Morpeth Town Clinch Senior Cup
In what was a dramatic Northumberland FA Senior Cup final, Morpeth Town emerged as champions, securing a 2-1 win against a battling North Shields side.
Under the floodlights of St James’ Park, it was Morpeth who got the game underway, with last year’s runners-up attacking the hallowed Gallogate end.
And it was Morpeth who started the game off the brighter of the two sides, with playmaker Ben Sayer pulling the strings in the centre of midfield.
Dominating the opening stages of the game, it was Morpeth who also had the first chance of the game too – with Sayer’s shot cannoning off Shields defender Josh Nearney from close range.
With Morpeth camped in North Shields half, manager Nick Gray’s side peppered the North Shields goal but were unable to find a way past Shields shot stopper Michael Robinson.
North Shields managed a brief foray into the Morpeth half midway through the first half, but then they were punished – with Morpeth breaking away at pace.
Running at pace and with the goal baring down on him it seemed a certainty that Morpeth’s David Carson would rifle the ball past Shields keeper Robinson to hand his side the lead.
However, Shields had Josh Nearney to thank – with the centre-half putting in a perfectly timed tackle to halt the flying winger dead in his tracks.
While they managed to escape Morpeth’s chance unscathed, it was Shields who were then dealt a massive blow – with star striker Gary Day coming off following a collision in the air.
Morpeth were keen to make sure that their dominance was rewarded but wave after wave of attack was seemingly repelled by a staunch Shields defence.
But then a goalkeeping error from Shields keeper Robinson handed Morpeth the lead – with prolific striker Liam Henderson nodding home from close range meaning that it was advantage Morpeth at half-time.
After the break, the game opened up.
While they sat deep for most of the first half, Shields seemed to show more attacking intent in the second.
But Morpeth, marshalled by skipper Wayne Phillips were keen to extend their lead – with Joe Walton’s header being saved from point blank range by Robinson to keep Shields in the tie.
North Shields then found their route back into the contest thanks to a bullet header from Craig Spooner to level the scores.
And while the first half was a Morpeth dominant one, the second half seemed anything but.
Both sides, roared on by a raucous 2247 spectators, were flying up and down the St James Park turf keen to find a winner.
But unfortunately, neither side could find a winner – with the game going to extra time.
In what was nervy first half of extra, Morpeth had the first chance with a shot cannoning again off intervening Shields defender Nearney.
Then it looked as though Morpeth were about to take the lead following a mazy run from Carson, who managed to fake out the Shields defence only to find his shot saved by the feet of Michael Robinson.
Half-time of extra time came and the fatigue was beginning to set it – with the prospect of penalties looming.
But then, with the game in the balance, a ball whipped into the box was met by substitute Jack Foalle, who managed to volley home from close range.
With time beginning to run out for North Shields, they began to throw everything they could at Morpeth – highlighted by keeper Robinson going up for a late corner.
But while North Shields tried their hardest, they could not find a way through the impressive Morpeth defence meaning that Morpeth ran out 2-1 winners to claim Senior Cup glory.
North Shields XI: Robinson, Donnison, McDonald, Hall, Nearney, Hughes, Spooner, Forster, Day, Carr, Robinson.
Subs: McManus, McRoberts, Johnston, Purvis
Morpeth Town XI: Lowson, Forster, Turner, Sayer, J. Henderson, Reid, David Carson, Hodgson, L. Henderson, Phillips, Walton
Subs: Potter, Foalle, Graydon, Danny Carson, Fry