BEDLINGTON Terriers FC followed a superb midweek win over South Shields with a fine draw away to top four side Shildon on Saturday.
Having returned to action for the first time in 53 days when they entertained South Shields at Welfare Park, the Terriers steamrollered the visitors in the second half to turn a 1-1 score line at the break into an emphatic 6-2 victory by the final whistle.
This included a brace for top scorer Alex Benjamin and a superb hat-trick for Tony Shandran, who in the process reached 101 goals for the club.
Tony Chapman had chipped in with the opening goal.
Saturday’s trip to Dean Street, home of County Durham club Shildon, was expected to present a much tougher proposition and a test of the stamina of a Bedlington side whose fitness must have been sapped from the Welfare Park pitch which cut up badly in midweek.
Early in the game, and moments after the hosts had a penalty shout waved away by the referee, the Terriers had a stonewall claim of their own also spurned by the man in the middle when Steven Stewart ran into the Shildon area only to be brought down. The referee only awarded a corner when defender had made contact with the man and not the ball.
As expected, Shildon were a potent threat going forward, twice Bedlington giving thanks to the crossbar to spare them an early deficit.
In between these efforts, Brackstone struck a low drive straight at Shildon keeper Finch, while defender Daniel Moore picked up a caution for a foul on Convery.
Just after the half hour mark the Terriers came within inches of taking the lead.
Stewart broke down the left and his cross saw Benjamin fling himself full stretch at the far post, but the pace on the ball was just too strong and he could only glance his header wide.
Shandran made progress to the edge of the area before laying into the path of Stewart, who turned onto his right foot before striking an effort just over the bar.
Minutes later, Shandran hit his own 20-yard shot which, like his team mate’s before, went high.
Shildon made a change for the start of the second half with Craig Price replacing Danny Richmond.
Again, the Terriers showed plenty of attacking intent, with Stewart breaking through on goal before hitting just wide from the edge of the area. Minutes later, David Gordon was booked for a foul on Chapman.
Bedlington finally got the reward for their pressure when they took the lead on 61 minutes.
A Convery free kick from deep out right found Shandran at the far post and his side-foot effort at goal saw the ball squirm under the body of Finch and Benjamin was first to react to slam the ball into the empty net from all of 12 inches.
This was his 26th league goal of the campaign and 28th in all competitions. It also maintained his slender lead at the top of the league goalscoring charts with John Campbell of Newcastle Benfield close behind on 24.
Benjamin is only four away from becoming the first Bedlington striker to reach the 30 league goals mark since Roy Allen scored 32 in the 2003-04 season.
The hosts continued to keep the referee busy, as first Gary Brown picked up a yellow for a foul on Stewart, then team mate Craig Price picked up another for dissent at the decision.
However, they had something to cheer on 65 minutes when they got an unexpected equaliser.
A cross-come-shot from the right by Chris Hughes appeared to surprise Terriers stopper Newton as the flight changed in the air and he was unable to claw the ball out as it went in
Terriers made a double substitution with Alex Henderson and Richard Hodgson replacing Alex Benjamin and Tony Chapman respectively.
Late in the game Stewart became the first and only Bedlington player to be booked for a foul on Garvie and then Darren Hollingsworth duly became the fifth Shildon player to enter the referee’s notebook, for dissent.
Neither side were able to find a late winner, and on reflection both would accept that a draw was a fair result overall.
The Terriers will take confidence from their performance, especially after such a long enforced break.
The result extended their unbeaten run to five games spread over 2 months
On Saturday the Terriers host Stokesley at Welfare Park, then they travel to Whitley Bay on Tuesday, January 25, to play a rearranged fixture.