Newton Aycliffe 1 Morpeth Town 1
By Bob Wood
It was heartbreak for Newton Aycliffe FC on Saturday as Morpeth snatched a 94th-minute equaliser, depriving the home side of two vital points.
After their midweek defeat at home to Consett last week, the draw leaves Aycliffe 17th in Division One of the Ebac Northern League – six points above the relegation zone – with just three games left to play.
Despite Morpeth’s excellent recent form it was Aycliffe who had the better chances in a goalless first half.
After 17 minutes Dennis Knight tricked his way through the defence and cut the ball back to Stuart Banks who saw his shot blocked. Shortly after Aycliffe skipper, Paul Garthwaite, fired over the bar.
Morpeth came close on 20 minutes when a 25-yard free-kick by Keith Graydon tested Aycliffe keeper James Winter.
The best chance of the half came just after the half hour mark when Richie Archer headed a cross just wide of the post.
Aycliffe’s goal came on 57 minutes when a Knight free-kick found Mark Stephenson in the box. The centre-half powered a header into the net.
It might have been 2-0 a few minutes later but Banks’ long-range shot struck the crossbar.
With full-time approaching it looked as though Aycliffe were going to hang on for a much-needed three points.
However, Morpeth pressed on for the equaliser which came in the fourth minute of added time.
The Aycliffe defence came under intense pressure to beat away two shots but Morpeth sub Sean Taylor pounced on the loose ball to fire home allowing the Highwaymen to steal a point.
Aycliffe now travel to top-of-the-table Guisborough Town this Saturday for what will be another tough game, followed by a League Cup semi-final at Ashington on Tuesday 31st March.
Sat 28th March: Guisborough Town (A) 3pm
Tues 31st March: Ashington (A) 7.30pm (League Cup semi-final)
Sat 4th April: North Shields (H) 3pm
Sat 11th April: Ashington (A) 3pm