Shildon title tilt suffers blow at Morpeth

Shildon set up a tasty top of the table clash against league leaders Morpeth Town with victory across the Pennines against Penrith last midweek.

The game was effectively over within the opening 15 minutes when Adam Burnicle, Billy Greulich-Smith and Jack Blackford all found the net.

A second half goal by Dan Groves – his first for five years – sealed a comfortable 4-0 win for the Railwaymen and kept their perfect away record intact ahead of Saturday’s crunch tie.

The match also witnessed the unusual circumstance of Shildon defender, Kyle May, watching the game from the Shildon bench before signing up as Penrith manager immediately after the final whistle.

The win sent Shildon into third place in the league, eight points behind their weekend opponents, but with two games in hand for the Railwaymen, a positive result would keep them well in contention in the title race.

And it looked like the visitors were well on course to extend their 100 percent away record when Morpeth’s Chris Reid collected two yellow cards in quick succession to leave the home side with just ten men for the best part of an hour.

Shildon began the game well and had the better of the first half with the home defence struggling to cope with Billy Greulich-Smith in particular as the tall striker won virtually everything in the air as well as providing a serious threat to the Morpeth goal.

As the hosts closed ranks, Shildon could not find a decisive route to goal until, in the 54th minute, Jack Blackford jinked inside and unleashed a shot that had Dryden in the home goal well beaten.

But lady luck was not on Shildon’s side and the ball smacked off the face of the bar before Greulich-Smith misdirected his header from the ensuing cross. On such fine margins are victories converted to defeat.

Morpeth were content to sit in and hope to be thrown the odd scrap, but by the end of the tie their tally of chances numbered just the one. And it would prove decisive.

A Liam Henderson effort was palmed wide by Liversedge, but from the corner, the same player was able to scramble the ball into the net for the game’s only goal.

Shildon battered the Morpeth back line, but the defensive wall held firm to consign the visitors to their first away loss of the season.

Shildon’s misery was complete when Matty Robson received a second yellow in the final minute.

The Railwaymen must now pick themselves up in time to visit Marske United for the tie of the round in the FA Vase on Saturday (11th November).

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