Bedlington Terriers produced an impressive performance when they needed it the most as they ran out 3-0 winners against West Allotment Celtic at Whitley Park.
Tony Stephenson gave the visitors a deserved lead early in the game and Marc Walton doubled the advantage during a dominant first half.
And despite being reduced to ten men when John Pendlebury was dismissed inside the first ten minutes of the second half for violent conduct, Andy Ferrell’s men remained in control and youngster Michael Baxter wrapped up the contest with a composed finish in injury time.
It had been 35 days since Bedlington kicked a ball in anger in the league, and 57 days for Allotment, but the cobwebs did not show.
Dan Robinson may well have opened the scoring inside a minute, but after seeing the keeper in no-man’s-land, he put the ball wide.
Then Paul King’s floated corner found the on-coming Danny Capewell who unleashed a bullet header that struck the foot of the post.
Terriers broke the deadlock on nine minutes thanks to a neat finish at the back post from Tony Stephenson. Walton’s shot deflected off an Allotment defender and into the path of the forward and he made no mistake, slotting home from close range.
A quiet spell in the game was broken when Walton forced Jak Wells into producing a one-handed save. His free kick took a deflection and looked like it was heading in but the keeper scrambled to stop it going over the line.
Walton did, however, get on the score-sheet after the half-hour mark when a burst of pace saw the forward ease past his marker and his shot took a slight deflection on its way in.
King had an effort after Ryan Drane picked him out on the edge of the box, but he failed to hit the target, just like Danny Sayer for the hosts before half-time.
Allotment failed to make the most of two good chances early in the second half. Michael Hall headed over a brilliant opportunity and Sam Walton fired wide from distance.
For a moment it looked like Bedlington were going to be awarded a penalty after Pendlebury was wrestled to the ground, but a moment of madness after saw the skipper depart just eight minutes after the break.
Terriers then had three bites of the cherry on 67 minutes to kill the game off but they were saved and blocked superbly.
Dan Taggart found himself in acres of space after former Terrier Stephen Young picked him out, but the forward’s day was summed up when he sent the ball flying over the bar.
Moments after being introduced, Baxter showed everyone his blistering pace and after he skipped past his man with ease, his drilled cross deflected off a defender and went inches wide.
Bedlington kept on frustrating Allotment, even with ten men, restricting them to long-range efforts, and the closest they managed to scoring throughout the half was in injury time.
Keelan Nellis produced a goal-saving header off the line from Young’s shot and from that break the Terriers put the game to bed with a third.
Walton put through Baxter with a superb cross-field pass and the youngster kept his composure and rifled the ball into the roof of the net.
It was Bedlington’s third win in four league games, and they have a big week, travelling to West Auckland in the League Cup before welcoming Morpeth Town to Welfare Park next Saturday.
Bedlington Terriers: Denton, Pendlebury, Dummett, King, Errington, Capewell, T Stephenson (Baxter 68), Allen (Anjos 81), Walton, Drane (Nellis 55), Hudson. Subs not used: M Stephenson, Ferrell.