Southern shines in Terriers' Vase victory

BEDLINGTON Terriers advanced to the next round of the FA Vase at Esh Winning on Saturday with a 4-2 victory orchestrated by debutant David Southern, who was involved in all the Terriers goals.

Signed a week earlier from local rivals Morpeth Town, but unavailable due to injury until this tie, Southern showed exactly the type of qualities that made Bedlington so keen to secure his signature.

Top League scorer in the season Gateshead won promotion from the Unibond Premier Division, he is a player of undoubted qualities and is sure to have a major impact in the coming months.

Looking to bounce back from the disappointments of their FA Cup exit the previous Saturday, and failure to secure the points at Ashington in the Bank Holiday derby, co-managers Lowery and Perry named a very strong starting 11 for this encounter at Esh's picturesque Waterhouses location.

This meant a debut for the other signing made by Bedlington, in vastly experienced midfielder Stuart Elliott.

On the books of Arsenal as a schoolboy, Elliott spent five years at Newcastle, including time captaining the Reserve team and loan moves to seven other Football League clubs.

Spells at Darlington, Plymouth and Carlisle followed before he dropped down into non-league, where he has significant experience in the high-echelons of the semi-professional game.

Still only 32 years of age, the signing of Elliott is a real coup for Bedlington, and a signal of their intent to be challenging for honours again.

Bedlington attacked from the whistle, with Poole's 25 yard drive forcing Esh keeper Molyneux into a save within three minutes.

And the concerted pressure paid dividends for the visitors as they took the lead after just ten minutes of play.

Poole again was involved, playing Shaw through and the midfielder knocked the ball past his marker only for Molyneux to advance quickly from his goal.

Although the keeper blocked Shaw's toe poke, Southern was first to react to the loose ball to slot home into an empty net from 12 yards.

The Terriers should have doubled their advantage within a minute.

Good work from Christensen down the right saw the wing back hit a low cross to the near post which Graham contrived to miss completely and spurn an easy tap in from three yards.

The visitors paid for this miss as the home side equalised on the quarter hour mark, with Coates latching on to a cross from Smith and then rounding Newton in the Bedlington goal before firing home.

Bedlington continued to attack, as Shandran made progress along the edge of the Esh area before feeding Southern.

He turned his man quickly and fired a low shot which Molyneux collected at the second attempt.

The lead was restored just after the midway point in the half, and it was the goal of the season so far by anyone in a Bedlington shirt.

The ball was fed into Southern, back to goal, and his simple lay off to Graham saw the skilful midfielder unleash a shot from 30 yards which was still rising as it flew into the top left corner.

Even the home fans were forced to appreciate the quality of the strike.

The only black mark in the remainder of the opening period was a yellow card for new boy Elliott after a couple of unsightly lunges.

Another referee may not have been so lenient, and so a caution was gratefully accepted by the Bedlington contingent.

Bedlington made a change for the start of the second half, with skipper Snowden struggling with injury he was replaced by Ludlow as Lowery and Perry changed things around.

Bedlington extended their lead within nine minutes of the restart, and again Southern had a hand in the goal.

Picking up the ball in his own half, Southern made 30 yards before spreading the ball left to Shandran.

He cut into the area and worked it on to his right foot before curling his effort into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.

If Bedlington thought it was game over, then the home side had other ideas as they pushed to get back into the contest.

They were soon rewarded when they reduced the deficit on the hour mark, albeit in a slightly fortunate manner.

When Martin was fed possession by Fort, the Esh striker saw his low shot from 20 yards take a wicked deflection of the leg of Hedley, as a result squeezing inside the post past the wrong-footed Newton.

The Terriers should have restored their two-goal cushion within a minute, but Graham's header from Ludlow's brilliantly dug out cross pounded the pitch before bouncing high against the bar and away to safety.

Although the hosts were putting the Bedlington defence under increasing pressure, they rarely actually fashioned a genuine goalscoring opportunity.

Bedlington, however, looked dangerous every time they mounted an attack.

Banks almost fired into his own goal from a Ludlow cross, then Shandran saw his headed from Southern's cross defected just wide, even though a goal kick was subsequently awarded.

Into the final ten minutes, the Terriers made their remaining substitutions, with Shandran and Graham being replaced by McRoberts and McAlindon respectively.

The visitors finally put the game beyond reach with four minutes left, and appropriately it was Southern who capped off a man of the match performance with the goal.

Christensen made progress down the right and his cross from the byline evaded all in the middle, allowing Southern to work on to his right foot and curl his effort into the bottom right corner in a finish very similar to his strike partner's goal earlier in the half.

So a satisfying result for the Terriers, and one which booked them a home tie against Jarrow Roofing in the next round of the competition on Saturday, September 19.

Before that, however, Bedlington are in action on Wednesday night at Consett, before hitting the road for the fourth game running as this Saturday they travel to Tow Law Town.

They return to action at Welfare Park a week on Wednesday (September 16) with the visit of Darlington RA in the League Cup.

Video clips of the Terriers second half goals, as well as Graham's header against the bar are available via the Bedlington website at www.bedlingtonterriersfc.co.uk