ryan Bolton a bright presence at right-back. On the other flank, Luke Parkinson, now a veteran of 222 appearances, put in a highly committed performance and Michael Trodd’s technical excellence on the ball complements Captain Scott very nicely. Trodd has replaced Jack Errington in the centre of the defence and the latter, now with Whickham, was finding it is much better to be playing with Matty Hayton than having to mark him.

Allotment gained increasing confidence as the first-half developed and, not long after Abu Salim had headed narrowly wide, could have taken the lead in the 33rd minute. Hayton outmanoeuvred Errington and promptly released Michael Baxter, whose low cross evaded everyone except Liam Beeston. The returning midfielder, who played a couple of games for Allotment in 2018, delayed his shot a split second and that was enough to allow the Whickham keeper, Adam Cameron, to smother his effort.

The second half proved to be a slog for both sides, with clear chances few and far between. The stand-out moment occurred seven minutes from time when Baxter, who put in a tremendously hard-working shift, broke clear and unleashed a shot that seemed destined to the settle the tie, only for that man Cameron to tip the ball past the upright.

With no extra-time scheduled, it was straight to a shoot-out and Michael Trodd was the first man on the spot. He duly drilled the ball home, as did Ryan Higgins and two Whickham players to make it 2-2. Then up stepped Matty Hayton but his effort sailed over the crossbar. Advantage Whickham, only for a fine Hodgson save to restore parity immediately. Mikel Thompson was then spot-on for Celtic, unlike his Whickham counterpart, whose effort was denied by a fine full-length parry by Hodgson. Now, if Abu Salim could convert then Celtic were through. The forward duly delivered with a nerveless side-foot shot well wide of the keeper. It was nothing less than the patched-up visitors deserved and the FA Cup path now takes Celtic to Penrith.

Allotment: Hodgson; Bolton; Parkinson; Thompson; Trodd: Scott: Baxter; Carney (Higgins); Hayton; Beeston (Mendes-Corriea); Salim.

2

0

WEST ALLOTMENT CELTIC 2     JARROW 0 

Milestone is reached

On another windy day Allotment took to the field against Jarrow sitting on 98 goals for the season. Rocked by the news that centre half Michael Scott is now out for the season after getting injured away at Heaton Stannington, Allotment made changes with Michael Trodd fitting into the defence.  With the race for promotion now hotting up it was important for Allotment to get something from this match.

The first 15 minutes didn’t  produced any real threats to either goal with Allotment having most of the play but failing to finish off their moves. Jarrow’s Lee Kerr was starting to pull a few strings in midfield with the outlet of the young winger Josh Elcoate causing one or two problems.  However the game changed on 26 minutes when Allotment lost the ball in midfield and Jake Forster tried to win the ball back to prevent the Jarrow forward getting through.  It looked as though there was minimal contact as the Jarrow player when over.  To everyone’s surprise the ref produced a red card. The next few minutes saw a discussion between the linesman and the ref with the decision standing and Allotment’s afternoon just got harder.  However although Jarrow moved the ball round well they struggled to get in behind Allotment. With Errington and Trodd stuffing out any threat. Trodd also was the start of many of Allotments attacks playing some great balls forward.  The first half ended with no score and an interesting 45 ahead.

Allotment made one change with Higgins coming on for Thompson.  Allotment now looked to use the pace of Hayton and Abu to play on the break and looked to get compact as a team as Jarrow tried to find an opening.  However the first real chance fell to Matty Hayton who received a nice pass into his feet and spun and shot from the edge of the box , Wells did well to turn it  round the post for a corner.  Jarrow next created a good chance with the ball falling to Lee Kerr outside the box but hodgson was equal to it and made a driving save.  

After 70 minutes Dean Walker clashed heads with a Jarrow player and needed treatment and was replaced by Mendes Correia. Then came the move that changed the game , Gilberto won the ball in midfield and found Hayton who combined well with Higgin and a nice one two saw the ball squared into the box for Higgins to side foot home and put Allotment one up.  The goal was met with wild celebrations from the Allotment bench and support.   That goal seemed to knock Jarrow whose forwards in fairness hadn’t created much.  Hayton again looked for a goal and after some good work on the left fired a shot into the side netting.  Jarrow were now pushing players forward desperate to keep their promotion hopes alive. Errington and Trodd stood firm winning their battles. However Jarrow created two good changes and it needed smart saves from Hodgson to deny them.

Pushing up to get a goal always leaves a team vulnerable to a counter attack and on 88 minutes a free kick taken quickly found Matty Hayton would finished superbly with his left foot to secure the points for the home side. A real battling display with Allotment having to defend for long periods but this also marked the scoring of 100 goals this season which is excellent and of course another step towards the title.

Man of the match was Michael Trodd with a great defensive performance but also some telling balls forward. 

5

1

WEST ALLOTMENT CELTIC 5 ESH WINNING 1

NORTHERN LEAGUE - DIVISION 2

29 FEBRUARY 2020

ON a bright but windy afternoon Allotment took on Esh Winning looking to avoid a third straight home defeat in a row.  The opening of the game was played at a frantic pace with Allotment having most of the play but not creating much.  However on 9 minutes Dean Walker picked up the ball 25 yards out and curled a lovely left foot shot into the top corner.  Mikel Thompson then played in Abu for his volley to go just over the bar. Allotment seemed well on top now and a hand ball on the edge of box gave Shane Jones the chance to increase the lead. However his free kick was driven straight at the Esh keeper who dealt with it easily.  Esh slowly started to get into the game and after 22 minutes produced their first real chance as a high ball in the Allotment box wasn’t dealt with and this resulted in a volley which flew into the arms of Hodgson in the Allotment goal. 

Allotment then gave the ball away and committed a foul on the edge of their own box. The free Kick hit the wall and looped up into the air, Hodgson took the ball well enough but was flattened by the ESh number 9 and needed treatment. On another day this could have been a card.

Esh  then equalised after Allotment gave the ball away on the left and a low cross found the Esh number 10 who turned his man and slotted home to make it 1-1.   Jack Errington the Allotment skipper then gave the ball away on the edge of his box and committed a foul. The free kick once again hit the wall and went out for a corner. The corner was swung in with an ESh head getting there first but the header went just over.  Allotment were riding their luck a bit now and seemed to be struggling to deal with Esh’s bigger and more physical players.  On 34 minutes Esh combine well to set up their number 7 on the edge of the box but Hodgson made a good save pushing it over the ball. 

On 44 minutes a good long ball saw Matty Hayton get in behind but the defender recovered well to get a tackle in to give Allotment a corner which comes to nothing. On the stroke of half time Allotment make a mess of clearing the ball and the shot from the Esh striker goes just wide after taking a deflection.  Esh took the corner quickly with Allotment asleep and a low ball into the box causes panic with Hodgson blocking a shot and Errington clearing the follow up shot off the line.   The first half ended with home supporters again looking worried that unless things improved they could be facing another home defeat.

No changes were made at half time by Allotment who looked to get on the front foot immediately perhaps due to some harsh words at half time. On the 50th minute mark Esh failed to deal with a ball into their box and Abu popped up to score from close range 2-1 Allotment and a sigh of relief from the home fans. However Esh fought back and on 65 minutes a nice through ball saw the Esh number 9 hit strike towards goal with Hodgson making a good save to push the ball out for a corner.  The next few minutes saw Allotment under pressure again with the ball in behind the defence causing problems.  However on 73 minutes Dean Walker broke down the left and sent in a high cross which hit the bar and dropped nicely for Matty Hayton who made no mistake.

Esh again were doing most of the pressing without being able to apply the final ball with Allotment now looking to play on the break. Shane Jones then went down injured and was replaced by Michael Trodd.  Minutes later he reacted to a late tackled and was lucky to not receive a card for throwing the ball at the Esh player.  Allotment went 4-1 up after a quick throw in down the left saw Matty Hayton pick up the ball and fire home under the keeper from the edge of the box.  With the minutes ticking away Mikel Thompson broke down the wing cut in and sent a low cross into the box with Matty Hayton rushing in to get his hattrick however the ball was turned into the goal by an Esh defender. How quite Allotment were winning this match 5-1 left many scratching their heads but I guess this had all been about taking your chances and the saves that Hodgson had pulled off.  Right at the death Hodgson again made a good save and from the corner Jack Errington tried to do a Messi by going all the way himself but ran out of steam.  The final whistle went with three vital points in the bag and a much harder test due away at Heaton Stan on Wednesday night.

2

4

WAC  2   CROOK TOWN  4

NORTHERN LEAGUE – DIVISION 2

15 FEBRUARY 2020

Crook Town became the first team to complete a league “double” over Allotment this season, as they added a 4-2 win to the 4-0 thumping handed out at Millfield in September. Whilst that earlier win was fully deserved, the encounter at Druid Park was a much closer encounter and perhaps a draw would have been a fairer result. That said, far too many home players fell way below their usual high standards and, against a very useful Crook outfit, that was a recipe for disaster.

Although Storm Dennis kindly delayed its main attack until after the game finished, its initial warnings were to have a definite impact on the match. Not least in the decisive sixty seconds on which the match swung. That occurred with around twelve minutes to go as, with the score level at 2-2, Matty Hayton was set clear in the box with the type of opportunity he normally buries without a second thought. On this occasion he delayed a moment too long and his shot was blocked. Still cursing this lost chance, Celtic supporters were soon even more unhappy as the visitors broke down their left. There didn’t seem much on as Dan Maddison scampered down the flank, even less so when he shanked his attempted cross. However, the unexpected direction of the ball, combined with the gusting wind, caught out Finn Hodgson and he could only stand rooted in horror as the ball sailed over his head and plopped into the net.

Three minutes later, with Celtic apparently in a 1-1-8 formation, the ball was booted forward by the visitors and substitute Daniel Kent latched on to it with a clear run on goal. Blessed with a build that suggests he is never going to be described as scrawny or having whippet-like pace, Kent showed he can certainly finish as he steadied himself and crashed the ball into the roof of the net beyond the helpless Hodgson. That was the killer as Celtic never really threatened to retrieve the situation and Crook duly became the third side in a row to take all three points home from Druid Park.

Such a scenario looked unlikely after a frantic opening twenty minutes in which Celtic turned around a   1-0 deficit and went on to look reasonably assured. Crook started well, with Christian Holliday having free rein down the Allotment right flank and he was only denied by the legs of Hodgson as early as the second minute. Holliday was instrumental in the opening goal too as he took advantage of yet more space to set up Nathan Stephenson to drive the ball home with a low shot.

Allotment were level within a minute, Abu Salim receiving the ball on the left and weaving his way into the Crook penalty area before despatching a swerving shot beyond Makepeace in the visiting goal. Within another five minutes Allotment were ahead following an excellent move. Shane Jones shielded the ball well on the edge of the penalty area before feeding Luke Parkinson on the left and his low hard cross was met by the on-rushing Hayton to put Celtic ahead.

The game settled down after the frenetic scoring spell, although both sides put on a good show for the neutrals in the crowd, of which there were many due to the multiple postponements elsewhere. Then, with Celtic looking odds-on to go into the break ahead, Crook conjured up an equaliser right on the whistle. Left-back Tom Gavin, the visiting captain, was well outside the box when he unleashed a shot that somehow ended up in the top corner of the Allotment goal. Deflection off Gil Chapim’s boot, the wind playing tricks or just one of those once-in-a-blue-moon shots? Whatever, it sent the sides in level and set up the finale to come later.

For the first time this season, Allotment are starting to look over their shoulders as Crook and Redcar lurk menacingly. That said, if anyone had suggested that, in mid-February, Celtic would be seven points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand then who would have turned that down? So, it’s all in the team’s hands……..but they cannot afford too many stuttering performances like this one.

Allotment: Hodgson; Thompson; Parkinson; Forster (Carney); Errington; Scott; Walker (Donaghey); Chapim; Hayton; Jones (Donaghey); Salim. Subs not used: Mendes-Correia, Higgins and Trodd.   

0

7

CHESTER-LE-STREET TOWN  0   WAC 7

NORTHERN LEAGUE – DIVISION 2

08 FEBRUARY 2020

For a fifth time in this memorable season, Allotment hit seven goals or more in a single match. The overall goal counter is now registering 119 since Matty Hayton’s opener at Redcar back in August and the team is now just eleven shy of a ton in the league alone. It was an afternoon where Celtic returned to their pre-Christmas ruthlessness and it made for a tortuous ninety minutes for Maximiliano Coombes in the home goal.

Both clubs shuffled their line-ups from the cup-tie at the same venue just four days earlier, with Gilberto Chapim making his 100th appearance for Celtic. The visitors kicked uphill in the opening half in anticipation of increasing problems from Storm Ciara as the afternoon progressed but, uphill or not, the visitors seized the initiative from the off and never let it go. Yet, despite the heavy-duty scoreline, it wasn’t one of those games where one side was wildly out of its depth; the Cestrians, whilst unable to match the passing, movement and finishing of Celtic, are a decent enough outfit. The problem was that they met a resurgent Allotment and then compounded the situation with some awful mistakes at the back that might not have been punished so mercilessly by other opponents.

The first goal, on nineteen minutes, provides a case in point. There wasn’t a hint of danger as a home defender decided to exchange passes with his keeper; however, the final pass was overhit and suddenly there was real danger as Abu Salim realised the ball was going beyond Coombes. It was a straight race now and it was won comprehensively won by Salim who overtook the panting keeper and slid the ball over the line. The goal triggered a real nerviness amongst the home defenders and, with the Chester midfield and attack unable to retain any meaningful possession thanks to tigerish work from Jake Forster and Gil Chapim, they remained under constant threat from all angles. With Jack Errington in imperious form behind the midfield and matched by his fellow defenders, the home attack was left with meagre pickings.

Occasional over-elaboration by the visitors meant that the Cestrians stayed just a goal adrift until the 38th minute, when a splendidly worked strike doubled Allotment’s lead. Mikel Thompson and Matty Hayton already had the Chester defence back-pedalling and they had no answer when the latter played in Dean Walker on the right flank. Coming into the box at an angle, he had plenty of work to do but slipped the ball under the keeper at just the right moment to send Celtic in two goals clear at the break.

The second period was a tale of Celtic domination but the scoreline stayed unchanged until the 63rd minute, which was the start of a final half-hour that will have the home keeper waking up screaming for some time to come. Possibly struggling to kick cleanly, the keeper scuffed a routine clearance straight to Shane Jones; even so, the Celtic forward was around thirty yards out, at an angle, but returned the ball with deadly pace and accuracy into the top corner of the goal: it was some finish.

Allotment sensed blood and three minutes later, Matty Hayton slapped in a shot that took a deflection and the ball escaped the dive of the hapless Coombes. His afternoon took another turn for the worse in the 75th minute when another mishit clearance found Hayton, lurking a few yards outside the box. The outcome was inevitable and the ball was swiftly despatched down the hill and into the gaping goal. Dean Walker then grabbed his second of the game when he rose to meet a Shane Donaghey corner and bury a header into the top corner with twelve minutes to go.

The work ethic of the team as a whole, and of Matty Hayton in particular, was demonstrated when, with his team 6-0 up, he sprinted half the length of the pitch to ensure that a rare Chester attack was snuffed out long before it could become dangerous. The centre-forward’s reward was the completion of his hat-trick five minutes from time as his pass released Salim into the box and the inevitable goal was only averted by a foul. It wasn’t averted for long as Hayton stepped up to comfortably convert the spot-kick. The goal rounded off a superb performance, even if aided and abetted by a home side in self-destruct mode. A sterner task awaits next weekend when in-form Crook Town venture to Druid Park.

Allotment: Hodgson; Thompson; Parkinson (Higgins); Forster (Trodd); Errington; Scott; Walker; Chapim; Hayton; Jones (Donaghey); Salim. Subs not used: Mendes-Correia, Bates.   

0

1

CHESTER-LE-STREET TOWN  0   WAC 1

ERNEST ARMSTRONG MEMORIAL TROPHY

04 FEBRUARY 2020

After a slog of a match, Allotment reached the semi-finals of the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Trophy, a piece of silverware the club has lifted on two previous occasions. Thankfully, the wind that had rattled around the area all day had subsided by kick-off but it was still a chilly evening at Chester Moor and the early stages of the game did little to raise the body temperature.

Celtic kicked “downhill” in the first half and this proved to be a disadvantage as gravity added subtle weight to balls played forward. Awry passing and a stubbly pitch didn’t help matters either, so, all too often, possession was squandered to the home side. Mikel Thompson and Dean Walker worked tirelessly, combining diligently down the right flank but the decisive pass never arrived due to occasional over-elaboration and some effective home defending. Shane Jones, taking the central forward role in the absence of Matty Hayton, found little space in which to work but did fire in the first meaningful effort of the evening in the 19th minute but his shot rasped a foot over the crossbar.

The Cestrians were intermittently threatening and Finn Hodgson did well to block a couple of efforts midway through the half but Allotment still looked the more likely to break the deadlock. It appeared they had done so on two occasions in the countdown to half-time. First, a Shane Donaghey corner was fired in low and hard at the near post and Coombes in the home goal, taken by surprise, seemed to have shovelled the ball back into play only after it had crossed his goal-line. The assistant referee, with the eyes of an osprey locating a distant salmon, deemed otherwise. Just moments later, the same official denied Celtic the opener when he flagged for offside after Thompson had wriggled his way into the box and swept in a low cross that was poked home by Walker amidst a mass of tumbling bodies. Even the Cestrians were surprised by the reprieve but it meant the teams trooped off level at the interval.

The decisive moment of the game arrived within two minutes of the second period. Callum Carney took a pass and moved into the penalty area, at which point his ankle was the subject of a polite inquiry from a Cestrian boot. The referee pointed to the spot, provoking a protracted fuss from the home side. It wasn’t a life-threatening intervention from the defender but it did cause young Master Carney to stumble and the referee was within his rights to award the spot-kick. That said, it did appear he might change his mind as the appeals prompted a referral to his assistant – not the same one that had twice denied Allotment earlier, thus preventing him from emulating Apostle Peter – but the spot-kick was duly ratified. Goodness knows how long it would have taken VAR to sort this one out. After the to-do, Michael Trodd did, and calmly rolled the ball beyond Coombes, who had dived in the wrong direction.

Surprisingly, Trodd’s efficient strike ended the scoring. Whilst hardly end-to-end, both sides spurned chances to change the outcome, with Shane Jones going closest when his net-bound effort was kept out by a fine clearance off the line in the final seconds. For their part, the Cestrians put in a lot of effort but a lack of guile, combined with a resolute Celtic rearguard in which Michael Scott was excellent, meant they created very few clear openings. So, Allotment bounced back well from the home embarrassment against Newcastle University and now have a cup semi-final to look forward to as well as a place in the last eight of the League Cup. It is still on course to be a highly memorable campaign. Next stop? Chester more once on Saturday, this time with league points at stake.

Allotment: Hodgson; Thompson; Parkinson; Forster; Errington; Scott; Walker; Carney (Chapim); Jones; Trodd; Donaghey (Salim). Subs not used: Higgins, Mendes-Correia, Bates.

Chester-le-Street: Coombes; Scott; Thirlaway; Blackbourne; Walker; Hepplewhite (D); Pearn; Fingleton; Connor; Hepplewhite (M); Brown. Subs; Stephenson, Henderson, Macdougall, Collins, Clarkson.

1

4

WAC 1 NEWCASTLE UNI 4

DIVISION 2

1 FEBRUARY 2020

 

On a dull windy day West Allotment took to the field looking to continue their winning run.  The first ten minutes of the game were scrappy with the wind the only real winner. Allotment then started to see more of the ball but lacked the final ball.  On the thirty minute mark Allotment gave the ball away in midfield and the Uni broke away with their number 11 seeing his shot go just wide of the post. 

 

On 32 minutes Shane Long switched the ball out to the right wing into the path of Kurt Burns who sent a low ball into the box for Matty Hayton who finished with a crisp shot into the net.  There is an old saying that you are most vulnerable after you have just scored and this rung true as the Uni immediately broke forward from the restart and Alambritis received the ball on the edge of the box went past two defenders and fired home from 8 yards to level things up and suddenly the game had at last burst into life. Allotment tried to build again but were frustrated with the offside trap that the Uni played.  Just before half time the Uni countered again and Alambritis who was proving a real thorn in Allotments side beat three players down the left wing and sent in a great ball which the Uni centre forward side footed against the post.   The whistle blew for half time and this had to be the lowest number of chances Allotment have created in any half this season.

The second half got under way with those supporting the green and white expecting  much better . However very quickly things fell apart. On 48 minutes a corner from the right for the Uni saw the Uni take the lead with a strong header.  Two minutes later a ball over top had us in all sorts of trouble and with the Uni striker getting in front of our last defender he was pulled down and a penalty given and calmly dispatched. In the fixture earlier in the season Allotment had managed to overturn a two nil margin but today there would be no repeat.

 

Changes were made with Gilberto coming off for Trodd and Donaghey making way for Carney. This did help Allotment play out from the back into midfield better. Allotment had a great chance to get back in it when a long ball found Hayton whose shot rebounded off the keeper who did well to keep out the follow up.  Allotment then had another chance as a free kick was swung in from the right which Bruno volleyed just over. Allotment then made their final change with Walker coming on for Abu.  However it was the Uni who again looked more potent up front and another ball lost in the midfield was played through from the Uni forward to race onto and finish well past Hodgson in the Allotment goal. There was clearly no way back for Allotment now but captain Errington kept encouraging Allotment to keep playing.  On 75 mins another counter attack saw the UNi hit the post. A nasty clash of heads stopped the game with thankfully both players getting to their feet after treatment.

The final chance of the match again fell to the Uni down the right as their winger cut in and tried to chip Hodgson however this time the keeper made a good save to push the ball out for a corner.

The final whistle blew with Allotment left to reflect on a heavy home defeat. The only saving grace was that the two teams chasing them lost too.

3

2

WAC 3  SEAHAM RED STAR 2

MITRE BROOKS MILESON MEMORIAL LEAGUE CUP

29 JANUARY 2020

On a damp and breezy evening at Druid Park, Allotment made it to the quarter-finals of the League Cup for the first time since 2013. The competition has never been a source of much joy for Celtic and with the team still not quite firing on all cylinders since the disruption of Christmas and a series of postponements, Seaham must have sensed an opportunity to pounce.

The Star are struggling in the lower reaches of Division 1 but still have a good pool of talent in their side, which includes several Allotment old boys in the likes of Paul Gardiner, Chris Bannon, Sean McRoberts and Mark Waite. There would have been more but for the hamstring injuries currently side-lining Michael Chilton and David Henderson. It was the visitors who started the brighter and fashioned some half chances in the opening quarter of hour but failed to turn the positive start into a tangible reward.

That failing was punished in the 23rd minute when a slick move released Matty Hayton and he finishing superbly with a curling shot that Steavens had no chance of reaching. The irrepressible Hayton almost doubled the lead immediately when he met a fine cross and a goal looked certain until Steavens somehow blocked the header, possibly with his face. Hayton continued to torment the Star defence for the remainder of the half, his harrying and runs into space demonstrating his great eye and unstinting effort for the cause. Unusually, the only thing that was missing was his finishing as he missed two very presentable openings, one ending with the ball lodged high in the conifers behind the goal.

Within ten minutes of the second half, the game seemed over as Celtic raced into a three-goal lead. Michael Trodd was the beneficiary of some excellent link-up play by Abu Salim and Mikel Thompson, with the latter’s low cross asking to be buried by the lurking Trodd at the far post in the 49th minute. Trodd turned provider seven minutes later when his through ball set Salim away and he efficiently tucked the ball under the advancing Steavens for his 21st goal of the season.

Seemingly home, if not quite dry, a series of substitutions disrupted Celtic’s momentum, especially the removal of Hayton, albeit understandable given the games still to come. The Star thought they had pulled a goal back when a cross caused a mad scramble in the home box and the ball appeared to have crossed the line twice before interventions from Hodgson and Errington. Certainly, the visiting management team, not exactly Trappist monks throughout the game, let the Assistant Referee know that perhaps his eyesight needed sharpening, although the official responded in kind by saying that the ball “was nowhere near” crossing the line.

An escape, but the warning about dealing with crosses wasn’t learnt as a routine corner in the 66th minute saw the ball evade everyone in green and white and Allotment old boy Waite was adjudged to have got the final touch as the ball entered the net. The goal didn’t seem to inspire too much enthusiasm in the away ranks but Allotment became increasingly sloppy, with passing breaking down and Seaham having more possession. That possession produced a second goal with eight minutes to go as yet another cross, this time from McRoberts, was not cut out and substitute Morgan Dart was on hand to increase the home nerves to a new level of jangling.

The final moments of the game witnessed a strange to-and-fro momentum, with Seaham’s increasingly desperate efforts to get the ball into the box interspersed by time-consuming breaks forward by Allotment. Thanks to fine handling by Finn Hodgson and bodies-on-the-line defending, Seaham failed to find an equaliser and Celtic go through to a quarter-final draw populated with teams in the upper reaches of Division 1, Allotment the only remaining club from the second tier. Still, having already beaten Division 1 leaders, Stockton Town, on their own pitch in the competition, no-one will scare this fine bunch of Allotment players in what continues to be a memorable season.

Allotment: Hodgson; Thompson; Parkinson; Carney; Chapim; Errington; Walker; Trodd (Higgins); Hayton (Donaghey); Jones; Salim (Mendes-Corriea). Subs not used: Forster, Bates.

Seaham: Steavens; Hailes; Weldon; Richardson; Waite; Gillesphey (Myers); McRoberts; Gardiner; Wilson (Dart); Robinson; Coulson (Cahill-Taylor). Subs not used: Bannon, Tumilty.

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