Whickham 3, Newton Aycliffe 4
By Dave Strickland
Newton Aycliffe climbed back up to sixth in the Northern League first division with a narrow 4-3 victory away to Whickham on Saturday.
They should have won comfortably but missed a hatful of chances and conceded a late penalty to give their fans an anxious last five minutes.
They were without strikers Dean Thexton and Liam Jarvie, but Matty Pennal stepped up to score a hat-trick and win himself the man-of-the match award.
Whickham started the better of the two sides, but were unable to trouble Adam Pickford in the Aycliffe goal.
Aycliffe got going and Kev Carr had a good chance on 19 minutes but shot wide. Four minutes later, Aycliffe went ahead when a low cross was put in from the left and Matty Pennal converted.
Two minutes later he struck again when he chased a through ball and slotted the ball past Whickham keeper Bartlett.
Whickham got back into the game on 33 minutes when Burrell got through the defensive line and finished past Pickford. A linesman had flagged for offside against another Whickham player during the build up.
The goal was awarded and Liam McNamara was sin-binned for ten minutes for arguing with the decision – the first sin bin caution for Aycliffe following its introduction at the start of the season.
Whickham took advantage of the extra man, equalising on 39 minutes. Aycliffe didn’t clear their lines following a corner and when the ball came back Harmison tucked it in from three yards out.
Aycliffe had a great chance to go ahead in first half injury time but Carr missed the target again with only the keeper to beat.
Aycliffe had the slope and the wind in their favour in the second half and they dominated the play.
They went ahead seven minutes in when Pennal ran onto a pass and finished well.
It was all Aycliffe for the next half hour. Etham Wood had a shot tipped over; Pennal brought out a good save and then hit the post; Ryan Redford put a good chance wide and also hit a good shot just over the bar.
The pressure told on 76 minutes. Harrison Webster got to the by-line and put in a good cross that Bartlett could only parry into the path of Lewis Walton who headed it in for 4-2.
Whickham then got a goal out of nothing five minutes from time when McNamara needlessly fouled Scothern in the penalty box. Harmison converted the penalty to make it 3-4.
The Aycliffe fans suddenly became nervous, but their team continued to press forward and had further good chances to score. Aycliffe took the three points and moved into sixth in the table.
Aycliffe’s next match is a cup match at home to Stockton on Tuesday, January 7 (7.45pm) followed by a home league game against Billingham Town on Saturday, January 11, (3pm).