NORTHERN FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Founded 1889 - second oldest League in the world
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Wednesday, 24 January 2018
29/07/2017 Morpeth 3 North Shields 0 – Ebac Northern League’s JR Cleator Cup Well, we’re back up and running with the traditional season opener for the Ebac Northern League. Morpeth picked up where they left off last season – looking quick, strong and with plenty of goals in them. Their summer signings will mean that they’ll be among the strong favourites to win the league this season and this display did nothing to dispel that impression. North Shields’ starting 11 wasn’t their strongest but they still looked as though they’ve got a bit of work to do to get up to speed before the season starts in earnest next weekend. Their keeper Kyle Hayes was my man of the match. He pulled off a string of crucial saves to keep the score respectable. The pitch – like the hosts – was in good nick too. The club has obviously put a lot of work into improving the playing surface. The Highwaymen were first into their stride and exerting the early pressure and it was 10 minutes before North Shields mounted their first attack of any note but they also had an early shout for a penalty turned down. Morpeth’s Danny Carson was the first to test Hayes in the 13th minute with a rasping 20-yard shot which the keeper tipped over. They deservedly went ahead in the 25th minute when Hayes could only parry a shot into the air and Joe Walton was on hand to knock it in. Ben Sayer laid on a beautifully weighted ball for Sean Taylor to run on to and beat the Shields offside trap, but Hayes just managed to deflect his shot for a corner and he denied Taylor for a second time before half-time when the Morpeth striker got another crisp shot away. The 1-0 half-time score didn’t fully reflect the 45 minutes. North Shields gave Morpeth too much time and space on the ball instead of pressing the hosts, especially in midfield. In the opening minutes of the second half the visitors looked a bit sharper but were 2-0 down in the 49th minute when a quick break by Walton left him one-on-one with Hayes and he poked the ball home to double his tally. Taylor followed that up with his third good chance of the game but he saw his first-time shot come back out after it hit the inside of the post. It wasn’t to be his day in front of goal. In the 62nd minute Sayer sealed the victory with a penalty after he was fouled while running across the box. With 15 minutes to go Dan Wilson had the ball in the Morpeth net but the Shields striker’s effort was ruled out for a foul. Morpeth look in good shape for the season ahead, but it’s work in progress for North Shields. Click on the Photo Gallery link for a photograph of League President George Courtney presenting the cup to Morpeth's Keith Graydon.