A spirited second half showing saw Morpeth Town blow away Bishop Auckland despite playing with 10 men.
After Keith Graydon’s 41st minute red card, Sean Taylor put his side ahead on 64 minutes. That opened the floodgates as Stephen Elliott made it two in two games on 70 minutes before Taylor doubled his tally from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute. Luke Sullivan netted a stoppage time spot-kick.
Morpeth were boosted with the news of Liam Henderson’s successful appeal against his red card at Newton Aycliffe the previous Saturday but still shuffled the pack with Michael Turner returning at the heart of defence as Joe Walton slotted in at right-back for the suspended Stephen Forster.
The Highwaymen made a strong start to the contest but only after Michael Hoganson’s third minute shot was saved by the feet of Karl Dryden following the former’s charging down of a Danny Carson clearance. But after that, Town dominated with a string of opportunities; Elliott chipped wide of the far post in the sixth minute prior to Jordan Fry’s 11th minute close-range effort which somehow stayed out.
As the game evened out, it was Elliott who would have the next chance of note on the half hour mark. However, following Taylor’s cut-back, he could only lift a bouncing ball over the bar.
As the game settled, so the chances dried up with the next talking point involving the referee as he sent off Graydon in the 41st minute with a straight red card for a tangle when challenging for the ball.
Morpeth, down to 10 men for the remainder of the clash, started the second half in solid fashion but Thomas McAloon still managed to toe-end a shot, on the stretch, straight at Dryden in the Town goal.
The Highwaymen were still creating chances despite their numerical disadvantage, with Elliott lashing a shot across goal and wide after Henderson had charged down Adam McHugh’s clearance for Bishop Auckland in the 56th minute.
They would be rewarded for their attacking outlook on 64 minutes as the 10 men took the lead through Taylor. Following another quick counter, Walton played in Taylor and the latter lashed a shot across goal and into the far corner to relieve a mounting tension as the clocked ticked by.
A one-goal advantage should have been doubled three minutes later but Elliott, with the goal to aim at six yards out, put his shot past the post following excellent build-up play from Taylor. However, the former Republic of Ireland international wouldn’t be denied his goal in the 70th minute, slamming a header into the roof of the net from inside the six-yard box after a tempting cross in from Taylor.
The creator of that goal would turn finisher from the spot two minutes later, sending keeper McHugh the wrong way after Henderson was felled in the area. There was still time for a stoppage time Luke Sullivan penalty, after Danny Carson’s infringement in the area. But it was a mere consolation as Morpeth triumphed.
The performance of the second half showed plenty of the desire and character in the squad as Fry and Ben Sayer put in the miles in the middle of the park, allowing Taylor and Elliott to cause havoc going forward as Henderson proved an effective target man.
Morpeth have a rare blank Saturday and are next in action on March 7th when Seaham Red Star travel to Craik Park (7.30pm) in the league.
BISHOP AUCKLAND: McHugh; Tait, Hoganson (Tobin 21), Hassan, McGoldrick (Goundry 86), Grant, Sullivan, Dinsdale, Ryder, Ward, McAloon.
SUBS NOT USED: Young, Lovegreen, Thompson.
GOALS: Sullivan (90)
MORPETH TOWN: Dryden; Walton, Danny Carson, Turner, McDonald; Graydon (capt), Fry, Sayer; Elliott (David Carson 77), Henderson (Davison 85), Taylor (Norris 88).
SUBS NOT USED: Norris, Coppen, Reid.
GOALS: Taylor (64, 72), Elliott (70)