|Newton Aycliffe FC||0|
By Paul McGeary
Newton Aycliffe and Shildon will have to do it all over again in a replay at Dean Street on Wednesday after their extra time stalemate draw at Moore Lane Park yesterday.
In a game devoid of quality, there was plenty of passion and enthusiasm, but ultimately both sides failed to produce in the final third, which left 379 inside Moore Lane Park wondering what all the fuss was about.
It was always going to be a cagey, local derby, between two sides separated by a mere two miles in terms of geography, and even less in playing personnel. The return of Shildon hitman Warren Byrne to his former stomping ground added an extra bit of spice to the afternoon.
Byrne remains the Newtonians record goalscorer, with his 45 goals last term having him two ahead of current leading marksman Elliot Gardner. The 29-year-old forward received a warm welcome back at Moore Lane, but found Scott Pocklington not as welcoming in the home goal.
The 20-year-old stopper was the busier of the two custodians yesterday, although both sides will rue chances in the dying embers of the game which Pocklington, nor his opposite number Keith Finch had no say about.
The game started frantically, with ex-Darlington winger Josh Gray firing wide of Finch’s upright inside 90-seconds.
The crowd would then wait until 90 seconds before half time until they saw another opportunity on goal. Lee Chapman held off two tackles on the edge of the Aycliffe area as he weaved his way goalwards. His placed shot was well saved by Pocklington however, diving to his right.
A minute later and the best chance of the half fell to Chris McCabe, who found himself goal side of Mark Peck as Ian Dixon’s long ball sought a target man. McCabe had perhaps too much time to think about his effort, and could only watch as his over-hit lob sailed over Pocklington’s crossbar.
In the second half Byrne had a fine effort tipped over the bar by the host’s ‘keeper. Turning his man expertly to get onto his favoured left foot, Byrne fired goalward from 18-yards only to see Pocklington equal to his thunderbolt.
Gardner’s 20-yard effort at the other end was easily dealt with by Finch as Aycliffe found the experienced Shildon backline hard to breach as they protected their former Darlington stopper.
In injury time, with extra time looming, Aycliffe tried to end the contest, and as Gardner’s long range effort cannoned back off teammate Glen Robson, the loose ball was fired over the angle of post and bar by Andrew Appleby
The added half hour was much like the 90 minutes before it, as both sides tired and perhaps seemed more intent on not losing rather than winning having gotten to this stage.
Shildon however almost stole the game in the 119th minute as Chris Hughes chipped to the back post where Byrne was lurking. Byrne’s volleyed cross-shot beat Pocklington but rolled across the face of the goal with the despairing Ian Watson inches away from getting the all important touch at the back post.
Aycliffe went carte blanche just a minute later and Gardner sent Robson clear on Finch’s goal as the ground held its breath. Perhaps like McCabe in the first half of normal time, Robson, a former Shildon player, seemed to take an eternity to make his decision and he could only execute his left-footed effort high over the Town End crossbar to cement the replay.
Mark Peck – Rock!
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