EBAC Northern League round-up

Seven goals, two sending-offs and a dramatic last-minute penalty kept a record-breaking crowd of 649 enthralled from start to finish when Celtic Nation met Shildon in a top-two clash

Non-league football action

Seven goals, two sending-offs and a dramatic last-minute penalty kept a record-breaking crowd of 649 enthralled from start to finish when Celtic Nation met Shildon in a top-two clash.

It was nip and tuck throughout, he Cumbrians coming out on top by the odd goal to nudge past Shildon into pole position.

Paul Connor was a fourth-minute marksman for the visitors as he took advantage of culpable defending, but within four minutes Colin McMenamin levelled from the penalty spot after man-of-the-match Willie Gibson had been brought down.

Shortly afterwards Shildon were awarded a spot-kick for a foul and Mark Hudson made no mistake.

Just before the interval it was all square again with McMenamin converting Gibson’s long ball into the box.

At half-time it was anyone’s game, but the odds swung in Celtic’s favour when Shildon had influential player Darren Craddock sent off in the 48th minute.

He was adjudged to be the last player when he brought down Michael Rae.

The home side, though, were unable to turn their numerical advantage into account until 13 minutes from the end - when Gibson fired in an unstoppable free-kick.

Shildon, however, hit back and when Hudson beat the offside trap in the 86th minute, a draw looked the likely outcome.

There was still to be another twist and in the last minute Celtic were awarded a second penalty and Shildon had goalkeeper Lewis Graham sent off.

McMenamin kept his cool and despatched the spot-kick into the net to complete his hat-trick and earn his side three crucial points.

Celtic Nation now lead Shildon by a point but the south west Durham side have two games in hand.

Only three games went ahead in Division One. Consett’s new 4G pitch was the venue for Newcastle Benfield, who came from behind to claim a point.

Aristote Guerin Lakonga’s shot took a deflection past goalkeeper Andrew Grainger and it wasn’t until the 72nd minute that Carl Patterson levelled as he fired past Dan Regan.

Billingham Synthonia’s Central Avenue is regarded as one of the best drainage grounds in the league and this was proved when their fixture with Morpeth Town was never in doubt.

The Northumbrians had the incentive of an 11th-minute goal from Scott Swanston, who finished with a low shot past goalkeeper James Briggs.

Mark Grant and Michael Chilton both went close to increasing the lead before Synners levelled two minutes into the second period.

Fred Woodhouse played in Nathan Porritt and Matthew Osmond completed the move from close-range.

Morpeth suffered a double blow in the final few minutes.

On 88 minutes Swanston was shown a straight red card and six minutes into added time they conceded a penalty. Woodhouse was bundled over and Michael Sweet stepped up to fire wide of goalkeeper Steven Mundy. Morpeth were denied a point which their overall performance deserved.

In Division Two, only one fixture was played and Birtley Town maintained their promotion drive with victory at bottom-of-the-table Ryton and Crawcrook Albion. It was a close call, though, and just one goal proved pivotal. Dan Taggart and Jordan Lavery had both tested Ryton goalkeeper Conor Gillespie before Taggart struck with a curling shot from 18 yards in the 23rd minute.

MALCOLM PRATT

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