MURTON have endured a difficult season, but their late-season surge has paid off with a cup final appearance guaranteed.
In a game spoilt a little by a gusty wind, Murton came through their Mark Blake Memorial Trophy semi-final against Bishop Auckland Reserves, winning 1-0, with Kyle Morris bagging the vital goal.
Despite missing a couple of gilt-edged chances to seal the game, Murton – producing a very solid performance in a fantastic team effort – were good value for their victory, restricting Bishops to a couple of chances.
Danny Naylor was the home side’s stand-out performer, with Connor McEvoy best for Bishops.
Brandon United Reserves and Hartlepool Reserves meet this weekend, following last week’s postponement, to decide Murton’s final opponents.
The final is scheduled to be played at Brandon on Wednesday (7pm).
Wheatley Hill WMC climbed into fourth place in the league, thanks to a 2-0 victory at lowly Birtley.
Wheatley Hill had the better of the first half, but found home keeper Dan Davies in outstanding form, with a series of top-class saves.
The visitors went in front when Kyle Hammond notched from a corner, but they wasted the chance to double their advantage before half-time when they missed a penalty.
Wheatley, though, won a second spot-kick a minute into the second half, and man of the match Lee Smith converted to seal the win.
Jonathan Swift stood out for Birtley.
Championship favourites Coundon & Leeholme extended their unbeaten record to sink leaders Horsley Hill 2-0 away from home.
In very blustery conditions at Temple Park, there was little between the teams when Christopher Howe gave Coundon lead on 25 minutes.
The South Tynesiders went for the equaliser but a strong Coundon defence was resolute.
Hill kept pressing for a leveller, but were rocked when man of the match Connor Hughes doubled the visitors’ lead after good build-up play.
Coundon stood firm in the second half to preserve their clean sheet, denying never-say-die Horsley, whose star man was Phil Gray.
In midweek, Coundon & Leeholme were surprisingly held to a 0-0 draw by lowly Ferryhill Town, moving them within a point of Horsley Hill, with four games still in hand.
Chris Howe stood out for Coundon, with Matthew Jackson outstanding for the battling visitors.
Only Wallsend Town, four points behind Coundon and having played a game more, look capable of challenging them for the title.
Wallsend Town’s bus broke down, forcing the cancellation of their game at Shildon Reserves.
Coundon & Leeholme, meanwhile, have had their Auckland Charity Cup final date confirmed. They will tackle Crook and District League side Middlestone Moor Masons Arms at West Auckland on Friday, April 17 (7pm).