West Auckland Town 4-3 Whickham FC
West Auckland picked up their sixth consecutive victory in all competitions and remain unbeaten in seven matches after a thrilling 4-3 win against Whickham at the Wanted Stadium.
Adam Burnicle and Adam Mitchell gave West a convincing lead inside the half-hour mark before Jamie Cobain inadvertently knocked the ball into his own net via keeper Shane Bland with ten minutes before half-time.
Amar Purewal restored West’s two-goal cushion on 44 minutes with a composed finish beyond Dan Lister for his 14th goal of the season.
Whickham responded after the interval via a header from Stephen Little before Burnicle added his second moments later with a simple tap-in courtesy of a magnificent cross from Tom Portas.
However, The Lang Jacks set up a tense finale through substitute Andrew Bulford’s bizarre deflection following a misjudged clearance from Shane Bland.
The result sees Gary Forrest’s side climb into fourth in the Northern League Division One table, just seven points behind leaders Consett.
West had their first sight at goal within the opening minute when Burnicle blazed his shot over the bar from eight-yards out after a darting run on the right-hand side from Purewal.
Five minutes later, West went close again as Liam Hegarty’s cross picked out Purewal, who could only divert his effort into the gloves of Lister.
The visitors created their first opportunity in the 13th minute as former Newcastle United and Norwich City midfielder Matty Pattison produced a decent touch to get past Bland but was unable to squeeze his shot in from a tight angle as it came back off the post.
On 22 minutes, the deadlock was broken as Portas played an exquisite ball through to Burnicle, who beat the off-side trap and gave Lister no chance with a precise finish.
Four minutes later, Portas worked his magic again powering through the Whickham midfield before releasing Mitchell to double West’s lead with a right-footed curling effort into the bottom corner.
Whickham regrouped and managed to pull one back in unfamiliar fashion as Pattison’s dangerous low cross was mistakenly flicked in by Cobain after ricocheting in off Bland.
Approaching half-time, West were still in the ascendancy and added a third through Purewal, who slotted the ball beyond Lister after another splendid pass from Portas for his third assist of the afternoon.
Within two minutes of getting back underway, the Lang Jacks gave themselves a glimmer of hope as Pattison’s in-swinging corner was headed home by Little at the back post following a lapse in concentration among the West defence.
Though remarkably in the 49th minute, a scintillating run from Portas which saw him chase what looked like a lost cause followed by a sumptuous cross found Burnicle in the middle who made no mistake from close range to give West a decisive fourth.
On 63 minutes, Robin Falcus’s side pulled another one back in bizarre fashion as Bland’s attempted clearance hit off Bulford’s foot before looping into the net to set up a nervy finish.
In what shaped out to be a scrappy affair, it turned out to be a very entertaining game and perhaps West could have added a fifth late on as captain Steven Snaith hit an audacious effort from just outside the 18-yard box though the woodwork came to Whickham’s rescue.
Next up for West is Guisborough Town on Tuesday evening (19:30) as they look to keep their impressive run going.
West Auckland – Bland, Cobain, Hegarty, Hunter, Colquhoun, Snaith (c), Portas, Dodds, Burnicle, Purewal, Mitchell (McKeown, 89)
Subs not used – Wearmouth, Coulson, Connor
Goals – Burnicle (22, 49), Mitchell (26), Purewal (44)
Whickham – Lister, Oliver (Hedley, 57), Martindale, Little, Grieve, Lowther, Burrell, Peareth (c), Stevens (Bulford, 45), Pattison (Martin, 78), Cowburn
Subs not used – Teasdale, Orrell
Goals – Cobain o.g (35), Little (47), Bulford (63)
Referee – Christopher Keightley
Attendance – 204
Report by Harry Crowe
Picture by Andy Mitchell