Rothbury 1-1 Ellington
Rothbury left it late to salvage a point as Kyle Smith pounced to grab a leveller deep into stoppage time on Saturday.
The hard-working midfielder’s never-say-die attitude saw him get into the box in the 92nd minute and fire the ball through the clarts into the back of the net.
“It felt great to score in such fashion as I rarely score - but to score so late on and rescue us a point from a match I feel we deserved to win was a phenomenal feeling,” said Smith.
It was the last-chance saloon when ever-reliable Tony Brown whipped over a corner which was headed on to Smith and he kept his cool to shape and hit a first-time volley into the bottom corner, sparking relief all round.
“We had a few great chances in the first half where we could have easily put the game to bed, but we just couldn’t hit the net for some reason which is normally bread and butter for us,” he continued.
Armstrong Park’s smooth surface took a battering throughout the game after a week of heavy downpours and Rothbury’s chances of playing their normal passing game decreased as the grass cut up and churned to mud.
“The pitch suited a few players such as big Tommy Mac (Tom Macpherson), myself and Mic (Michael Old), who all love a big tackle - but apart from that it was awful, you couldn’t do any sharp turns as it was so slippery, and by the end of the game the pitch was a mess. It was a frustrating day at the office, but at the end of the day Ellington are a good side and will take points off of opposing teams this season so it was a good point in my eyes.”
Ellington went ahead from the penalty spot in the 67th minute after keeper Rob Hodgson hesitated for a split-second on a decision then brought down a striker in the box, and they also saw a shot cannon back off the crossbar.
The draw saw Rothbury knocked off top spot by Whitley Bay SC, who were 5-2 winners over Stobswood, though the Reds have a game in hand and are just two points adrift.
Boss Dan Herron won’t want to get tied up in all the mathematics and permutations with almost six months of the season left to play, but things are definitely hotting up at the top of Division Two. Whitburn & Cleadon, Cramlington United, Spittal Rovers and Ellington themselves are all handily placed for a shot at the title in what is proving a very tight and competitive League.
“For us it’s just game by game - we knew December is going to be a tough month, we’ve got the two Cramlington sides up next in the league and they’re both showing decent form.
“We’ll start to look at the table come February time when you’re into the final third of the season, then we’ll see who’s in contention for promotion,” said Herron.
The gaffer also felt that a draw was a good result for the Coquetdalers and admitted: “Ellington are a really good side with dangerous forwards. They are one of the best we’ve played, and will certainly be up there at the end of the season.”
“It was a difficult game in the conditions, to be honest. We played some half decent stuff in the first half and created three or four really good chances, but lacked the cutting edge to finish them. We could have easily gone in 3-0 up at half time but it wasn’t to be.
The second half was a lot more even, Ellington had three or four good chances, hitting the bar and putting a few wide. We had two really good chances before they went ahead to take the lead.”
Herron was pleased with the effort his side had put in to get back into the game and delighted with Smith’s last-gasp volley.
“The equaliser was immense after putting so much pressure on Ellington in the last fifteen minutes - Tony was whipping unbelievable balls in time after time and eventually we got what we deserved. I would say on balance a draw was a fair result,” he said.