League defence all but over for the Railwaymen

Northern League champions, Shildon AFC, have all but relinquished their hold on the Division One trophy after picking up just two points from their last three games, including a defeat at second placed South Shields last Saturday and a draw against fourth place Morpeth Town the previous midweek.

An entertaining, albeit ultimately disappointing, eight goal drawn match against 14th placed Ryhope CW on Tuesday 28th February cemented the fate of the Railwaymen, who will now struggle to hang onto their third place in the league table come the final reckoning.

On Wednesday, February 22nd, Morpeth arrived at Dean Street with the home side knowing that maximum points were needed against their fourth place rivals.

But it was not to be. In one of the most enjoyable footballing matches in the Northern League this season, a game that swung from end to end, both sides eventually shared four goals and the points.

Two penalties by Matty Robson each pulled back goals from Morpeth, who opened the scoring through Liam Henderson before retaking the lead through Sean Taylor.

The best chance to win the match fell to Shildon when Billy Greulich-Smith saw his header cannon off the post.

The match was also tinged with sadness for Shildon Football Club as news filtered through that much-loved kit man, Neil Edgeley, had passed away earlier in the day.

Shildon then travelled to South Shields in the knowledge that only victory would keep their slim title chances alive.

An impeccably observed silence was held for Neil in front of a crowd of 1,130.

In the end, Shildon were unable to overcome the FA Vase semi-finalists, who stretched their winning run to 21 games with goals from Gavin Cogden and a last minute breakaway from Carl Finnigan as Shildon searched for an equaliser.

With the title defence all but over, the Railwaymen travelled to Ryhope to take on Colliery Welfare with, at the very least, pride at stake.

In a seesaw match, in which the lead changed hands four times, both sides were content to share a 4-4 draw which saw Adam Burnicle score his first goal for the club since signing on 17th February.

Further goals from Lewis Wing, Matty Robson and Stephen Capper were not enough to seal the win.

Shildon must now regroup and focus on the League Cup Semi-final at Dean Street against South Shields on Wednesay 22nd March – their last chance of continuing their four-season long run of adding silverware to the trophy cabinet.

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