BEDLINGTON Terriers beat league leaders and FA Carlsberg Vase semi-finalists West Auckland in their STL Northern League division one game of the day on Saturday.
The Terriers went into the game on the back of a nine-match unbeaten and high on confidence.
They showed one change from the team which beat Gillford Park 1-0 in the Brookes Mileson League Cup on Wednesday with Craig Hubbard replacing Steven Stewart, who had a swollen knee.
The West Auckland team was at full strength and included ex-Bedlington and Darlington striker John Campbell.
The game was played in front of a healthy crowd of 150.
But after only seven minutes the home side were forced into a change with the unlucky John Brackstone having to go off with a shoulder injury, to be replaced by Colin Morton.
Bedlington’s first meaningful attack came on 12 minutes when Morton played in a great ball from the right wing across the face of goal, but despite the attentions of Anthony Shandran and Steven Bowey, West defender John Parker got to the ball first and cleared.
Terriers keeper Craig Pickering then made a brave save to deny Elliot Gardner.
A melee from the resulting corner saw Stephen Harrison clear off the line, but only as far as Mattie Moffat, lurking on the edge of the area, but his 18-yard drive cleared the bar.
The Terriers defence, in particular Chris Carr and Stuart Elliott were proving to be an immovable object.
The Terriers game plan was to try and catch the Auckland defence on the break and utilise the pace of Shandran.
It almost worked on 24 minutes when Shandran found himself in a foot race with Parker but the defender just did enough to thwart the striker.
But Shandran would not be kept quiet and on 35 minutes he set up a great goal.
He picked the ball up out on the left wing and took on the right back Paul Garthwaite and then beat Ross Preston for pace, reaching the dead ball line before cutting it back to the on-rushing Craig Hubbard who forced it home.
Bedlington’s injury jinx struck again on 41 minutes when the lively Bowey felt his hamstring tighten and was replaced by Glen Robson.
With half-time approaching Bedlington doubled their lead with a replica of the first goal.
Shandran again received possession on the left where he outstripped the defence for pace and expertly cut the ball back for Robson to bag his first goal for the Terriers with a cool side-foot finish.
West Auckland had no answers to Shandran’s pace.
The visitors made two substitutions at the interval with Neil Pattinson and Jonathan Gibson replacing Steven Brown and Martin Young.
Shandran was continuing where he had left off and almost played in Robson on 54 minutes with a dangerous cross and it was only some last ditch defending from Parker that snuffed out the threat.
It was Steven Baptist’s turn to show his pace on 56 minutes as he left Garthwaite for dead, and despite being clipped on the heels, he refused to go down but his momentum was stopped and the covering defender Preston came across to concede the corner.
Despite pressure from West Auckland, it was Bedlington who were carving out the better chances and on 85 minutes there was a great interchange of passes between James Novak, Steven Baptist and Shandran resulting in space for Craig Hubbard to try his luck from 25 yards but his shot missed the target by a couple of yards.
But on 89 minutes West Auckland pulled a goal back. Moffat latched on to a mistake by Carr and beat Pickering.
Nerves were jangling amongst the Terriers supporters as West Auckland went in search of an equaliser.
But it was Shandran who made the game safe deep into added time. A free kick on the left side of the penalty area was quickly taken by Shandran and expertly curled into the far right hand corner of the net giving Mark Bell no chance.
There was ecstatic scenes amongst the Terriers supporters at the final whistle as the whole Bedlington team had demonstrated their potential and how comprehensively they had out battled and outplayed the now deposed league leaders West Auckland.
Special mention went Shandran for his outstanding man of the match performance in providing two and scoring the third of three great goals.