|1||Stephen Richardson (7)|
|2||Daniel Mitton (6)|
|3||Wayne Hall (6)|
|4||John Close (7)|
|5||Paul Stout (7)|
|6||Sean Tarling (6)|
|7||Paul Broom (7)|
|8||Daniel Robinson (6)|
|9||Jonathon Pennock (7)|
|10||Elliot Gardner (8)|
|11||Anthony Campbell (7)|
|12||Joshua Knox (6)|
|13||James Oliver (6)|
|Newton Aycliffe FC||2|
By Paul McGeary
Aycliffe claimed a hard-fought point at Whickham with a spirited performance that arguably deserved maximum points.
A point away from home against a side who came to Moore Lane Park just one month ago and took home the points shouldn't be deemed too bad a night's work by Allan Oliver's men, missing Chris Renshaw and Liam Cooper through suspension, and Mark Wood and Stuart Owen through work commitments - never mind the injured experienced pair of Dion Raitt and Dan Mellanby.
News of Michael Leighton's impending transfer to West Auckland and the decision to release Phil Caley to give the striker a chance of gaining first team football elsewhere meant Oliver had nephew James back on the bench alongside Brian Atkinson, 22 years his senior.
That point seemed a million miles away as early as the third minute when Whickham skipper Paul Cavanagh blasted low into Stevie Richardson's bottom left corner despite Aycliffe's early possession. Richardson with no chance from the number six's 20-yard effort.
Aycliffe slowly came into it and Elliot Gardner and Jonathon Pennock - restored to a striking role - barely gave Whickham's central defensive unit a minute to settle. Home 'keeper Stephen Robinson was causing the same centre halves great concern in opting to punch rather than claim everything that Paul Broom and Anth Campbell delivered into the area from wide.
It was from a Broom corner that Aycliffe equalised, Paul Stout rising highest to nod the side in red level just after 20 minutes. This gave Oliver's men momentum and Gardner first hit the bar following a pass from Pennock, then five minutes later wrongly had a goal ruled out for offside, after Robinson parried Broom's effort following a strong run.
The second half started in the same fashion, and Gardner got his reward, heading a Broom centre home on 50 minutes with Robinson in no-man's land. Shortly after this and Whickham number eight Scott Wilson saw red for a horrendous high tackle on Sean Tarling, who luckily escaped serious injury at the last minute by taking his own feet off the ground.
This seemed to galvanise the home side though, and in reverting to a 4-2-3 formation, opting a physical and aerial approach they made their pressure tell. Ball after ball was lumped into the visitor's box and in forcing a late corner, Chrissy Laws, the match-winner at Moore Lane rose to nod the centre in off the bar.
There was still time for Gardner to agonisingly hit a shot just past the post and Stout to make a game-saving tackle at the other end in a game which was played at a high tempo, saw four goals, the woodwork struck twice, a straight red card and a return to action for John Close and Wayne Hall after two weeks out.
Aycliffe travel to top-of-the-league Sunderland RCA on Saturday and a similar team spirit should see the leaders not get everything their own way.
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