Newton Aycliffe 0, Northallerton Town 1
By Andy McFarlane
Newton Aycliffe lost at home to Northallerton Town at the weekend.
The North Yorkshire side came to County Durham on Friday night and left with a vital three points, which may just see them finish the season out of the bottom two places to retain their first division status, and with the victory they also took The Frank Swinburne Memorial Trophy back down the A167 with them.
The trophy is played for annually between the two clubs in remembrance of Frank, a devoted Aycliffe committee man who, along with Peter Allison, walked the 25 miles from Moore Lane to Northallerton’s Calvert Stadium to raise funds for the club ahead of their inaugural Northern League season.
The visitors arrived sitting inside the relegation places but also on the back of a run of 5 league games unbeaten so weren’t to be taken lightly.
The visitor’s side had some familiar faces in it with three former Newtonians in the starting line up and it was one of them, in Shaun Hudson, who played a big part in creating the first chance of the game.
Hudson steamed down the right before firing a pinpoint cross to the feet of Luke Jones but as his strike looked to be destined for the back of the net Aycliffe captain Aaron Brown threw himself in the way to send the ball spinning out for a corner.
Moments later Aycliffe had their first chance as Ardelean controlled a ball into the area but got no power onto his shot which rolled straight into the arms of Petrovic in the Town goal.
While the first period was high tempo as expected in a local derby, the clear cut chances were few and far between.
Minutes before the break John Howard, a late addition to the starting 11 following Lewis Walton pulling up in the warm up, saw his volley from the edge of the box sail narrowly wide of the post sending the sides in level at half time.
Aycliffe came out the more aggressive keeping Town on the back foot with waves of attacks while never really threatening the visitors goal other than following a clever turn and shot from Ethan Wood which ended up in the side netting.
With 72 minutes on the clock it was Northallerton who broke the deadlock as a long diagonal ball out to the right saw Jack Stapley beat Callum Munro’s sliding tackle to get himself clear before turning the ball back to the evergreen Micky Rae at the edge of the box and he smartly hit the ball first time to give Pickford no chance as the ball looped into the top corner.
Aycliffe stepped up their urgency but Town took to keeping bodies behind the ball as their back line comfortably dealt with balls into the area.
The only real chance following the goal again fell to Town as another ex-Aycliffe man, Shaun Ryder, nearly scored with a rifling effort from the edge of the box, only to see it go narrowly over Pickford’s crossbar.
The final whistle was greeted with elation from the travelling supporters, knowing that the points were probably enough to keep them in the First Division while Aycliffe look towards their midweek trip to Newcastle Benfield this Wednesday in the Northern League Division One Cup quarter-final.