Newton Aycliffe 0, Spennymoor 1
Newton Aycliffe FC were once again defeated at the weekend in their local derby with near neighbours Spennymoor.
However, Allan Oliver and his men will take heart from the performance, and the fact that for large parts of the match they frustrated the current FA Vase holders, and in the end were un-done by a freak goal to this Friday night fixture.
Oliver made a number of changes, both to personnel and also team shape following the disappointing result against Team Northumbria last time out, opting for a 3-5-2 formation to try and gain the upper hand in the midfield areas.
Spennymoor started much the brighter, with significant danger coming from their right hand side. However Aycliffe displayed grit and determination to keep things level.
Butterworth and Broom both collected early yellow cards, which if nothing else were a sign of the determination from the Royal Blues to be competitive.
The first clear opening came in the 34th minute, with Spence doing brilliantly to deny Liddle from Walton’s cross.
As half time approached, Spence was once again Aycliffe’s saviour, as he somehow kept out the left footed shot from Henderson.
Finally, as added time approached Aycliffe were able to register their first attempt at goal, but Broom’s left foot shot went just the wrong side of the post.
In the 53rd minute though, the deadlock was broken. The referee awarded Spennymoor a free kick in the wide left area. With a number of players to cross towards, Graydon instead shot at goal, and his effort sailed over Spence and into the top corner.
On 65 Jamie Owens almost got Aycliffe level. He manufactured a chance for himself, and shot left footed but unfortunately the goalkeeper somehow clawed it away.
As Oliver searched for the equaliser for his team, he brought new signing Craig Mickle on to replace Atkinson up front. And it was an encouraging display from the powerful front man although ultimately it still didn’t produce the goal Aycliffe were desperate for.
Indeed, the visitors almost doubled their lead on 73 as Liam Henderson headed narrowly wide from anther Graydon free kick.
Fortunately for Aycliffe, both Team Northumbria and Bedlington were again beaten, meaning the chances of relegation are now remote. However, they will be looking to pick up the three points either at West Auckland on Wednesday or next week at already relegated Hebburn to make certain of their first division status, before looking forward to the Easter weekend and two home games.