West Allotment Celtic...3 Alnwick Town...2
STL Northern League, Division Two
A CONTROVERSIAL last-gasp West Allotment Celtic goal condemned Alnwick Town to their third straight defeat.
It capped a miserable afternoon for the St James’ Park side who threw away a two-goal lead to go down 3-2.
But that all-important late winner was clouded in controversy, coming in the 97th minute, when only three minutes’ injury time should have been played.
Alnwick will no doubt feel aggrieved by the way they saw this game slip from their grasp – especially having been the better side throughout.
The opening exchanges were even but Alnwick had the first effort when Jon Colley’s snap-shot went wide.
Alnwick did make the breakthrough though in the 18th minute, with Colley finding the net this time round.
Marc Nixon, who has impressed since being promoted from the U21 side, played a great ball over the defence to find Colley, who shot past Celtic keeper Aiden Ames.
Just after the half-hour, Alnwick doubled their advantage thanks to Colley’s second of the afternoon when he converted following a short melee in the home side’s box.
Celtic had hardly threatened the visitor’s goal but nearly scored soon after Alnwick’s second, but for a great save from Brian Brooks, who made a point-blank stop from a Gary Day header.
The away keeper was once again the hero when he was quick to come off his line to clear the danger.
But he could do nothing about the hosts’ first goal of the afternoon, which came just a minute before the break.
Celtic were awarded a dubious free-kick and, from the resulting set-piece, Day glanced a header wide of Brooks and into the net, giving the home side a lifeline.
Despite Celtic finding a way back into the game right before the interval, Alnwick started the second period well and could have gone 3-1 up in the 55th minute when a Paul Blakey/Nixon combination allowed Ben Keenan to hit a cross-shot which beat the keeper but went wide.
Alnwick seemed to be inviting the home side onto them and the hosts took full advantage on the hour.
Chris Rue was left with far too much space and when the ball came over to him, he had enough time to move forward and hit a near-post shot into the net, bringing the scores level.
Celtic were looking more dangerous but it was Alnwick who nearly scored the next goal.
A break-away saw Dan Iredale race down the right before cutting inside to the edge of the box and hitting a fine cross-shot which beat the keeper for pace but hit the post.
Moments later, Colley almost grabbed his hat-trick but his quick 30-yard effort just scraped the post.
Then came the decisive moment.
With the clock ticking into the 97th minute, Celtic were awarded a corner which found its way into the middle of the box where John Pendlebury was on hand to head home and snatch a dramatic Celtic win.
It was cruel on Alnwick, with the referee maintaining that he only played three minutes of injury-time, but an Alnwick official recorded it as being seven minutes.
Alnwick are in cup action on Saturday when they play Killingworth YPC Sporting at home in the quarter-final of the Senior Benevolent Bowl, kick-off 1.30pm.
Alnwick Town (v West Allotment Celtic): Brooks, Iredale, Hubbard (Catlow), Murray, Patterson, McPherson, Blakey (Hogg), Brown (Bamborough), Keenan, Colley, Nixon. Subs: Newton, Cockburn.