Toppled for second game in row

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Morpeth Town 0 Birtley Town 3 Northern League, Division Two

MORPETH were made to rue missed chances as they fell to a second successive defeat.

Manager Nick Gray gave a home debut to recent signing from North Shields Stewart Wright. He partnered Steven Anderson up front.

Mark Grant, who rejoined the club from South Shields in midweek, slotted into midfield alongside Michael Hall and another returnee Wyn Fremlin was included among the substitutes.

The home side started well and almost took the lead after five minutes when Anderson played in the advancing Wright, who evaded the offside trap and chipped the ball narrowly over the bar from a tight angle.

With Birtley content to sit back and keep as many men behind the ball as possible, openings were at a premium.

On 25 minutes, Hall and McAlpine linked on the left. McAlpine beat his man and crossed to Wright and his powerful header was tipped onto the crossbar by Hunter in the Birtley goal.

Morpeth were controversially denied a goal early in the second half. With Anderson coming back from an offside position, McAlpine ran from deep onto a pin-point through-ball from Howes and rounded Hunter, but as he was about to place the ball into empty net the referee’s assistant on the near side flagged for offside.

After this fortunate let-off, Birtley started to come into the game as an attacking force and on 50 minutes Marron split the Morpeth defence and Smart slid the ball under the advancing Mundy to make it 1-0.

The hosts committed men forward in search of the equaliser, but this only allowed the visitors more time on the ball in midfield. They were able to exploit this in the 65th minute when McIntosh found himself free on the right and his cross into the six-yard box was met by Darwent, who easily found the net.

Morpeth were thwarted by good goalkeeping as they tried to get back into the game and Darwent scored on the break to make the final score 3-0 to Birtley.

They also lost 3-0 at West Allotment Celtic last midweek. As with Saturday’s game, Morpeth created some chances but they could not grab a goal.

Lancaster (two) and Rue were on target for the home side.