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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Celtic Nation denied by last-gasp Whitley Bay equaliser

A late Craig McFarlane equaliser cruelly denied Celtic Nation a win at Whitley Bay last night.

Tony Hopper photo
Tony Hopper

McFarlane’s 92nd-minute header snatched away what would have been a well-deserved victory on the road for The Nation, who had to start without leading scorer Michael Reed and defensive lynchpin Graeme Lee due to slight injuries. Lee Hoolickin, restored to full back, and centre half James Parker stepped in to great effect in what was a tremendous battling display from the visitors.

In a bright opening by the Carlisle side, Tony Hopper and Steve Skinner, playing off lone striker Stephen Archibald, sent efforts over the bar before Dan Lowson was called upon to repel Lee-Paul Scroggins’ drive. Former Seahorses winger Dean Douglas almost opened the scoring on his return to Hillheads, but his right-footed snapshot was turned round by Kyle Hayes in the Bay goal. Hopper again went close to a rare goal with 25 minutes on the clock, finding the sidenetting.

Just before the half hour mark, though, they got their opener. Jeff Smith’s inswinging corner was met by the head of home forward Ash Davis, who planted his header beyond his own helpless goalkeeper.

The second half saw Whitley come out fighting from the off. Lee Kerr’s free kick on the edge of the Nation box was charged down, but only as far as James Fairley who hammered home the leveller through a crowded area within a minute of the restart. Fairley thudded a dipping long-ranger off the crossbar before Archibald went close with a brave diving header and Douglas’ teasing cross evaded all oncomers. With Tony Lee’s men now in control of the play, a second goal looked to be well within reach and it arrived when Skinner broke free from a challenge and laid on a shooting opportunity for Smith, who dispatched into the far corner with no shortage of coolness.

With five added minutes to be played, the Bay poured forward and were aided in their hunt for their second of the night by a hotly-disputed decision to award them a corner. Celtic Nation protested, insistent that forward Davis had had the final touch, but the claims fell on deaf ears. Fairley’s resulting corner found McFarlane, who nodded home beyond the reach of Lowson in the 92nd minute.

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