NORTHERN FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Founded 1889 - second oldest League in the world
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Wednesday, 24 January 2018
27/12/2016 Consett 2 Seaham Red Star 1 – Division One Decisions at the best of times can turn games of football; penalty decisions doubly so. And two penalty decisions proved crucial in this contest – and Seaham Red Star came off second best with both of them. The first chance of the game came with only a few minutes on the clock when a Seaham defender managed to clear a shot off the line. Later Consett’s Clark Kay returned the favour after Luke Proctor rounded the keeper and looked sure to score, only to be denied by Kay with a sliding block. And it was a lucky block that saw Consett take the lead. As Red Star tried to boot it out of the box, Jordan Lavery managed to get a foot on it and it looped into the goal. It wasn’t to be Red Star’s day. However, Proctor, who looked lively all match, was on hand in the 42nd minute, this time he managed to level the scores. Consett keeper Sam Guthrie tried to punch the ball away as it fell in the box, he failed to connect and it fell to Proctor and he had a simple tap-in. Apart from the goals, the first half was a bit ordinary. The second half was anything but. Seaham hit a five-minute purple patch. Lee Hetherington took the ball into the box at pace and went down after contact with Consett left back. The referee didn’t give a penalty and booked Hetherington for his troubles, presumably judging that the Red Star player dived, or made the most of any contact. It looked a harsh decision. Craig Lynch then spotted Robbie Bird bombing forward on the left and found him with a long pass, but the Red Star winger couldn’t find the target. The visitors then launched a counter-attack and had three attackers up against one defender. Lynch looked certain to score but was denied by a top save by Guthrie, making up for his earlier mistake. Proctor then had a clear shot on target. Guthrie got the slightest of touches and nudged it for a corner. David Palmer followed that up with a spectacular overhead kick which came back off the post. They were to rue their missed chances. Consett substitute Luke Sullivan made a run in the Seaham box and there was contact with Palmer. The referee decided it was a foul and awarded a penalty which Sullivan converted himself. It was another close and controversial decision. Seaham had one last chance to equalise when Warren Byrne sent in a cross which flashed across the Consett six-yard line but three Red Stars couldn’t connect and it was game over. Decisions, decisions. Footnote: just a word of praise for the Consett fans by the clubhouse who created a great atmosphere at the game (even if the drum isn’t everyone’s cup of tea). 26/12/2016 Newcastle Benfield 1 North Shields 2 – Division One One strike of the ball proved lucky for one team and unlucky for the other. As the game wound down, it looked as though it was going to end all square. But then North Shields moved the ball out to Lee Mason on the left wing and he sent over what looked like a hopeful cross. Fortunately for North Shields the wind caught it. Unfortunately for Benfield the ball sailed over Andrew Grainger and into the top right corner. It’s the kind of good fortune that league leaders enjoy. It was a late blow for Benfield who got off to a flyer. Paul Brayson should have converted a cross in the second minute. A minute later new signing John Campbell did put them ahead and in the seventh minute they should have doubled their lead. In one burst of play, Benfield winger Scott McCarthy had one shot blocked, he followed that up with a shot that was saved by Shields keeper Kyle Hayes, only for him to be fouled and for the referee to award a penalty. Brayson stepped up, but he pushed it wide. It proved to be a decisive miss. It took North Shields more than 10 minutes to get going and the defence was particularly sloppy and slow. In contrast, Benfield’s defence looked solid, if unspectacular for much of the game.. It was 18 minutes before North Shields crafted their first decent chance when Marc Lancaster threaded it between defenders. Mason ran on to it but was just beaten to the ball by Grainger who raced out of the box to deny him. It was the start of Shields working their way into the game. Lancaster played a part in Shields’ opening goal when he delivered the ball into the area. It fell to Craig McFarlane whose shot two minutes before the break put them back on level terms. The game was peppered with shots by both sides that were both weak and straight at the keeper. There was plenty of effort, but the conditions didn’t help: a strong, swirling wind and a lumpy pitch didn’t make for swift, confident passing. The gusts meant that plenty of shots sailed over the bar too. Players on both sides still managed to make a pretty good game of it, it was just that Lady Luck favoured the Robins. 21/12/2016 Morpeth Town 6 Bishop Auckland 3 – First Division On Tuesday the game at Bedlington was a night for defenders. Defenders clearly went AWOL at Morpeth 24 hours later in a goal fest. Some spectators were still making their way down to pitchside from the clubhouse when the scoring started. Seconds into the game: Morpeth striker Liam Henderson tried his luck with what looked a fairly straight forward shot, but Edward Wilczynski in the Bishop goal stood transfixed as it found the net. 1-0. Second minute: Priestley Griffiths found himself in a bit of space in front of the Morpeth defence and from 30 yards out he let rip. The ball found the corner, just past a despairing dive by Karl Dryden. 1-1. Morpeth went up the other end and Joe Walton forced a save out of Wilczynski. Walton was to have better luck later in the game. It was more like a game of basketball than football. Minutes later Morpeth thought they’d taken the lead when the ball was bundled into the net from a corner, but the referee spotted a foul. Seven minutes: Mark Davison turned and fired in a shot that was gathered by Wilczynski. Nine minutes: Bishop attack, Adam Nicholls sets up Jeff Smith who was given an acre of space. He has a clear run at goal and tucks it away. 1-2. 18th minute: Morpeth captain Sean Taylor tries a long range shot, only to see it hit the post. Minutes later they have a penalty appeal turned down. 33rd minute: Mark Davison crosses the ball, finding Joe Walton at the far post who heads it in. 2-2. 40th minute: Walton returns the favour for Davison, setting up the Morpeth number 9. 3-2. ….and relax. A much-needed half-time breather. Until….. 90 seconds into the second half: Davison tees up Henderson who gets a brace with an accomplished finish. 4-2. 50 minutes: Morpeth’s Henderson again goes close with a shot which flashes past the post. 51 minutes: This time it’s the Morpeth defence giving the Bishop attackers time and space. Jonathan Wright and Andrew Johnson combine, with the number 9 getting the visitors back in the game. 4-3. 61 minutes: Jordan Fry sees his shot parried by Wilczynski, Walton follows it in and strikes it home. 5-3. 65 minutes: Morpeth on the attack. One shot blocked, Michael Hall on hand to score. 6-3. Hall was credited with the goal after the dubious committee for goals* - Secret Hopper and two other comrades in crime - mistakenly thought that Davison had added another. (*Not, in turn, to be mistaken for the dubious goals committee.) And that was it. It was the kind of game where you kept on checking with others what the score was. It was easy to lose track. And it wasn’t even the game with the most goals on the night. The only other game saw the Synners go goal crazy in a 10-1 rout of Crook. Still, mustn’t be greedy. It was a surreal game, but great fun. 20/12/2016 Bedlington Terriers 0 Team Northumbria 1 – Second Division It was a night for defenders, but one foul proved costly. The game looked as though it was heading towards a 0-0 draw. Chances were few and far between and neither keeper was seriously tested. The two teams seemed to cancel each other out – the Terriers stifled Team North’s passing game, while the Bedlington’s more direct approach didn’t carve out too many openings. It was a far cry from the reverse fixture in the teams’ first league fixture of the season when Team North strolled past the Terriers in a 6-1 rout. Bedlington have made significant improvements since then. The game was decided in the 68th minute. Ben Dibb-Fuller was brought down in the box and he stepped up to convert the spot kick. Bedlington appealed for a penalty in the closing seconds, but to no avail. Overall, it was a pretty average match. 18/12/2016 Steep learning curve for Deano It’s been a steep learning curve for manager Deano Browne. Within the a matter of days he’s gone from having his second division team – Norton and Stockton Ancients - resign from the league, to picking up the pieces and having to start again with a first division club. He was appointed joint manager of Newton Aycliffe with Danny Mellanby in the wake of Peter Dixon’s dismissal. In their first week in charge they’ve effectively had to re-build the first team from scratch with several players also leaving after the off-the-field fracas. Seven of the 11 starters for Saturday’s game were either new signings or players returning to the club, including former top scorer Jamie Owens who was made captain. Speaking after securing a valuable three points in their first game in charge at Newton Aycliffe, the pair spoke to Secret Hopper. Danny said: “Nine players have left and we’ve brought in 11. “We’ve worked together in the past and we hope things are going to work well – there was a completely new team out there today. In the first half we thoroughly deserved to be in the lead. “Some of the lads haven’t played much football this season. We’ve only had chance to have one training session – on Tuesday night – and four or five who started today couldn’t make it to that session.” Deano added: “It’s been a tough couple of weeks. “But it’s a testament to the chairman and secretary for getting all the lads in. For the club to turn it round and get three points today was for everybody behind the scenes who have worked so hard in the last week or so. “We worked on making it fun and trying to get confidence back. The club has been in the media and the players who came in didn’t know what to expect. We both try to make it fun and positive and that showed today. “I’ve only been managing for one and a half years and the last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes you have to take a backwards step to go forward. “Norton was a real family club and they gave me my first opportunity as a manager. No disrespect to Norton, but we’ll be working with better players and we have an opportunity to bring better players in. “We had to come into a dressing room of new players and the challenge is to test ourselves and make it better. “Over the last couple of weeks there’s been a lot of running about – I can’t wait for the phone bill: speaking to chairmen and other managers, watching players and trying to get players in.” At half-time two Newton Aycliffe fans were talking about the team who were 3-1 up. One said that the team would be disjointed for a couple of weeks, to which his friend replied: “If that’s disjointed, we’ll be fine”. Deano in particular seems to have made an instant connection – with some of the younger NA fans singing his name. The club will be hoping they’ve turned the corner and that it’s just about the football from now on. 17/12/2016 Newton Aycliffe 3 Guisborough Town 2 – First Division It’s been a turbulent season for both clubs. Guisborough at the wrong end of the table and Newton Aycliffe’s turn-over of managers and players following a well-publicised off the field incident. It was good to get back to football and fans didn’t have long to wait for the action on the pitch. A slip by Aycliffe left back Alan Harrison in the opening minutes let Mason McNeill in with a clear run at goal and he duly put the visitors ahead. Just after the half hour Aycliffe were level when their newly-installed captain Jamie Owens cut in from the left and struck the ball with the outside of his left foot to bend it round Town keeper James Dawson to finish precisely. Two minutes later they took the lead when James Marley spotted the keeper off his line and his curling lob found the top left corner of the goal. Luck quite often turns against teams at the bottom of a league. At the end of the first half Guisborough’s centre back pairing of Liam McPhillips and Lee Blythway went for the same ball in the air and clashed heads. Both sustained head wounds. McPhillips had to leave the pitch so the physio could stem the bleeding from the gash to his head. (He returned for the second half with enough bandages and tape to keep Florence Nightingale busy for a couple of weeks.) While he was off the field Newton Aycliffe extended their lead. Zak Boagie had an effort pushed away by Dawson but only as far as Ben Trotter who found the net to make it 3-1. It was a goal that proved decisive. In the first half there were some great contests between Aycliffe wingers Cory Nicolson and Josh Gray who were up against full backs Thomas Bligh and Dylan McAvoy. McAvoy in particular had a good game both defensively and going forward. Guisborough Town substitute Steven Roberts made an impact, bringing some extra spark to their play and he took his goal to get his team back in the game at 3-2 with confidence. Guisborough striker David Onions was sent off for a late tackle and Harrison got a second yellow for squaring up to an opponent in the aftermath of the tackle, but the incident didn’t detract from an entertaining game. Guisborough had some good spells, but in the end Newton Aycliffe’s best spells were a bit better and lasted longer; and in Jamie Owens they had a match winner. The former Aycliffe top scorer returned to score a quality goal, hold the play up, bring other team mates into the game and work the Town defenders. He looks an inspired signing, but the quality he brings to the team isn’t a surprise. Tomorrow the blog will carry an interview with Newton Aycliffe’s joint managers Deano Browne and Danny Mellanby. 16/12/2016 Brandon United 0 Stockton Town 3 – Division Two Looks can be deceptive. For almost 20 minutes Brandon looked as though they were going to give one of the best teams in the division a test. In the opening minutes Steve Turnbull had a great chance to put them ahead. He was left unmarked in the visitors’ penalty area but he could only put his header over the bar. That was followed eight minutes later by Anthony Phillipson whose shot was kept out by the last Stockton defender. Stockton had their chances – a couple falling to Joe Carter, but Brandon were looking an improved team and a lot more competitive. That all changed in five minutes when Stockton put three goals past Brandon keeper Tom Orton. Twenty five minutes in and the game was effectively over. First up was Alan Cossavella who knocked it home when a corner found him free in the box. Max Craggs followed that up with a quickfire brace – the first weaving past a couple of defenders and striking a ball that swerved past Orton who moved the wrong way. The pick of the crop was Craggs’ second goal – a terrific free kick from 25 yards out. The Brandon defence looked shell-shocked, but the team managed to steady the ship for the rest of the game. There wasn’t much to report in the second half; the teams didn’t go through the motions but it seemed as though they both knew it was done and dusted in the first half. 14/12/2016 North Shields 3 Ashington 1 – Division One One of the “in” phrases bouncing around football at the moment is about teams “managing games”. North Shields gave a masterclass. From the opening minute they were in control –dictating the tempo of the game and mixing up their play at will. Ashington were given a warning of what was to come in the first minute. Dean Holmes raced down the left and fired in a cross which just evaded Craig McFarlane at the far post. They created more chances before taking the lead in the 24th minute. A perfect through ball freed Lee Mason who ran past a defender and coolly rounded the keeper before tucking it in. Dean Holmes doubled the lead soon afterwards. At times the Ashington defence were shredded. They were under the cosh from the off when the second half got underway too. This time it was Holmes who turned provider, setting up the third goal for Ryan Carr - converting Holmes’ cross with a crafty back heel. It was a long night for Ashington and their fans. It was halfway through the first half before they mustered their first real chance. Their defence struggled all game long with the pace and interplay between the Shields attackers. In the second half the Colliers’ coaches demanded the players play with more pride. At least they got a reaction. Twenty minutes in, they started to have their best spell of the contest. They got a goal back when Jack Donnison brought Dan O’Reilly down in the area to concede a penalty. Despite his protestations, it looked a fairly straight forward decision and Ben Harmison scored with a hard, accurate spot kick. North Shields extended their lead at the top of the first division with an impressive team performance. Their football was quick and decisive. Ashington were well off the pace. 13/12/2016 Thornaby 1 Billingham Synthonia 3 – Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup This game took it’s time to get going. Quality play and clear-cut chances were at a premium in the first half and it was no surprise that the half ended goalless. The second half was a much more lively affair – thanks in the main to the Synners when they stepped up their play by a gear or two. In the opening minute Conor Winter beat the offside trap, delivered a cross but two team mates couldn’t get on the end of it. Five minutes later they broke the deadlock. Winter was on hand again, this time from a corner. His effort looked goal-bound but Liam O’Sullivan helped it into the net from a couple of feet out. Minutes later they’d doubled their lead. Captain Chay Liddle struck it low and hard from the edge of the box. In the 65th minute they’d sealed the game. A cross found Winter at the far post, a little jink wrong-footed the defenders and he knocked it home. It was his last kick of the game, substituted immediately. He’d done more than his fair share to see his team through. Thornaby seemed to lose their way in the second half and the two goals in quick succession knocked the stuffing out of them. In the closing minutes they managed to get on the score sheet when Kurtis Howes had a simple tap in from a couple of yards out, but it wasn’t much of a consolation. Their brightest player looked to be Benjamin Jackson who made a couple of decent runs at pace, a fact recognised by the Thornaby bench who, at one point, encouraged him with: “Go on son - he won’t catch you.” (And he didn’t.) Gary Mitchell worked hard up front, but was usually trying to compete with two or three defenders. 10/12/2016 Whitley Bay 1 Shildon 3 – Division One There are a couple of teams that have clearly improved since the opening weeks of the season. Whitley Bay are part of that group. The fought a losing battle but they are clearly better organised both at the back and going forward. They made a game of it, but most teams will lose to Shildon this season. They got off to a promising start. Three minutes into the game Alex Kempster found space on the edge of the box and threaded it through to Chris Moore who was in bags of space and he fired it home. The Shildon defence were nowhere near him. Their advantage only lasted 10 minutes. Ryan Keltie decided to pass it back to the keeper instead of clearing his lines. Michael Rae intercepted the back pass and was brought down by Tom Flynn in the Bay goal as he reached for the ball. Billy Greulich-Smith duly despatched the penalty. He repeated the feat 20 minutes later when Shildon captain Daniel Moore was tripped as he ran into the box. In between the goals, Whitley Bay could have re-taken the lead when the Shildon defence was caught napping again – this time from a throw-in. Tom Potter was unmarked, lobbed the keeper but his effort went wide. At the other end Moore had two chances in quick succession – a goal-bound shot deflected for a corner and a free header from the subsequent corner. Bay struggled dealing with high balls into the box from corners all game long. When they had the chance, Shildon broke at pace and in numbers. They had the best shot of the game when Lewis Wing’s pile-driver from 25 yards was well blocked by Flynn. He was on hand to score Shildon’s third which came out of the blue (or out of the red in Shildon’s case) 65 minutes into the game to scupper Bay’s best spell of play. Shildon did enough to win, in the end fairly comfortably. They’re back to winning ways but they never looked on top form. Meanwhile Whitley Bay are work in progress. (PS – phrase of the day came from a spectator. Two Whitley Bay players ran towards the ball and then both decided to leave it to the other, swerving away from their team-mate. “That was a Red Arrows move.”) 09/12/2016 Seaham Red Star 1 South Shields 2 – Division One It was the kind of game that does non-league football proud: a bumper crowd of 581, the clubhouse doing roaring business and a game that provided great entertainment and value for money. It’s been more than a month since South Shields lost. Red Star had only won three times in the last two months. The visitors from South Tyneside bring great support with them and the form guide suggested that it should have been a straight forward win. Their fans left knowing their team had been in a tough contest. Red Star got off to the perfect start. In first minute Shields defender Dillon Moise couldn’t get the ball from under his feet, striker Craig Lynch nicked it off him and drove it home. It banished any pre-match nerves the hosts might have been feeling. Gradually Shields started to control the game. Red Star defended superbly. It might not have always been pretty, but it was confident and effective. They covered runners and blocked everything that was thrown at them. But as the half progressed, Red Star dropped deeper and deeper. Shields tried everything – balls through the middle, set pieces and crosses, they just couldn’t find a way through. Their best chance came with the last kick of the half when a rasping shot by Michael Richardson hit the bar. Red Star had clung on to their lead, but they were under the cosh for the first 15 minutes of the second half, backed up against their own penalty area, and it wasn’t a great surprise when South Shields converted their superiority and levelled things up. The ball was knocked into the goal mouth and in a melee of bodies, the ball somehow squirmed into the goal. It wasn’t the prettiest of equalisers but it was no more than the South Tynesiders deserved. It could have opened the floodgates, but instead it seemed to re-energise Red Star who found their feet again and started to take the game back to the visitors. David Palmer hit the bar with a nicely struck left foot shot and almost immediately after, Luke Proctor thought he’d scored but was ruled offside. Red Star were back in the game. Twice Craig Lynch delivered telling passes to release team mate Robbie Bird to run at goal, but both chances were skewered wide. The game was decided by a superb free kick. Twenty five yards out and up stepped Robert Briggs. His beautifully struck effort found the top left corner, giving Red Star keeper Shaun Newbrook no chance. The result keeps South Shields among the front runners, but they’d been run close by a spirited Red Star team. It was a fascinating match for the spectators. South Shields looked as though they knew they had the quality to win the game. Red Star knew they had to battle for everything. Neither disappointed. Both delivered. 07/12/2016 Heaton Stannington 0 Bedlington Terriers 2 – Ernest Armstrong Cup For Bedlingon Terriers this match was their season in microcosm. This was the third time that Secret Shopper has seen them, and as the season has progressed, so they’ve improved. And so it was in this match – as the game went on they got better too. It wasn’t until after half-time that they having any real impact on the match, but it came within the first minute of the re-start. A corner was met with a towering header by Chris Armstrong and they were one up. It seemed to give them a bit more confidence and attacking intent. They could have doubled their lead when a miscued overhead kick found Luke Watson on his own in the Stan penalty area, but he couldn’t find the target. Sixty six minutes in and they were gifted their second. A defender slipped, leaving two Terriers the time and space to pick their pass. Lee Scott tucked it away without too much trouble. Heaton Stannington will be kicking themselves that they didn’t convert their possession and play into goals in the first half. Dean Deagle looked the most skilful player on the pitch – providing some quality crosses and passes Apart from one excellent 55-yard pass by Jack Errington, the long balls by the Stan players left a lot to be desired. They gave possession away far too cheaply. Joseph Wear and Gary Yates had some of their best chances of the first half, but they all went begging. Two mistakes – not marking at a set piece and a slip by a defender – saw them out of the cup. For Bedlington it’s another confidence booster. 06/12/2016 Darlington RA 0 Willington 5 – Division Two The schoolboy excuse for not handing in homework was the old chestnut of blaming the dog for eating it. Your correspondent’s excuse for some sparse notes on the game was entirely due to a waterlogged notebook. After about 30 minutes I gave up on trying to keep paper dry in the incessant rain. There was only one up side to the precipitation – at least it cleared up the fog which looked a bit threatening at kick-off. RA probably wish that the match had been postponed a second time after the original fixture was called off. They were definitely second best. At least, up front, Mattie Hughes and Danny Pigg showed some nice touches, were prepared to take defenders on and try to beat them. At the back David Harrison did what captains are meant to do – organise his team and encourage them to keep trying. Callum Liddicott made a couple of excellent saves, but was busiest getting the ball out of the net. Meanwhile for Willington it was a good night’s work. From front to back, from start to finish, they controlled the game. They bagged five goals – from James Seymour, Graham Lazenby, Darren Kokes, Jason Brazauskas and Mike Weston. Brazauskas almost had a brace: when the referee awarded a penalty, he grabbed the ball, making it clear that he wanted to take the spot kick. Weston had other ideas. Willington secretary Geoff Siddle said that they’d been playing well recently, but haven't been converting good performances into wins. They had no such problems last night. Had it not been for Liddicott’s saves and the woodwork, they could have had a couple more. Job done and three valuable points. 03/12/2016 Non-league Daily editor Mark Carruthers reports from the all Northern League FA Vase tie between North Shields and Shildon. North Shields and Shildon provided a pulsating display of the quality and intensity that the Northern League has to offer, with the Railwaymen sealing safe passage through to the FA Vase Fourth Round. Strike duo Michael Rae and Amar Purewal grabbed a goal each and meant that Denver Morris' late goal meant little. The visitors even had to contend with playing most of the second half with ten men after goalkeeper Nick Liversedge reacted to a barge in the back by Robins winger Dean Holmes. The stopper pushed Holmes to the ground and received his marching orders, a decision that nobody at Shildon could argue with and to be fair to Gary Forrest he was quick to admit that he saw no reason to complain about the decision. The game started of with all of the quality and intensity you would expect from two top sides. There were just ten minutes on the clock when a hopeful lofted ball into the North Shields area allowed Michael Rae to get above Sean McCafferty and head the ball into an empty net. Holmes almost got the Robins level as his electric pace took him in behind the Railwaymen back four but he could only hit a post with Liversedge beaten. It wouldn't be the final confrontation between the pair. Shildon took their lead into half time, although within a minute of the second half restarting they should have been pegged back. Again Holmes found space, again he struck his shot well, but again he was left disappointed as his left foot effort went just past Liversedge's far post. Just after the hour mark Shildon doubled their lead and it has to be said it was a goal that Robins keeper McCafferty won't look back upon with any pride. Amar Purewal sent a speculatative effort at goal but the Robins keeper could only parry it into his own net. The visitors were reduced to ten men with just under twenty minutes left after Liversedge was shown a red for pushing Holmes, Keith Finch came on in goal, with goalscorer Rae taken off by Forrest. North Shields made a change of their own with Denver Morris coming on for skipper Kevin Hughes. Within five minutes the winger had smashed home a Holmes cross and it was game on. The game turned fractured with several stoppages and for all of their pressure the Robins couldn't grab an equaliser. Shildon's supporters and players celebrated a fine win and will go far in the FA Vase, the only competition Forrest is yet to win in his time at the club. Apart from the FA Cup but all in good time eh? If the game itself was a fine advert for the Northern League then the scenes that were witnessed by many in the aftermath of the game were far from it. Words were exchanged between a Shildon player and North Shields supporters leading to a confrontation between the two parties. This depressingly led to physical confrontation, with many people hastily moving away from the ugly and unneccassary scenes, with several children moved to tears by the events. A sad end to a day that should have been remembered for the right reasons. 01/12/2016 Easington Colliery 1 Durham City 1 – Second Division It was a game where two stand-out free kicks were the highlights of a keenly fought contest. Durham started the better, retaining the ball, pushing Easington back into their own half and giving them little time or space in midfield. They went ahead 23 minutes in with the first quality free kick, awarded for a foul 25 yards out. Up stepped Bradley Hird who unleashed a left foot curler which bent round the wall into the top left corner of the goal, leaving keeper Kyle Donaldson with no chance. Understandably, he looked pretty pleased with his fine effort. It spurred Easington on to raise their game and just after the half hour mark they were level. Reece Kenney found the gap between the defensive wall and the post with a precise kick. Durham keeper Daniel Gladstone scrambled across his goal line but couldn’t quite reach the ball in time. Kenney was given another chance when Luke Page was brought down on the edge of the box, but he went for power rather than placement. This time it was straight at Gladstone who took it comfortably. The last 10 minutes saw a flurry of half chances for both sides but any winner would have been harsh on the other team. Rightly it was honours even. Good game. Good contest. Good entertainment.