For the first time in what seemed like an eternity after the bad weather there was football on offer at West Terrace in the form of the Northern League Division 2 clash against West Allotment. Earlier in the season Esh had seen off the same opposition with a comfortable 4-1 win, things have improved for Celtic since then so it was anticipated to be a tight affair.
The match was club captain Max Stokers 150th appearance for the club, in that time he has seen several managers come and go and was fittingly given the club captaincy by Tony and Jackie when they arrived at the club. Since then he has been an ever present, other than enforced suspensions. A key member of the team he was rewarded with a token of appreciation from the club, presented by chairman Charlie Ryan (Pictured above) (Credit to @KatLee_necgcpl on Twitter who took a far superior photo than I could!)
The game started as a cagey affair, only really bursting into life on the 8th minute after good work by Nick Marley running across the edge of the box, he cut the ball back to Reece Brown on the edge of the area, unfortunately the winger scuffed his effort and the ball rolled harmlessly wide of Taylors goal.
With West Allotment finding possession and chances at a premium a major chance was wasted by Gary McCartney, who sprung the offside trap and a despairing tackle from Turnbull. Finding himself one on one with Mark Fish in the Esh goal he fires a low shot. Fish however stands tall and deflects the ball wide with his left foot.
With Esh continuing to dominate possession after that chance Reece Brown managed to keep a corner kick in play on the opposite by line, he lays the ball back towards Matty Soulsby who hits an effort that may just have had a deflection of Nick Marley, the ball striking the base of the post with Taylor helpless.
A clumsy tackle from the Stags Scott Arnott in front of the Celtic dugout saw a deserved yellow card brandished amongst the calls and screams from the Celtic manager and players for a harsher punishment. The referee Mark McMahon goes over to the dugout to give a final warning before proceeding with play some 3/4 minutes later. The resulting free kick being comfortably claimed by Mark Fish. He then looks up and finds Nick Marley who, as he did throughout the game, wins the header and nods it to Stoker. Stoker lays it off to Dan Mann who in turn plays a lovely through ball to Matty Allison bursting forward, one on one with Taylor he strikes a low powerful effort. In a carbon copy of an effort on the Esh goal earlier Taylor makes himself big and deflects the ball wide with a fine save with his feet.
A yellow card was awarded for breaking up play to Kai Hewitson after he brought down a defender looking to play the ball out. In what seemed a something and nothing incident, whilst the referee is talking to Hewitson, the assistant on the far side by the West Allotment dugout some 60 yards away is flagging profusely. The referee heads over to consult with his assistant before taking the decision to remove the West Allotment official, I believe it was the manager but I can not confirm, from the dugout. A further 3 minutes of time was taken for this process, something that would later in the half come back to haunt Celtic.
37′ Goal – Esh Winning 0 – 1 (McCartney) West Allotment
With the game being played in the Celtic half, the twin strike force of McCartney and Walker constantly looked to sit on the shoulders of the Esh defence keeping them honest. From a good claim by Taylor he finds Luke Parkinson at left back, driving forward on the counter attack he takes the ball 40 yards, before looking up and playing a lovely one two with Walker, he then whips in a perfectly timed low cross in to Gary McCartney who makes no mistake in finishing a lovely well worked team goal.
45+3 Goal – Esh Winning 1 (Hewitson pen) – 1 West Allotment
A long floated ball from Max Stoker towards the Celtic goal, was misjudged by keeper Taylor who missed his kick on rushing out. With Kai Hewitson clean through on an empty net just to the left hand side of the penalty spot he is unceremoniously tripped up by centre half Bradley Ives, who did not appear to make a genuine attempt at the ball. Mr McMahon left with no other alternative but to send Ives off. Hewitson himself steps up and slots the ball to Taylors left making no mistake and restoring parity before the half time whistle.
HT: Esh Winning 1 – 1 West Allotment
With Esh now enjoying a man advantage the formation changed to exploit the space and stretch the play. The first chance fell to Kai Hewitson after good work from Reece Brown he strikes a viscous dipping effort from 25 yards, forcing Taylor into a superb fingertip save the ball striking the underside of the bar and falling into his grateful hands with two Esh players lurking.
The game was controlled and dominated by the Stags without creating any clear cut chances, a couple of long range efforts blazed over the cross bar and wide of the goal respectively.
57′ Goal – Esh Winning 2 (Marley) – 1 West Allotment
The break through finally came in the 57th minute after good work from Dan Mann switching play to find the other full back, Mykel Summerson, on the corner of the box he puts a high lofted ball in towards Nick Marley who shows strength and nods the ball home from 5 yards out, brushing off his defender in the process.
65′ Goal – Esh Winning 3 (Stoker) – 1 West Allotment
A move that started with Mark Fish rolling the ball out to Matty Soulsby in which 8 Esh players touched the ball in a 15 pass move the ball found its way to Dan Mann darting forward on the left wing, he attempts to force the cross in towards Daniel Kent only denied by a last ditch tackle from Elliot Mitchell who puts the ball wide for a corner. Mann heads over to take the corner which he aims low and to the near post, a glancing right foot of Matty Soulsby sends the ball towards the goal. Max Stoker in the right place at the right time and bundles the ball home to extend the Esh lead.
The next 20 minutes saw chances for Hewitson, Kent, Allison and Brown come and go with Esh seemingly unable to add the final nail in the coffin, whilst not allowing the 10 men of West Allotment a sniff. Celtics only chance of the entire second half a dangerous looking free kick on the edge of the D not amounting to anything and straight at Fish.
87′ Goal – Esh Winning 4 (Hewitson) – 1 West Allotment
Another flowing move from The Stags enjoying the freedom afforded to them by the man advantage fell to Max Stoker on the left hand side of the area, he puts in a perfectly weighted cross into Kai Hewitson. He makes no mistake, as you would expect from a man on a purple patch of goals, guiding the ball past Taylor and into the bottom right hand corner.
FT: Esh Winning 4 – 1 West Allotment
Esh XI: Fish, Summerson (Gibson 71′), Mann, Stoker (c) (g), Turnbull, Soulsby, Allison, Arnott (y), Marley (g)(Kent 61′), Hewitson (2) (y), R. Brown
Unused Subs: Robinson, Boakes, Swift
West Allotment XI: Taylor, Watson, Parkinson, Berhan, Mitchell, Ives (so), Watson, Chapim, Walker (c), McCartney (g), Laws
Subs: Dunn, Whitelaw, McKenzie, Mendes-Correia, Hodgson
Referee: M. McMahon
Assistants: A. Morten, I. Frostwick
Match Reporter: Adam Wilding
All views above are my own and do not represent those of the club, or any other person.