ELLON Amateurs hopes of avoidng relegation suffered a blow when West End emerged 5-4 victors in a dramatic game at the Meadows. The game should have been played at Hazlehead Academy but with the pitch unplayable West End agreed to forfeit home rights.
It was a must-win for Ellon in ther battle against the drop and with West End safe in mid-table they could have been excused a less than inspiring performance.
But it was anything but as the visitors tore into the home side from the off and deservedly took the lead after just six minutes.
A long clearance by keeper Thomson found the lively Hardie and he broke clear of the home defence to slide home the opener.
It was West End who continued to press and Hardie and Moir both passed up good chances.
They had a great opportunity to double their lead when Baillie was left one on one with Dickinson but the experienced keeper blocked the striker’s point blank effort.
But Ellon could not hold the speedy forward line for long and it was no surprise when Baillie hit a great shot from 25 yards which dipped over Dickinson and into the net after 20 minutes.
Livewire Baillie left three defenders in his wake and squared to Moir but once again Dickinson was up to the task as he just stopped the ball on the line.
Ellon were really all at sea as West End bagged their third as Bathgate ventured forward and played in Baillie who was left with a simple side foot finish with 30 minutes gone.
There looked to be no way back for Ellon at this point but they continued to battle bravely and were rewarded when just two minutes later a corner from Morrison eluded everyone and fell for Hamilton at the back post. He floated in another cross which was met by Dempster to stab into the top corner.
This goal certainly gave Ellon some impetus and they got themselves well and truly back into the game when, after 38 minutes, a Hamilton cross was met by Ironside just inside the 18 yard box. The striker showed his predatory instincts with a fierce strike into the bottom corner.
Ellon had one more scare before half time when Gill was left free at a corner but once more Dickinson came to the rescue.
Half time 2-3
Ellon were left in doubt as to what was required of them during manager Booth’s half-time talk and with just six minutes of the half gone Sutherland powered forward from right back to find himself on the edge of the opposition box. His eventual shot deflected off Hamilton and into the net for a superb equaliser. A great reward for the defender’s enterprise.
The home side so nearly took the lead as Urquhart met a Dempster cross only to see his header hit the post and away to safety.
West End were presented with a chance when Smith fouled Greig 25 yards out. The winger picked himself up and struck a good effort which Dickinson held well.
With 30 minutes left Nicol was replaced by Longmuir. At this point Ellon looked the more likely to take the lead as Smith spurned a couple of half chances.
Cumming replaced Urquhart with 12 minutes to go to see if his height would unsettle the visiting defence.
Following an earlier miss, Smith gave Ellon the lead from the spot when Gill was deemed to have handled in the area with only five minutes left.
Surely the home side could hold out for a great victory but it was not to be as corners for the visitors led to two goals in the last five minutes.
Firstly Gill was left all alone to head in the equaliser from about two yards out and then he was on hand to flick on for Baillie to stab home at the back post with virtually the last kick of the game. A worthy hat-trick for the hard-working striker.
Final score 4-5
Ellon: Dickinson, Sutherland, Nicol, Urquhart, Slesser, Birnie, Hamilton. Dempster, Ironside, Smith, Morrison
Subs : Cumming, Longmuir, Taylor
Ellon were so far off the pace in the first half hour it was untrue. However, they showed real determination and courage to battle back from three down to take the lead. Their defensive frailties resurfaced late on to lose two bad goals. This was a hard defeat to take but the players will need to pick themselves up quickly.
Man of the match
Ellon: Paul Ironside
West End: Gordon Hardie