Saints comeback against Longbenton falls just short

Longbenton left the Barking Dog with the three points despite a great second half comeback from Willington Quay Saints that should of seen them grab at least a point.

Saints’ line-up saw two changes as Andy Breheny came in for Noel Clynch and Micky Austin was replaced by Matty Adams, back after a long period out with a hamstring injury.

Quay got off to an awful start as from the kick-off they gave the ball away, leaving Longbenton forward Callum Budzinski through on goal, but his left foot shot went wide to the relief of the home side.

Longbenton went close again through midfielder Ben Robson. Keeper Carl Henderson ran off his line to clear a dangerous through ball and when the ball fell to Robson his attempt to lob the Saints stopper went narrowly wide of the post.

Keeper Henderson then produced two brilliant saves to keep the game scoreless as the visitors piled on the pressure, first diving one handed to brilliantly stop Budzinki’s low effort from nestling in the corner, and then minutes later he tipped Connor Graham’s header onto the bar when it seemed the striker was certain to score.

At the end other end Quay fired their first shot of the game as Glen Johnson’s long range effort was awkwardly saved by Longbenton keeper Martin Dixon, who almost let the ball slip through his hands.

The visitors finally got the opening goal they deserved halfway through the half in fortunate circumstances. Graham raced down the right hand side and flashed a great ball across the face of goal and with Budzinski waiting to tap in at the back post Dale Johnson ‘s desperate lunge to clear saw him fire the ball into his own net to give the visitors the lead.

Saints should of levelled five minutes later. A long ball over the top found Anthony Bruce clear, but with time to take a touch and finish he opted for a diving header which was easily saved by the keeper.

Longbenton doubled their lead ten minutes before half-time. Graham once again surged down the right flank and sent over another teasing cross that was met with a neat side-footed finish from Budzinski who gave Henderson no chance from eight yards.

Just before half-time Kyle Austin who scored a brilliant winner in the reverse fixture tried his luck again from 30 yards, and he was not far away as his spectacular effort clipped the bar and went over with the keeper beaten.

Quay made one change at half-time as Micky Austin came on for the injured Adams, and they made a much better start than they did in the first as Breheny tested the keeper with a low curling effort that was well held by Dixon.

On the hour Gary Latimer replaced Dale Johnson with Stephen King moving to centre half. Latimer threatened straight away bursting down the left before finding Chad Dalby who cut inside and fired a shot that was deflected straight at Dixon, who held comfortably.

With 15 minutes left Quay got the goal their second half play had merited, and what a goal it was, Breheny’s cross seemed to be flying past Glen Johnson just outside the box but he somehow plucked it out of the air flicked the ball up twice and then rifled an unstoppable volley into the corner from 20 yards as both sets of supporters and staff applauded one of the great Willington goals.

Ben Senior replaced Bruce as Quay went looking for an equaliser, and the youngster went close to providing one as he turned his marker brilliantly before firing a left footed strike from eight yards that was well saved by Dixon low down.

With five minutes left Quay should have been awarded a penalty. Senior beat his man in the box and the defender’s desperate lunge made no contact with the ball but plenty on the Saints substitute who was brought down, but the referee waved away the appeals to the frustration of the home side’s management.

With time running out Quay were handed a free kick 25 yards out on the right hand side and when skipper Mark Henderson sent over a perfect set-piece Kyle Austin should have scored but he could only glance his free header towards the back post where Dalby looked to be set to score but he missed the ball and the chance was wasted.

A last minute corner saw Saints pile men in the box but Dixon punched the ball clear for Longbenton and the referee blew for full-time to the relief of the visiting players who had hung on to the three points despite a strong second half from the home side.

After a poor start in which Longbenton could have been out of sight, Willington produced a good hour of football which should have seen them take a point out of the game.

Up next is the Barking Dog derby on Saturday against Lindisfarne, kick-off 2.30pm.

Willington Quay Saints: C Henderson, Adams (M Austin 45), K Austin, D Johnson (Latimer 62), M Henderson, Dalby, King, Young, G Johnson, Breheny, Bruce (Senior 75).