Shepherd sinks West to fifth defeat of the season

Northallerton Town 1-0 West Auckland Town

Andrew Shepherd’s second half strike earned Northallerton Town all three points against West Auckland Town at the Calvert Stadium.

Shepherd’s winning goal arrived in the 55th minute as West dropped down to 16th in the Northern League Division One table with five points from eight matches.

Gary Forrest made four changes from Saturday’s 2-1 Derby Day victory over Bishop Auckland as Tom Flynn, Daniel Mitton, Chris Hunter and Amar Purewal came in for Mark Bell, Joe Hillerby, Adam Mitchell and David Dowson.

West were given a major let off inside the opening minute as Nicky Martin advanced in behind the Auckland defence, rounded Flynn before placing his effort into the side netting via an acute angle.

After a shaky start and a set of half chances for West which resulted in very little end product, Liam Hegarty tested his luck on 12 minutes following acourageous strike from 40-yards-out though Tom Dawson was alert to the danger and got down quickly to push it to safety.

Northallerton looked dangerous whenever they progressed forward and Dave Hillerby – brother of West’s Joe – came close to firing Darren Trotter’s side ahead as his rocket from outside the box flew narrowly wide of Flynn’s left-hand post.

On 27 minutes, Adam Burnicle courtesy of a flick on by Purewal, presented a wonderful opportunityvia his left foot to break the deadlock only for the post to come to Town’s rescue.

And just three minutes later, the roles were reversed as Burnicle turned provider to slip in Purewal however to his disbelief, the former Shildon striker glanced his one-on-one effort wide of the target.

At halftime, Forrest introduced an attacking substitution as Mitchell replaced Hunter in a bid to stretch the opposition backline and it almost paid dividends in the 53rd minute when Nathan Fisher teed up his ex-Spennymoor Town teammate,though the winger was unable to squeeze his shot in the bottom corner as Dawson happily watched it go out for a goal kick.

A lapse in concentration allowed the hosts to open the scoring as Hillerby’s deep free kick found Shepherd at the back post, who decisively converted past a helpless Flynn, leaving West still without a clean sheet this campaign.

The nearest West came to grab an equaliser was in the closing stages as Fisher hit a first-time strike towards goal only for a crucial clearance on the line guaranteeing Auckland a fifth league defeat.

Next up, West welcome Whickham to the Wanted Stadium on Saturday afternoon (15:00).

Northallerton Town – Dawson, Hillerby, Shaw, Shepherd (McKendry, 71), Pattinson, Proctor (c), Smith (Reaks, 90), Rowe, Blackburn, Martin (Lowes, 10), Hudson

Subs not used – Jones, Elcoate

Goal – Shepherd (55)

West Auckland – Flynn, Price, Cobain, Mitton, Hunter (Mitchell, 45), Hegarty, Dodds (c), Greenwood, Fisher, Purewal (Dowson, 62), Burnicle (Hurworth, 76)

Subs not used – M. Bell, Hornsby

Referee – Craig Dean

Attendance – 154

Report by Harry Connor Crowe

Picture by Andy Mitchell

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