Newton Aycliffe FC’s disappointing run of results continued on Saturday, as Bedlington Terriers secured a late win to all but guarantee their own First Division survival and condemn Team Northumbria to the drop.
But boss Allan Oliver will certainly be a happier man than seven days previously, as his team turned in a much improved performance. However he will once again be cursing his luck as illness and unavailability deprived him of a key defender, key midfielder and key striker.
The start from Aycliffe was high tempo just as the Manager would have wanted. And he was rewarded as early as the 7th minute when Stuart Owen fed a delightful ball through for Tom Atkinson. The front man checked inside onto his right foot and calmly slotted home.
Shortly after Owen was again nearly provider, as his corner was headed towards goal by Dan Mellanby, but unfortunately was cleared off the line.
Spence in the Aycliffe goal was much more like himself after conceding a couple of disappointing goals last week, and he made 2 excellent saves to deny Walton and Williamson as the game swung from end to end.
Mark Wood almost doubled Aycliffes lead in the 35th minute, but he saw his effort well saved by McCafferty in the Bedlington goal.
McCafferty then equalled Spence’s earlier heroics as he turned a Mellanby volley onto the bar and away to safety as Aycliffe pressed for a second.
But then with half time approaching Aycliffe were undone by a left wing corner, Walton being gifted a free header from which to score.
A back injury forced Mark Wood off at half time, with Lewis Green coming on to replace him and Paul Broom slotting in at right back. Then on 70 minutes, Oliver made a double change as he looked for the winner. Jamie Owens and Stephen Butterworth replaced Stuart Owen and Kerry Hedley, as the boss switched to a 4-3-3 formation.
Unfortunately however the next goal went against Aycliffe. John Close, who has been so dependable this season, was robbed of possession on the edge of the box, and Walton had a gift of a chance he wasn’t going to miss.
Somehow that was the last goal of the game. McCafferty was increasingly busy as Aycliffe pressed for the equaliser, but he somehow defied everything Aycliffe threw at him. Owens, Young, Mellanby and Atkinson all saw goal bound efforts saved, which on another day would have gone in.
Ultimately, Bedlingtons need for the win was greater, and that was typified with the late block by Harmison to deny Mellanby when he looked certain to score in the 90th minute.
Newton Aycliffe: Spence, M Wood, Clough, Oliver, Close, Owen, Broom, Young, Atkinson, Mellanby, Hedley. Substitutes Owens, Butterworth, Raitt, Green, Farley.