Stamford 102 Morpeth Town
Morpeth Town showed grit, determination and desire to secure three hard-fought points at Stamford AFC on Saturday.
The home side had been sitting third heading into the clash with seventh in the table Morpeth, but goals from Joe Walton and Jeff Henderson had the Highwaymen in control before Sam Grouse set up a grandstand finale which never truly materialised for the hosts.
It was a victory that perhaps lacked the free-flowing attacking football of previous victories in Evo-Stik East this season, but it showed plenty of the character of a side who were seeking to overcome an FA Cup exit earlier in the week.
Starting solidly enough, the visitors to the Zeeco Stadium had the first chance of note, Jeff Henderson stooping to header over the top at the near post after a well-worked Ben Sayer corner.
Hosting Stamford were combative and eager to get rapid front two Reece Morris and Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson on the ball at every opportunity. With the impressive Jake Duffy looking to dominate in midfield, the home side were a danger without really threatening Dan Lowson in the Morpeth goal.
However, they came close in the 14th minute when a low ball into the box was smuggled away by Iulian Petrache, whose sliced clearance flew past the post more by luck than design.
The Highwaymen were persistent and incessant in their pressing and it paid dividends with the first goal of the game, from the penalty spot. Walton, for the third time in three successive games, found the back of the net after David Carson was chopped down in the area by Joe Burgess when preparing to shoot.
It was reward for a solid start to the game and one they maintained, relatively comfortably, until the interval.
A pleasing first half, however, would develop into a magnificent first hour as the Highwaymen added to their lead with a crucial second goal.
Once again Sayer was creator-in-chief, whipping a pin-point corner onto the right foot of Jeff Henderson, who lashed a first time shot straight through the legs of keeper Danny Haystead. It was his first goal for the club at a critical moment in the game, and it showed in the celebrations of the players.
There would be a nervy final 21 minutes when substitute Sam Grouse nodded in from two yards, after an earlier effort hit the crossbar, but despite a few corners and long-range curling effort which flew just past the post, there wasn’t enough concerted pressure for the hosts to find a leveller.
This may only be three points in September, but in the context of the season, against the quality of opposition faced, this may prove to be a big victory.