Morpeth Town opened their season with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Bishop Auckland at Craik Park on Saturday afternoon.
Daniel Taggart opened the scoring after 21 minutes with a left foot thunderbolt before Jordan Fry netted once in each half to secure the three points for the Highwaymen.
Bishop’s created the first opportunity of the game in the second minute. Adam Nicholls picked up the ball on the left and played striker Andrew Johnson in down the wing and he cut inside on his right and into the penalty area but his effort was saved by Karl Dryden at his near post.
Morpeth also showed their intent in the first five minutes. Lee McAndrew picked out Keith Graydon on the edge of the area and he hit a vicious right footed strike wide of Mark Bell’s left upright.
Graydon tried his luck again on the quarter hour mark as he attempted a long range volley from the edge of the area, again his effort went narrowly wide.
The frantic opening continued at the other end as winger Glen Lane broke down the right for the Two Blues, cutting onto his left foot before hitting a 25-yard effort wide.
A stunning team move from the Highwaymen culminated in another chance for the home side. Keith Graydon found Sean Taylor on the left after some good work by Luke Carr and Dan Taggart. Taylor took the ball goalwards before playing a one-two with McAndrew who lofted the ball over the defence for Taylor to volley wide.
Two minutes late Morpeth took the lead through striker Taggart.
Taylor found Graydon infield and he in turn found Fry and he slid the ball to Carr whose one touch pass found Taggart 20 yards out and his thunderous strike found the left hand corner of Bell’s goal.
Within five minutes Bishop Auckland thought they had equalised, but a goalmouth scramble protected the Highwaymen’s 1-0 lead as first Ian Ward then Arjun Purewell and finally Graham Irving were all denied by the home defence.
Morpeth then took control of the game and had a number of chances to double their lead.
James Novak’s crossfield ball to Taylor was volleyed over by the forward before a McAndrew run down the left led to a curled right footed shot going wide.
The lead was finally extended in the 36th minute when a quick Graydon free kick from the centre found McAndrew on the left, and he cut the ball back to Novak who fizzed a low cross through the penalty area which Fry ran onto and finished past Bell.
The game settled down in the second half with only a handful of chances for either side.
The visitors did go close to reducing the deficit early. Stuart Thompson picked up the ball in his own half and made a powerful run up the centre before finding Ward who hit an effort which struck the right hand upright from 20 yards out.
Another free-flowing move led to Morpeth’s third.
Stephen Forster, Graydon, Taylor and Fry combined down the right to play in Taylor behind the Bishop Auckland back line. He held the ball up before finding an on-rushing Fry at the edge of the area who curled a first time effort into the top left hand corner for an exceptional finish.
The last chance fell to Steven Anderson as he broke the offside trap and rushed goal wards, but his effort was always curling away from goal.
A solid start to the season for Morpeth Town, and they go again on Tuesday away to newly promoted Washington away from home.
On Saturday Morpeth are away to Garforth Town in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup.