West Auckland 3-2 Morpeth Town.
West Auckland were looking to put a end to Morpeth’s 12 game unbeaten run and inflict only their second defeat in them in 29 league games this season.
Curtis Coppen gave Morpeth an early lead, taking 17 minutes to head home from close in, before the hosts scored two in five minutes with Nathan Fisher and Daniel Parker finding the target. Chris Reid put The Highwaymen back level just before the interval before Amar Purewal edged West Auckland ahead once more in first half stoppage time.
Morpeth Town’s new signing Chris McDonald, joined from Berwick Rangers earlier in the week, made a start at left-back, while West’s Darren Richardson starts his first league game this year.
Following tense early exchanges, Parker had the first effort of note for either side, the West Auckland Town centre-half rising highest to nod a right-wing Mitchell corner way over the top.
Morpeth’s first opportunity didn’t arrive until the 14th minute when Henderson’s speculative long-range effort was comfortably claimed by former Blyth Spartan Adam McHugh.
By the 17th minute, however, Morpeth were in front with a perfectly worked set-piece routine. Ben Sayer delivered a peach of a free-kick in from the right and found the head of Coppen who stooped low to head home from the centre of the six-yard box.
The Highwaymen grew into the game and could have had a second seven minutes later but, following Sayer’s threaded through ball, David Carson narrowly missed the target with a dinked attempt.
Auckland were looking a threat going forward and found themselves level on 29 minutes through a familiar name. Nathan Fisher latched on to an Adam Mitchell through ball and needed no second invitation to round on-loan and ex-West keeper Dan Lowson and slot into an empty net for his 26th league goal of the season.
The home side turned the game on its head by the 35th minute and found themselves ahead as Parker atoned for his earlier missed header with a towering back post effort from another Mitchell’s corner, which squeezed in between a Morpeth player and the post.
The Highwaymen were far from done on the scoring front and restored parity two minutes before half-time through Reid. The centre-back towered over everyone else to nod in a delightful in-swinging David Carson free-kick from the left and put Morpeth back on level terms.
However, that lasted all of two minutes as Purewal put West Auckland back in front after being played through by Fisher, his shot was half stopped by Lowson but found its way into the net.
The second half started in frantic fashion as the first, Fisher’s shot across goal was blocked by sub Danny Carson, before the striker’s cut-back seconds later was bundled wide by Ben Wood when the forward should have scored.
Morpeth were pouring forward themselves in search of a leveller and David Carson so nearly provided it in the 49th minute. However, after cutting inside with ease, the midfielder’s shot was too close to West stopper McHugh.
It was a signal of the away side’s intent as they pressed for a third. Henderson was next to go close as his side-foot finish was straight at McHugh in the 55th minute.
Henderson went close again on 64 minutes but his glancing header, from a Sayer ball in from the right, flew past the far post as Morpeth hammered on the door seeking an equalising goal.
Plenty of pressure and possession in West Auckland territory failed to earn a third goal for the visitors as sub Wayne Phillips sent a 74th minute bobbling shot straight at McHugh.
Fisher was proving a menace on the counter at the other end and it took a superb sliding challenge, seconds before Phillips’ chance, from Danny Carson to prevent West extending their lead.
But it was all Morpeth as they sought to maintain their 12-game unbeaten run but McHugh pulls two top class saves out to secure the points for West.
The first on 81 mins, it was Henderson who had the chance to level but when clean through but McHugh saved his shot with his feet and then a minute later pulls off a fine diving save at full stretch from a long range effort.
West Auckland could have put the result out of sight in stoppage time, but Lowson got a strong hand to a Fisher strike from the edge of the box.
As the final whistle was blown West had hung on to collect all 3 points in a reversal of the 3-2 scoreline at Morpeth earlier on in the season.
West:- McHugh. Morris. Cobain. Colquhoum. Parker. Mitchell. Purewal. Wade. Fisher. Wood. Richardson.
Subs not used:– Mckeown. Wearmouth. Conner. Galpin.
Goals:- Fisher(29’). Parker(35’). Purewal(45’).