Spittal hit back as two late goals earn them a point at Seaton
Seaton Sluice 2-2 Spittal Rovers
Last gasp goals from Kyle Jeffrey and Rhys Bloomfield were enough for Spittal to salvage a draw from their game at Seaton Sluice on Saturday.
A point was something that had not looked likely, however, with Rovers going in two goals down at the interval after an abject opening 45 minutes on an unforgiving surface.
With Craig Bell and Ben Amers leading the line, the Berwick side started brightly. Jeffrey picked up a loose ball to drag an effort just off target with Bell’s turn and shot moments later sailing just wide.
Amers then blasted off target with the goal at his mercy having been played in by his fellow strike partner - this after a move down the right involving the clever Niall Jones.
A shot from distance then whistled wide of the mark via Marco Lambert’s drive with Rhys Bloomfield also going close in similar circumstances.
The upbeat, confident start soon turned to despair when debutant Mark Weatherburn was adjudged to have caught Calvin Oldham late in the box - Liam Bainbridge stepping up to confidently guide his spot kick home for the home side. Wave after wave of pressure then followed with Sluice intent on bagging another.
Richie Clarke nodded off target from a Bainbridge corner before Callum Morgan weaved his way through to fire inches over. Another break down the left saw Bainbridge turn exquisitely only to fluff his chance, but he was soon celebrating his side doubling their lead when a dangerous inswinging corner from the left footed Bainbridge somehow found the top corner despite Richard Baxendale’s best efforts to clear - Spittal opting not to give anyone the role of standing on the far post.
The lead was almost increased further just after this, but the returning Ash Pendrich was on hand, palming away a shot from distance with a wonderful save.
As half-time approached, Bell headed narrowly over from an Amers cross before Baxendale rose to head goalwards - Sluice keeper Chris McCartney gathering comfortably.
Leigh Walker then swung in a hopeful cross from the left, but good defending from Jamie Laidlaw and Kieran Moffett repelled the danger with Jones in close proximity.
Rovers emerged for the second half looking a different side and on the whole they dominated proceedings in terms of chances created. Amers was unfortunate not to slide in to meet Jeffrey’s centre after fantastic work out wide before a run from Bloomfield resulted in a last ditch challenge from Laidlaw.
When Amers’ toe poke was somehow tipped wide by McCartney, the black & whites would have been forgiven for thinking a goal was never going to arrive, but after a tactical change and the introduction of Moroccan Yassine Essalhi they got back into the match off the back of a scare at the other end which saw Clarke miss a one on one with Pendrich - moments later, a drifted ball forward from Baxendale from back to front saw Jeffrey outmuscle Laidlaw to then lift his effort over McCartney and in with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Walker then hit a venomous free kick over the wall, but when Marco Lambert made the net ripple, following in on McCartney’s spillage, controversy descended on Crag Park when the referee went with a controversial offside decision based on the linesman’s frantic flag waving.
Despite failing to equalise on this occasion, the determined Bloomfield showed superb anticipation to dispossess Laidlaw on the edge of the Seaton box moments later, rifling home a legitimate leveller from 12 yards - the midfielder then almost injuring himself in the understandable celebrations.
Having clawed their way back into the match, the visitors were understandably keen to push for a winner, but this outlook almost saw them throw it all away in injury time - Ben Fairbairn having to rescue his side from late heartache with an important header from under his own crossbar after Sluice had navigated their way into a goal scoring position.
The whistle blew as Baxendale cleared another dangerous ball into the box - the hosts furious and of the opinion that he had clipped Morgan during the final sequence of events.
On the balance a draw appears to have been a fair result.
Spittal will now look at getting back to winning ways with back to back home games at Newfields. Next up for Scott Mitchell’s men are tenth placed Jesmond who visit on Saturday.