MURTON enjoyed a night to savour in midweek as they lifted the Mark Blake Memorial Trophy.
Boosted by an impressive run since the new year, Murton have revelled in a big improvement in form, and they were rewarded with a clinical display in Wednesday night’s 2-0 final triumph against Hartlepool Reserves at Brandon.
Murton made the breakthrough with a stunning long-range strike, from fully 40 yards, by Matthew Mustard on the stroke of half-time.
Peter Crawford capitalised on a defensive error to double the lead from close range, killing off the league newcomers.
Hartlepool Reserves earlier eased into the final with a 4-1 delayed semi-final success at Brandon United Reserves.
United needed keeper Kieran Russell to keep his side in the game, and had a fine double save count for nought when the linesman ruled that the ball had crossed the line.
Youngster Ben Pearson scored from a neat turn and low shot, but Pool cruised through, thanks to strikes from Carl O’Sullivan (2), Lewis Murphy and Elliott Beddow.
Coundon & Leeholme will meet Horsley Hill in the League Challenge Cup final.
Horsley edged home 2-1 against visitors Wheatley Hill WMC.
Wheatley defended strongly from the off, frustrating Horsley, however the home side made the breakthrough when Adam Sharp notched.
The setback spurred Wheatley on and they responded well, only to be stunned when Sharp doubled the home lead 10 minutes later.
Wheatley piled on the pressure in the second half, looking to get back in the game, and their efforts finally paid off when they were awarded a penalty.
However, their joy was shortlived when Horsley keeper Seb Turner saved smartly down at his right post.
Wheatley pressed again and were awarded another penalty, which Lee Smith converted, but Horsley Hill held on nervously to book their final spot.
Steven Johnson’s brace proved enough to earn Coundon & Leeholme their close-fought 2-1 semi victory at Wallsend Town.
In the league, Murton succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at Ebchester Consett Reserves.
Both teams tried to play a passing style of football and both had early half-chances, but the only goal arrived when Mark Longstaff latched onto a back pass and cleverly lobbed keeper Graeme Swinbourne.
Swinbourne made an outstanding save to deny Ebchester a second goal right on half-time.
Murton had the majority of the ball in the second half, but they could not create clear-cut chances and paid the price by going down, denied by a couple of late Jack Sanderson saves.
Mark Ruddock stood out for Murton, with Richie Parkin best for the hosts.
Birtley secured only their third league win of the season, shocking visitors Sedgefield NetPark with a 4-2 victory.
Adam Hart’s clinical finish to a well-worked goal had Birtley on top, and Kevin Raine quickly increased the lead with an excellent strike from a knockdown.
Sedgefield pushed for a way back, but Birtley hit a third when Thomas Illingworth scored a delightful overhead kick in the 35th minute.
NetPark rallied well in the second half, Phillip Bland’s shot caught out keeper Dan Davies on his near post, but Birtley stayed strong and, after missing a good chance, made it 4-1 with another good finish by Hart.
Lewis White quickly cut the deficit, but NetPark squandered their chances to make Birtley nervous in the final minutes, and the home side held on.
In midweek, David Jackson and Martin Appleby netted for Wheatley Hill WMC in a 4-2 home loss to Wallsend Town, while Coundon & Leeholme went top thanks to a 5-0 victory at Birtley. Matthew Telford starred for Birtley.