Walker Central (Away), NSC R1, 29/10/05
Won 2-1 (Preen, Douglas)

Replacing the arranged league fixture at home to Jarrow Roofing, was this Northumberland Senior Cup Round 1 tie at Walker Central. A Saturday kick-off was required because the Monkchester Recreation Ground does not have floodlights. This fact also necessitated an earlier 1.30pm kick off time. Bedlington made another emergency goalkeeping signing, with former Terrier Peter Guthrie rolling back the years to take his place in goal. Skipper John Milner returned to action after a recent minor operation, and James Lang replaced Paul Robinson, who is serving a 5 week suspension following his red card against Tow Law in September. The Teams:

Walker Central: Wilson, Robinson, Robertson, Hutchinson, Monaghan, P Mills, Percival, Morrow, Garwood, Ojo, I Mills. Subs: Smith, Gate, Rodgerson, Graham, Clark.
Bedlington Terriers: Guthrie, Morton (Shandran), Atkinson, Harmison, Kitchen (Cockburn), Keegan, Milner, Lang, Preen, Douglas, McAlindon (Gibb). Subs not used: Bryce, Watson.
Ref: Bob Lockhart

The visitors got off to a stunning start, taking the lead inside 25 seconds. The ball found its way to Douglas on the left just inside the Walker half, and when Preen made an unchallenged run through the middle, Douglas played his colleague in with a simple ball, leaving Preen to finish past Wilson with aplomb. In the 11th minute, McAlindon rode two challenges to burst into the area, only for his strike to goal to be blocked by a desperate tackle.

A minute later, Douglas fired narrowly wide from the edge when feeding from some neat passing play orchestrated by McAlindon. However, the home side got back on level terms against the run of play in the 14th minute. Garwood was in possession on the edge of the Bedlington area, and although he was initially dispossessed, the two centre-backs left the loose ball for each other allowing Garwood to nip in and easily slot home past Guthrie into the corner. A goal of comical proportion, although there were no smiles present on the faces of the Bedlington contingent.

Just before the 20 minute mark, Ojo wasted a glorious chance to give his team a shock lead when he was played through clear on goal, only to hit a weak first time shot straight at Guthrie. Percival was cautioned for an accidental elbow into the face of Atkinson minutes later. This incident led to a free-kick which in turn saw Bedlington regain the lead. The kick was hit up the left wing, and when 3 Walker players misjudged the flight of the ball, it allowed Atkinson to make progress to the goal line where he struck a left foot cross to the far post. Morton was well placed to knock his header back across goal and Douglas was on hand to bundle the ball home into an empty net from 2 yards to notch his 12th goal of the campaign.

Just past the half hour mark, Morrow lashed over from 20 yards for the home side when under heavy pressure from Harmison. The Terriers could have extended their lead shortly after when after a McAlindon cross from the right had eluded the head of Harmison, the loose ball fell to Milner and he spun and hit his effort over the bar from close range. In the last action of the half, Walker should really have been back on level terms. When Keegan rather unfortunately slipped while in possession of the ball, Ian Mills pounced to run clear, only to side-foot wide of the right hand upright.

Ten minutes into the second half, Walker made a substitution, but it was 56 minutes gone in the game before the next action of note. Morrow was put clear on goal, but in hitting a weak shot from 15 yards could not even make Guthrie work. Moments later, Bedlington made a double change in an effort to inject fresh momentum, with Kitchen and Morton being replaced by Cockburn and Shandran. Soon after this, the home side made another change.

Preen was denied on 70 minutes, when after finding space on the left and cutting into goal, his powerful shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Wilson in the Walker goal. Bedlington keeper Guthrie responded in kind a minute later, when sub Gate;s shot from the edge was wickedly deflected off Atkinson towards the top right corner. However, Guthrie defied the ageing process by acrobatically springing full stretch to touch the ball around for a corner.

With 13 minutes remaining, Preen was fouled on the right edge of the Walker area. McAlindon's free-kick found Milner's head at the back post, and although Wilson got a hand to the ball, it fell inviting to Preen at the near post, only for him to lash against the frame from a yard out. Into the last ten minutes, Shandran was cautioned for kicking out at a Walker player, and then the home side made their final change of the game, as did Bedlington with 2 minutes remaining, with Gibb replacing McAlindon.

Bedlington had two more glorious chances to extend their lead before the final whistle. Atkinson fed Shandran on the left, and he shifted it past his marker before crossing to the 6 yard line , where a defender missed making contact completely, only for Cockburn to spurn an open goal by firing over the bar. And then in the final seconds, Shandran beat his man again, shooting from 15 yards only for Wilson to make another excellent save by tipping over the bar for a corner.

Bedlington now advance into the second round (quarterfinal) of the competition they last won 2 season ago. And after making a difficult trip to Billingham Town on the Tuesday night, on Saturday sees them entertain an in form Chester-le-Street Town side at Welfare Park.

Sunderland Nissan (Home), ANL, 22/10/05
Won 4-3 (McAlindon, Douglas*3)

Bedlington were forced into an emergency goalkeeping signing the day before this game, with Stephen Watson joining from Ryton to fill the vacancy caused by injuries to both Michael Robinson and Gareth Powell. Otherwise it was an unchanged side for the third game running, as Bedlington looked to extend their unbeaten run to fourteen games, and restore their six point lead at the top of the table in the wake of Blue Star's victory over Durham City the previous night. The Teams:

Bedlington Terriers: Watson, Morton, Atkinson, J Harmison, Kitchen, Keegan, P Robinson, Walklate (Lang), Preen (Shandran), Douglas, McAlindon (Cockburn). Subs not used: Gibb, Bryce.
Sunderland Nissan: Caffry, Little, Milner, Halliday(c), Reay, N Moan, Butler, Lumsdon, Sankey, Stewart, Lund. Subs: Canavan, Leonard, Constantine, G Moan, Cudlip
Ref: Mr P Stalker.

Bedlington got off to a dream start, taking the lead in only the third minute of play. McAlindon found the ball at his feet more than 25 yards from goal, and with seemingly no danger to the visitors, he fired a superb shot past the helpless Caffry in to the top corner of the goal, for what was a truly stunning effort. Nissan had claimed a handball against McAlindon in the build-up to his strike, and the persistence of these protests led to a caution for dissent to Paul Milner.

As has been the way with Bedlington in the last couple of seasons though, they let their opponents quickly back into to a game, with a disastrous defensive passage of play. The equaliser came in the sixth minute, when a ball over the top was chased down by one-time Bedlington transfer target Stephen Stewart, and although Kitchen seemed to have it under control as he tried to shepherd the ball back to his keeper, the lack of communication between him and new boy Watson meant that Kitchen decided to clear the ball to safety. Unfortunately the veteran defender completely mishit his clearance, leaving Stewart with a simple tap in to an unguarded net.

After a quiet period, at the quarter way mark in the game, Robinson advanced with ball from his own half unchallenged, and progressed to within 25 yards before hitting an effort just wide of the post. Past the half hour point, McAlindon found Douglas down the right wing, and the on-form forward cut in towards goal and hit a driven cross which was blocked. Back at his feet, he tried again, the ball skidding to the six yard area where McAlindon got a touch but not goalwards and the ball ran out for a goal-kick.

On 36 minutes, Nissan made an enforced change, with Canavan replacing Neil Moan. Within a minute Bedlington forced a corner from the left, and Robinson's effort swung high, and bounced on top of the bar before being cleared to safety. Nissan captain Halliday led a quick counterattack, his cross from the right being deflected to Stewart, and his overhead kick back across goal was headed over by Sankey from 12 yards.

The home side made the visitors pay for that miss within a minute (39 minutes). From Morton's throw-in, McAlindon rode a challenge to feed Robinson. His quick-thinking ball over the defence saw Douglas beat the offside trap to run on goal where he composed himself before sliding the ball past Caffry to restore the Terriers lead. Three minutes from the interval, Stewart's corner from the right swung towards the top corner, but Morton was on hand to clear off the line.

The respite was temporary, however, as Nissan levelled for the second time in the final action of the first half. Stewart tormenting the Bedlington defence exposing their lack of pace, and as he burst through to goal, he was tripped by a mistimed Kitchen tackle. The referee had no option to award a penalty, which Halliday duly dispatched with the minimum of fuss to Watson's right. So, the half ended with the score level, despite the home side being dominant throughout the opening 45 minutes.

Bedlington made another dream start to the second half, taking the lead within 20 seconds of the kick off. When the ball was hit forward, Douglas pounced on a defensive slip to run in, round the keeper and slot into the empty net from an acute angle. Halliday came close to restoring parity for the visitors within minutes, but his shot from the edge of the area struck the bar and bounced out of play. Stewart saw a 25 yard shot rise just over the bar a minute later.

Robinson surged down he left before hit a superb curling left footed cross to Preen on the penalty spot. His diving downward header drew an incredible save from Caffry as he clawed the ball one-handed over the bar. However, the flag had already been raised for offside against Preen so the heroics were all in vain.

A nervy Bedlington performance almost inevitably encouraged a third Nissan equaliser, which arrived in the 55th minute. The ball fell kindly to Lund after Stewart tried to find a way through the Bedlington defence, and he lashed a shot from 20 yards into the top corner, past Watson's despairing dive. However, the Terriers were determined to remain on top and took the lead for the fourth times within two minutes of the equalising goal.

McAlindon's ball down the left to Preen saw the defender misjudge the flight of the ball, and the Bedlington forward chested the ball into stride before playing a perfect cross between Caffry and his defender where Douglas had a simple tap in from six yards for his third of the the game. This was his 11th goal of the season so far, in only 14 appearances (including 4 as sub), and his 7th in the last 3 games.

Bedlington made their first change of the game with 20 minutes remaining, Shandran replacing the hard-working Preen. Minutes later, Nissan came agonisingly close to another equaliser. Lund raced clear down the left, and his driven shot/cross evaded both the despairing dive of Sankey and the far post as it ran out of play. The Terriers made a second substitution, with Lang replacing Walklate. Stewart went close again for the visitors almost immediately, but he headed wide at the far post.

Bedlington then made their final change, with Cockburn replacing McAlindon, as they sought to freshen legs against a resurgent Nissan who obviously had confidence that they could still get something from the game. With 5 minutes remaining, the Bedlington dugout were furious with the referee when he missed an alleged punch by Sankey on Keegan, yet booked both players and awarded Nissan the free-kick!

Last Bedlington chance of the game saw Shandran win possession in midfield and then pass left to Atkinson, his low cross to the near post saw Cockburn get a touch that diverted its path to wrong foot Caffry. However the Nissan keeper did well to fling a foot out and stop a certain goal, and the danger was cleared. In injury time, Nissan saw their final opportunity, when Butler hit the roof of the net with an attempted chip.

Last action of the game however, saw Morton red-carded for an alleged attempted headbutt on a Nissan player. Given what had already been missed minutes earlier the home fans, players and officials were outraged at the decision. This late incident somewhat overshadowed the victory and fine hat-trick performance of hero Keith Douglas. The poor overall performance by the referee in the game ensured a rough reception as he left the field of play.

The positive thing though is that Bedlington maintained their unbeaten run with another win. However, the fact is this was a nervous performance against a struggling team, and to concede 3 goals at home will be considered disappointing by the management. A defensive improvement will be required by the time we face some of the leading title challengers in the coming weeks.

Horden C.W. (Away), ANL, 15/10/05
Won 1-0 (Preen)

Bedlington made the journey down the A19 to another Welfare Park, this time home of hosts Horden C.W., looking to extend their long unbeaten run to a hopefully lucky thirteen. Bedlington had the luxury of naming an unchanged side to the one that had so comprehensively routed Thornaby away on Tuesday previous. Horden's line-up included ex-Terrier Andy Bowes (jnr). The Teams:

Horden C.W.: Naisbett, Roulston, Hyson, Dixon, Bowes, Stephens, Ainsley, Bell, Devine, Ure, Atkinson. Subs: Pearson, Allen, Woodhouse, O'Riordan, Franks.
Bedlington Terriers: M Robinson, Morton, Atkinson, J Harmison, Kitchen, Keegan, P Robinson, Walklate, Preen, Douglas, McAlindon. Subs: Milner, Gibb, Cockburn, Shandran, Lang.

First chance of note after a quiet opening to the game, saw Bedlington take the lead in the 11th minute. From a throw-in on the left, Douglas found Atkinson, and his cross saw Preen steal in at the near post, to head down and goalwards. Naisbett in the Horden goal made a fantastic save and even deflected Preen's follow up effort for a corner. From Robinson's kick, Preen was found in an identical position, only this time his header was slotted into the back of the net. Douglas went close a minute later to doubling the lead, but his 25 yard drive was saved to Naisbett's left.

Bedlington pushed forward against a Horden side that looked like a team struggling at the wrong end of the table. Douglas fed on to a long ball to break clear, and when the combined attentions of two defenders dispossessed him, the ball ran to Preen, only for his shot to be charged down. The ball ran loose again, this time to Robinson on the edge of the area, and he played a superb chip over the keeper which landed on top of the bar, before it was cleared to safety.

The game fell into a quiet period during which Bedlington controlled the game without actually creating anything significant in terms of efforts on goal. This lasted until the 36th minute, from Morton's ball, McAlindon dummied to let it run to Douglas inside the area, and he turned and hit a shot just wide of the right hand post. Two minutes later, Hyson was cautioned for a foul on Preen, and just before the interval, Morton was also booked for a bad foul, and end a generally forgettable half in which Bedlington were deserving leaders, if not exactly inspiring.

The second half began in a similar manner, with the visitors domination play. On 48 minutes a ball into Preen saw the forward play a clever flick into the path of Douglas, but he could only hit wide from 15 yards. Next, Atkinson found space down the left, and hit a dangerous cross which Douglas dived to meet but to no avail. In fact he was penalised and cautioned for using his hand in attempting to control the ball.

As the half progressed it seemed that the home side began to develop more confidence going forward, while Bedlington grew increasingly more nervous and defensive. Jason Ainsley almost scored a freak equaliser when his cross from the left flew over Bedlington keeper Michael Robinson's head, but fortunately also past the far post. Bell was booked for Horden after a foul on McAlindon.

Just short of the hour mark, the hosts made their first change of the game, replacing Dixon with Pearson. On the hour mark itself, Bell turned past his marker and struck a low shot from 25 yards which bounced of Robinson's chest, and was cleared behind for a corner, which came to nothing. Bedlington hit back with Douglas skinning his marker on the right, before cutting in and laying a pass to McAlindon, whose shot was blocked by a desperate lunge. Minutes later, Walklate found the head of Preen from his right sided cross, but the forward's effort went wide of the post.

Bedlington made a double change by replacing the front pair of Preen and Douglas with Shandran and Milner respectively in an attempt to freshen up the attack. The change almost paid instant dividends within two minutes when the visitors should have doubled their lead and made the result beyond doubt. Shandran broke towards the Horden goal, then laid a pass into Robinson to the right on the area. He in turn pulled the ball back to McAlindon on the edge, and his scuffed shot fell to Milner on the edge of the six yard box, only for the Terriers all-time leading marksman to slice over under heavy challenges of two home defenders.

This close shave stung the home side into action, and with 18 minutes remaining Devine found space in the Bedlington area, only for Robinson to quickly advance and brilliantly block his effort when a goal seemed certain. Devine was the danger man again a minute later when a cross from the left found him with his back to goal. He flicked the ball up and hit an overhead which beat both Robinson and fortunately also the left hand post. Sub Pearson lashed wide a glorious chance from 12 yards minutes later before Bedlington made their final change, replacing a tiring McAlindon with Lang.

With ten minutes remaining, an incident occurred which outraged both Bedlington officials and fans. When Naisbett's poor clearance feel to the feet of Shandran, and he played a quick ball to put Milner clear, the Horden keeper clearly brought Milner down out side his area with defenders struggling to recover. Instead of the expected red card, the referee showed only yellow, clearly adjudging that a defender had recovered so that Naisbett was not the last man. Consensus was that the Horden keeper was a very lucky man to remain on the field of play.

Horden took heart from this decision and put fierce pressure on the Bedlington goal for the remainder of the game. Both Devine and Pearson hit shot from the edge just wide of the angle of the Bedlington goal, and in the final minute Pearson ran on to a flick to hit a half volley that just shaved the left hand post. But Bedlington did hang on to secure another three excellent points at a ground at which few rarely get a positive result.

With results going their way on the day, it saw Bedlington extending their lead at the top of the table, showing that they are turning into being the team to beat this season. Bedlington hope to continue this outstanding run on Saturday, which sees the visit of promoted Nissan Sunderland to Welfare Park, in a 3pm kick-off.

Thornaby (Away), ANL, 11/10/05
Won 5-1 (Robinson, Douglas*4)

No report as such for this game, but here are the teams and a brief description of the game, courtesy of Tommy Grant from Thornaby:

Thornaby: Swann, Shaw, Harrison, Lynch, Mohan, Larkin, Cossavella, Oliver, Campbell, Storr, Jamison. Subs: Swift, Wood, Granycombe, Kinnair, Revely.
Bedlington: M Robinson, Morton, Atkinson, J Harmison, Kitchen, Keegan, P Robinson, Walklate, Preen, Douglas, McAlindon. Subs: Milner, Gibb, Lang, Bryce, M Harmison.

"An EXTREMELY close first half where both teams could and should have scored at least a couple of goals apiece,but both teams spurned chances. It really did look like one of those games where a single goal would be the winner.

But then KEITH DOUGLAS happened to us. Two well taken goals by him in the first few minutes of the second half rocked Thornaby on their heels a little. Confidence seemed to ebb a little, restored 10 minutes or so into the second half by an absolute CRACKER of a 25 yard drive by Steve Larkin which I doubt ANY keeper could have got to (so don't blame Robinson for that) only to be taken away from us again by a speculative shot which Adrian Swann seemed to have in his grasp,only for the ball to slip through his arms and under his body (which seemed to happen in slow motion!).

Thornaby appeared very deflated by that and didn't really threaten too much as a result. Douglas third goal came from a penalty. I didn't see the incident unfortunately, but was told by our own guys that it was a stonewaller (as they say). He slotted it away nicely, and popped up later for another pretty well taken goal 10 minutes or so from the end of the match.

All in all, I'd have to say that we had no arguments about the result. Based on the second half performance the better team on the night deservedly won, and probably by the right margin too. Credit where it's due - good luck Bedlington, a very well drilled and confident outfit" (THANKS AGAIN TOMMY FOR PROVIDING THAT REVIEW)

Brandon United (Home), ANL, 08/10/05
Won 5-0 (Preen, Keegan, Atkinson, Robinson*2)

Bedlington entertained bottom of the table Brandon United, who had recorded only one win in eleven league games, in stark contrast to the hosts ten game unbeaten run coming into this game. Only one change was made to the side that had defeated Billingham Town, with Paul Robinson returning to the starting line-up in place of Tony Shandran, who was carrying a slight injury and was given a place on the bench. The Terriers knew that a victory combined with the right result for Newcastle Blue Star could see them return to the top of the table, a position not occupied for some considerable first time by the Northumberland side. The Teams:

Bedlington: M Robinson, Morton (Bryce), Atkinson, J Harmison, Milner(c) (Kitchen), Keegan, P Robinson, Walklate, Preen (Lang), Douglas, McAlindon. Subs not used: Gibb, M Harmison.
Brandon United: Poskett, Rand (Weir), Barnfather, Turton, Nattress, Howe, Hawthorne, Richardson(c), K Shoulder, Johnson (Ebdon), McMullen. Subs not used: A Shoulder, Peacock.

Bedlington almost scored on ten minutes, when McAlindon ran on to Robinson's clever reverse ball, but his finish hit the wrong side of the goal frame for a goal kick. Atkinson broke down the left minutes later, but his dangerous cross to the far post evaded all. The visitor's first opportunity came after 18 minutes. Skipper Richardson's free kick from the right was headed out only as far as Shoulder and his header back to goal saw Robinson in the Bedlington nets make a superb one handed save at full stretch. The ball stayed in play, however, and when knocked back in to the area, Shoulder again was on hand to help it on its way, this time bouncing agonisingly over the bar.

Just past the quarter way mark, Brandon pushed forward and were denied by the quick thinking Robinson who blocked at the feet of Shoulder after Johnson's flick had out him through. Within a minute, Bedlington were attacking when McAlindon's cross-field ball found Atkinson in acres of space. He lashed a left-footed shot which Poskett did well to get behind and save at the second attempt. Three minutes later, Bedlington really should have taken the lead when Robinson played a neat 1-2 move with Douglas, and when he received the return inside the area, he blasted wide with the goal at his mercy.

Just past the half hour point, McMullen went close with a 25 yard shot over the bar, and he went even closer moments later when Johnson's chest down from a long ball fell nicely for the Brandon forward, only to lash his effort wide. This period of the game saw the visitors dominating the midfield, with the forward trio in particular playing excellent one touch football and showing clever movement which was stretching the Bedlington rearguard to its maximum.

So it was somewhat harsh, and much against the run of play that Bedlington took the lead in the 37th minute. When Douglas was fouled on the right, McAlindon's free-kick into the area was chested down by Milner into the path of Preen, and he struck the ball from 12 yards past Poskett for the opening goal of the game. This seemed to both perk the Terriers up, and deflate the visitors, as the home side doubled their lead five minutes before the break.

Walklate was fouled on the left just inside their opponents half, and Harmison's long free-kick to the right edge of the area was headed down by Keegan. After a scramble the ball ended back at the feet of Keegan and he turned and shot home from 15 yards for his second goal of the season. And Bedlington scored a third goal in injury time before the break with a goal both well-constructed and immaculately finished.

Preen picked up Milner's clearance from defence in his own half before feeding McAlindon. He hit it forward to the surprisingly well advanced Atkinson in space, and he shifted past a defender before placing a exquisite chip from 20 yards over Poskett into the top left corner of the goal. A fantastic goal which almost marked an unlikely conclusion to the half, a three goal lead which could hardly have been imagined just ten minutes earlier. There was still time before the whistle for Brandon's Barnfather to go close from 25 yards

Bedlington came out in the second half with all guns blazing, completely dominating for the 45 minutes. Brandon were not able to recover from the triple blow late in the first half, which was certainly harsh on the balance of play, but typical of the luck endured by a struggling side. Four minutes into the half, Robinson hit a cross first time from McAlindon's pass, into Preen facing away from goal. The Terriers forward showed his mobility by quickly spinning and firing to goal, only for Poskett to make a tremendous save low to his left.

Although dominating possessing, the home side then had to wait until the hour mark for to carve out the next chance, when Milner's defence-splitting pass to Harmison on the right of the penalty area, and his driven shop was palmed away to safety. The fourth goal inevitably came though on 63 minutes. With seemingly no danger apparent when Robinson picked up a loose ball from 25 yards out, he proved all wrong by cracking his left-footed effort past the full stretch Poskett into the top corner for another superb goal.

With the points safe, Bedlington decided to rest captain Milner and replaced him with veteran Sam Kitchen. Douglas was next to threaten the beleaguered Brandon goal, when chased a long ball and with the keeper off his line, saw his clever lob crash down on the bar and away to safety. A minute later, Bedlington were pushing again, with Preen making progress down the right wing, cutting in to goal, shifting past a covering defender before hitting an effort that Poskett only part blocked. Picking the loose ball up wide, he decided to hit from an unlikely angle and Poskett saved, ignoring the two unmarked Bedlington players waiting for a tap in.

There were then a series of player changes. On 72 minutes, Brandon made their first change with Ebdon replacing Johnson, and two minutes later, Bedlington made their final changes with Bryce and Lang replacing Morton and Preen respectively. The changes in personnel made absolutely no difference to the course of the game, and the home side duly notched up a fifth goal in the 77th minute, when Paul Robinson beat the offside trap to run clear, and with Poskett advancing from goal, cleverly chipped over his head and the ball bounced once before crossing the line. With 9 minutes remaining, Brandon made a second change, with Weir replaced Rand in defence.

Robinson almost secured a hat-trick when his reverse flick from a cross by Atkinson glided over the Brandon keeper but bounced just wide of the far post. He went close again two minutes later, when his free-kick from the edge of the area from a foul on Keegan, deflected of a head in the wall, and shaved the far post with Poskett helpless. Douglas had the perfect opportunity to finish the scoring in the final minute when Atkinson's diagonal ball put him clear, but his weak attempted lob was held easily by the overworked Brandon keeper.

The referee duly brought the game to a close, and all those at Bedlington were left happy with a scoreline which had seemed very unlikely little at the half hour mark. In fact the satisfaction was increased by the fact that Bedlington did indeed go top of the table on goal difference because of Blue Star gaining only a point in their game at Shildon. Next up for the Terriers was a tough game away at surprise challengers Thornaby, followed by another away game at Horden on Saturday.

Billingham Town (Home), ANL, 01/10/05
Won 2-1 (Preen, Douglas)

Bedlington welcomed visitors Billingham Town to Welfare Park for an eagerly anticipated clash of two sides expected to make a push for the title this season. With Town having played fewer games than the rest of their rivals, it meant that they were placed in the bottom half of the League table, even though like Bedlington they had lost only one game up to this point.

Bedlington fielded the strongest team available to them, with only Robbie Cockburn a continuing absentee through injury, and boosted by the return for Gareth McAlindon who had missed the last game because of a prior commitment. They were looking to continue an unbeaten run which would be stretched to ten league games if they were at least able to avoid defeat against their Teesside visitors - a run which started after their opening day defeat at Morpeth Town in mid-August. The teams:

Bedlington: M Robinson, Morton, Atkinson, J Harmison, Milner(c), Keegan, Walklate (Gibb), Douglas, Preen, Shandran (P Robinson), McAlindon. Subs not used: Kitchen, M Harmison, Bryce.

Billingham Town: Collier, Livingstone, Scott, Ward, Abel, Hutchinson, Emms, Burton, Clarke, Huggins, McKie. Subs: Wilson, Osmond, Walkington, Robson, Tucker.
Ref: B Parry


After a quiet opening to the game, the visitors were the first side to threaten a breakthrough just past ten minutes. When Morton slipped on the ball, quick thinking put McKie through on goal, where Terriers keeper Robinson made excellent ground to block at the forward's feet. The loose ball fell to Burton, but his first time effort at the unguarded goal was sliced well wide of the post. Home fans had to wait until the 18th minute before their team created anything of note. McAlindon's corner from the right saw Harmison at the far post head it back to the edge of the area, where Walklate shot wide.

Bedlington were slowly asserting their control over the game and created a further two opportunities at the quarter way mark in the game. First, Preen cleverly headed from a long ball into the path of Atkinson, who controlled before hitting a dipping half volley from fully 30 yards just the wrong side of the bar. Then moments later, Preen found space to get his shot in from an acute angle but evaded both keeper and the far post.

The pressure finally paid off when Bedlington took the lead in the 26th minute. Morton's quick throw to Shandran down the right, saw the skillful forward knock the ball from the byline to the near post where Preen was on hand to smash the ball into the roof of the net to give the home side a well-deserved lead. The lead should have been doubled ten minutes later when Douglas, in acres of space on the edge of the area, spun and hit a hurried shot that did not trouble the opposition goal.

Within moments of this chance, Billingham should have been back on level terms. Huggins found space down the right wing, and his cross to the penalty spot saw Clarke head tamely into the arms of Robinson when completely unmarked. Bedlington had the final chance of the half, when Harmison's ball down the right put Douglas clear, and when he cut in to goal, instead of picking out a team mate to apply the finish, he could only miscue his effort into the grateful arms of Collier.

Within 8 minutes of the restart, Bedlington doubled their lead. Atkinson won the ball in midfield with a well-timed tackle, and then made progress down the left wing before hitting a beautifully-flighted left foot cross on to the head of Douglas, and his placement was perfect as it glided past Collier into the top corner of the Billingham goal. Bedlington then almost conceded an embarrassing goal, when a poor clearance by Robinson from the edge of his area fell at the feet of Emms, and his first time 40 yard effort was saved under the posts by the recovering Bedlington keeper to spare his own blushes.

Both sides made their first changes around the hour mark, with Bedlington replacing an unusually quiet Shandran with Paul Robinson, and Billingham replacing Livingstone with Osmond. The game went through a quiet period before Billingham went close to reducing the deficit with 20 minutes remaining, but Robinson did well to block at the feet of Clarke. The lead was halved with just under 15 minutes to go. McKie played a wonderful defence-splitting pass to put Huggins clear on goal, and he shrugged of the challenges of two Bedlington defenders before sliding the ball past Robinson into the back of the net.

Preen went close to restoring the two-goal advantage when his shot from the left edge of the area flew just over the bar, but the final ten minutes was characterised by an increasingly edgy Bedlington backing off and encouraging the visitors to attack in search of an unlikely equaliser. Clarke hit just over the bar when Huggins free-kick from half way had been cleared to him, and then moments later, McKie hit wildly and wide when another poor headed clearance landed at his feet on the edge of the area.

With five minutes to go, Bedlington made a second change, with Walklate being replaced by Gibb in an attempt to see the game out by providing a more physical look to the team. Yet the visitors still almost got their second goal, and were only denied by Robinson's brilliant one-handed save low at his right hand post from Clarke's well-struck effort. Bedlington hung-on to earn all three points, and deservedly so, despite the late nerves.

With many of their rivals in FA Vase action, this victory put Bedlington up into second place, two points behind leaders Newcastle Blue Star, but having played two games more. Next up for the Terriers is yet another home game this Saturday, against Brandon United. Supporters should note that despite that England game the same day, this match still has a 3pm kick off time