Newton Aycliffe 1, Team Northumbria 2
On the day that Newton Aycliffe FC remembered Club legend Frank Swinburne, the team were unable to produce the win they so wanted to dedicate to his memory.
It is a year since the club lost one of their greatest supporters, and they had hoped to mark the occasion by securing their first division survival.
However, they were second best for large parts of the match, and deservedly came away with no points and a nervous end to the season ahead.
Given the huge importance on the game for both Aycliffe and Team Northumbria, it was no surprise that the start to the game was edgy. Quality was lacking on both sides, with the players appearing nervous and not wanting to make mistakes.
The first real chance came in the 19th minute, when Dan Mellanby lifted the ball over when through on goal.
As the half progressed, the visitors began to grow in confidence. On 31 minutes Spence did well in the Aycliffe goal to deny Seyer, before Anthony whistled an effort just over 5 minutes later.
As halftime approached, the referee made a major decision, and one that incensed the home side. When the ball bounced up and struck Martin Young’s arm from close range, the ref had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Watling slotted home from 12 yards.
Into the second half, and boss Allan Oliver made a change to try and get his side back into the game, with Atkinson replacing Hedley.
And just three minutes later, the game did have its second goal. Unfortunately for Oliver though, it was the visitors who doubled their lead, the goal coming from the left back Aird.
On 64, Oliver made another change, taking off Martin Young and bringing on James Oliver.
With 20 minutes remaining on the clock Jamie Owens was presented a great chance to reduce the arrears, but his header lacked conviction and went wide.
Four minutes later another chance came and went. Good interplay from Owen and Atkinson saw Owens played in, but his shot went over the bar.
With it looking like being ‘one of those days’ Aycliffe did finally grab a lifeline. 86 were on the clock when leading scorer Owen bent a beautiful shot into the bottom corner to give Aycliffe hope.
And there was still time for Aycliffe. In the last minute the bouncing ball fell to Mark Wood on the edge of the area, but he was unable to control the shot and it sailed harmlessly over.
And with that went Aycliffe’s chances. They fall to 16th in the table, and with 13 days before their next game they will be watching other results anxiously. The next on field action sees them host Spennymoor on Friday April 4th, with a 7.30pm kick off.
Off the field, the Three Legends will be performing at the Big Club on Friday (28th). Tickets remain available and are priced at just £15.