BEDLINGTON Terriers FC deservedly took all three points on Saturday against Penrith, although the 2-1 score was not a fair reflection of the home side’s dominance.
Having seen their promising show against league leaders Spennymoor Town be wiped from the record at Welfare Park on Wednesday night due to a serious injury sustained by Moors striker Adam Johnston after only 20 minutes while leading 1-0, the Terriers would have been determined to show against the struggling visitors that it was not just a flash in the pan.
The opening quarter saw the hosts control possession without posing much of a threat to Penrith goalkeeper James Holland.
At the midway point of the half, Anthony Shandran put a shot over from the edge of the area.
Terriers went closer minutes later when a near post Alex Benjamin header from a Chris Phillipson cross forced Holland into making an excellent instinctive block.
Holland was forced into saving his team again moments later when denying Shandran from 15 yards after the striker had run through on goal, the keeper diverting the goal bound effort around the post.
Later in the half, Mark Convery burst forward before playing a cute lob which Shandran could only head at Holland under pressure from the attention of two defenders.
The Terriers continued to pile forward in numbers, with Steven Stewart cutting in from the right flank and beating two men before seeing his shot deflect off Penrith skipper Thornton, forcing Holland to quickly readjust to turn the ball around the upright.
From the resulting Convery corner, Benjamin headed over.
Four minutes before the interval, Phillipson played Benjamin in with a tremendous sweeping ball from left to right, but the league’s leading marksman delayed his shot and his eventual effort was blocked.
Many supporters were dismayed at half-time, wondering exactly how the hosts had failed to make their dominance count with goals.
Penrith made the Terriers pay for this inability to convert their chances when they took a shock lead just five minutes after the restart.
A speculative drive by Jackson from near the right goal line perhaps took Kevin Morton by surprise as the ball seemed to go in at the near post via the Bedlington keeper.
However, the lead lasted barely 60 seconds as the Terriers charged up the other end and equalised with their first attack after falling behind.
A cross from the right by Phillipson was headed clear only as far as the edge of the Penrith area where Terriers skipper Stuart Elliott hit a low drive which for once Holland failed to deal with effectively.
The ball spilled out of his hands, allowing Benjamin to pounce and force the ball home from two yards.
Bedlington were not content to rest on their laurels as they continued to attack, and a cross from the right was flicked on and a deflection off Gray forcing the keeper to save for a corner.
From Convery’s kick Chris Carr headed just wide.
The much deserved second arrived just after the hour.
A Benjamin shot was blocked, and when the loose ball fell to the feet of Carr 15 yards from goal, he showed the instincts and finishing skills of a striker as he smashed home into the top corner to give his side the lead for the first time.
Bedlington made their first change of the game as Stewart was replaced by Richard Hodgson, before Penrith provided a timely reminder that the contest was far from over.
A deep free kick from the right managed to evade everyone as it swung in before finally bouncing just wide of Morton’s far post.
Shandran looked to get on to the scoresheet as the game approached the final ten minutes, but his shot from Benjamin’s assist saw Holland palm the ball over the bar.
Moments later keeper Morton came to his side’s rescue with a superb save to deny Jackson a second and equalising goal.
Terriers soon made their second and final change of the game, as skipper Elliott was replaced by Andrew Dugdale.
The Terriers saw out the remainder of the game without incident, thus securing the points needed to help arrest their slow decline down the table in recent weeks.
Only three games remain until the end of the season, all tough encounters.
The first was last night (Wednesday) at Newcastle Benfield. On Easter Monday there is a midday kick-off at Dunston UTS, and the Terriers finish the season back at Welfare Park on Bank Holiday Monday, May 2, with the rescheduled game against Spennymoor Town, which kicks-off at 11am.