Late drama as Hebburn strike 96th minute equaliser

Hebburn Town 3-3 West Auckland Town

Graeme Armstrong struck a stoppage-time equaliser as West Auckland Town had to settle for a point in an entertaining six-goal thriller.

West looked to have had the victory sealed on 94 minutes when Adam Mitchell tucked away his penalty after Arran Wearmouth was brought down. Though, Armstrong dealt a vital blow inside six minutes of injury-time as he converted Michael Richardson’s cross to rescue a dramatic point.

Amar Purewal opened the scoring on 19 minutes from the penalty spot to grab his 18th goal of the season before Hebburn skipper Louis Storey levelled proceedings eight minutes later dinking the ball past Shane Bland.

On 52 minutes, David Dowson restored West’s lead with a vigorous left-footed strike as Gary Forrest’s side were in control until Liam Hegarty was shown a straight red card by referee David Carr for a suspected late challenge on Andrew Stephenson.

Hebburn came back once more with 14 minutes remaining when Luke Sullivan dispatched his spot-kick to set up a tense finale and Purewal had a great opportunity to grab his second of the afternoon in the closing stages though the forward saw his penalty crash against the bar as Forrest’s side slipped to ninth in the Northern League Division One table on 37 points.

Heading into the contest, the two sides had already met twice this season, with the league outing in September a narrow 2-1 win for Hebburn courtesy of Armstrong’s last-minute winner, and West came out on top last Saturday in the FA Vase Fifth Round after an own goal from Jack Donaghy and Purewal’s second-half strike saw Forrest’s side advance to the quarter-finals.

After a cagey opening to the game, West were awarded a penalty when Dowson weaved his way into the Hornet’s 18-yard box and was fouled by Storey, in which in-form striker Purewal stepped up and comfortably sent Andrew Jennison the wrong way to score his fourth goal in the space of a week.

However, the lead didn’t last long as Hebburn responded via skipper Storey, who made amends from giving away the spot-kick earlier, as the defender reacted quickest to direct his effort past Bland following an in-swinging delivery from Richardson.

As the remainder of the first-half saw chances restricted, the tempo suddenly changed after the restart and within seven minutes of getting back underway, West regained their lead as Dowson collected the ball from Hegarty’s throw in and delivered a crisp left-footed strike into the far corner despite Jennison getting a fingertip to it.

On 65 minutes, Mackenzie Heaney went close to adding a third and shortly after, West were reduced to 10 men when Hegarty was shown a straight red card by referee Carr for what was deemed a high challenge on Hornet’s midfielder Stephenson much to the disbelief of Auckland’s technical area.

And with the extra man, Scott Oliver’s side grew in confidence as Armstrong headed narrowly over from close range before Hebburn were awarded a penalty of their own following a failed clearance as Sullivan drilled it home to level proceedings at the Energy Check Sports Ground once more.

With nine minutes remaining, West were gifted a golden opportunity to retake the lead as substitute Wearmouth was brought down inside the area, in which Purewal stepped up once again and this time saw his effort rattle the crossbar before being headed away to safety by Luke Gilhespy.

In extraordinary circumstances deep into stoppage-time, Forrest’s side were given another penalty when Wearmouth was bundled down again and Mitchell made no mistake from the spot, firing it low beyond Jennison.

Though, the celebrations were cut short just two minutes later as Armstrong pounced on a lapse in concentration to steer Richardson’s cross into the net to conclude a thrilling encounter.

Next up – West return to the Wanted Stadium for an FA Vase Quarter-Final clash against Chertsey Town (15:00).

Hebburn Town – Jennison, Read, Shaw, Spence (Blackburn, 72), Gilhespy, Storey (c) (Donaghy, 55), Suddick (Robson, 68), Stephenson, Armstrong, Richardson, Sullivan

Subs not used – Dibb-Fuller, Smith

Goals – Storey (27), Sullivan (76, pen), Armstrong (96)

West Auckland – Bland, Hegarty (S/O, 67), Price, Cobain, Hunter, Snaith, Dodds (c), Mitchell, Purewal, Dowson(Wearmouth, 80), Heaney (Morris, 74)

Subs not used – Burnicle, Portas, Coulson

Goals – Purewal (19, pen), Dowson (52), Mitchell (94, pen)

Referee – David Carr

Attendance – 210

Report by Harry Crowe

Photo by Andy Mitchell.

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