CROWD favourite Tony Chapman returned to Bedlington Terriers at the weekend as the home side entertained Newton Aycliffe at Welfare Park.
The match kicked off in bitterly cold conditions and on a heavy pitch after a week’s worth of rain.
Bedlington ground staff had worked wonders to get the pitch playable.
Terriers were depleted through injuries and suspension, but it was Chapman who had the first chance after two minutes when he ran into the area and was challenged by the goalkeeper. The referee decided there was no foul and awarded a corner.
Newton Aycliffe controlled the early stages and after 13 minutes Ben Wood burst into the area and was challenged by James Novak, the linesman flagged for a penalty but after consultation with the referee it was decided the contact was accidental.
On 16 minutes Wood again had a great chance to put Aycliffe ahead after being put through by Mellanby, but he pulled his shot wide from ten yards out.
The visitors were having the majority of play but on 20 minutes the Terriers had a great chance to break the deadlock as John Campbell put in Chapman but he shot wide.
On 24 minutes Campbell picked up the ball deep in midfield and unleashed a shot which was straight at the goalkeeper and was easily saved.
Newton Aycliffe had an excellent chance to take the lead in the 28th minute when a long ball saw Chris Carr and Dale Jardine tussle with Jardine getting the better, but he then dragged his shot wide.
Right on half-time Danny Mellanby had the best opportunity of the half when he found himself clear in the area but fired over the Bedlington bar from 12 yards out.
The second half began with the Terriers kicking down the hill and they showed renewed purpose and enthusiasm.
Campbell made a break through the away defence in the 46th minute but a great tackle by defender Mark Peck stopped his progress.
In the 49th minute Steven Baptist put in a telling cross from the left and when it came to Chapman, he tried an acrobatic overhead kick but he sent the ball just wide of the right hand post.
The 54th minute brought the breakthrough that the Terriers were striving for.
A great cross-field ball from Chapman to the right found Tony Shandran and he made easy work of beating two defenders in front of him whilst cutting inside and as soon as a gap appeared he hit a brilliant left foot shot into the bottom corner eaving goalkeeper Pocklington flatfooted.
On 77 minutes Shandran cut in from the left wing but shot wide of the far post.
Then a Chapman free kick on 78 minutes from the left corner of the box clipped the bar.
Newton Aycliffe came back into the game on 79 minutes when Craig Pickering pulled off a good save from Josh Knox, tipping the ball over the bar.
From the resulting corner Mellanby had a chance to score but the ball was blocked on the line and cleared by James Novak.
It was inevitable the sustained pressure would bring a goal and it duly came on 81 minutes when Knox was fouled in the area by Steven Stewart. Ben Wood made no mistake from the spot.
The setback spurred Bedlington into action and on 84 minutes a cross from Baptist found Shandran but his shot was blocked and went out for a corner.
From the resulting corner, Chris Carr met the ball with a firm header unfortunately it glanced off the post and away to safety.
The impetus was now with the Terriers and again luck was not with the Terriers when a Mark Convery cross was met by the towering Flynn who out jumped the keeper but saw his header crash onto the crossbar and over.
There was still time for more drama when in the last minute Newton Aycliffe went up field and Sean Tarling found himself in an excellent position but could only drag his shot wide.
The final whistle brought a hard fought game to an end and the draw was a fair reflection.