West Auckland Town 2 Whickham 2 – Ebac Northern League Division One:

For all the world it looked as though this was going to be a goalless draw.  Some tough tackles and defences very much on top.

That all changed in the 80th minute. with a four-goal spurt, including two late penalties awarded in time added on.

Up until then, Whickham had tried to exploit their pace up front and came closest to scoring as early as the 3rd minute when Scott Robson managed to get on the end of a Dan Turner pass and slide the ball past West keeper Dan Cameron only for captain Gary Brown to clear it off the line.  Robson had two more shots by the 6th minute – one pulled wide left and another that Cameron managed crucially to get a hand to, with the ball then cleared by Liam Potter before Kyle Patton could get to as he made a run on the far post.

West’s early chances were less clear cut – Lee Hume sending a shot over the bar, two attacks ruled offside and then a couple of Charlie Watt crosses from the left out of the reach of two team mates running in on goal.

The game then got a bit niggly, with the ref calling on both teams to “tidy it up lads”.  The tackling continued to be robust, with players closed down immediately.  With 10 minutes in the half to go, Robson came close again only to be denied by Cameron who once again managed to get a hand to the No. 9’s shot.

The second half was more of the same – graft and grind, with only a few bursts of pace, and the defences still with the upper hand.

The deadlock was broken in the 80th minute.  A long ball was sent up to West No. 7 Cieran Jackson who was tackled just as he was shaping up to shoot.  From the corner, Whickham failed to clear their lines and Brown was able to prod the ball into the net from a yard or two out.

Within four minutes the visitors were level – Patton getting past a couple of defenders before pulling the ball back from the byline to Robson who buried it into the net.  And that, we thought, was that; but there was still a couple of stings in the tail.  In the first minute of added time, Turner was bundled over in the box for a nail-on penalty that Robson tucked away.  In the dying minutes of the game West were then awarded a much more controversial penalty when Luke Bailey went down in the box under pressure from two defenders.  Liam Hegarty stepped up to convert the spot kick.

A dramatic end to a game that few would have guessed would have produced four goals with just over 10 minutes to go.

Mike Snowdon