Sunday, 14 April 2013

Town promotion hopes in tatters as Celtic close the back door


TOWN'S hopes of sneaking into the promotion back door suffered a potentially fatal blow on Saturday as a well organised West Allotment Celtic left the RGPS with all three points.

In a surprisingly low-key encounter between two sides who came into the match in great form, chances at either end were at a premium and an early goal from Celtic's Dean Lee saw Peter Mulcaster's side slip seven points off 4th place with just six matches remaining.

"It was not such a good performance today," said a disappointed Mulcaster. "We were slow to get started, never got to grips with the game and hardly looked like we were going to get a goal.
"I don't know if the amount of games is catching up with us but we certainly did not have our usual spark."
With injuries still taking their toll, the Town starting XI showed just one change from the win at Horden on Wednesday evening - Danny Shoulder coming back into the side in place of the absent Marcus Laing. That led to changes elsewhere as Steve Banks was switched to right back with Andrew Porritt moving forward onto the wing and Steve Butterworth coming inside.

However, it was the visitors who made the better start as they scored what proved to be the only goal of the game in the 5th minute. A ball played in from the left from Liam Hudson was not cleared by a static Town defence and the ball fell kindly to the feet of Lee who had the simple chance of beating Town goalkeeper 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 he fired over the top from 10 yards.

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

A pull-back from the right bye-line by Col Anderson found Butterworth but from a good position just to the left of goal, he 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 Hudson through the inside left channel 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 twenty 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 goalkeeper Lee Wall.

Celtic regained the upper hand and they went close to adding a second in the 81stminute when a shot from a tight angle by Lee was beaten away by Briggs, who was relived to see the rebound bounce off the winger and behind for a goal-kick.

It was Town who made the stronger finish with Grant Hickman heading inches over the bar following a Gav Parkin left wing cross while substitute Alex Caisley also came close.

Then, 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.

Promotion is now out of Town's hands as they need both Darlington RA and Morpeth Town to drop points if they are to sneak into 4th place. However, wins at Whickham on Monday evening and Ryton and Crawcrook two days later could just open that back door again.

"We now have two big games this week," said Mulcaster. "My thoughts are to try to rotate the players without weakening our chances of finishing as high up the league as possible with the cup semi final in mind. We will keep going and see what happens."

*Everyone at Northallerton Town would like offer congratulations to Crook Town who sealed promotion to Division One with a win at Whitehaven on Saturday.*

TOWN - Briggs, Banks, Bowman, Shoulder, Hickman, Parkin, Anderson, Butterworth, Dunwell, Emson, Porritt. Subs - Smurthwaite, Caisley, Winter, Alderson.

WEST ALLOTMENT CELTIC - Wall, Douglas, Dunnett, Dunn, Stoneman, Reid, Finley, Henderson, Hudson, Bell, Lee. Subs - Raffo, Johnstone, Hogg, Little.




  1. Results went our way at the weekend and yet again we fail to capitalize. Don't think changing our manager as changed anything really.

  2. To be fair the previous manager resigned so the club had to make a change. They did not want too much disruption at a crucial time of the season so were lucky to get Mully in who knows the club inside out and is a popular figure around the place.
    Results since then have been, by and large, positive and I don't think anyone could have hoped for much more. There is a cup semi final on the horizon and promotion is still possible so I think we need to be a little more upbeat about things. Yes this match was not a great by all accounts but hopefully it will be a one off.