By Paul McGeary
The curtain fell on Newton Aycliffe’s season in the worst possible way as they crashed to a 4-2 reverse at home to their rivals Shildon.
Former Newtonians’ striker Ben Wood opened the scoring with his sixth goal for the Railwaymen following his February move between the sides and Billy Greulish-Smith doubled the advantage shortly after.
Stuart Owen pulled a goal back for the hosts on the stroke of half time but the game was beyond Allan Oliver’s side 10 minutes into the second period as goals from Wayne Gradziak and a Sam Garvie penalty put clear distance between the sides.
Former Shildon man Warren Byrne netted a late second for Aycliffe but on a wet day at Moore Lane Park, the majority of the 238 in attendance went home unhappy, despite Aycliffe still finishing inside the top-10 in their maiden season in the top flight.
Wood almost scored in the third minute but could only shoot against Scott Pocklington’s leg before watching the ball trickle wide while at the other end Byrne stung the palms of former Darlington ‘keeper Keith Finch.
Wood went one better on the half hour when unmarked, he superbly volleyed home Danny Richmond’s left wing centre from just outside the six yard box.
Greulish-Smith, the former Hartlepool reserve team player was on hand to mop up the scraps when both Wood and Garvie were thwarted by Pocklington on 40 minutes but Owen’s left foot effort from the angle of the 18-yard box halved the deficit as the teams left the field for half time.
Garvie outstripped Josh Gray on 47 minutes but found Pocklington equal to his thunderbolt while three minutes later the woodwork prevented an Aycliffe equaliser as Paul Broom headed against the bar following Owen’s corner kick.
That proved decisive in the outcome as Gary Forrest’s men put the game beyond doubt in the next two exchanges.
First Nick Kane’s cross was headed back across goal by Smith for the waiting Gredziak to steer home at the back post then after Pocklington felled him in the area, Garvie picked himself up to coolly slot past the Aycliffe custodian.
As the game, and Aycliffe’s season petered out, Byrne exchanged passes with substitute Fred Woodhouse before slotting under Finch from inside the area but that was to be the final act in the game as Shildon deservedly ran out winners.
Team: Pocklington, Gibson, Gray, Tarling, Oliver, Craddock, Broom, Knox, Wilson, Byrne, Owen. Subs used: Black, McMullen, Woodhouse. Unused: Campbell, Mellanby.