Heritage Park – Ebac Northern League Division 1.
Attendance – 218.
Paul Gardiner popped up to snatch a last-minute winner for Hebburn Town to send his team up into sixth place in the Northern League Division 1 and end a superb week on the pitch for the South Tynesiders.
After dispatching Whitley Bay on Tuesday evening, the Hornets travelled to Bishop Auckland, another of the north-east’s blue chip non-league teams, full of confidence and it showed in the opening half hour of the game where a bit of composure should have seen the visitors already in the lead.
Two left-wing corners from Jonny Davis served up great chances for Hebburn to break the deadlock. After ten minutes Paul Wardle found space in the Bishops penalty area but when the ball dropped to his feet seven-yards from goal, the holding midfielder blasted his shot high and wide.
The second chance was an even better opportunity to take the lead when Tony Stephenson, unmarked in the centre of the goal, smacked a header off the bar from a corner kick on the half hour mark.
With Stephen Forster in blistering form down the right side, a number of chances were created, yet a number of deliveries flashed across the home goalmouth eluding Stephenson and Dean Walker each time.
Bishops certainly had a number of chances themselves to stake a claim for the points, with Andrew Johnson and Callum Hassan working hard and causing Dan Kirkup and Chris Jewels a number of problems at the heart of the Hebburn defence.
The visitors faded during the second-half as Bishops enjoyed an extended spell of attacking play. Yet despite a number of efforts on goal, the home side seemed to create chances through fortuitous breaks of the ball rather than through their own attacking movement.
With twenty minutes remaining, Craig Hodgson struck the post as Bishops pushed forward. Dan Regan saved well from Johnson and from the resultant corner the ball was cleared only as far as Hodgson on the edge of the box, with the central defender hitting a low shot that clipped the outside of the post before going out for a Hebburn goal kick.
With three minutes remaining, Hebburn’s manager Paul Bennett made his final change of the afternoon when he introduced Aaron Croft for Callum Charlton and suddenly the South Tynesiders switched their focus from containment to attacking.
A number of sweet passes from Croft got his side moving forward and then, in the final minute, Forster picked the ball up moving from the centre across to the right of the pitch. With the home defence blocking his route to goal, the winger laid the ball back to Croft who delivered a dangerous cross into the box. The ball fizzed across the goalmouth untouched until Gardiner arrived at the back post to calmly finish past Jake Johnson to secure Hebburn’s sixth league victory on the road this season.
Next up for the Hornets is a trip to second division Chester-le-Street Town on Tuesday evening for a Durham Challenge Cup game before they entertain Marske United at home next Saturday with all focus on extending their impressive league record and making headlines for all of the right reasons.
|1. Dan Regan|
|2. Callum Charlton|
|3. Adam McGuinness|
|4. Jonny Davis|
|5. Paul Wardle|
|5. Dan Kirkup||Yellow Card|
|6. Chris Jewels||Yellow Card|
|7. Stephen Forster|
|7. Dean Walker|
|8. Paul Gardiner||Goal|
|9. Tony Stephenson|
|6. Jeff Forsyth|
|8. Scott Robson|
|10. Aaron Croft|