Saturday, 22 March 2014

Another WAC in the face for Town

By Ricky Butler at the Calvert Stadium

Highlights of this match are available here

NORTHALLETON TOWN slipped to a third consecutive league defeat on Saturday as bogie side West Allotment Celtic once again left the Calvert Stadium with all 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. I brought the two Ramsbottoms in who did extremely well, and young Mike Lee came on in the second half and did very well. But overall it was a good performance and I think 3-1 flattered them."

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 Burton inside ten minutes came back off the crossbar with goalkeeper Chris Bannan beaten, 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 promotion-chasing 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 wicked deflection off Butterworth.

Mulcaster's side had barely recovered from that blow when the visitors scored again. This one was created with a neat ball in from right by Michael Bell, 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 that improvement into the early stages of the second period and Burton was unlucky to see a lovely chip disallowed for what appeared to be a foul on Bannan that was seen only 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 tapping-in 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.

Mulcaster said: "We had eight players missing today, five of which would have played. That is not an excuse but it the way it has panned out at the moment. Hopefully next week we will have everybody back.

"The atmosphere in the dressing room is good and we will bounce back. I am happier today than I was last week anyway."

Town travel to in-form Thornaby next Saturday looking to end of winless run of five matches, their worst spell of the season.

TOWN - Hodgson - Not really troubled apart from the goals, although he did produce one fine save in the first half. 7/10

Ramsbottom (An) - A superb performance on his return to the club. Did not deserve to be on the losing side. Man of the match. 8/10

Hemingway - While results have been going against the team in recent weeks, Mark's performances have been a real plus. Outstanding once again. 8/10

Perry - Punished for his only two mistakes of the game but other than that was strong and solid throughout. 7/10

Butterworth - Looked far more comfortable in a deeper midfield role. 7/10

Parkin - Unlucky not to score with a long range effort and covered every blade of grass. 7/10

McLachlan - Some poor deliveries from the right spoilt what was otherwise a fine, hard-working display. 7/10

Kokes - Like Butterworth, looked happier in a deeper role as he saw far more of the ball then in recent weeks. 7/10

Ramsbottom (Aa) - A great free kick to cap a lively all-round performance on his return to the club. 7/10

Burton - Really unlucky with a great early effort that came back off the crossbar and also with a second half effort that was harshly ruled out. 8/10

Dacombe - His best game for the club. Worked tirelessly for the cause. 8/10

SUBS  - Lee - Promising debut for the youngster signed from Stokesley SC this week. 7/10

Anderson - Has been badly missed. His return to full fitness can not come quickly enough. 8/10

WEST ALLOTMENT CELTIC -  Bannan, Pendlebury, Dummett, Dunn, Stoneman, Little, Ball, Henderson, Dormand, Reid, Lancaster. SUBS - Douglas, Ball, Ford, Lee, Chapman.

REFEREE - G. Marr.


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