Highwaymen fail to find the net and exit FA Vase away to Ashton

Match action picture by Pete Barton.
Match action picture by Pete Barton.

Ashton Athletic 1-0 Morpeth Town

Despite hammering on the door, Morpeth Town couldn’t find a way through as they exited the FA Vase at the second round stage on Saturday.

Daniel Smith’s seventh minute strike was the difference between the sides on a frustrating afternoon for the Highwaymen.

With two new signings announced on the day of the game, the team was buzzing ahead of their clash at Brocstedes Park. Although Stephen Elliott was unavailable, David Carson – fresh from signing from Whitby Town – was on the bench as Town made only one change from the win over Shildon; Curtis Coppen replacing the suspended Chris Reid.

Despite a solid start, which saw Jordan Fry’s header needing tipped over the bar, Morpeth fell behind. After being played in behind the visiting defence, Smith rounded Karl Dryden and slotted into an empty net for an early advantage.

Morpeth regained their composure and went in search of an equaliser for the remainder of the contest. That nearly arrived in the 13th minute but Liam Henderson’s dinked cross to the back post was headed across goal by Sean Taylor with Jordan Fry unable to get on the end of it.

In a half of few clear opportunities, on a fast deteriorating pitch, Fry nodded Wayne Phillips’ 42nd minute free-kick from the right past the far post as Morpeth had plenty of the ball but created precious little.

The Highwaymen pressed in the second half and could have been level on 59 minutes had Henderson’s header not hit the bar, following a pin-point delivery from David Carson.

The visitors then laid siege on the home goal, ending the game with five up front, as they tried desperately to restore parity.

Despite a succession of penalty appeals, nothing was being given by the referee as time ticked away without the crucial leveller.

Phillips struck a low 73rd minute drive straight at Martin Pearson in the Ashton goal before substitute Mark Davison glanced a header wide from the edge of the six-yard box following Joe Walton’s cross.

Davison and Phillips both sent headers inches over the top as Morpeth frantically sought a way back into the tie.

The former, with five minutes to go, then sent a superb overhead kick goalward but he was denied by an instinctive reflex save from Pearson.

In stoppage time, with everything but the kitchen sink being thrown, Henderson blazed over the final opportunity of the game as the visitors failed to find the crucial breakthrough.

* Morpeth Town are delighted to announce the signings of former Republic of Ireland international Stephen Elliott and ex-Whitby Town man David Carson.

Elliott netted 22 times in 81 appearances for Sunderland and the 33-year-old brings a wealth of experience and quality to an already highly talented Morpeth Town squad.

Carson, a former Blackburn Rovers U21 captain negotiated a release of his contract with Whitby. It’s a move which will delight many and none more so than the Carson clan who will see David play alongside brother Danny.