|Newton Aycliffe FC||0|
By Paul McGeary
Steven Johnson’s injury time winner broke Aycliffe hearts as Shildon exacted revenge for their 4-1 league reverse at the hands of Allan Oliver’s men in October.
In doing so, Johnson ensured The Railwaymen’s passage to the last-eight of the Durham Challenge Cup, as Aycliffe’s last hope of knockout silverware disappeared.
In truth it was a drab encounter, akin to the FA Vase meeting between the sides on the same ground in September, and was heading the same way, for an unwelcome extra period until Johnson’s intervention.
What the game lacked in quality, it certainly didn’t in heart and passion, as both sides set about their challenges in robust and unforgiving fashion, as a local derby should be would argue the purist.
Aycliffe were without front pair Dan Mellanby and Ben Wood while the game came too soon for Warren Byrne, the former Shildon man having just had the cast removed from his broken foot earlier in the week.
Mark Peck again missed out due to his leg injury while Paul Broom broke his 25-game streak as he missed out due to a holiday.
By contrast, Gary Forrest named a strong side, with all five of his subs regular starters for the Railwaymen this campaign.
Johnson was involved in the best moment of a lacklustre first period, as he outmuscled Darren Craddock in the corner before squaring unselfishly for Nick Kane in the middle. Kane, the former Chester-le-Street man, side-stepped James Oliver but watched as Scott Pocklington tipped his effort round the post for a corner.
The hosts’ best effort came in the 44th minute when Nathan Wilson curled a shot towards Keith Finch’s bottom corner from the edge of the area, which at first the former Darlington ‘keeper made a mess of but reacted in fine fashion to avert the danger from the in-rushing Dale Jardine.
Jardine had the best effort of the second half when, despite limping heavily, he managed to shake off his marker before thundering a 30-yard rocket off the full of Finch’s crossbar before it bounced to safety.
With the game petering out and the extra period looming, Lee Chapman sent in a right-wing cross which Chris Hughes headed against the underside of the bar in the 93rd minute. As the ball bounced down on the line, Johnson was on hand to rifle low under Pocklington to secure Shildon’s place in Monday’s draw.
John Close – Rearguard!
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