BEDLINGTON Terriers FC failed to hang on to a lead for the second successive weekend, as they drew 3-3 with Sunderland RCA at Welfare Park on Saturday.
The visitors equalised six minutes from the end as the Terriers tried to hang on for the win with only ten men after skipper Pete Snowden was dismissed for two cautions.
With Club captain completing his two match suspension for picking up ten yellow cards this season, Chris Phillipson stepped into his role as the midfield enforcer, while usual central defender Chris Carr moved into the right full back role.
With Alex Henderson completing his match suspension for his sending off against Consett and Anthony Chapman announcing that he would not be available for the remainder of the season due to major new work commitments, Richard Hodgson started out wide left.
Mark Convery created the first shot on target of the game, with a 25 yard free kick which RCA keeper Gary Hoggeth held low to his right.
The visitors were forced into an early change after only ten minutes, when Scott Richards was replaced by Leon Carling.
The Terriers had their own keeper Paul Newton to thank on the quarter hour mark, as he brilliantly tipped a 20 yard effort around the paper.
Hoggeth was forced into heroics of his own minutes later, when a curling Hodgson free kick awarded for foul on Stewart was palmed away by the RCA stopper.
The Terriers ongoing frailties at set-pieces were exposed at the midway point in the half as the visitors tool the lead.
Harrison Davies’ corner kick from the left saw Joseph Walton unmarked at the far post angle his header down and just inside the upright.
Bedlington suffered an injury blow just past the half hour mark, when Stewart was forced off, and was replaced by Ben Christensen as Lowery and Perry shuffled the pack.
The home team was unable to find their way back into the game before the referee blew for half time.
The start to the second half was delayed by some 20 minutes due to an injury sustained by one of the assistants.
Fortunately a local replacement was quickly found and the game resumed at 4.20.
The second period really burst into life within three minutes of the restart, with four goals in eight crazy minutes.
Bedlington turned their fortunes around with two goals in 90 seconds.
First, Convery drove a powerful free kick from a central position on the edge of the area which Hoggeth could only get his fingertips on as it found the top corner of his goal.
Then with their next possession, Convery turned creator as his ball from deep saw Benjamin chest control before running in on goal a slotting his low effort into the corner, again despite Hoggeth’s best efforts.
However, the joy was short-lived as RCA got back on terms just four minutes later when ex-Bedlington midfielder Keith Graydon fired home from a free-kick.
The game turned again almost immediately, as Shandran made progress into the RCA area before crossing to the far post where another ex-Terrier, defender Paul Talbot inexplicably turned the ball into his own net. He had clearly intended to knock the ball out for a corner, but had horribly misjudged his position.
Skipper Snowden picked up a caution on the hour mark, and soon after Newton was forced into an excellent block from Richard Logan.
However, the task of securing all three points became much harder with 20 minutes remaining when Snowden picked up his second caution and inevitable walk for an early shower.
RCA skipper followed his counterpart into the referee’s notebook, and as the game entered the final ten minutes it seemed that the hosts could hold on for victory.
That is until a moment of madness which saw Chris Carr handle a cross into the area which didn’t appear to present an immediate danger, leaving the referee no option to award a spot kick which Graydon duly converted to notch his second of the game. Carr also was cautioned for the incident.
Although Logan went close to snatching a late winner, neither side seemed too inclined to overextend themselves.
The final few minutes of the game saw further substitutions, with the visitors replacing Walton and Logan with John Toft and Paul Taylor respectively, while Bedlington replaced Benjamin with Dugdale.
Certainly a thrilling second half was in evidence in this game, but the Terriers will be disappointed that another game has slipped by without grasping the opportunity of a winning position, continuing a run of form which has caused them to lose touch with the top six in the League, instead drawing them nearer to the group of clubs in mid-table.
This Wednesday night sees the Terriers back in action at Welfare Park, as they host Esh Winning in a fixture rearranged from a few weeks ago due to bad weather at the time.
They follow this encounter by going back on their travels this Saturday for the short journey to play local rivals West Allotment Celtic.
Next Wednesday, Spennymoor Town are the visitors to Welfare Park for a League Cup encounter, which the Terriers will be hoping is third time luck, having already lost to Town this season in the FA Cup and FA Vase competitions.
They also still have to play each other in the League, both home and away.