Seaham Red Star 0-2 Dunston UTS
Ebac Northern League Division 1
Saturday 8th December 2018, 3pm GMT
Ferguson Motor Repairs Stadium

 

The Star fell to a fourth consecutive league defeat on Saturday afternoon at the hands of The Fed but it followed a display by the hosts that warranted much more.

There was seemingly little else Seaham could have done in their efforts to deny Dunston victory in the league for only the third time this season.

They at least matched the table-toppers in virtually every element of the game, yet the visitors were still the ones who maintained a vice-like grip on the score-line.

Mark Collingwood’s side created numerous openings but never quite found that final touch, so cool finishes by Jack Elliott and Jake Stafford in the 29th and 83rd minutes respectively proved the difference.

Dan Wilson’s disallowed goal on the stroke of half-time – seemingly for handball – also represented a major turning point, though.

Having come into the match off the back of a 7-2 defeat at Consett, now second in the division, the visit of the leaders could have easily been one that daunted those in red and white.

It didn’t. The Star started the quicker of the two sides.

Captain David Robinson fired a left-footed effort over from range in the 6th minute, while Wilson forced Karl Dyrden into a sharp diving save to his left seven minutes later when the striker evaded Stafford on the left side of the box and sent a side-footed effort towards the far-corner.

Liam Brooks provided the first sign of the inevitable threat posed by the visitors as he danced through a succession of challenges before seeing a left-footed effort drift narrowly wide of the right-hand post in the 21st minute, yet Seaham kept coming.

Anthony Myers’ low 25-yard effort was palmed behind well by Dryden two minutes later and the away stopper was forced into action twice more in the moments that followed.

He flung himself to his right hold Paul Gardiner’s looping header and then got down impressively to his left to tip Liam Gillesphey’s overhead-kick round the post soon after.

The value of his interventions was only emphasised further when Jack Elliott gave Dunston the lead three minutes later. The Number 11 side-footed coolly past Andy Hunter and into the bottom-left corner after a quick counter-attack involving good work by Brooks and Mark Fitzpatrick put him through.

Coming seemingly out of nothing, it was a cruel sucker-punch for Seaham. It was also, though, perhaps the very reason why their opponents are top of the league.

Another display of their quality came just two minutes later when more clever link-up play between Fitzpatrick and Brooks saw the latter send a tame shot into the gloves of Hunter after he had been played into space by his strike-partner’s intelligent back-heel.

The Star, though, weren’t letting up. Darryll Donnelly had a far-post header from a corner blocked impressively in the 33rd minute before Liam McNamara’s nodded rebound was well-held by Dryden.

Despite Donnelly then making a crucial contribution at the other end – blocking Aiden Haley’s point-blank attempt from a 42nd minute Dunston corner – Seaham would produce the half’s final moment of attacking significance.

It looked as though Wilson had equalised as the clock ticked into stoppage-time, with the striker converting Matthew Lowrie’s superb cross from the right from close-range.

The flag, though, was raised. With the Number 9 adjudged to have headed the ball against his own arm on its way in.

Whether right or wrong, it was a very tough call for the officials. But it did deny The Star what would have been a well-earned equaliser ahead of the break.

There weren’t quite the same volume of openings for the hosts following the restart, either. Fitzpatrick was the one who had the second-period’s first opportunity as he curled a left-footed shot from the edge of the box into the arms of Hunter in the 52nd minute.

Robinson hammered a right-footed shot narrowly wide of the near-post after a driving run to the edge of the box three minutes later, but the clearer chances were now beginning to fall Dunston’s way.

Jack Elliott’s first-time right-footed effort from 18-yards almost found its way over the line after a fumble by Hunter in the 64th minute and Fitzpatrick volleyed substitute Jordan Nellis’ cross from the right into the side netting after 71.

Nellis, introduced at half-time, was having a noticeably positive influence. It was one that almost extended to the score-line with 15 minutes remaining, too, when he was found in the box by Fitzpatrick before he beat Donnelly but was denied superbly by Hunter from point-blank range.

Jon Weirs had Dryden back-pedalling two minutes later as his cross-shot looked set to creep under the crossbar before the ‘keeper tipped it over, but another swift break by the visitors put the seal on their 14th league win of the season in the 83rd minute.

Stafford picked up possession 25-yards from goal, slipped a pass into the feet of Nellis in the box, went for the return – which was delivered perfectly – and swept a first-time right footed finish across Hunter and into the bottom-left corner from 10-yards.

The goal was worked superbly and was a further demonstration of the ruthlessness within the Dunston ranks. This was simple but highly effective football.

Robinson, who refused to give in at any point throughout the afternoon, flicked a Weirs cross over two minutes later, but The Fed were now looking thoroughly comfortable.

They should, really, have extended their advantage to three in the 86th minute when Cieran Jackson’s first-time shot from Nellis’ low-cross was saved before he struck the post from the rebound, but that would have been hugely harsh on Seaham.

This may have been another defeat for The Star but it was one that was full of promise.

The fact that the two-week break prior to their home clash with Whitley Bay on the 22nd December now represents a frustrating momentum breaker was perhaps the clearest sign of the display’s quality.

 

Seaham Red Star (4-2-3-1):
1. Andy Hunter; 2. Matthew Lowrie (Hetherington, 72’), 5. Liam McNamara, 6. Darryll Donnelly, 3. Paul Weldon (YC); 8. Paul Gardiner, 4. Anthony Myers (YC) (Chilton, 66’); 7. Liam Gillesphey (Johnston, 55’), 10. David Robinson (C), 11. Jon Weirs; 9. Dan Wilson

Substitutes:
12. Lee Hetherington, 14. Liam Hodgson, 15. Andy Johnston, 16. Michael Chilton, 17. Scott Young

Manager: Mark Collingwood

 

Dunston UTS (4-4-2):
1. Karl Dryden; 2. Liam Marrs, 6. Dan Capewell, 5. Andrew Grant-Soulsby, 7. Thomas Bexton (Elliott, 56’); 11. Jack Elliott, 4. Jake Stafford, 8. Aiden Haley, 3. Daniel Halliday (Nellis, 46’); 9. Mark Fitzpatrick, 10. Liam Brooks (Jackson, 81’)

Substitutes:
12. Callum Elliott, 14. Jordan Nellis, 15. Cieran Jackson, 17. Naill Harrison

Manager: Chris Swailes

 

Referee: Matthew East

 

Goals:
Seaham Red Star:
N/A

Dunston UTS:
Jack Elliott (29’), Assist: Fitzpatrick
Stafford (83’), Assist: Nellis