Aside from Altrincham’s 1-1 draw against Blyth Spartans at The J.Davidson Stadium, there were four other thrilling encounters in the Vanarama National League North last night (Tues). A total of 15 goals were scored in the five games, with 15 different scorers.
AFC Telford United’s 3-1 victory over Darlington and Stockport County’s 3-1 win away at Boston United were the joint-highest scoring games, whilst Bradford (Park Avenue) beat Leamington 2-1 and Southport’s trip to Spennymoor Town ended in a 1-1 draw.
It took Telford just 13 minutes to find an opener against Darlington, when Ryan Barnett drilled the ball into the bottom corner, after keeper Jake Turner parried a shot from Daniel Udoh. The home side then doubled their lead three minutes later, following a header from striker Amari Morgan-Smith. A 2-0 lead would have been an acceptable enough return for Telford's first-half endeavours, but it became even better when top scorer Udoh fired home a third on the brink of half-time.
Darlington did, however, manage to pinch a consolation goal in the dying minutes of the game, in the form of a Romal Palmer tap-in. Stephen Thompson’s free-kick was fired straight at Telford keeper Joesf Bursik, who could only parry it into the path of Palmer to end the game 3-1.
Over in Lincolnshire, Stockport made the most of their game in hand over Chorley to knock the Magpies off top spot with a win that not only installed them as new league leaders but equalled their longest unbeaten run of league matches within a season (16).
An uneventful first half finish goalless, but in-form County needed just 10 minutes after the restart to open the scoring, as Darren Stephenson flicked the ball past George Willis. Another 10 minutes after that, substitute Elliot Osborne made it 2-0 with his first touch of the game, barely a minute after going on.
Boston were handed a lifeline in the 76th minute after being awarded a penalty, following a handball by Paul Turnbull. Ben Davies stepped up to successfully convert the spot-kick, but any hopes of a late comeback were quickly erased after Frank Mulhern chipped the ball over Willis to make it 3-1. The win puts County on 66 points, two ahead of second-placed Chorley.
Promotion-chasing Bradford capitalised on their chance to move up to fifth after a 2-1 win over Leamington. An unstoppable 25-yard strike from Conor Branson inside only the third minute gave the home side the lead. It was Leamington’s Ahmed Obeng who scored the equaliser, smashing home a rebounded shot off the crossbar in the 26th minute, but just before half-time, a wonderfully curled effort into the top corner from Macaulay Langstaff made it 2-1. Both sides continued to press in the second half, but neither were able to successfully convert their chances as the game ended 2-1.
A late penalty rescued a valuable point for Spennymoor, as they hosted Southport at The Brewery Field. A tame first half saw very few chances created, and it looked as though the same could have been said for the second half until the 81st minute, when Southport’s Jack Sampson turned his man and placed the ball into the bottom corner to open the scoring. But a resilient Spennymoor were awarded a penalty in the 86th minute, and Glen Taylor stepped up to drill the ball past Dan Hanford to make it 1-1.
On Monday night, Guiseley travelled to Ashton-under-Lyne in their match against Curzon Ashton. It was The Nash who scored the only goal of the game, in the 25th minute. Guiseley’s Marcus Dewhurst did well to save a curled effort on goal, but the ball fell only as far as Lewis Reilly, who was there to smash the rebound home. Guiseley came close to equalising in the second half, after Dylan Barker's header was cleared off the line, but despite their best efforts, they couldn't find a way through.
It's been another quiet few days in the Vanarama National League North, with very few arrivals or departures.
Boston United have signed York City striker Jake Wright on an initial month's loan. Guiseley are the only other side to complete a loan deal, signing 18-year old midfielder Dylan Barkers from Solihull Moors.
Blyth have signed former defender David Atkinson for his third spell at the club. The 25-year old had previously spent the summer playing in Iceland for IBV Football Club, but he has returned to the north-east to rejoin Blyth for their National League North run-in.
In other news, Guiseley’s defender Niall Heaton has been released from hospital after being taken in for precautionary checks on Monday night. Three minutes into Guiseley’s match against Curzon Ashton, the 22-year old suffered a head injury and was taken away in an ambulance to Tameside General Hospital.