Picture: CJC Photos
You can’t help but feel a sense of deja-vu at Craik Park these days.
Victory, three points and a Sean Taylor brace; I should have copied and pasted last week’s report such were the similarities.
Facing a far sterner test in the form of second in the table West Auckland, Morpeth were stretched without being overwhelmed and showed admirable resilience during testing moments.
But the latter were fleeting thanks to Joe Walton’s opener on six minutes, followed by a second consecutive Taylor double in a week, the first coming in the 30th minute before another just before the hour mark.
Far from making up the numbers, West were a strong presence, equalising through star striker Nathan Fisher on 10 minutes before setting up a grandstand finale with a second with 11 minutes left.
This highly anticipated clash between the two leading lights in EBAC Northern League Division One saw the home side get off to a flier, courtesy of Walton.
Playing on the right side of a forward three, the combative attacking midfielder was given the easy task of finding the back of an empty net after Liam Henderson had been played in down the left hand side. The latter played it across goal for the former to slot home and give Town an early advantage.
West, however, were disciplined and organised from back to front and soon rallied, levelling through the hugely impressive Fisher.
The striker, who courtesy of today’s double now has twice as many as anyone else in the league with 18 goals, latched on to a mis-timed 10th minute clearance from Morpeth goalkeeper Karl Dryden to run 30 yards before sliding the ball past the exposed stopper.
The sign of a strong side is their ability to bounce back; the Highwaymen did just that 20 minutes later through Taylor.
The winger thundered in at the far post, following a header across goal, to get on the end of it and stoop to score his third goal in a week.
With chances at a premium, the next goal would be crucial in the context of this clash. Thankfully it arrived for Morpeth.
After Dryden had made himself big to save Amar Purewal’s shot with his face and his defence had performed admirably to block attempts, the home side struck decisively in the 58th minute.
Taylor was the man to smash home the rebound, following a stinging drive from Ben Sayer which West Auckland stopper Adam McHugh could only parry.
This position of dominance was being tested regularly by the visitors, who thought they were back in the game when Arran Wearmouth worked a yard of space on the edge of the box. However his fierce, rising 72nd minute drive flew inches over the top.
Another goal for West would arrive – no more than they deserved – in 79th minute with Fisher adding to his personal tally.
The striker moved in off the left flank and let fly with an unstoppable drive which struck the underside of the bar before nestling into the back of the net; A super strike from 20 yards.
With the pressure mounting on the hosts, they were indebted to custodian Dryden after his brilliant, full-stretch save kept Wearmouth’s long-range daisy cutter out four minutes later.
It was to prove a pivotal moment as the home side held on for a third consecutive home win, setting them up perfectly for Saturday’s trip to Guisborough Town (3pm).
Morpeth Town: Dryden, Forster, Coppen, Carson, Turner, Taylor, Graydon (Reid 85), Sayer (Fry 77), Phillips, Walton (Carr 70), Henderson.
Subs not used: Chilton, Davison.
Goals: Walton (6), Taylor (30, 58)
West Auckland: McHugh, Cobain (Wood 80), Holden, Colquhoun, Galpin, White, Morris (Richardson 74), Mitchell, Fisher, Purewal, Wearmouth.
Subs not used: McKeown, Connor, Turns.
Goals: Fisher (10, 79)
Sponsor’s (Rev Ted Walton) man of the match: Sean Taylor
Picture: Courtesy of Paul Ternent