West Auckland Town 0-1 Newton Aycliffe
Josh Home Jackson’s precise second half lob gave Newton Aycliffe some redemption over West Auckland with a narrow 1-0 victory at the Wanted Stadium.
After an unsatisfactory first half at both ends of the pitch, the visitors struck the only goal of the game on 69 minutes as a lapse in concentration allowed Home Jackson to pounce and scoop his effort over Shane Bland to give new manager Colin Stromsoy a winning start.
However, the result sees West remain in eighth with just ten matches to go, nine points behind fourth placed North Shields.
West cruised to a 7-0 victory last time the sides met back in September as Amar Purewal’s hat-trick, Nathan Fisher’s brace and a goal apiece from Adam Mitchell and Tom Price saw Gary Forrest’s side inflict Newton Aycliffe’s heaviest defeat of the season at Moore Lane.
Forrest made four changes to the side which lost at Sunderland RCA last weekend with Liam Hegarty, Alex Francis, Tom Portas and Lewis Dodds replacing Denver Morris, Steven Snaith, Adam Burnicle and Mitchell who was Suspended.
In contrast to the previous encounter, it was a tense start from both teams with the breezy conditions making it difficult to see either side gain the early momentum.
Stromsoy’s side created the first chance on 22 minutes as Ethan Wood’s free-kick was whipped in towards the back post and headed narrowly over from six yards out by Marc Costello.
Four minutes later, West countered with a chance of their own as Francis slipped in behind the Aycliffe defence and saw his left-footed shot pushed away by Adam Pickford.
A few moments after, Hegarty’s in-swinging cross was met by Purewal though the striker could only direct his header into the gloves of Aycliffe’s No.1.
Before the interval, West found themselves with a great opportunity to break the deadlock as Francis’s free-kick from the right-hand side picked out Ross Colquhoun in the middle, who’s header was inches away from finding the net.
In truth, the second-half also lacked plenty of goalmouth action as West had to wait until the 59th minute before carving out another golden chance. Right-back Hegarty delivered a teasing cross into the centre for Purewal to attack though once again the forward sent a bullet header just past Pickford’s post.
On 69 minutes, West rued their missed opportunities as a lapse in concentration allowed a floating ball into the box and bounce into the feet of Home Jackson who reacted quickest to lob the ball over Bland and edge Aycliffe infront with less than a quarter of an hour remaining.
Skipper Dodds pushed his side forward in search for a late equaliser and they almost got their reward only to be denied via a crucial block from Pickford as Aycliffe’s defence stood firm to hold on for all three points.
Next up – West travel to Hebburn Town next Saturday for their mouth-watering FA Vase Fifth Round clash at Hebburn’s Sports & Social ground with a place in the quarter-finals at stake (15:00).
West Auckland – Bland, Hegarty, Price, Cobain, Hunter, Colquhoun, Francis, Portas (Morris, 64), Dowson (Burnicle, 46), Purewal, Dodds (c)
Subs not used – Connor, Wearmouth, Coulson
Newton Aycliffe – Pickford, Harrison (Dinsdale, 84), Howes, Brown, Mitton (c), E. Wood, Alshabeeb, Costello, Home-Jackson (B. Wood, 80), Richardson, Matthews (Thompson, 72)
Subs not used – Clarke, Rowe,
Goal – Home-Jackson (69)
Referee – Craig Dean
Attendance – 224
Report by Harry Crowe
Photo by Andy Mitchell.