Stockton Town 3-3 West Auckland Town
Stockton Town and West Auckland scored three apiece as both sides could not be separated in an entertaining game at the Coverall Stadium.
YJordan Robinson headed the hosts infront inside three minutes before Thomas Price equalised for West on 13 minutes.
Adam Mitchell’s thumping second-half strike along with Nathan Fisher’s free-kick saw West take control with 23 minutes remaining.
However, last season’s FA Vase runners-up showed plenty of fighting spirit and completed a comeback with late goals from Adam Nicholson and Chris Stockton to earn a point.
The draw sees West move into third, currently one point behind leaders Hebburn Town and second-placed Shildon with 17 points.
Both teams and officials lined up before kick-off with their shirts “Inside out”. The campaign is to get people to talk, never underestimate the power of a conversation.
Gary Forrest made two changes to the side which lost 2-1 against Sunderland RCA in midweek, as Ross Colquhoun and Lewis Dodds were replaced by Denver Morris and Michael McKeown.
In the opening two minutes, Stockton forced a good save from Shane Bland as Michael Roberts saw his shot tipped over for a corner.
From the resulting corner, Robinson headed home from 10 yards out after a great delivery by Max Craggs to give his side a perfect start.
West regrouped and responded 10 minutes later when Mitchell rolled the ball into the feet of Price, who hit a long-range strike from distance in which Michael Arthur got a fingertip to it but was unable to keep it out.
On 24 minutes, Morris did well on the right-hand side to cut it back for Liam Hegarty, who could only drag his effort wide from the edge of the area.
Stockton created a chance of their own as we approached the interval as Robinson was left unmarked inside the 18-yard box, though his header went narrowly passed the left-hand post.
After an action packed first-half, the remainder of the game was set to be even more exciting.
On 50 minutes, West took the lead following a terrific 25-yard strike from Mitchell which sailed into the far corner and started to give the visitors the ascendency.
Amar Purewal almost made it 3-1 just after the hour mark when his right-footed shot was expertly tipped over the bar, as did Fisher moments later, who was denied at full stretch with another good stop from Arthur.
On 67 minutes, West won a free-kick just outside the box and Fisher stepped up to drill it into the bottom right corner to score his ninth of the season and give his side a two-goal cushion.
The hosts started a comeback with 12 minutes to go when Cragg’s free-kick was whipped in towards the back post for Nicholson to convert with a diving header to grab his third goal in two games.
And four minutes later, Matthew Garbutt played a sumptuous ball through to substitute Stockton, who confidently dispatched it beyond Bland and sent Michael Dunwell’s side into pandemonium to rescue a point.
Next up for West is an Auckland derby against local rivals Bishop on Saturday 22 September, 3pm.
Stockton Town – Arthur, Garbutt, D Mulligan (Coulthard), Robinson, Risbrough, Nicholson, N Mulligan (Stockton), Woodhouse, Craggs, Roberts, Coleman (Carter)
Subs not used – Mohamed, Ward
Goals – Robinson 3′, Nicholson, 78’, Stockton 82’
West Auckland – Bland, Hegarty, Cobain, McKeown, Price, Snaith, Morris, Portas, Fisher, Purewal (Connor, 87’), Mitchell
Subs not used – Doninger, Wearmouth, Dodds, Francis
Goals – Price 13’, Mitchell 50’, Fisher 67’
Attendance – 350
Referee – J. Unwin
Report by Harry Crowe