Late Novak goal earns Morpeth a come-from-behind point

Morpeth Town's James Novak.
Morpeth Town's James Novak.

Morpeth Town came from behind to secure a point in a 2-2 draw with Washington on Tuesday at the Nissan Sport and Leisure Complex.

The Highwaymen dominated their opponents in the opening period as Luke Carr put his side ahead within four minutes of the kick-off.

The hosts then equalised against the run of play through striker Mark Davison.

The second half saw Washington create a number of chances as Town struggled to get a stranglehold on the game.

Michael Coghlan dispatched a 50-yard free kick to put the home side ahead before a James Novak free kick ten minutes from time rescued a point.

Town went in front thanks to the energetic Carr.

Sean Taylor picked up the ball on halfway and lofted a pass over the Washington defence into the path of Carr, and the midfielder took aim left footed, forcing a fantastic save from Johnathan Carmichael, but he then latched on to the rebound and guidedthe ball past defender Anthony Callaghan.

The Highwaymen went close to doubling their lead three minutes later.

Novak lifted a ball down the left, hitting Lee McAndrew in his stride. The winger pulled the ball back to an on-rushing Ben Sayer whose right-footed strike curled just wide of the Washington upright.

Carr had a golden opportunity to double his tally and the lead on the quarter hour mark.

Taylor played in Novak down the Morpeth left and the full back picked out Carr at the back post but guided his free header wide of the target.

Carr was a nuisance for the home side and went close again from a 25-yard set piece.

Just to the right of centre, Carr curled his left footed effort towards the top right hand corner, only to see Carmichael get his fingertips to it and push the attempt wide.

The resulting corner saw Sayer’s header tipped over the bar by the Washington stopper.

The dominant first half display showed no signs of letting up. The next chance falling to Taylor with a back post volley after an excellent cross from the left from McAndrew, only for Taylor’s effort to sail over the bar.

Skipper Keith Graydon was next to try his luck when a left wing cross from Novak was picked up by McAndrew on the right and he rolled the ball into the path of Graydon on the edge of the area, but his effort was wide of the upright.

The sucker-punch came on 32 minutes as Washington equalised.

A throw-in down the left made its way to Aaron Croft who crossed for Mark Davison to guide a header into the back of the net at the back post from all of two yards.

Morpeth continued to create chances up until half-time, the best falling to Taylor. After a long diagonal ball from Graydon, the forward cut into the penalty area from the left and fired a shot just wide of the target.

The second half saw the home side start to take control of the game and a Morpeth mistake nearly gifted them the lead.

Michael Hall’s clearance was blocked by substitute James Cassidy who played in Davison and his strike from the angle was tipped over by Karl Dryden.

Another substitute, this time Michael Tait, went close on 55 minutes after the ball fell to him at the edge of the area. Tait hitting his effort just over on the half-volley.

Morpeth struggled to muster any attacking threat, but one rare occasion they did almost resulted in a goal.

Ben Sayer with a slide-rule pass into the feet of Taylor in the penalty area. The striker, however, was denied by a sharp Carmichael save.

The resulting corner was cleared to Graydon 30 yards out, who cannoned an effort off the post.

Despite dominating play, Washington struggled to test Dryden.

That was until the home side won a free kick in the centre circle on 63 minutes. Michael Coghlan surprised everyone when he shot from 50 yards out, catching Dryden off his line and the ball sailed over his head and into the back of the net.

The next 20 minutes brought nothing but frustration for the visitors, who struggled to mount any threat. The home side looked comfortable with a number of long range efforts missing the target.

Morpeth were handed a lifeline on 83 minutes when Joseph Walton was adjudged to have handled the ball on the edge of the penalty area. Novak stepped up to take the free kick, which was just right of centre, and curled a left footed effort over the wall and into the top right hand corner, via the goalkeeper’s back.

The home side kicked into life in the remaining minutes and were unlucky not to re-take the lead on 85 minutes. Coghlan’s right wing cross was met by John Butler in the six-yard box and his touch forced a superb diving save from Dryden who tipped the ball round the post.

Next up for Morpeth is a trip to Garforth Town on Saturday in the FA Cup extra preliminary round.