Morpeth Town 2-1 Newton Aycliffe
Morpeth Town made it four wins on the spin at Craik Park as they put a bizarre week behind them with three points.
Following a controversial midweek abandonment at Sunderland RCA on Tuesday – due to fog – the Highwaymen, reduced to nine-men by the end, returned to familiar surroundings to gain three points at the expense of a spirited Newton Aycliffe outfit.
Mark Davison opened the scoring in the eighth minute before the visitors, starting the second half much the sharper, equalised in the 72nd minute through Kieran Duffy-Weekes.
There was still time for the Highwaymen to recover and get their noses in front once again as Jordan Fry’s 81st minute header ensured a precious win.
Wayne Phillips was operating more centrally in midfield, with Ben Sayer on the bench, and he was generating an effective partnership alongside Keith Graydon.
As the midfield won that battle, it allowed the hosts to create chances, with Davison taking one early on.
The striker – who had ‘scored’ on Tuesday – picked up on a loose ball into the area before turning and slotting his shot into the bottom corner from eight yards.
It provided a position of strength for the home side but it was far from plain sailing in an even first period.
Aycliffe, buoyed by a second win of the season during midweek, looked threatening on the counter, no more so than when striker Craig Hutchinson played Sean Tarling in behind a static Town defence.
With only Karl Dryden to beat, the midfielder lost his footing, stumbled and saw his effort smothered by the Morpeth custodian.
That ensured a Town advantage at the interval but it was by no means a controlled game as the visitors showed in the second half with an impressive early sequence.
First Tarling tested the gloves of Dryden with a driven effort straight at the keeper on 48 minutes before Kurt Matthews was denied moments later. From the rebound, Duffy-Weekes’ close range effort was superbly blocked by the frame of Curtis Coppen.
Joe Walton tried the spectacular in the 57th minute bur his sideways scissor kick was straight at Winter.
But the away team were looking threatening and gained a deserved equaliser with 18 minutes to go. Duffy-Weekes was the man to capitalise as Town failed to clear a corner, the striker slotting home from close range.
The Newtonians almost grabbed a second five minutes later but Tarling’s fizzing low drive flew inches past the far post from range. If that was close, substitute Matthew Pennell went even closer as he burst down the left and slotted a shot through the legs of Dryden but it slid past the far post.
The drama wasn’t done by that stage as Morpeth awoke from their slumber and regained the lead in the 81st minute through the hard-working Fry. It was he who got on the end of a looping Liam Henderson cross from the right, stooping low to guide the ball in off the far post.
A crazy end to the contest saw Phillips sent off for strong challenge, before Chris Reid was also given a straight red seconds later for an off the ball incident.
But Fry’s goal won the game for the home side, ensuring a fourth home win in a row ahead of a testing trip to Newcastle Benfield on Thursday night.
The Highwaymen are in action at home next Saturday when they welcome Bishop Auckland (3pm).