A DOMINANT display of possession from Bedlington Terriers was not enough to overcome a defensively stubborn Norton & Stockton side on Wednesday evening at Welfare Park as they struggled in front of goal for the second straight game.
The front two of Bedlington struggled to assert their quality on the game, with clear cut chances being at a premium.
Bedlington garnered much of the early possession, without really threatening the Norton & Stockton back line.
Long range efforts from Steven Baptist and Kieran Wrightson were the highlights of the first 15 minutes.
The first real opportunity of note came on the quarter hour mark when Paul Brayson made his way into the penalty area from the left hand side.
Brayson took aim not once, not twice, but three times after his first two efforts were blocked by Norton defenders. His third effort rolled tamely wide of James Howarth’s left hand upright.
The game continued in the same vein, with Bedlington being wasteful in the final third.
Andy Ferrell broke away on 26 minutes but his cross for Brayson was under hit and cleared easily.
Bedlington fashioned numerous half-chances before the half, but the final ball was always lacking, leading to a 0-0 interval stalemate.
The Terriers should have opened the scoring just after half-time when the ever energetic Steven Baptist broke free down the left wing. His cross found the head of Anthony Shandran, who glanced a header wide, the first real golden opportunity of the game.
At the other end Norton had their first chance of the game when Bedlington keeper Kevin Morton made a mistake at the back which allowed Callam Brown to get a shot away.
Fortunately for Bedlington, Andrew Leason was on hand to block the goal bound effort, and spare Morton’s blushes.
Norton & Stockton then began a period of pressure on the Bedlington backline, but rarely threatened Morton’s goal.
Steven Bowey thought he had opened the scoring on 57 minutes. After an excellent free kick from Ferrell, Bowey rose above the goalkeeper who charged out. Bowey won the header and turned away to celebrate only to see Ancient’s defender Dale Mulligan slide towards the ball and make a last ditch clearance on the line.
A minute later Brayson broke away from the defence after an excellent through ball by Baptist.
He had the legs to outrun James Crossman, but as he was getting ready to shoot, Crossman got back and blocked his goal bound effort with a sliding block.
By this point the fans at Welfare Park were getting restless.
And their mood was not helped on 61 minutes when substitute Peter Bulmer got away from the Terriers defence and took aim from 22 yards but missed the target, a huge let off for Bedlington.
On 73 minutes Ferrell took a Bedlington corner and found Craig Baxter in the penalty area.
Baxter tried the spectacular and hit an overhead kick towards the bottom left hand corner only to see Howarth get a right hand to the ball and knock it behind for another corner.
This was the closest either side came to scoring on the day.
There was still time for the referee to turn down two Bedlington penalty claims in the final 15 minutes as the home side pushed hard for a winner, but the game ended in a draw, a fair result for both sides.
Norton & Stockton worked tirelessly to close the ball down and limit the chances of Bedlington frontmen Shandran and Brayson.
Bedlington on the other hand lacked that final ball and struggled to create any decent chances in front of goal.
The Terriers have failed to score in two straight games but will look to change all that this Saturday as they take on Bishop Auckland at Welfare Park in the FA Cup first qualifying round, before taking on the same opponent next Wednesday at home, this time in the EBAC Northern League.
Bedlington: Kevin Morton, Craig Baxter, James Novak, Steven Bowey (Kris Gate), Richard Pell, Andrew Leason, Kieran Wrightson, Andy Ferrell, Paul Brayson (Phil Bannister), Anthony Shandran (Lawrence McKenna), Steven Baptist.