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West lose season opener

West Auckland Town 0-1 Dunston UTS

West Auckland kicked off their 2018/19 Division One campaign with a 1-0 defeat against Dunston UTS at the Wanted Stadium.

Mark Fitzpatrick’s penalty late on saw the Tynesiders claim a well-deserved victory.

After a successful pre-season in which West won all seven matches, they struggled to keep the momentum going and found it tough to break down a resilient Dunston side.

Inside the opening five minutes, former West loan player Jack Elliot, forced a good reaction stop from West keeper Shane Bland as the visitors piled on the early pressure.

It was a slow start from West and it wasn’t until the 16thminute when they had their first opportunity in front of goal, last season’s Division One top goal scorer Nathan Fisher saw his effort kept out at close range by Karl Dryden.

Dunston once again took control of the contest and Bland was called into action in the 27th minute when an Andrew Grant-Soulsby header from a corner was expertly saved from just a few yards out.

Eight minutes later, Dunston’s Liam Thear had two efforts at goal. His first shot was fired straight at Bland meanwhile his second was tipped around the post as West held on to get to half-time still goalless.

In the 52nd minute, Dunston captain Dan Halliday flicked a powerful header towards goal and to his bemusement was dealt with by Bland, who was excellent all afternoon for the hosts.

Gary Forrest decided to make a change to offer his side some more attacking flair moving forward, Arran Wearmouth came on in place of Steven Snaith as West pushed for a winner.

However, it was infact the Dunston sub Jordan Nellis who almost opened the scoring in the 78th minute. His initial effort was parried away by Bland only for another chance to be blocked by Michael McKeown with a well-timed sliding interception.

Though moments later, the visitors got a golden opportunity to score when Daniel Parker was judged to have handled the ball inside his own box and Fitzpatrick stepped up to tuck away the penalty into the bottom right corner to finally break the deadlock.

As the full-time whistle drew nearer, West could have grabbed a late equaliser as Halliday deflected an Amar Purewal shot, almost putting it past his own keeper Dryden but great reflexes from the Dunston no.1 helped secure his side their first three points of the season.

The defeat leaves West in 16th place as they look to bounce back against Ryhope CW on Tuesday evening in search of their first win of the season. (19:30 KO)

West Auckland – Bland, Hegarty, Parker, Price, Bell, McKeown, Snaith (Wearmouth ‘56’), Dodds, Fisher (c), Purewal, Mitchell (Doninger ‘72’)

Subs not used – Colquhoun, Connor, Coulson

Dunston UTS – Dryden, Marrs, Halliday (c), Stafford, Grant-Soulsby, Hall, Thear (Nellis ‘66’), Pearson, Fitzpatrick, Brooks (Heslop ‘66’), Elliot

Subs not used – Capewell, Elliot, Little

Goal – Fitzpatrick (80’ pen)

Referee – Christopher Keightley

Attendance – 178.

Report by Harry Crowe

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