Bishop Auckland vs Heaton Stannington

Heaton faced off against league leading Bishop Auckland on a rainy Saturday afternoon at the Vest Construction Stadium in front of 398 spectators and, as expected, the hosts provided a strong test for the Stan. The Bishops started the day eight points clear at the top of the table and 22 points above Heaton, though Heaton have five games in hand.

Though the game was predicted to be a tight affair, both teams had great opportunities in the opening quarter of an hour. Louis Johnson demonstrated his pace for the hosts early though was unable to get a shot through on goal thanks to strong blocks by the Heaton defense. Hopper had Heaton’s first chance of the game after just six minutes, taking on and beating a couple of Bishops defenders and forcing a great reaction save from Catterick in the home goal.  Brass demonstrated his shot stopping ability on 13 minutes, getting down sharply to his left to deny the hosts a headed goal and bravely blocking the follow up attempt for a double save.

Johnson continued to trouble the Heaton back line, linking up with Thexton and Bartliff on a couple of occasions but all of Bishop’s shots missed the target. The Stan found it difficult to maintain possession or fashion any real chances. A 40th minute corner from Dan Stephenson was headed wide and after the hosts broke and again failed to trouble Brass the sides ultimately went into the halftime break level at 0-0.

Just like the first half, the second began with a flurry of activity. Scott stooped to head back to Brass from a Bishops cross, the home fans behind the goal briefly excited by the prospect of an own goal but Brass held on. Heaton looked to attack on the break and a promising move between Hopper and Stephenson broke down at the edge of the box. The hosts were quickly back on the attack themselves and managed to break the deadlock on 54 minutes. Johnson again using his pace to get to a ball knocked into space before crossing invitingly to Thexton. Brass got a hand to the powerful header but was unable to stop it from hitting the back of the net. Heaton responded immediately with a substitution and change of shape, Evans withdrawn for Lashley.

Johnson was played in again minutes later but a last-ditch tackle forced him to turn back and his shot was eventually blocked. There were appeals from the crowd for a penalty but credit to Johnson for staying on his feet and trying to finish the chance. Heaton had a chance to equalize on 61 minutes through Lashleybut his shot was tipped just wide of the post. Burn came on for Reid in midfield after 62 minutes played. Disaster struck for the Stan on 70 minutes as Brass misplayed the ball after receiving a back pass and Thexton pounced to smash the ball into the net for his second goal of the day. Heaton again responded, this time with a double substitution with Doyle replacing Turnbull and Sayer coming on for Anderson.

Bishops put the game beyond doubt on 82 minutes after Thexton controlled a great ball over the top on the run and slotted the ball neatly past Brass to earn his hat-trick. Heaton continued to push forward however and Sayer had a fantastic opportunity on 85 minutes. This time the Bishops keeper misplayed the ball and Sayer’s attempted lob just clipped the crossbar. Heaton finally found the back of the net on 89 minutes as Lashley picked up the ball and curled beautifully into the bottom corner. A final chance fell to Sayer but he was unable to direct the ball into the net and the match finished 3-1 to the hosts. The Stan will look to move on quickly when they face Whitley Bay at home midweek.

Sam Henderson

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Bishop Auckland vs Heaton Stannington

3:00 pm