Ashington 0 Morpeth Town 0 Northern League, Division One
MORPETH manager Nick Gray went into this match with Ashington without the services of Scott Swanston (suspended) Shaun Bell (at work) and David Hiftle (injured), but this was countered with the return of Paul Dunn after a period of injury.
Following the disappointment of the previous week against Eastbourne United in the FA Vase, there was concern that the players would be down, but there was no need to worry as Town put on a decent display.
The first chance for the visitors saw Andrew Keenan and Sean Taylor link up well to put Michael Chilton clear. The club’s top scorer fired his shot just wide of the upright with home goalkeeper Dryden beaten.
Then it was the turn of Keenan to have a shot which was well saved by Dryden at his near post.
As the game progressed, the hosts came more and more into it and Glen Taylor twice went close with headers from Ashington corners and Johnson was denied when his crisp shot was well saved by Steven Mundy.
The second half started where the first had left off and Sean Taylor’s touch on the ball was causing problems for the home defence.
Morpeth were looking good without creating many clear-cut chances and then in the 70th minute there was controversy when Chris Jewels, who had been outstanding to that point, played a short ball which allowed Glen Taylor to get in ahead of Michael Hall, who brought him down.
The Town faithful feared the worst as the referee took his time over the decision, but were relieved when he only booked Hall as the outstanding Shaun Henderson at right-back was covering around.
No further chances occurred and both managers were happy with a point.
Nick Gray said after the match: “It was always going to be a tough game for us after a difficult week and I would have taken a point if it had been offered before the game.
“The nature of the defeat at Eastbourne and the injustice of it all will stay with us for a long time and the lads did well to get a point.
Assistant Jon McDonald added that Morpeth have a huge game at home to Sunderland RCA on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) as they look to pull further clear of the relegation zone.
• A Northumberland Football Association disciplinary hearing on Tuesday overturned the red card of Town player Jordan Fry following scrutiny of video evidence.
He was sent off after 90 seconds of the recent FA Vase last-16 match for allegedly punching an Eastbourne player, but the panel found that he was innocent of any misdemeanour – the result confirmed in writing that Fry had ‘no case to answer’.
Club chairman Ken Beattie said: “This is a result for justice. The sending-off at Eastbourne of Jordan Fry had a major effect on the game, not only in terms of going down to 10 men and losing an influential player, but in terms of a feeling of disbelief and it shook us right off our game.
“We are very proud of what we achieved in the FA Vase this season and look forward to next season’s competition.
“We will be writing to the FA as to the performance of the two officials in question (referee Mr Laver and assistant referee Mr Scott).”