Morpeth’s march up league given a boost

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Morpeth Town 4 West Allotment Celtic 2 STL Northern League Division Two

FRIDAY-night football came to Craik Park this week as Morpeth Town took on third-place West Allotment Celtic in front of a three-figure crowd, writes David McMeekan.

Those who had travelled from as far away as Taybridge and Edinburgh in Scotland, Bolton in the North West and Sussex on the south coast witnessed a fine display of fluid, attacking football from Nick Gray’s young side.

From the first whistle, Fry, Keenan and Henderson dominated play in midfield as the West Allotment defence were put on the back foot. Allotment held out for nearly half-an-hour when, on 25 minutes, Morpeth broke the deadlock.

Walmsley moved the ball swiftly out of defence to McAlpine wide on the right. He cut inside playing the ball through the Allotment defence where Dormand timed his run perfectly, taking the ball wide of Parkin in the Allotment goal.

His goal-bound effort was scrambled off the line by Douglas and Dormand lashed the ball back towards goal, where Douglas flung himself across the line to head clear, but it fell to the advancing Keenan who calmly rolled it into the net from 20 yards (1-0).

Lunn and Dormand continued to pose a constant threat to the Allotment defence and only smart goalkeeping from Parkin kept Morpeth’s lead down to 1-0 at half-time.

Morpeth started the second half on the attack. The hard-running Dormand held off a challenge and, from the edge of the box, he fired home to make it 2-0.

This advantage was short-lived. From the restart, Allotment worked the ball down the right and as the ball was played into the six-yard box, McIvor was first to react, poking the ball home at the near-post (2-1).

Unbowed by this set-back, Morpeth regained their composure and continued to out pass their opponents, as Cartwright a half-time substitute for the injured Keenan created opening after opening for the Morpeth forwards.

On 50 minutes, Morpeth’s fine midfield play was rewarded when Cartwright and McAlpine linked up to release Lunn, who smashed the ball past Parkin to make it 3-1.

Committed to attack, only a combination of desperate defending and good goalkeeping prevented Morpeth from increasing their lead.

This could have proved costly when on 80 minutes, McIvor created some space for himself on the right and played the ball across the face of the penalty area where Day slotted the ball past Mundy to make it 3-2.

Morpeth reacted to this set-back by continuing to press forward and, with five minutes remaining, Dormand scored a deserved second goal to secure victory for the Highwaymen (4-2).

Morpeth continued their climb up the table with another fully-deserved three points that moved them up into the promotion places for the first time this season.

Morpeth Town: Mundy, Wilson, Walmsley, Fry, Hiftle, Parsons, Keenan, (Cartwright), Henderson, (Young,) Dormand, Lunn, McAlpine, (Nickalls). P Gillan & Sons man-of-the-match: David Dormand.

Next match is on Saturday at Craik Park against North Shields, kick-off is 3pm.