North West Counties League

Premier Division

Whitchurch Alport 2

Congleton Town 3

TRADITIONALLY, it’s usually Father Christmas that’s handing out gifts at this time of year.

But title-chasing Congleton were handed an unexpected present at Yockings Park courtesy of two late goals when they looked dead and buried. Alport twice led in this game but all of the drama was provided by the visitors.

Dave Parton kept out a penalty after just three minutes and when the Cheshire side went behind for a second time, their indiscipline midway through the second half looked sure to cost them dearly.

Not so, as Saul Henderson and Bevan Burey both struck daggers deep into Alport hearts with an equaliser and then the most unlikely winner you would ever get to see.

The game might have got off to the worst possible start imaginable for the home team when the referee awarded a penalty for handball three minutes into the match.

Fortunately for the home side, Parton guessed right from Dan Cope’s spot kick and when Tim Sanders put the Reds in front on 15 minutes, there was little sign of what was to come in a pulsating second half that had just about everything.

Steve Foster equalised for the Bears after 64 minutes but their joy wasn’t to last.

And after substitute Alex Hughes casually rolled a penalty into the bottom corner with less than 20 minutes to play, Congleton completely lost the plot. Tom Schofield and Antony Griffith were both red carded in the 77th minute during the same incident and four minutes later Mini Adegbenro was also sent down the tunnel after a crude tackle on youngster Callum O’Connor.

There seemed little hope for Congleton who were staring down the barrels of a second league defeat to Whitchurch, after the Reds had become the first side to halt them following a winning start to the campaign that lasted for seven matches.

Game over, right? Wrong! Far from throwing in the towel on what looked like a lost cause and Alport looked increasingly nervous despite their three-man advantage, the away side adopted a sink or swim approach.

When the equaliser came the home supporters were silenced after providing excellent backing for their side – there were simply disbelieving shakes of the heads all around and that included those of the travelling support.

It was inconceivable to think that their eight men could hold out for an unlikely point, but this is football and occasionally it provides sensational finales such as this one.

So when Burey – with fresh legs having only been on the field 10 minutes – latched onto a long ball forward, he was able to outpace Leon Ashman and poke the ball beyond Parton and into the far corner of the net.

It brought players onto the field who had no right to be there, but really, who could blame them?

For this was a day that will live long in the memory for all those that witnessed it.

It was the stuff that dreams are made of. Sadly for Alport, those dreams took the form of nightmares.

n The defeat leaves Whitchurch seven places off the bottom of the Premier Division, 11 points ahead of West Didsbury & Chorlton, who picked up all three points at Yockings Park last week.

There is an eight-point gap to Hanley Town while fellow promoted side Litherland REMYCA are one place below the Reds.Alport travel to Runcorn Town on Boxing Day.