By Andrew McDonnell (@AndrewSJourno)
Keith Graydon’s second-half strike proved to be decisive as Morpeth Town were held to a 2-2 draw by Sunderland RCA at Meadow Park.
Paul Robinson struck on 42 minutes to cancel out Stephen Callen’s earlier strike at the end of a disappointing first-half for the visitors.
Morpeth’s skipper put his side ahead just after the break, but RCA replied on 70 minutes through Ross McNab.
And the Highwaymen thought they had a penalty late on when Steven Anderson was dragged down in the area, but the linesman overruled the referee and a free-kick was awarded.
Both sides were pushing for victory, but time was called and the visitors will be looking to bounce back on Monday against local rivals Ashington.
Nick Gray and Dave Malone’s side came into the game off the back of three consecutive wins, but it was their opponents who started the brighter.
However, it wasn’t until 24 minutes when they came close to breaking the deadlock, after a great piece of play.
Callum Hassan headed down into the path of Callen, who struck at goal, but Jim Provett pulled off a brilliant one-handed stop to deny the forward.
Hassan missed a chance of his own moments later before the hosts eventually took a deserved lead in the game.
The goal was coming, and after a brilliant run down the flank by Colin Larkin, the captain drilled the ball across for Callen, who tapped in from close range.
RCA probably should have doubled their lead when Hassan dispossessed Michael Hall, but he squandered the chance after a good 30-yard run at goal.
Morpeth began to grow in the game, and three minutes before the break they were given a slice of good fortune and they found an equaliser.
Luke Carr eased past his man and rifled off the crossbar from an acute angle, and Robinson followed in and was the quickest to react to fire the ball into the top corner.
The Highwaymen had debutant Provett to thank why they were still level at half-time.
Whatever was said to the visitors at half-time, worked, because they came out a different side, and they could have gone ahead after 42 seconds.
Carr slid the ball through to Chilton, but the ‘keeper had the resulting shot covered, but Morpeth did go ahead on 49 minutes.
Sean Taylor latched onto a long ball over the top, and after holding up play, he rolled the ball to Graydon, who found the bottom corner with the outside of his boot.
RCA were denied an equaliser on 54 minutes, Hall produced two brave blocks before Damen Mullen cleared Larkin’s close-range chance off the line.
McNab did bring the hosts level once more on 70 minutes when McNab struck his shot under the ‘keeper.
Both sides were pushing for a winner, and late on Morpeth thought they had the perfect chance to find the winning goal.
Substitute Steven Anderson beat his man and was pulled down in the area, and a penalty was awarded before the linesman overruled the decision and a free-kick was given.
The Highwaymen’s three-game winning streak came to an end, and they now have 48 hours to recover for Monday’s game with local rivals Ashington.
Sunderland RCA: Harkess, Gordon, McNab, Hodgson, Swansbury, J.Davis, Charlton (Noble, 72 min), Larkin, Hassan (C.Davis, 65 min), Callen, Cassidy (Armstrong, 79 min)
Subs Not Used: Bussey, Pounder
Morpeth: Provett, Forster (Novak, 82 min), Mullen, Sayer, Johnson, Hall, Taylor (Anderson, 82 min), Graydon, Carr, Chilton, Robinson (Fry, 70 min)
Subs Not Used: Fondato, Grieve
Goals: 1-0, 31 min, Callen; 1-1, 42 min, Robinson; 1-2, 49 min, Graydon; 2-2, 70 min, McNab.
Referee: Lindsey Robinson
Assistants: James Milne and Stephen Beresford