Wallington 3 Newcastle University 3 Northern Alliance Division One
WALLINGTON were left to call upon on their powers of character and resilience on Saturday as they fought back from the depths against an impressive university side.
Three down within the space of 17 minutes, the home team’s unbeaten league run looked in tatters at ten to three as the rampant students raced out of the blocks.
A goal just before half-time gave The Greens a lifeline which they capitalised on in the second half as Jordan Nellis completed the comeback, and his hat-trick, with minutes to spare.
Their lethargic start was as unfathomable as it was shocking. A free-kick and a penalty sandwiched a neat finish at the near post to leave the Wallington faithful stunned.
The third goal did finally appear to breathe a bit of life into the team and their first attacking move of the match ended with Nellis winning a corner.
With ten minutes remaining of the half though, the vital breakthrough came when good work on the left-hand side saw the ball fall to Sam Walton in the box.
The midfielder threaded the ball though to Nellis, who from the angle deceived the keeper with his sharp shot and reduced the arrears as the ball flew high into the net.
At the start of the second half, manager Cowan replaced the injured Matty Lees in goal with Chris Wood while the returning John Paxton entered in place of Jake Walton to join Nellis up front. Paxton’s pace meant the visitors dropped deeper in defence and this gave more space for Mark Jewitt and Josh Gilmartin to play.
It was just after the hour mark when the away side’s stern resilience finally wavered as a lapse in concentration was punished by Nellis. Latching onto Sam Walton’s throughball, after it had squirmed fortunately through the defenders legs, the striker composed himself and placed a shot across the keeper and into the net via the inside of the post.
The university side were dangerous on the break, but the Wallington defence held firm and the equaliser came with three minutes remaining.
Ben Fenwick lined up a free kick 30 yards from goal after Sam Walton had been tripped. The defender hit one of his trademark swerving set pieces that the goalkeeper could only parry into the path of Nellis, whose alertness was rewarded as he stabbed home his third treble of the season.
The manner of the comeback almost felt like a victory as Wallington snatched what could prove to be a valuable point in the promotion race.