West Auckland Town 1-2 Marske United
Andrew Stephenson’s brace helped Marske United come from behind to beat West Auckland Town in a competitive game at the Wanted Stadium.
David Dowson gave West the lead on 66 minutes before two goals in the space of four minutes from Stephenson, one of which was a breath-taking volley, saw the Seasiders complete a miraculous fightback.
Gary Forrest made five changes from the JR Cleator Cup defeat at Dunston UTS as Jamie Cobain, Liam Hegarty, Adam Burnicle, Dowson and new signing Joe Hillerby replaced Daniel Mitton, Lewis Dodds, Ross Colquhoun, Alex Francis and Amar Purewal.
Marske provided the opening opportunity six minutes in when right-sided midfielder Callum Martin hit one from distance though it failed to trouble Tom Flynn as it sailed wildly over the woodwork.
The former Whitey Bay goalkeeper was not called into action until the 26th minute as Leon Scott burst into the area, beat the offside trap and from an audacious angle, fired his effort straight at the gloves of Flyn
It was a fairly quiet first half for West with Nathan Fisher going the closest with an ambitious swirling right-footed shot just outside the area as it crashed against the crossbar before being cleared to safety.
Forrest decided to try and spice things up after the interval by introducing veteran Dodds, Francis and Mitton for Anthony Bell, Tom Price and Hillerby.
However, the Seasiders almost found the breakthrough on 51 minutes when Martin’s pin-point cross from the right was headed fractionally wide by Stephenson.
After West hit the bar for the second time through Burnicle and Fisher saw his one-on-one effort well dealt with by Jack Norton, they took a surprising lead when Adam Mitchell’s corner was poked home by Dowson, who was left unmarked in the middle to squeeze it in.
Though the lead was short lived as Marske equalised just six minutes later as Stephenson calmly rounded and slotted past an onrushing Mark Bell.
And in spectacular fashion with 14 minutes remaining, Carl Jarrett’s side took the lead courtesy of a sublime volley from Stephenson – one which Wayne Rooney would be proud of and it proved to be the winner as West finished their pre-season with two wins, a draw and four defeats.
Next up for West is the start of their 2019/20 EBAC Northern League Division One campaign as they host Ryhope CW at the Wanted Stadium on Saturday (15:00).
West Auckland – Flynn (M. Bell, 34), Mitchell, Hunter, Cobain, Price (Mitton, 45), Hegarty, Hillerby (Dodds, 45), A. Bell (Francis, 45), Dowson, Fisher (c), Burnicle
Subs not used – Hornsby, Ellison, Coulson
Goal – Dowson (66)
Marske United – Norton, Martin, O’Sullivan, Scott, Burgess, Wheatley, Maloney, Gott (Butterworth, 55), Stephenson, Trialist (Blackford, 74), Garbutt (Trialist, 63)
Sub not used – Clark
Goals – Stephenson (72, 76)
Report by Harry Crowe
Picture by Andy Mitchell.