Northumberland FA U18s representative side edged even closer to reaching the next stage in the Association of Northern Counties after a 3-0 clean sweep of North Riding FA away from home.
The team were without key players due to injury and club commitments, but Alan Thompson’s side still managed to dominate the fixture with goals from Sam Dibb-Fuller (19’), Josh Skivington (56’) and Louis Calvert (89’).
But the early stages could have told a different story, with Northumberland hitting the woodwork three times in 10 minutes and leaving the players thinking what they had to do to break the deadlock.
Dibb-Fuller was one of those who hit the crossbar early on but soon made up for his early miss on 19 minutes when he was played through and calmly placed the ball into the back of the net - ending the early exasperations and putting his side 1-0 up.
The Northumberland ascendency continued after the goal, Robbie Christie notably garnering a lot of the ball on the left hand side and running rings around the North Riding defence.
And it was Christie who drew the foul for Northumberland’s next big chance as the left foot of Josh Skivington forced acrobatics from Tom Beeforth to keep out the free kick.
On 39 minutes North Riding had one of their first chances of the game, Scarborough Athletic’s George Walmsley bulldozering through on the right wing before a red shirt managed to clear.
Minutes later Josh Wilson found himself isolated out of his goal after a clearance was deflected into the path of a blue shirt. It looked like a simple goal for North Riding, but heroics from the Northumberland defence defied an equaliser just before half time.
Fans at Broughton Road knew that Northumberland needed to keep up the intensity after the break, and they didn’t disappoint, especially North Shields’ recent signing, Skivington - who slammed the ball into the back of the net following an inch-perfect cross by full back Thomas Kalthoeber.
At 2-0 the team were cruising which allowed for substitute Jamie Clark to get amongst the action; his first chance nearly finding its way into the net after an awkward squared ball across the box.
And with the lack of chances came frustration for North Riding; specifically Josh Mitchell who was booked after a string of poor challenges on Northumberland players.
On 74 minutes Northumberland thought they had their third when they scored off the back of a counter attack - only to be denied by an offside flag.
Beeforth was called into action numerous times in the final minutes, denying a Northumberland header at the back post and saving point blank from a Christie effort which would have capped off a stellar performance from the defender.
Lo and behold, Calvert was the man to put the game to bed on 89 minutes, latching onto a back post cross to make the score 3-0 just before the final whistle blew.
The victory against North Riding now sees Northumberland level on points with top of the table Durham FA, second only on goal difference to their local rivals with one game remaining.
Northumberland XI: Wilson, Symons, Christie, Lough, Woods, Onarbay, Kalthoeber, Jenkins, Skivington, Van, Dibb-Fuller
Subs: Renwick, Walker, Calvert, Clark, Beattie
North Riding XI: Beeforth, Ankers, Brooks, Mitchell, Bamber-Lister, Moll, Spozio, Stapeley, Scarborough, Walmsley, Simpson
Subs: Smith, Thomson, Marsh, Wiseman, Bellerby
Man of the Match: Adam Onarbay (New Hartley Juniors)