Morpeth Lions 4 Whitley Bay 3
AFTER a three-week break the Lions returned to action on Sunday with a home game against Whitley Bay on a bright but bitterly cold day.
Whitley Bay were the Lions’ nearest rivals in the league and it was a game the lads needed to win to help their continued climb up the league.
The Lions started with their regular back four of Brown, Bowden, Campbell and J Thompson and they soon had to be at their best as Whitley Bay showed their intentions by piling forward in the early stages of the game.
The back four however held firm and on the odd occasion when the Whitley Bay attack did get a sight of goal they found Magneron in fine form.
After weathering the early storm the Lions started to take control and good passes from both Hill and Smith released Nicholson who shot just wide on both occasions.
Bowden also went close when his well-struck dipping free-kick just cleared the Whitley Bay bar.
The Lions were not to be denied and when D Thompson was tripped just on the edge of the box Nicholson stepped up to curl the resulting free-kick around the wall and into the roof of the net.
The Lions extended their lead when an excellent ball out of defence from Bowden was helped on its way by Hill to Nicholson whose pass sprang the offside trap allowing D Thompson to latch onto the ball and finish clinically passed the onrushing Whitley Bay keeper.
The Lions were now in control of the game but just before the half-time whistle Whitley Bay managed to claw their way back into the match with a well-struck goal on the break.
As the second half got underway it was obvious that the next goal could be crucial and unfortunately before the Lions got themselves organised Whitley Bay squared the game with another well-taken goal.
Regardless of this set-back the Lions still looked the most likely to score and both Milburn and McCarthy both went close before Milburn chased down what appeared to be a lost cause to find the perfect cross for D Thompson to head home at the near post.
The Lions were however to continue their run of looking at their most vulnerable just after they have scored with Whitley Bay quickly levelling the game at 3-3.
The game seemed to be heading for a draw when Walker and Young combined to release D .Thompson who rounded the keeper and slotted home into an empty net for his hat-trick.
Although Whitley Bay threw everything at the Lions in the dying minutes of the game the lads held out for a well-deserved three points.