By Chris Sweetman
Late goals by Joe Thompson and James Askey saw Newcastle Town come from behind to earn a vital 2-1 win over Colne at the Holt House Stadium.
The game was crucial to both team’s hopes, with Colne beginning the day in the relegation playoffs, and Newcastle just three points clear.
Newcastle handed a debut to loanee goalkeeper Alfie Roberts, who had come in for the suspended Joe Slinn.
The pitch had been affected by a pre-match downpour that almost saw the game called off, a both sides took time to adapt to the conditions.
It was Colne who seemed adapt the quicker, as their captain Owen Watkinson finished off a break midway through the first half.
In desperate need of points to stave off relegation, Newcastle pushed for the equaliser, but despite creating plenty of chances, they remained behind approaching injury time.
However, Thompson scored his first goal for the club off Kyle Stubbs throw in, to draw Newcastle level.
Then captain Askey secured the points moments later, heading in off Jack van der Laan’s free kick for a remarkable win.
The game got off to a cagey start, as both sides tried to sus out the conditions and state of the pitch. It was the hosts who had the first chance of the game, as Mateusz Kardacz fired a long range shot straight at Roberts.
Moments later, Newcastle had their first opportunity, as Connor Russo forced a save of Colne goalkeeper Hakan Burton.
Both sides were looking to work chances on the counter, and Colne showed a sign of their danger, as Watkinson fired wide from an angle.
However, Newcastle – particularly Luke Walsh – were looking to take the game to the hosts, keeping the pressure on their defence.
Walsh himself earned a series of chances, first firing wide after good pressing work, before his deflected shot earned a corner.
Then, Walsh should have made it 1-0, as he raced onto Max Chimenes flick-on, and worked himself space for the shot, but dragged it just wide.
To add insult to injury, Colne took the lead moments later, as they broke and fed Watkinson in space in the box, who finished smartly.
The deficit was harsh on Newcastle, but not unearned by Colne, who had looked dangerous on the break.
The visitors responded well to going behind, surging into the Colne box straight from the kick off, but Walsh’s shot was blocked.
A few minutes later, a Stubbs long-throw saw Luke Dennis’ header force a smart save from Burton.
From there, the half slipped into a scrappy affair, with neither side able to stich any meaningful possession together, leading to a long succession of throws.
Newcastle in particular were suffering from a lack of accuracy in their passing, that kept inviting Colne pressure, although the visitors proved just about up to their defensive duties.
Colne almost doubled their lead off the last play of the half, as Luke Stowe’s shot flashed across the face of goal.
Newcastle needed a big performance in the second half, and quickly got onto the attack, with Nathan Morley driving into the box, but he could not get a shot away.
However, Colne were determined to maintain their lead, and kept the pressure on the visitors throughout the half.
They almost had the second to kill the game, as Lucas Weaver broke through the defence, but could only shoot straight at Roberts.
From there, Newcastle earned their own spell of pressure, as first Morley fired wide, before Chimenes mis hit a cross in a promising position.
Then, a clever free kick by van der Laan almost played Walsh in, but Burton was alert to it and snuffed out the danger.
From there, Newcastle struggled to create a meaningful chance, although Patryk Mazurkiewicz came on and added significant energy to their attacking play.
Colne were also determined to kill the game off with a second goal, but their best chances went wide.
However, Newcastle somehow failed to convert a goalline scramble, as Mazurkiewicz and Will Lloyd had shots blocked, before Burton saved from Walsh’s shot.
Colne then should have killed the game off with minutes to go, but superb goalkeeping by Roberts saw him smother a two on one.
With regular time almost up, Newcastle won a throw-in, which Stubbs launched into the box and Thompson met it with a perfect header for the equaliser and his first goal for the club.
Belief was with the visitors now, and Walsh quickly won a free kick, which van der Laan landed perfectly in the area for Askey to head home a vital winner.
It was a lucky escape for Newcastle, but ultimately well earned, but most importantly secured three vital points.
Victory means Newcastle now have a six point cushion over the relegation playoffs, and can climb the table when they welcome City of Liverpool to the Red Industries Stadium next Saturday.