Morpeth Baptist Church 2 Billingham Crusaders 3 North East Christian Fellowship Premier Division
HAVING shared eight goals, and the points, just before Christmas this was another competitive and entertaining match, but this time Morpeth Baptist Church fell to a narrow defeat.
Billingham started the strongest and created a number of good chances.
A series of fine stops from the returning keeper Appleby kept them at bay. Indeed, it was the home team who opened the scoring when a fine through-ball was taken past the goalkeeper by the breaking midfielder Garbutt who calmly slotted the ball home (1-0).
The lead was short-lived, however, as the Crusaders won a free-kick just outside the D and the ball was played sideways for a powerful and unstoppable shot from the midfielder. Efforts from Tanney and Richardson were saved by the keeper and it remained all square until the break (1-1).
The second half saw more pressure from the away team, whose fast and skilful wingers were causing trouble on the flanks. After a change, the big number 14 moved from centre-back to centre-forward and, with virtually his first touch in his new position, headed in a cross at the back post (1-2).
Then there was a moment of controversy when, after an innocuous challenge in the box by Morpeth’s Dewhirst, the referee – to the bemusement of both sets of players – blew for a penalty, which was duly converted (1-3).
It was harsh on the central defender Dewhirst who otherwise gave a man-of-the-match performance, winning crucial challenges in the air, putting in some excellent tackles and even having a couple of marauding runs up the field.
The setback seemed to unsettle the home team for 10 minutes or so as they took a while to regain their composure. They came back into the match though when from yet another excellent set-piece delivery from Bird, Chambers knocked the ball back from the goal line to Fletcher, who scored his second goal of the season (2-3).
Team: D Appleby, M Richardson (H Davies), S Bird, B Dewhirst, P Fletcher, A Carmichael (A Haxell), R Garbutt, D Johnson, C Snowball (T Quincey), M Chambers, L Tanney.