Division Two Northallerton Town 0 West Allotment Celtic 1

NORTHALLERTON Town’s hopes of promotion suffered a major setback last Saturday as West Allotment Celtic left the RGPS with all three points.

“It was not such a good performance today,” said a disappointed Town boss Paul Mulcaster.

“We were slow to get started, never got to grips with the game and hardly looked like we were going to score.”

It was the visitors who made the better start as they scored what proved to be the only goal of the game in the fifth minute. A ball played in from the left from Michael Bell was not cleared by a static Town defence and the ball fell kindly to the feet of Lee who had the simple chance of beatingTown keeper James Briggs from close range.

Mulcaster’s side looked for an instant response and they were close to an equaliser four minutes later. Adam Emson has been linking well with strike-partner Michael Dunwell in recent weeks and the two almost combined again as Emson’s cross from the left was met by Dunwell, but the midweek hat-trick hero fired over the top from ten yards.

Celtic were soon back on top as a 30-yard drive from player-manager Paul Stoneman in the 25th minute went just wide of Briggs right hand post, while Town’s best effort in what had been a disappointing first half came in the 34th minute.

Col Anderson pulled the ball back from the right,but from a good position just to the left of goal, Butterworth fired high over the bar.

With both sides having endured a heavy recent fixture schedule it was no surprise that the second period lacked energy,but Celtic were close to doubling their lead in the 55th minute. A long forward pass forward from Ian Dunn found David Henderson, but his shot lacked accuracy and flew wide of the post.

Town made their first substitution moments later with Mulcaster making a tactical change – bringing on Ian Smurthwaite for Butterworth in the centre of midfield – and the move was almost successful as Town came close to equalising 20 minutes from time.

A 25-yard free kick from Dunwell was charged down by the Celtic defence and the loose ball fell to Smurthwaite who was in the clear in front of goal, but he produced a weak shot straight at keeper Lee Wall.

Celtic regained the upper hand and they went close to adding a second in the 81st minute when a shot by Sean Reid beat Briggs but flew just wide of the far post.

It was Town who made the stronger finish with Grant Hickman heading inches over the bar following a Gav Parkin left wing cross and, in a last ditch effort to save the game, Mulcaster brought on giant central defender Craig Winter to play up front in place of leading scorer Emson. But, much to the frustration of everyone inside the RGPS, the visitors hung on to take the points back to Tyneside.

g A LAST-MINUTE winner from Marcus Laing gave Northallerton a vital win at Whickham on Monday night.

In a match Mulcaster’s side simply had to win, they left it late as Laing headed home a cross from Anderson with just seconds remaining.

Town travel to Jarrow Roofing tomorrow looking to keep the pressure on the teams above them.