BEDLINGTON Terriers advanced to the preliminary round of the FA Cup after a nail-biting 2-1 victory over Morpeth Town on Saturday at Welfare Park.
An early Andy Ferrell thunderbolt coupled with a tidy finish from Paul Brayson put the Terriers ahead on two separate occasions, whilst Morpeth winger Andrew Wright scored in-between.
But Morpeth striker Michael Chilton was shown a straight red card on 73 minutes for a reckless challenge on Terriers skipper Mark Convery.
It took the home side just six minutes to open the scoring after a cagey start.
Striker Anthony Shandran held the ball up in the penalty area under the challenge of several Morpeth defenders before rolling the ball to the edge of the box where former Gateshead vice-captain Kris Gate’s perfectly timed lay-off fell onto the left foot of Ferrell 20 yards out, and his strike powered into the bottom left hand corner of Jak Wells’ goal.
Morpeth reacted well, almost equalising a few minutes later when winger Steven Howes got the better of left back Steven Stewart and ran into the penalty area before firing a shot directly at Kevin Morton in the Bedlington goal.
The rebound landed on the head of striker Christopher Lunn, but Morton once again denied Morpeth, tipping the header over the bar.
Morpeth had begun to take control of the game, forcing the Bedlington backline into numerous mistakes with unrelenting pressure and closing down.
Howes broke away from the Terriers defence on 27 minutes but placed his cross too close to Morton.
The next attempt of any real note came on 36 minutes when Paul Brayson’s weak effort was easily handled by Town keeper Wells.
Just before half-time, Bedlington had a flurry of chances to double their lead.
Firstly Brayson then Gate and finally Shandran all had attempts on goal in the space of five seconds, but each one was blocked by the Morpeth defence.
Bedlington started quickly in the second half, winning a corner in the first minute. Ferrell rolled the ball out to Gate who took aim but fired high over the bar.
Morpeth equalised on 57 minutes through a Bedlington error.
The Terriers lost the ball in midfield to Christopher Lunn who ran down the right wing before crossing to the feet of Andrew Wright, and his shot wrong-footed the keeper and slowly rolled into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
Morpeth sensed an upset and nearly took the lead a minute later.
Some excellent running by left back Ash McAlpine allowed him to find room for a cross into the six-yard box where striker Chilton got his head to it but could only direct his header narrowly wide.
Morpeth created another chance on 59 minutes, this time Howes cross was headed behind his own goal by Andrew Leason.
The Morpeth corner was cleared quickly by the Bedlington defence and the long ball forward fell between rayson and the Morpeth defenders McAlpine and Matthew Tumilty.
Brayson battled his way through the two wing backs before sliding a ball past Wells into the bottom left hand corner of the net to restore the lead.
Morpeth were then reduced to ten men after Chilton received a straight red card for a challenge on Terriers skipper Convery.
Bedlington almost made it three as the game came to a close, Gate forcing Wells into a fantastic stop from close range.
The Terriers held on to secure a trip to Whitley Bay in the preliminary round.
Bedlington Terriers: K Morton, Baxter, Stewart (Elliot 30 mins), Gate, Pell, Leason, Convery, Ferrell (C Morton 60 mins), Brayson, Shandran (Bannister 67 mins), Baptist.
Morpeth Town: Wells, Tumilty, McAlpine, Hall, Dunn, Morris, Howes (Andrews 66 mins), Fry (Groves-Forbes 75 mins), Lunn, Chilton, Wright (Dormand 75 mins).