Bedlington Terriers were sent crashing out of the Northern League Cup in midweek at the hands of Guisborough Town thanks to a brace from striker Nathan Mulligan at Welfare Park.
A goal each for strikers Nathan Steel and Mulligan gave the visitors a 2-0 lead after 27 minutes, but a Stephen Young penalty on the stroke of half-time, after Town’s Leon Carling was dismissed, made it 2-1 going in at the break.
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But Mulligan then bagged his second of the game in the 72nd minute when he saw his free kick sail into the top corner.
James Risbrough added a fourth seven minutes later which inevitably ended all hopes of a Terriers fight back.
The officials were at the centre of attention throughout the game with some controversial calls which also lead to two of the visitors’ goals either side of half-time.
The resignation of Ian Skinner on Sunday night will not have helped the home side’s preparations for the game, nevertheless, it was they who started on the front foot.
Signs of the departure did not show in the 11 that took to the field as they looked rejuvenated and full of confidence.
Bedlington’s fast start as rewarded when they were awarded a penalty for a foul on Dylan Williamson by Andrew May after clever build up play.
Williamson’s strike partner Jordan Nellis stepped up confidently but put the penalty wide of the post and the early Bedlington pressure was not capitalised on.
Guisborough went into the game top of the form table, but their first goal came against the run of play. Benjamin Jackson squared the ball to Steel, who tapped the ball into an empty net after a clever counter attack.
The game then levelled out with Guisborough simply soaking up the pressure and looking to catch the home side on the break.
Bedlington pressed high and looked to find an equaliser, but the game was open and it was a case of one attack after the other from both sides.
A controversial second goal for Guisborough saw a clever break rounded off with a clinical finish from Mulligan for his first of the night, however, the home side felt officials missed a foul on Young prior to the goal.
Terriers battled on and looked for a way back into the game, but their build-up play was not capitalised on by the front men as time and time again they were stopped in the final third.
Sam Walton and Williamson both had long-range efforts well saved by keeper Nick Liversedge, who was the difference between the two teams the last time they met.
But Williamson was then brought down off-the-ball by Carling. The referee missed the incident, but after conferring with his assistant he awarded a penalty and sent off the offender. This time Young stepped up in place of Nellis and slotted the penalty into the corner, giving the keeper no chance.
Terriers were still upbeat after the interval and caretaker manager John McDonald set the side up in the second half to press high and to push more men forward in an attempt to get back into the game.
Just three minutes into the second half Williamson had a great opportunity to get an equaliser after Nellis had played a long cross-field pass, but he lingered on the ball and scuffed his shot.
Williamson was again at the heart of Bedlington’s chances as he skipped past two defenders and slotted the ball under the keeper only to see Guisborough defender May clear off the line.
Bedlington’s vulnerability on the counter attack was clear to see for all 103 in attendance, and when they pushed more players forward searching for an equaliser it seemed a matter of time before their opponents caught them on the break.
In the 72nd minute Mulligan scored his second of the game when he superbly bent a free kick, which was controversially awarded, round the wall, past keeper Luke Glasper into the corner of the net.
The home side’s body language never changed, even when the Highwaymen’s third goal went in, but this was Guisborough’s first chance of the half and they punished Bedlington for not taking their chances.
Nevertheless, McDonald still told his players to push for a goal to get back into the game, however, again they were punished for leaving two men to defend.
Mulligan was involved again in the goal, but this time as supplier for Risbrough, who latched onto the through ball and bent it round Glasper for his side’s fourth.
The goal killed Bedlington off and the tempo of the game dropped drastically as the final ten minutes simmered out with just a chance for Nellis, whose shot went high and wise, which summed up his night.
Guisborough now go on to face Ashington, who are now managed by former Ashes hero Stephen Harmison, in the next round of the Northern League Cup.
Bedlington Terriers: Staples, Harvey (Scott 59), Dobson, Davison, Dunn (K Nellis 84), Little, Keenan, Walton, Young, J Nellis, Williamson. Subs not used: Walmsley, Watson.