By Andrew McDonnell (@AndrewSJourno)
Jordan Fry scored a brace to ease Morpeth Town past Marske United and secure second place in the Northern League Division One for the first time in their history.
Fry broke the deadlock early in the game, heading into the bottom corner, and Sean Taylor added a second just two minutes later.
Marske hit the post and the crossbar in quick succession before Liam Henderson headed home to make it 3-0 at half-time.
Danny Earl netted a brace himself in the second-half, with Fry scoring in between, but the Highwaymen seen the game out for their 20th win at home – surpassing the 100-point mark for the first time in the process.
Nick Gray and Dave Malone’s side came into the game unbeaten in their last 21 league games, and went close to breaking the deadlock early on.
Taylor drove down the flank and crossed to the back post, Mark Davison headed at goal, but Robert Dean produced a brilliant save to push the effort over the bar.
The hosts broke the deadlock on 19 minutes when Ben Sayer’s cross towards the back post was headed home by Fry.
Taylor missed a glorious chance to double the lead soon after, but rectified the miss by curling into the top corner from the edge of the area under a minute later.
Morpeth were pressing for more goals and another fine save from the Marske ‘keeper kept the score at 2-0 with Davison’s effort being kept out.
Keith Graydon had the ball in the back of the net three minutes later, but the goal was ruled out and Marske came close to pulling one back just after the half-hour mark.
Earl drove low and the ball cannoned off the post, Peter Bulmer gathered the rebound and his strike was tipped over by Karl Dryden.
Ben Sayer forced another top save out of Dean at the other end before the Highwaymen scored their third of the game, four minutes before half-time.
Michael Turner drove down the right flank and his cross was guided past the Marske ‘keeper and into the net by Henderson – his 26th goal of the season.
Henderson flashed wide of goal just after half-time, however, the visitors managed to pull one back on 56 minutes.
Earl produced a brilliant finish as the striker lifted the ball over Dryden in the Morpeth goal and into the net.
Davison’s header before the hour mark was well covered by Dean, and the home side managed to find a fourth goal on 73 minutes – a goal that equalled North Shields’ record of most goals scored at home in a Northern League campaign.
Henderson held the ball up well before threading a pass to Fry, who took the ball in his strike and fired low across goal and into the bottom corner.
Marske gave their travelling supporters one more moment before the end of the game as they pulled another goal back after a quick break forward.
The ball was fizzed into the path of Earl, who shifted left and curled into the bottom corner for his second of the game.
There was just enough time left for Sayer to force another great save from Dean, and the Highwaymen seen out the remaining minutes to conclude a record-breaking home campaign.
Morpeth Town: Dryden, Forster, Turner, Sayer, Hall, Reid (Novak, 64), Taylor, Graydon (Robinson, 77), Davison (Anderson, 69), Henderson, Fry
Subs Not Used: Morris, Doninger
Marske United: Dean, Brockbank, Ferguson, Butterworth, O’Sullivan, Wheatley, Bulmer, Gott, Earl, Coffey (Bell, 57), Round
Subs Not Used: McDonald, Clark, Ward
Goals: 1-0, 19 min, Fry; 2-0, 21 min, Taylor; 3-0, 41 min, Henderson; 3-1, 56 min, Earl; 4-1, 73 min, Fry; 4-2, 82 min, Earl
Referee: Rebecca Welch
Assistants: Ada McDonough and Matthew Cain