Shildon AFC 0-0 West Auckland Town
Gary Forrest’s return to Shildon was a frustrating one as West Auckland had to settle for a point in a tense encounter at Dean Street.
Forrest, who won the league and cup double with the Railwaymen in the 2015/16 campaign, was unable to steer West to an eighth consecutive victory as they suffered their first goalless draw of the season in a game of very few chances.
The result leaves West in third in the Northern League Division One table with 32 points from 18 matches.
In the reverse fixture in September, goals from Nathan Fisher and Amar Purewal saw West claim a 3-0 victory after Daniel Moore and Shawn Newbrook were both sent off as Shildon finished the game with nine men at the Wanted Stadium.
However, this time around it wasn’t to be as eventful as both sides frustrated one another with notable defensive displays.
With 402 spectators in attendance, it was a raucous atmosphere between two clubs who know each other very well.
In the opening seven minutes, it was Shildon who had the first sight at goal as Bradley Hird picked out Aaron Duell on the edge of the area and he guided his right-footed shot just wide of the target.
Six minutes later, West built their first attack patiently as Alex Francis held up the ball before releasing it to Adam Burnicle though he could only direct his shot straight into the gloves of Newbrook.
On 25 minutes, the Railwaymen created another opportunity, this time from Matthew Robson’s free-kick as Nathan Steel connected with a header at the back-post though Shane Bland was equal to it, producing a good save tipping it over the bar.
For the remainder of the half, chances were few and far between.
After the restart, West sprung to life with two quick-fire chances. Firstly, in the 46th minute, Burnicle dragged his left-footed shot just over the bar and on 50 minutes, Purewal saw his swirling effort sail inches past the post.
Shildon responded with half chances from Hird and Moore as we approached the hour mark though vital interceptions from Liam Hegarty and Chris Hunter prevented the hosts from breaking the deadlock.
Both sides struggled throughout in finding that decisive moment which could alter the game as the contest was petering out for a goalless draw.
Heading into the final ten minutes, the Railwaymen pushed for a late winner as Duell struck a long-range strike from distance which was blocked by Bland and the ball ricocheted into the feet of Steel, who volleyed his effort over from just 12-yards out.
West now turn their attention back to the FA Vase as they make the 113-mile trip to Oldham on Saturday to take on AVRO FC.
Shildon – Newbrook, Heywood, Robson, Moore, Curl, Carling, Ellison (c), Duell, Steel, Greulich-Smith, Hird (Earl, 57)
Subs not used – Turnbull, Palmer, Eltringham, Hudson
West Auckland – Bland, Hegarty, Price, Snaith (c), Hunter, Colquhoun, Francis (Wearmouth, 70), Portas, Burnicle, Purewal, Dodds (Morris, 60)
Subs not used – McKeown, Cobain, Bradley
Referee – Graeme Hopper
Attendance – 402
Report by Harry Crowe
Photo by Amanda Scaife.