Morpeth extend unbeaten run

Darlington RA 1 Morpeth Town 1 Northern League, Division Two

DESPITE dominating for long spells, Morpeth had to come from behind to earn a point in their game at Darlington RA on Saturday.

Michael Hall scored the goal to earn a point at the league leaders, and this result also means Town are now unbeaten in seven.

Morpeth started confidently and took the game to Darlington.

Tom Wilson gained control of the ball in his own half and his pass found Steven Anderson in space on the left, who in turn played in Ash McAlpine only for his effort to find the side netting.

Morpeth continued to press and Jordan Fry shot narrowly over from 25 yards.

The hard-running Andy Keenan out-paced two defenders to release Anderson who forced Darlington keeper Pentony to make a fine save.

With Hall and Keenan controlling the midfield, David Hiftle was able to find space on the right, and he played McAlpine down the line and he beat the full back with ease and crossed to Anderson whose powerful shot was tipped over by Pentony.

Marc Walmsey linked up with Hall who fired a cross into the six-yard box, but David Dormand’s shot was well saved by Pentony at the second attempt.

On 25 minutes and against run of play, Darlington took the lead. The ball was deflected into the path of Freary and he set up Allison who made no mistake.

Straight from the restart a long pass from Wilson found Anderson whose first time shot went just wide.

In Darlington’s second attack of note Allison laid the ball into the path of Evison who forced Steven Mundy into his first save of the game.

Anderson then won a corner on the left and his cross was met by Neil Johnstone, but his effort was cleared off the line.

As the half entered its last five minutes, a miss-hit pass ran into the path of Freary who rounded Mundy but the covering Walmsley cleared off the line.

Morpeth responded when Keenan broke forward from midfield and his cross was flicked on by Anderson only for Hall’s overhead kick to go agonisingly wide.

In the last attack of the half, McAlpine linked up with Anderson to gain a corner on the left and Hall went close to gaining the equaliser the Morpeth approach play had fully deserved.

The pattern of play in the second half was the same as the first. With Hiftle, Johnstone and Walmsley expertly controlling the Darlington RA forwards, this allowed Wilson to push forward to link up with the impressive Keenan, Fry and Hall in the midfield.

But Darlington RA should have increased their lead on 55 minutes.

A long diagonal ball from the right evaded the Morpeth defence. Mundy raced from his goal to clear but made contact first with Allison and the referee awarded a penalty.

Freary stepped up to fire his shot hard and low to the left of the goal but Mundy dived full length to pull off his second penalty save of the season.

Buoyed by this, Morpeth went back on the attack.

Further chances fell to Anderson and Dormand but it was Hall who finally scored.

Hiftle gained possession on the right and won a throw-in 20 yards from goal.

Keenan found Hall on the edge of the box and after evading two challenges he drove across the face of the penalty area before smashing the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the net.

Town manager Nick Gray introduced Johnson and Andrews up front as Morpeth went in search of the winner, but the Darlington defence were able to hang on for a point.

On Saturday, Morpeth entertain Team Northumbria at Craik Park in a league game. Kick-off is 3pm.

Morpeth team: Mundy, Wilson, Walmsley, Keenan, Johnstone, Hiftle, Fry, Hall (Johnson), Anderson, Dormand (Andrews), McAlpine.