Lowly Cramlington United left the Barking Dog with their first away win of the season and a double over Willington Quay Saints as they added two late goals to an early opener to seal a deserved win over a lacklustre home side.
Saints had to make four changes from the previous week’s 2-1 win over Forest Hall. With Kane Chirnside, Ryan Ferrier, Carl Maguire and Andy Breheny missing, Kyle Austin, Noel Clynch, Carl Henderson and Anthony Bruce came in to replace them.
The visitors made the better start and went ahead only ten minutes in. A long ball over the top caused confusion between Kyle Austin and keeper Henderson, allowing striker Martin Kelly to nip in and poke the ball past Henderson before tapping in to an empty net.
Henderson then redeemed himself as he produced a brilliant one handed save to deny Kelly and United a second goal, diving to his left to tip the striker’s shot wide from point blank range as Saints started the game asleep.
They finally showed signs of awakening as Chad Dalby fired a stinging shot from 12 yards that produced a tremendous save from Cramlington keeper Dan Moore, who dived full stretch to turn the ball wide of the post.
After some strong words at half-time, Saints started the second half a lot better than the first and were almost level five minutes in as Bruce’s clever pass found Clynch through on goal, but his weak left foot effort was comfortably saved by Moore.
Midfielder Micky Young was next to threaten as he twice tried to grab his first Quay goal with long range efforts both being bravely blocked by Cramlington defenders.
Quay brought on John Foggett for Bruce while veteran Andy Duffield made his first appearance for two years as he replaced right back Micky Austin.
Stephen King then tried his luck from 25 yards but his shot with the outside of his right foot went harmlessly over the bar as it began to look like Saints had run out of ideas with 15 minutes left.
Skipper Mark Henderson was moved from centre half to striker as Quay went all out attack, and within minutes of moving he should have levelled the scores. Dalby played the ball into Glen Johnson’s feet and his brilliant flick found Henderson in space in the box but he fired high over the bar with only the keeper to beat as Saints’ best chance of the day went begging.
Cramlington, having weathered the storm, then counter-attacked to double their advantage with a fabulous bit of play from striker Niall Younger. A mistake from Foggett allowed the ball to reach Younger 25 yards out and after he cut inside two defenders he neatly curled the ball into the corner to make it 2-0 with eight minutes remaining.
The visitors then added a third in stoppage time as Younger grabbed his second of the game, running onto a long ball before rounding Henderson and firing home from an acute angle to seal the three points and end a run of 11 successive away league defeats for the jubilant United side.
Saints thought they could turn up against lowly opposition and win but it was not to be as the visitors deservedly took all three points with a resolute defensive effort and a clinical display of finishing as once again Quay failed to build on a win the previous week.
Next up is another home game against Longbenton this Saturday (2.30pm kick-off).
Willington Quay Saints: C Henderson, M Austin (A Duffield 75), M Henderson, K Austin, D Johnson, King, Young, Clynch, Bruce (Foggett 70), Dalby, G Johnson.