Morpeth promotion confirmed despite draw

Action from Morpeth Town v Guisborough Town on Monday. Picture by George Davidson.
Action from Morpeth Town v Guisborough Town on Monday. Picture by George Davidson.

Morpeth Town sealed a top two spot and promotion, but were forced to settle for a point after being pegged back late on for a 1-1 draw by Guisborough Town on Monday evening, writes Ross Jackson.

Stephen Elliott finally broke the deadlock after 52 minutes with a crisp finish as The Highwaymen showed plenty of effort and endeavour, without breaking through until that point.

All their efforts would be undone 10 minutes from the end as Steven Roberts struck from close range to seal a share of the spoils, although this ensured a place in the EvoStik League next season.

But with the Northern League Division One title still within reach, there is plenty of football left to be played this season.

Morpeth started strongly as they looked to get at Guisborough, seeking the initiative early doors.

It so nearly paid dividends with a succession of dangerous free-kicks into the area before Wayne Phillips’ 13th minute in-swinger, which had Jordan Nixon scrambling in the visiting goal before he clawed it away from under his own bar.

Guisborough looked steady from the start and could have snatched a 15th minute lead, but after having his first shot blocked, Ben Hugill could only lash his second effort from 12 yards well wide whilst falling.

It was a half of very few opportunities as both sides struggled to dominate possession – with Morpeth arguably seeing more of the ball, but finding Guisborough in stubborn and defiant mood.

However, that resistance would be broken seven minutes into the second half courtesy of Elliott’s strike, the Irishman lashing home from the edge of the area after keeper Nixon half-cleared a cross with a tame punch.

The visitors were down, but far from out as they attempted a response and could have equalised in the 62nd minute had Hugill’s first touch, following a long ball over the top, been better.

Substitute Mason McNeill then sent a free header straight into the grasp of Karl Dryden as Guisborough showed some promise going forward.

But Morpeth were creating the more clear-cut chances, with Liam Henderson going close to scoring a crucial second in the 68th minute. However, after latching on to a long Keith Graydon ball over the top, the striker could only cut inside and fire straight at Nixon.

With the seconds ticking by, the atmosphere of the game was getting increasingly tense.

Neither side was creating much – that was until the 80th minute when Roberts scored from close range, rifling a shot into the roof of the net after a corner dropped kindly in the six-yard box.

There would still be time for one final chance for Morpeth, but Ben Sayer, after the ball dropped invitingly for him, could only lash a shot across Nixon and off the inside of the post.

The ball dropped out and the chance went begging.