Holders Morpeth off to flying start in defence of the FA Vase
Hallam 0-4 Morpeth Town
It was a game of two halves at Sandygate as Morpeth Town advanced to the FA Vase Third Round with a 4-0 win over Hallam FC.
Kicking against the considerable slope in the first half, Morpeth were under the cosh for large parts of the period, Karl Dryden making a couple of excellent saves to keep Town level.
But in the second half the Highwaymen showed why they were the FA Vase winners, netting four times thanks to a Steven Anderson brace, a Matty Grieve header and a Liam Henderson goal in injury time.
They have now been drawn away to Newton Aycliffe in the third round, to be played on Saturday, December 3.
174 days after Keith Graydon and Christopher Jewels lifted the famous Buildbase FA Vase, The Highwaymen were back in action, looking to become only the second club in the competition’s history to retain the trophy.
In May, Morpeth Town defeated highly favoured Hereford FC 4-1 at the famous Wembley Stadium, and on Saturday their 2016/17 campaign started at another famous football ground, Sandygate in Sheffield, the oldest football ground in the world.
Hallam FC the opposition, the hosts were on a 13-match unbeaten run in the North East Counties League Division One, a tier below the EBAC Northern League Division One.
On arrival, it was clear that the Highwaymen faced an uphill battle, at least for 45 minutes, as the Sandygate pitch has a 10-foot slope from one goalmouth to the other.
The coin toss saw Morpeth kick up the slope in the first period and created the first opportunity of the game, Paul Robinson able to find space on the left, but his curled effort was comfortably saved by Dale Darwent.
There were chances at both ends, and in the 21st minute, Robinson found the back of the net from a set piece, but the effort was ruled out for offside.
The second half saw the Highwaymen start strongly and they didn’t have long to wait for the opener, Michael Turner’s long throw from the left missed by Darwent, Grieve with the simple task of heading home for the lead.
The goal rejuvenated the hosts, and they put together a spell of pressure on the Morpeth defence.
With 76 minutes on the clock, Town put the game to bed with their second. Sayer’s lofted cross was headed back across goal by Steven Anderson, who wheeled away in jubilation.
Two minutes later Morpeth added their third, Turner again the provider with a throw down the left, the ball bouncing before Anderson hit a half volley from an acute angle, rifling of the far post and in.
In injury time Sayer notched his 20th assist of the season as his corner was tapped in by Henderson, the ‘keeper again caught in no man’s land.
The scoreline was maybe harsh on the hosts, but the Highwaymen were clinical in front of goal and deserved to advance to the third round.
Morpeth Town: Dryden, Forster, Turner, Sayer, Grieve, Reid, Fry, Graydon , Anderson, Henderson, Robinson (Taylor).