Newton Aycliffe 1, Whitley Bay 0
By Dave Strickland
Newton Aycliffe’s Northern League side could secure their top-flight status this weekend after beating Whitley Bay 1-0 at Moore Lane Park on Thursday night.
The Newtonians are now 11 points clear of the relegation zone after this crucial victory, sitting 16th in the table and four places above third-bottom.
And although teams below them have games in hand, Aycliffe could confirm their first division place for the 2018-19 season with a win at home to Consett on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
The score did not reflect the play on Thursday night as Aycliffe dominated the match, particularly in the first half. They played some good football, but struggled again in front of goal.
The Blues got off to a great start when centre forward Craig Hutchinson dribbled through the defence on two minutes and hit a fierce shot into the top of the net, past Bay keeper Flynn. He had another chance on 17 minutes, but this time put his shot over the bar.
Three minutes later a good team move resulted in Jordan Jewson putting in a good cross, but Ben Trotter hit his shot just past the post. Bay then a chance themselves, but missed the goal.
Another good Aycliffe move saw Thibault Charmey put a shot just over the bar.
Aycliffe were on top, but had to alert at the back, as Bay put another shot past the post on 36 minutes.
Aycliffe had another good chance three minutes before the break, but Jewson hit his shot just over the bar.
The second half continued in the same vein, with Aycliffe producing chance after chance.
Bay were better in the second half, but only created the odd chance on the break.
Charmey hit a powerful shot four minutes in, but Flynn was equal to it, tipping it over the bar. Then Flynn made a good save from Hutchinson.
Bay did create a good chance on 63 minutes, but home keeper Jack McLaren made a good save.
Jewson then broke through for Aycliffe on 66 minutes, but shot straight at Flynn.
The pattern continued, as Kurt Matthews and Charmey had further chances before Bay hit another shot wide of the goal.
Aycliffe man-of-the-match Aaron Brown was tidy in his work at the back and was prompting attacks as well.
Jewson had a shot cleared off the line on 76 minutes, and he got a further chance right at the end, but hit his shot straight at Flynn again.
Aycliffe’s next game at home to Consett this weekend is followed by their last game of the 2017-18 season at home to Sunderland RCA next Wednesday (May 2, 7.30pm kick-off).