Gateshead Rutherford 2 Wallington 2 Northern Alliance, Newcastle Building Society Premier Division
Wallington twice spurned the chance to take home three points on Saturday in an error-strewn encounter at Gateshead Rutherford.
Ben Fenwick gave The Greens the lead with a sumptuous free-kick just after the hour-mark but a combination of bad luck and bad defending saw the home side equalise for a second time to share the spoils.
The result leaves the team entrenched in mid-table with 28 points from 19 played, but, with still as many as six games in hand on teams above them, there is a real chance to make a late surge into the higher realms of the Premier Division.
This begins on Saturday with a home fixture against Shankhouse before attention turns to next Wednesday’s Benevolent Bowl Cup final against Whitley Bay A at the Blue Flames ground in Longbenton, kick-off 7pm.
It will be the team’s fourth final in as many years and a chance to secure a trophy that has alluded them in their long history.
The afternoon started in positive fashion when bullish play from John Paxton forced the first error of the afternoon. After a jinking run to the byline, his pull-back was diverted into his own goal by an unfortunate defender (0-1).
Shortly after, Paxton had a chance to increase his influence on proceedings but he could only place his shot the wrong side of the goal frame when played through.
Josh Gilmartin’s injury did not help matters as he was forced to leave the field before the half-hour mark, with Alex Slack afforded a longer contribution than he was expecting in his first appearance back following his own injury.
It was an unwelcome hint of déjà vu at the start of the second period as within 10 minutes the home side were back on level terms. Just like last week at North Shields, The Greens’ interval lead was quickly evaporated and once again it was an in-swinging corner that did the damage; emphatically converted by a towering header (1-1).
The lead was restored, however, when Whitehead’s bullishness earned a free-kick some 40 yards out, which moments later evolved into an unlikely assist (1-2).
As the Gateshead goalkeeper was sorting out defensive positions Fenwick walked up to the ball and floated it straight over his head into the top corner for his 12th the season. Ten minutes later, though, it was back to square one when The Greens allowed a ball to be lofted forward and despite what appeared to be a clear handball in the Gateshead striker’s control, everyone stood and watched as he swivelled and poked a second equaliser into the corner (2-2).