First league win of season for Morpeth

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Morpeth Town won their first game in Evo-Stik East with a 2-1 win at home to Brighouse Town.

Liam Henderson got the hosts up and running with a fourth minute goal before Joe Walton’s crucial second on the stroke of half-time. Aaron Martin reduced the arrears for Brighouse in the early stages of the second half.

Morpeth started brightly, with David Carson fizzing a drive from the edge of the box straight at keeper Jordan Porter, who could only push it wide of his near post.

But it was a pre-cursor to Town taking the lead through Henderson, the powerful forward slamming home a loose ball in the area, after Adam Burnicle’s cross-field ball was flicked on by Carson into the path of Walton. The winger’s effort was saved, but Henderson was on hand to thump home the rebound.

Morpeth looked bright and energetic, pressing with intent and popping the ball around confidently when they had it.

Wayne Phillips, restored to the starting line-up after coming off the bench on Saturday at Belper Town, was calm and composed in the middle of the park, allowing Carson and Ben Sayer to provide a waspish presence in midfield.

Carson was next to go close as Morpeth sought to press home their advantage, the midfielder darting in from the left side, on to his favoured right foot, only to see his low shot pushed wide by Porter.

Sayer then arrowed a free-kick toward the bottom corner, but Porter saved and clung on to it, with Henderson bearing down on him.

On 29 minutes, Michael Turner turned defence into attack in a split-second as he brushed Thomas Robinson off the ball as the forward bore down on goal, before lashing a 60-yard cross-field ball to Henderson. The striker nodded it into the path of Walton, but his half-volley was always rising over the top. Six minutes later and it was a similar end product from Burnicle as he struck a high bouncing ball over the top from the penalty spot.

Henderson was finding plenty of space in behind the Brighouse back-line but, after wriggling clear once again, he blazed his effort over the bar.

But just as the half-time whistle loomed, Walton struck following pinball in the box after Henderson’s strike was saved by the keeper. The keeper may have got a big deflection on it, however few in the ground cared as the half-time whistle had the hosts two to the good.

It gave Morpeth a cushion, and to be honest it was a deserved one. But far from accepting their fate, the visitors came out in search of a way back into the game and it arrived on 58 minutes through free-scoring Martin, who was quickest to react in the box to fire home from close range.

In an increasingly tight encounter, Morpeth so nearly restored their two-goal cushion on 64 minutes, but Walton, following neat team play to move the ball from the left edge of the box to the right, lashed an effort over the top.

Two minutes later and Town were on the charge once again, this time Sayer weaving through to fire straight at Porter, before David Carson’s low drive was gathered by the visiting stopper.

Just as the hosts were looking to score a decisive third, they came close to conceding at the other end on 70 minutes. However, after a long punt found Gabriel Johnson in behind, the striker’s cross couldn’t be converted by Martin, whose effort was superbly smothered by Dan Lowson in the Morpeth goal. The striker would then see a second yellow card for a lunging challenge on Ilulian Petrache in the final minute as the Highwaymen saw the game out to claim their first three points in the Evo-Stik League.

Morpeth are next in action on Saturday when they face Markse United at Craik Park (3pm) in the FA Cup Preliminary Round.