GAME SPARKS INTO LIFE IN SECOND HALF
Shildon progressed to the third round of the Durham Challenge Cup despite and late and spirited fightback by Newton Aycliffe.
With just over half an hour to go they were three goals up and didn’t look to be in too much danger of throwing away the lead. With four minutes to go they had a fight on their hands to close the game out.
They could only breathe more easily for the last couple of added minutes thanks to a defensive blunder.
They were the first to settle into the match as it opened in damp, muddy conditions with shots by Billy Greulich-Smith and Aaron Duell. Aycliffe responded with a shot by Jermaine Metz and a header by Kurt Matthews that went just wide. They were within inches of taking the lead in the 16th minute with a shot by captain Ben Trotter that rattled off the right hand post.
A minute later, Greulich-Smith edged the visitors ahead with a header that bounced over Aycliffe keeper Bradley Young’s outstretched hand as the Shildon No. 10 went for placement rather than power.
The game dipped in quality for the rest of the half – with an interception and run by Shildon’s Marc Ellison finished off by a cross by Jack Blackford that flashed across the six yard box the highlight. At the other end, a couple of Aycliffe crosses were just hopefully sent into the Shildon box rather than the players trying to pick out a team mate.
Aycliffe fell further behind in the 52nd minute with a pin-point cross by Ellison setting Nathan Steel up, with the Shildon No. 9 leaping above the defence to fire in a bullet header. In the 62nd minute Shildon had made it 3-0 with another cross from the right, this time by David Palmer that found Steel who hit a clean, crisp first-time shot.
Aycliffe had been less clinical with the chances they’d created in the second half: a shot by Metz saved by Shaun Newbrook and a Wilfred Dinsdale header blocked close to the line by Duell. They too came within inches of scoring when Ali Alshabeeb saw his shot also hit the right hand post and come back out.
The fightback started in the 77th minute Metz ran at the Shildon defence and hit a shot that deflected off a Shildon defender and in, leaving Newbrook going the wrong way.
They pulled it back to 2-3 in the 86th minute when Shildon failed to clear the ball from their area. It fell to Ben Wood who swung a foot and planted it into the net – a reward for their collective efforts and plugging away despite being three goals behind.
The defensive blunder in the 89th minute took all the pressure off the visitors. Shildon knocked the ball up to the heart of the Aycliffe defence but a terrible mix-up between centre back Aaron Brown and Young saw Brown head the ball over the keeper who had come out of the box to punt the ball upfield. Shildon substitute Bradley Hird had the simple task of running past them and knocking the ball into the empty net.
In the third minute of added time Wood hit a shot into the side netting but by then the game had slipped out of their grasp.