Dunston UTS 1-0 West Auckland Town
Mark Fitzpatrick’s second-half strike saw Dunston UTS complete a league double over West Auckland Town.
Fitzpatrick scored his 22nd goal of the season on 64 minutes with a deflected shot from 15 yards out as Dunston stretched their unbeaten run in Division One to seven matches.
The result leaves West in 10th and without a league win since January.
In the two previous meetings this season, Dunston edged a narrow 1-0 victory on the opening day at the Wanted Stadium courtesy of Fitzpatrick’s penalty however West got some redemption in the League Cup Second Round claiming a 2-0-win courtesy of goals from Adam Burnicle and Alex Francis.
It almost got off to the worst possible start for West inside the opening minute when Dunston had two chances to break the deadlock. First, Scott Heslop went close as his shot was blocked by Shane Bland and then moments after Liam Brooks saw his left-footed strike superbly cleared off the line by Chris Hunter.
At the opposite end, Karl Dryden was left with little to do as West struggled to match the league leader’s tempo for the majority of the first-half.
Before the interval, Fitzpatrick carved out a great opportunity to send Dunston ahead as the forward connected with Brook’s in-swinging delivery though Bland was once again to the rescue with a point blank save to keep his clean sheet intact.
On 53 minutes, Chris Swailes’s side were still in the ascendency as Fitzpatrick tried his luck once more only to see his right-footed effort parried away by Bland as he was determined to keep out the inform striker.
However, Dunston finally got their reward 11 minutes later when Fitzpatrick opened the scoring with a deflected shot from just inside the area as it looped into the far corner to send the home supporters into a buoyant mood.
Gary Forrest was eager to switch things up as West remained hopeful in taking something from the game and he decided to introduce Anthony Bell, who has been out with an ankle injury since the FA Cup extra preliminary round meeting with Washington back in August, and he replaced fellow midfielder Tom Portas with just a quarter of an hour remaining.
West failed to register a single shot on target until the closing stages and almost grabbed a late equaliser through Hunter though Dryden pulled off a vital save to ensure Dunston would go 10 points clear of second-placed Bishop Auckland in the Northern League Division One table.
Next up for West is a trip to relegation threatened Whickham on Wednesday evening (19:30).
Dunston UTS – Dryden, Marrs, Halliday (c), Stafford, Grant-Soulsby, Capewell, J. Elliott(Jackson, 65), Pearson, Fitzpatrick, Heslop (Nellis, 10), Brooks
Subs not used – C. Elliott, Haley, Scott
Goal – Fitzpatrick (64)
West Auckland – Bland, Cobain, Price, Colquhoun (Mitchell, 57), Hunter, Portas (Bell, 73), Francis, Dodds (c), Purewal, Burnicle, Heaney (Wearmouth, 46)
Subs not used – Snaith, Dowson
Referee – Sam Packer (Middlesbrough)
Attendance – 288
Report by Harry Crowe
Photo by Andy Mitchell.