NORTHALLERTON Town slipped to a third consecutive league defeat last Saturday as bogie side West Allotment Celtic once again left the Calvert Stadium with three points.
The South Tynesiders had won on all six previous league visits to Northallerton and first half goals from Stephen Little and David Dormand put them on course for another. Despite a battling performance from Peter Mulcaster’s side, Tony Lancaster added a late third meaning Aaron Ramsbottom’s 84th minute free kick was no more than consolation for Town.
But Mulcaster was pleased with what he described as another good display from his side. He said: “I thought the team performance was good, I was pleased today.”
The Town boss was forced into several changes with eight players missing for one reason or another. Having signed Andy and Aaron Ramsbottom from Darlington RA this week, both started; Andy as one of three central defenders and Aaron up front alongside Chris Burton.
With Dale Elgie serving a one match suspension, Martin Butterworth was dropped into a three man midfield alongside Darren Kokes and Gav Parkin, with Ritchie Dacombe starting wide on the left.
The new formation appeared to have worked in the early stages as a terrific effort from Chris Burton beat goalkeeper Chris Bannan but came back off the crossbar inside ten minutes, and had that gone in it may well have been a different story.
But that seems to be the way things are going for Town at the moment as promotionchasing Celtic took full advantage to score twice in six minutes midway through the first half.
The opening goal arrived in the 26th minute. Marc Dummett’s corner from the right led to confusion in the Town area and Little’s header found its way into the net via a deflection off Butterworth.
Mulcaster’s side had barely recovered from that blow when the visitors scored again. This one was created by Michael Bell with a neat ball in from right, and Dormand guided a header into the far corner of the net.
With goals hard to come by in recent weeks, it was always going to be a tough task for Town now but they are nothing if not resilient. Burton came close again when he his initial effort was blocked before his follow-up was somehow kept out by the legs of Bannan as Town finished the first half on top.
The hosts took improvement that into the early stages of the second period and the lively Burton was unlucky to see a lovely chip disallowed for what appeared to be a foul on Bannan that was only seen by referee Geoff Marr.
But Celtic are a talented side and with forward players of the class of Sean Reid, David Henderson and Dormand, they always posed a threat.
And so it proved. With just 12 minutes remaining, Dormand drilled in a low cross from the right and winger Lancaster had the simple task of tappingin at the far post.
Mulcaster immediately threw on talisman Colin Anderson, still struggling with a long-term Achilles injury, and it did not take him long to show exactly what Town have been missing. With five minutes to go, the 15-goal top scorer was brought down on the edge of the penalty area by Little, and Aaron Ramsbottom marked his return to the club with a wonderful free kick that curled into the top corner of the net.
Suddenly, Town were transformed.
Driven on by Anderson, they felt they should have had a 88th minute penalty when Dummett, who had already been booked, appeared to handle inside the area, but Marr waved away the penalty appeals and it finished 3-1.