By Andrew McDonnell (@AndrewSJourno)
Morpeth Town kept their second league clean-sheet of the season as they completed a routine 2-0 victory over West Allotment Celtic at Whitley Park.
Chris Swailes opened the scoring midway through the first-half, heading home Keith Graydon’s cross.
Sean Taylor doubled the visitors’ lead from the penalty spot after Steven Anderson was brought down in the area.
Morpeth failed to make the most of numerous chances in the second-half, but they held out for the victory.
Nick Gray and Dave Malone’s side welcome Ryhope CW to Craik Park next Wednesday before a top-of-the-table clash with South Shields three days later.
Despite a quick start to the game, it was West Allotment, who created the first opening of the game on three minutes.
Former Morpeth player Dale Pearson drove with the ball and pulled it back for Shaun Reay, but Karl Dryden produced great stop with his legs to deny for former Blyth Spartans man.
Damen Mullen came close to breaking the deadlock 10 minutes later when he helped on Joseph Walton’s cross, but Chris Bannon had the effort covered.
The Highwaymen were starting to turn the screw thereafter and they took a deserved lead in the game on 19 minutes through an unlikely source.
Graydon produced an excellent delivery into the penalty area and defender Swailes leapt above his marker and headed his side ahead in the game.
Bannon helped the ball on its way into the top corner, but for a spell in the first-half, Morpeth were having their own way in terms of possession.
Celtic were content in letting their opponents have the ball, but the next opening didn’t come until 34 minutes when Sean Taylor went close to doubling Morpeth’s advantage.
Mullen played a neat reverse pass into the wide man, who opened his body and curled at goal, but Bannon done well to push the ball over.
And within a minute, the visitors did have the chance to double their lead when Anderson was brought down in the penalty area.
Taylor, who scored a brace three days’ prior, stepped up and drilled the penalty low underneath the diving ‘keeper.
After the interval, Paul Robinson almost caught Bannon off his line, the ‘keeper just managed to push the effort behind.
Celtic came out and went up-field from the resulting corner, and out of nowhere, Reay struck from 30-yards, but the diving Dryden was relieved to see it go whistling past the post.
Morpeth were thoroughly in control of the game for the majority of the second-half, but any opening created was seen off by the Celtic back line.
Substitute Brandon Williams had a goal ruled out for offside before having another chance inside additional time.
The youngster showed some fantastic footwork to knock the ball past the approaching ‘keeper before striking at goal, but Stu Bramley cleared off the line.
It is now five wins in their last six games for Morpeth, and they have a home double header coming up next week as they welcome Ryhope CW before South Shields.
West Allotment: Bannon, Stephenson (Swanston, 65 min), Dobson (McRoberts, 72 min), Dunn, Stoneman, Bramley, Hindmarsh, Henderson, Pearson, Reay, Douglas (McCarthy, 65 min)
Subs Not Used: Blake, Allen
Morpeth Town: Dryden, Walton, Turner, Swailes, Reid, Taylor, Graydon, Carr (Robinson, 22 min), Mullen, Anderson (Robinson, 22 min [Fry, 62 min])
Subs Not Used: Grieve, Hall
Goals: 0-1, 19 min, Swailes; 0-2, 36 min, Taylor.
Referee: Mark Ryan
Assistants: Steve Lennon and James Lowery