Walton brace earns Terriers Quarter-Final spot
By Andrew McDonnell
Marc Walton’s brace helped Bedlington Terriers into the quarter-finals of the Northern League Cup with a 3-2 win over Brandon United at the Welfare Ground.
Tony Stephenson gave the visitors a deserved lead and Walton doubled the advantage during a first-half which held many opportunities.
The hosts found themselves level with two goals in the space of nine minutes thanks to Kieran Duffy-Weeks and Lewis Turnbull.
Tony Stephenson was tripped in the box two minutes later and Walton dispatched the resulting penalty to ensure no extra-time was needed.
After a disappointing display against West Auckland Town last weekend, the Terriers needed a response and Andy Ferrell’s men did just that.
Tony Stephenson may well have opened the scoring after just six minutes, but instead his pass to Walton just evaded the striker.
Keelan Nellis was called upon at the other end however, Duffy-Weekes rounded Dan Staples, but the defender was on hand to block the effort off the line.
Marc Allen almost caught Richard O’Brien off-guard on 17 minutes with a long range effort, and it wasn’t long before the deadlock was broken.
Michael Baxter scooped out a cross to the back post after beating his man, putting the ball on the spot for Tony Stephenson to slot home past the keeper.
Walton may well have doubled Bedlington’s advantage two minutes later when his free-kick went inches wide of finding the top-corner.
Staples was on hand near the half-hour mark to deny Vincent Gash, who found himself in a brilliant position to level proceedings.
Bedlington were crying out for a penalty when Dan Capewell was tripped up in the box on 34 minutes, however, the appeals were waved away.
Allen came close again before the inevitable happened, the Terriers found their second of the game five minutes before the break.
Marc Dummett’s ball over the top to Walton was inch-perfect, Xavi-esque to say the least, and the striker produced a sublime first-time effort which sailed up and over the keeper.
Once again, the Terriers should have taken advantage of another chance straight after the goal, Mason Stephenson slashed wide from close-range after darting inside.
Walton intercepted a poor clearance on 44 minutes, and the game would have been put to bed if it wasn’t for Michael Searby blocking the forward’s’ shot on the line.
The hosts came out the blocks with the intention to find a way back in the tie, but the opening 15 minutes was closely fought.
Staples denied Duffy-Weekes on the hour, but Brandon managed to pull a goal back on 70 minutes, giving them a visible lift.
Dan Pearson found Duffy-Weekes in the box, and the midfielder made no mistake with the finish, heading past the keeper.
Bedlington were still persistent in sitting on what they had and they were soon punished again nine minutes later.
A clearance from a corner came out as far as Turnbull, who smashed a thunderbolt home from 25-yards to level the tie.
All the hard work from the hosts was blown just two minutes later when Tony Stephenson knocked the ball past the defender and was fouled inside the penalty area.
Walton stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way, his ninth cup goal in seven games this season, this put the Terriers ahead again in the game.
Baxter could have signed and sealed the game on 90 minutes, he hit his shot from just inside the opponent’s half on the turn, but it went agonisingly wide.
Turnbull could have levelled the game again in the second minutes of additional time, however, Nellis’ deflection saw the ball canon wide to Bedlington’s relief.
The Terriers held on until the end, and they will go into the Wansbeck Derby with Ashington on Saturday off the back of a much-needed win.
Brandon: O’Brien, Searby, Calvert, Best, Clarey, Todd, Sweeney (Turnbull 46), Duffy-Weekes, Pearson, Gash, Thompson
Subs Not Used: Smith, Rush
Terriers: Staples, Nellis, Dummett, Ferrell, Capewell, Stoneman, Baxter, Allen, Walton (Somerville 86), T.Stephenson, M.Stephenson
Referee: Stephen Dial
Rating: 9 out of 10