Opening day defeat down to bad start and inspired keeper

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Marske United 3 Morpeth Town 1 Ebac Northern League, Division One

MORPETH opened their first division campaign at highly-fancied Teesside outfit Marske United on Saturday.

The home side strengthened their squad considerably during the close season and they got off to an excellent start when Town’s Fry, under pressure from Marske’s forwards, deflected the ball into his own net on four minutes.

Full of confidence, the hosts continued to press forward and Alexander doubled the lead on the quarter hour.

After a slow start, the Highway Men got into their stride and Marske goalkeeper Dean saved Taylor’s fierce snap shot from the edge of the box.

Committed to attack, manager Nicky Gray introduced Keenan, Hutchinson and Wilson at the start of the second half and invigorated by these changes, Morpeth started to take the game to their opponents.

Town were doing all they could to get back into the game, but Dean in the Marske goal denied Taylor, Anderson, Chilton and Jewells with four exceptional saves.

Marske then came forward on the break and Butterworth forced the ball home from close range to make it 3-0. The game was disrupted towards the end when Marske player Grier was stretchered off with what looked like a serious knee injury.

The Highway Men continued to attack and in the final minute, excellent wing play by Anderson released Chilton, who scored from close range.

Morpeth side: Rookes, Tumilty (Wilson), Patterson, Grant, Hall, Jewells, Bell (Keenan), Fry (Hutchinson), Anderson, Chilton, Taylor.

Techflow Group Qatar man-of-the-match: Michael Hall.

This Saturday, Town face North East Counties League side Liversedge in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup.

Kick-off at Craik Park is at 3pm. Admission is £4 for adults and £2 for OAPs, students and under 16s.

On Wednesday evening, Morpeth return to league action when they travel to Newton Aycliffe.