By Glen Robertson
Newton Aycliffe fell to a disappointing 4-1 defeat at the hands of Hebburn Town under the floodlights at Moore Lane Park.
Two goals in each half for the visitors meant Paul Robinson’s strike counted for nothing as the Newtonians slipped to a second successive defeat.
Allan Oliver was forced to ring the changes as Aycliffe were without four first team regulars.
Darren Craddock missed the last of his three games due to work commitments, while fellow defenders John Close and Mark Peck were missing through injury and flying winger Kris Hughes was also sidelined.
In a makeshift defence, teenagers Tom Hinchley and James Oliver were partnered at the back, with midfielder Paul Broom at right back and Anthony Campbell playing on the left.
Hebburn had never beaten Aycliffe before in four attempts, and that run looked to stretch to a fifth as the home side started the brighter.
In the sixth minute Fred Woodhouse did well on the right and found Paul Robinson in space in the area, but the former Newcastle striker blazed over the bar.
Eight minutes later Aycliffe had the ball in the net, but the linesman’s flag cut the celebrations short. Sean Tarling forced a good save from the visiting goalkeeper but Woodhouse had strayed a fraction offside before tucking in the rebound.
But just four minutes later Aycliffe were behind. Dean Nicholson found Paul Gardiner down the Hebburn right, and the midfielder crossed to striker Liam McBryde who just got enough on the ball under pressure from Broom.
Lifted by the goal, the visitors poured forward looking for a second, but Scott Pocklington did well to stop Nicholson tapping in a second, before McBryde made a mess of a glorious chance a minute later.
But Aycliffe regrouped, and Tarling’s burst from midfield won his side a free-kick 25 yards out. Robinson’s fierce effort struck the post, and Woodhouse couldn’t get a good enough connection on the rebound.
But just six minutes later, Hebburn were two-up. A quick counter-attack saw Mark Rasmussen released down the right and he squared for McBryde, giving the striker the simplest of tasks to grab his second.
Just as it looked like Aycliffe were going in at the break two goals down Robinson struck his second of the season. Woodhouse did well on the right before finding the striker just left of centre. Robinson turned the Hebburn defender Stephen Forster before firing past Dan Regan.
Aycliffe briefly threatened an equaliser in the second half, with Regan tipping over well from Robinson, Tarling being cynically brought down on the edge of the area as he was about to pull the trigger and Campbell’s dangerous looking free-kick was deflected wide by the wall.
But, again, it was the visitors adding to the scoresheet. Again, it ended with a tap-in after a square ball from the byline, this time Jonny Davis’ harmless looking dead-ball found a way to McBryde on the left of the box, and he unselfishly squared for Nicholson at the back post.
Hebburn added the gloss to the scoreline in the dying minutes. As the clock approached the 90th minute, Davis got to the byline and pulled it back for Gardiner to turn the ball home and earn his club’s first three points since they returned to the first division.
This time last year Aycliffe were top of the division, before going the entire season staying in the top half. Now only Durham keep the Royal Blues off the bottom of the table as the club face a weekend double-header against Team Northumbria (Saturday away) and Bishop Auckland (Monday at home).
Newton Aycliffe (4-4-2): Pocklington; Broom, Hinchley, Oliver, Campbell; Wodhouse, Tarling, Wilson, Owen; Barton, Robinson. Unused: Knox, Young, Farley.