Newton Aycliffe 3, Brandon Utd 1
Durham Challenge Cup holders Newton Aycliffe progressed to the quarter-finals of this year’s competition with a 3-1 win over Brandon United.
Both teams deserve credit for playing some neat football on a muddy pitch in cold, windy conditions.
Aycliffe captain Jamie Owens had to pull out through injury before the match, and three minutes into the game Liam Browne had to go off with an ankle injury, with recent signing Gavin Wilson coming on at right back to replace him.
Brandon had the benefit of the wind in the first half, but failed to capitalise. Indeed, Brandon’s goalkeeper Thomas Orton was the busier of the two in the period, making good saves from Corey Nicholson and Ben Trotter before he was beaten by Josh Gray, only for the shot to crash against the crossbar and come back out.
Brandon’s Steve Turnbull tested Phil Pentony in the home goal, but Phil made a good save.
The first 20 minutes of the second half were fairly even, with both sides trying to prise an opening.
But then Aycliffe made the breakthrough on 65 minutes when Stuart Banks played in Zak Boagey, who rounded Orton to finish for 1-0.
Aycliffe were on top, but then let Brandon back into the game when they failed to clear a free-kick on 71 minutes.
Phil Pentony made a good save low down, but could only push it into the path of Joe Calvert, who side-footed home for 1-1. Both sides went for a winner, and it was Aycliffe who got ahead when Scott Howes ventured forward to finish off a good team move for 2-1 on 76 minutes.
Two minutes later, Gray sealed the win with a fantastic shot direct from a free-kick 25 yards out.
Both sides kept attacking and counter-attacking until the final whistle, but neither could finish off some good moves.
Aycliffe’s next game is at home to Chester-le-Street on Saturday (January 7, 3pm kick-off). Seaham Red Star will then be the next visitors to Moore Lane on Saturday January 14.