By Glen Robertson
Newton Aycliffe put in their most impressive away display of the campaign so far to beat reigning FA Vase winners Dunston 2-0.
The home side had lost their grip on the Vase last weekend, but their attempt to bounce back with a league victory was scuppered by a dazzling display from Allan Oliver’s men.
Danny Earl’s 15th goal of the campaign and Paul Broom’s second strike in three games secured a fifth away win for the Royal Blues, as Stephen Gibson enjoyed a winning return to the UTS Stadium.
Prior to the game there had only ever been two goals scored in the three meetings between the sides, with Dunston’s Chris Swailes grabbing them both, but Aycliffe tore up the history books.
Skipper Sean Tarling came back into the team to partner Josh Knox in the midfield, while Danny Lambert was preferred to Kris Hughes on the wing.
The Newtonians made the brighter start. In the 11th minute Fred Woodhouse released Lambert, who forced a save by Liam Connell down at his near post.
A minute later the former Darlington winger had another sight of goal but his volley from the edge of the area flew over the crossbar.
Dunston’s first spell of real danger came midway through the first period. Dan Smith’s free-kick fizzed across goal but Danny Craggs was unable to get a telling touch at the back post.
Soon after, Darren Craddock was booked after hauling down Lewis Teasdale and Scott Pocklington was forced into a good save from Craggs’ resulting free-kick, tipping over the fierce effort for a corner.
But just before the half-hour mark Aycliffe took the lead. Lambert played the ball through the home side’s defence and Earl evaded Connell’s challenge and walked the ball into an empty net.
And they went into the break with the one-goal advantage, after Steven Shaw was denied by Sean Tarling’s last-ditch block in first-half stoppage-time, before he fired the rebound wide.
Woodhouse came close to adding a second early in the second half. He was sent clear by Broom but his close-range shot was parried by Connell.
Pocklington was called into action again in the 51st minute. Teasdale’s ferociously-hit effort from 25 yards was heading for the top corner but the keeper did brilliantly to tip the ball over the bar.
Broom then gave Aycliffe a two-goal cushion with 22 minutes remaining. Woodhouse burst past his marker down the left and pulled the ball back for the forer Coxhoe winger and Broom steered a shot into the net from eight yards for his 21st goal in Aycliffe colours.
The home side brought on attacking duo Andy Bulford and Stephen Goddard in an attempt to rescue something from the game, but Aycliffe defended superbly and defender John Close celebrated his 100th club appearance with a well-earned clean sheet.
Aycliffe are up to 17th and are now nine points clear of the drop zone, and just four points off the top-half of the table.
Aycliffe: Pocklington, Gibson, Craddock, Close, Tarling, Broom, Knox, Earl, Woodhouse, Lambert. Subs used: Young, Reay, Hughes. Subs not used: Oliver, Mellanby.