Noel Clynches a point for Saints

Noel Clynch, scorer of Willington Quay Saints' goal against Seaton Burn.
Noel Clynch, scorer of Willington Quay Saints' goal against Seaton Burn.
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A goal from substitute Noel Clynch was enough to earn the Willington Quay Saints a point on their return to the Northern Alliance second division.

Seaton Burn struck late to deny Saints all three points on the first day of the 2014-15 season.

Before the game their was a perfectly observed minute’s silence as the two clubs and referee payed their respect to Liam Sweeney, son of Alliance referee Barry Sweeney, and John Alde,r who sadly lost their lives in the MH17 air crash.

The first half was a scrappy affair with both teams struggling to create any openings.

Captain Mark Henderson went closest for Saints after 15 minutes as his free kick flew over the wall and hit the post with the Seaton Burn keeper stranded.

Moments later Saints were forced into an early change as new signing John Ellis was forced off with a nasty looking ankle injury with Clynch replacing him as a makeshift striker.

Seaton Burn’s best chances of the first half saw Carl Henderson dive low down to tip away a long range effort from the Burn right winger and then deny the Burn striker as he raced through one on one with a comfortable save.

Those were the only efforts of note as the Quay back line looked solid with new signing Kyle Austin impressing at centre half.

With half-time looming, Saints upped their game with Liam Taylor prominent as he ghosted past the Seaton defence with ease first finding Andy Breheny, whose strike was blocked and then Stephen King, whose speculative overhead kick did not come off and the teams reached half time goalless.

Five minutes into the second half the Saints took the lead.

Mark Henderson found Clynch with a fantastic diagonal ball which the substitute chested down before cutting inside his marker and smashing home a powerful left footed strike from 12 yards to grab the first goal of the new season and give Willington a deserved lead.

saints could have doubled their lead but Breheny fired across the face of goal while well placed and Henderson’s second free kick attempt went just wide of the post as Seaton Burn seemed startled at conceding an early second half goal.

The failure to add a crucial second would come back to haunt Quay, though, as Seaton Burn raised their game in the last 20 minutes.

And with the Saints players tiring, Jonathon Sutcliffe took advantage of some hesitant defending before firing a stunning shot past Carl Henderson from 22 yards to equalise for the home side.

The last ten minutes went by without drama as both teams failed to create anymore opportunities of note and the game petered out into a draw with Saints feeling frustrated they never hung on for their first opening day win since 2007.

Willington Quay Saints: C Henderson, M Austin (Latimer 65), Macbeth, D Johnson, K Austin, Gibson, King, M Henderson, Taylor, Breheny, Ellis (Clynch 18).