Morpeth Town 3-2 Dunston UTS
Sean Taylor came off the bench to deliver a valuable victory for Morpeth Town at the end of an entertaining clash with Dunston UTS at Craik Park.
Former Morpeth man Michael Hall gave the visitors a deserved lead on 20 minutes with a header, but Wayne Phillips restored parity on 38 minutes with a headed effort of his own. Hall then conceded an own goal in the 48th minute before bringing his side level five minutes later with another header. But Taylor would have the final say as his shot ensured all three points for The Highwaymen.
Morpeth stuck largely with the team that won at Consett, with Michael Turner slotting in at left-back in place of Curtis Coppen whose position at centre-back was taken by Chris Reid.
Dunston had all the features of a dangerous away side; strong defensively, organised and quick to counter. Their approach made for a positive start and they could have taken the lead on two occasions in the opening eight minutes. Mark Fitzpatrick was first to go close with a close-range effort that was well saved by Karl Dryden in the Morpeth goal. With perhaps too much time, the 20-goal striker couldn’t find a corner of the net. His effort was then followed by a Liam Thear chance but the midfielder, after having a shot blocked by Turner initially, thumped a low drive just past the post.
Town began to stir into life and created their first chance of note on 14 minutes when Liam Henderson lashed a bouncing ball over the bar from 18 yards.
Reid could have made it two goals in two games after his strike at Consett, but his 19th minute header, after beating keeper Aidan Grant to the cross, went wide. It allowed Dunston to race up the other end on the counter but Joshua Hawkes’ effort was pushed clear by Dryden with the goal at his mercy.
It proved merely a precursor to the opening goal for Dunston a minute later. Hall reacted quickest at the near post to guide a header into the back of the net and give the visitors a deserved lead.
With eight wins in 11 league outings on the road, Dunston looked every inch the away day specialists as they built on solid foundations and looked to counter at pace. It was causing Town problems as all too often Dunston found space in behind the Morpeth back-line.
But as the game hit a lull, with Morpeth trying to gain a foothold and build a period of pressure, the home side found the equaliser. Phillips was the man to deliver it, popping up at the back post to head an in-swinging Joe Walton ball across goal and into the back of the net with seven minutes to go before half-time.
It galvanised the home side and they ended the first period much the stronger of the two, with Walton’s 43rd minute strike forcing Grant to gather low down.
The hosts made a dream start to the second half, taking the lead three minutes in courtesy of Hall’s own goal as the centre-back deflected a cross from the left past the stranded Grant. But he would redeem himself five minutes later with a header in the right goal as he registered his third goal of the afternoon.
After a topsy-turvy opening to the half, both sides knew that victory was there for the taking with Morpeth seeking to step it up a gear. That resulted in a chance for Turner on the hour mark, but the left-back, who had scored from a similar position against North Shields in the Techflow Group Senior Cup, could only send an 18-yard effort sailing over the top.
Ben Pollock, son of former Middlesbrough midfielder Jamie, then had a glorious chance for Dunston on 70 minutes but his header, from a corner in from the left, was glanced inches past the post leaving him with his head in his hands.
Both sides knew the next goal would be pivotal, and a possible match winner, as the clock ticked down to the 90-minute mark. Thankfully, the fifth of the game came from Taylor, via a huge deflection off Hall again.
The midfielder, on as a substitute, glided in off the right flank before driving a shot goalward. Although on target, it took a huge deflection off the Dunston centre-back which left his keeper stranded. It was a decisive moment and one that left Morpeth fans with plenty to cheer.