Durham Alliance League: Murton hail Pace after thrilling victory ends barren run

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MURTON enjoyed a belated, but encouraging start to 2015, squeezing home 4-3 in a enthralling thriller at Sherburn Village WMC.

The victory, despite being down to 10 men for much of the match, was their first in the league since October 25, with Hayden Pace’s double proving decisive.

Sherburn had the first chance, Joe Simpson having a header well saved by Graeme Swinbourne, then Garry Dodds grazed Murton’s post.

Murton’s Shane O’Brien was handed a straight red card and Sherburn kept pressing, going close through Peter Ryder and Nicky Marley, but the visitors drew first blood when a long ball landed perfectly for Pace, who slotted home.

Nicky Marley slammed home an equaliser from 10 yards soon after, but Murton regained the lead on 52 minutes, a free-kick falling at the feet of Mark Ruddock, who finished well.

Six minutes later, Anth Cowie’s well-taken goal made it 3-1 and only a great save by Lee Abbott denied them a fourth. Dodds headed home for Sherburn to cut the deficit, then Simpson’s super strike levelled it at 3-3.

Murton, despite their disadvantage, worked brilliantly to stay in the game and Pace capitalised on a slip by Andrew Chester to fire a dramatic winner.

In the only other league game, Shildon Reserves ran out 5-2 winners against Ebchester Consett Reserves.

Daniel Reed gave the visitors the lead, but man of the match Joe Kerry levelled five minutes later. Stephen Agnew finished well on another break to restore Ebchester’s advantage, but Stephen Clifford equalised by half-time.

Three second-half efforts from Clifford, Michael Webster and James Huntley steered the Railwaymen home.

Wheatley Hill WMC progressed into the League Challenge Cup semi-finals, pipping hosts Bishop Auckland Reserves 3-2 after extra time.

Wheatley took the lead after a free-kick was stunningly saved by Mark Connell, only for it to hit the post and trickle in. The home side rallied and scored two in quick success after brilliant play from Jordan Maughan.

His powerful run down the left allowed Alex Cantwell to tap in, before Maughan himself was released and finished perfectly first time from 18 yards.

In an entertaining second half, Hill forced extra time, leaving Bishops to rue a series of missed chances.

The extra half hour was an edgy affair, but Wheatley won it with a great shot on the turn on 118 minutes.

Lliam Cockerill, Lee Smith and Stuart Softley struck for Wheatley, whose star man was David Jackson.

Hylton Sports Club succumbed 5-0 in their home quarter-final against Coundon & Leeholme.

Coundon produced some early killer balls behind the full-backs from the start and were soon ahead, rarely looking back against a home side lacking in confidence.

Kurt Matthews bagged a brace to lead the visitors home, backed by strikes from Steven Johnson, Ian Maddison and Darren Simpson. Alan Golightly starred in vain for a weakened Hylton, who struggled to create chances.

The third quarter-final went to extra time, with Horsley Hill finally progressing 6-5 on penalties after an epic 4-4 draw with Hartlepool Reserves.

Levi Collins and Frankie Hucks had Hill two up, but Carl Sullivan’s double levelled it up. Horsley led twice in the second period, despite having Collins sent off for a reckess challenge at 3-3, with Adam Bell notching twice, but Larkin and Sullivan rallied Pool.

Sedgefield NetPark’s cup final dream ended with a 6-2 Durham County FA Trophy semi-final defeat at Whickham Sporting Club.

NetPark started well and could have scored twice, as well as having a penalty appeal for handball turned down.

But they had James Duddin controversially sent off in conceding a 20th-minute penalty, and even after reaching half-time at 2-2, thanks to Martin Musgrave’s brace, they were outgunned in the second half.

Northern Alliance side Whickham now meet Wearside League Silksworth CW in the final.