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West reach third round of League Cup with victory over defending champions

West Auckland Town 2-0 Dunston UTS

Goals from Adam Burnicle and Alex Francis saw West Auckland progress to the third round of the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup after a 2-0 victory against last season’s champions Dunston UTS.

Burnicle gave West the lead inside the half-hour mark after converting the rebound following a good initial stop from Niall Harrison.

Francis ensured the game was wrapped up with ten minutes remaining when he headed in Adam Mitchell’s sumptuous free-kick.

Dunston, who beat Bishop Auckland 1-0 in the League Cup final last season struggled to cope as Gary Forrest’s side put in an impressive performance to pick up a third consecutive victory in all competitions.

There was a minute’s silence impeccably observed before kick-off in memory of the five people who were tragically killed in the helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

West were on the front foot in the opening exchanges and almost went ahead inside five minutes as Denver Morris’s shot was cleared off the line by a Dunston defender following a goalmouth scramble.

Four minutes later, Nathan Fisher was denied one-on-one when his right-footed effort was well blocked by Harrison, who got off his line quickly to make the vital interception.

Dunston’s first chance arrived moments later as Scott Heslop’s first time strike was kept out with a strong save from Shane Bland.
It was proving to be an entertaining game with both sides looking dangerous going forward.

On 30 minutes, the deadlock was broken as Francis’s delivery into the box found Burnicle, who initially was kept out with an incredible left-handed save from Harrison before getting another chance to fire in the rebound from just a few yards out.

Approaching half-time, West were in control and almost doubled their lead as Francis saw his free-kick crash against the crossbar in what was a huge scare for the visitors.

Six minutes after the restart, Dunston’s Jordan Nellis had a great chance to equalise only to send his header over the crossbar from eight yards out.

In the 71st minute, Nellis was gifted another opportunity after finding some space in the 18-yard box though his left-footed shot was fired high over the bar.

Despite the visitors growing in confidence, West remained calm and carried on producing some exceptional defensive displays.

Forrest decided to make a couple of changes to try and grab that decisive second goal with Lewis Dodds and Burnicle brought off and replaced by Tom Portas and Amar Purewal.

Five minutes later, West confirmed their place in the third round after a bullet header from Francis, converting Mitchell’s fabulous free-kick to secure a vital win and a first clean sheet in nine matches for Bland.

West now turn their attention to Saturday for the FA Vase second round tie away to Thackley AFC as they look to keep the winning momentum going. (15:00)

West Auckland – Bland, Morris, Price, Cobain, Hunter, Francis, Dodds (Portas, 75), Snaith, Fisher (c), Burnicle(Purewal, 75), Mitchell

Subs not used – Connor, McKeown, Coulson

Dunston UTS – Harrison, Marrs, C. Elliot, Stafford, Capewell, Bexton, Nellis, Pearson (c), Brooks (Haley, 58), Heslop (Little, 22), J. Elliot

Subs not used – Grant-Soulsby, Dryden, Scott

Goals – West – Burnicle (30), Francis (80)

Referee – Jack Gordon

Attendance – 94

Report by Harry Crowe

Photo by Andy Mitchell

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