Morpeth lose league opener at Stafford

Morpeth began the season with defeat in Staffordshire as they went down 3-1 at the hands of Stafford Rangers on Saturday, writes Sam Donovan.

By Keith Hamblin
Monday, 16th August 2021, 10:48 am
Morpeth Town FC.
Morpeth Town FC.

Joseph Kenton had Rangers ahead at half time but Chris Reid equalised on 82 minutes after Wayne Phillips had been given his marching orders early into the second half. However, a late salvo from Kenton and Luca Navarro ensured the home side got the points.

Morpeth started the game with marquee signing Ryan Donaldson starting in midfield and fellow new boy Callum Morris on the bench.

The Highwaymen started the game on the front foot and the first opportunity fell the way of Andrew Johnson, who hit a half volley on the turn but was unlucky to see the ball land on the roof of the net.

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The home side began to grow into the game and had their first chance on 15 minutes with Dan Lowson called into action to tip a header over the bar from James O’Neill.

Rangers had a secret weapon in the shape of long throw expert Thomas Tonks and it was through this avenue they took the lead on 21 minutes. Tonks hurled the ball towards the near post and it was flicked on by Jake Charles who found Joseph Kenton at the back post who nodded home.

The home side remained in the ascendancy and had a chance to double their lead when a Kenton header was tipped wide of the post by Lowson.

On the stroke of half time Kenton got the run of the ball but he prodded his effort wide of the far post.

Morpeth came out with renewed vigour in the second half but their hopes of getting back into the game were hit when Wayne Phillips received a straight red card on 55 minutes for a tackle on Kenton.

Town continued to look for a way back into the game and substitute Joe Walton had a good opportunity on 68 minutes but he saw his effort saved at the near post by Adam Whitehouse.

Joe Cuff had the next chance for Rangers but his effort was saved by Lowson.

Kenton then got down the wing and cutback for Luca Navarro but the striker blasted high over the bar from 12yds.

Morpeth for their endeavours equalised on 82 minutes when Chris Reid was able to bundle the ball home.

Morpeth continued to press for a winner and Carl Finnigan shot from the edge of the box but the home ‘keeper Whitehouse was able to get down to make the save.

On 87 minutes, Finnigan had another opportunity after Walton had swung in a cross but his header was grasped out of the air by Whitehouse.

With a minute of normal time remaining, the home side went ahead. Navarro did well down the wing and he teed up Tonks who squared it to Kenton who saw his strike take a wicked deflection and wrongfoot Lowson.

The points were sealed in added time. With the Highwaymen pouring forward in the search of an equaliser, the home side countered with Cuff who had the awareness to roll the ball across the area for Navarro to tap home.

Morpeth are next in action on Tuesday evening when they make the trip across to Manchester to face FC United.