Whitley Bay, NL (A)  Sunderland AFC, DC Cup (H) Billingham Syn, NL (A)

16th January 2018
Dunston UTS 1 Billingham Synthonia 0
Northern League Cup R2

All Reports By Billy Montague
  Dunston welcomed Billingham Synthonia to the UTS Stadium for this League Cup Third Round Tie on a bitterly cold and windy evening. Both teams were eager to get the game played after several recent postponements. The pitch was heavy
after some poor weather but was definitely playable.

With a few players carrying slight injuries, UTS manager Chris Swailes took the opportunity to make some changes to his line-up with Niall Harrison, Callum Elliott, Jake Stafford and Michael Pearson all starting. Dunston opened the game in blistering fashion and grabbed the lead with  only thirty-eight seconds on the clock. They gained possession straight from the kick-off and Michael Pearson fed Liam Thear on the right flank. He cut into the corner of the Synthonia box past a couple of defenders before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net past the bewildered keeper James Dawson.
1 – 0.

The visitors were rocked by this early set-back but steadied themselves and were working hard to prevent another Dunston goal. Despite having more possession, Dunston had to be wary of some swift Synners attacks down their left flank by Wilf Dinsdale and Ben Jackson. The home side’s next opportunity arrived in the 17th minute when James Martin broke into the box but his powerful shot was brilliantly saved by keeper James Dawson. With Ben Pollock and Michael Hall dominant at the back, Dunston keeper Niall Harrison was untroubled until the 21st minute when he had to come out sharply to deny Liam Travers.

At the other end, Dawson was kept busy, making an excellent save from the hard-working Mark Fitzpatrick in the 25th minute. Scott Heslop went close on 29 minutes, heading just wide after he got on the end of a James Martin corner. Some intricate passing on the edge of the visitors’ box in the 36th minute saw Michael Pearson burst through on the penalty spot but his final effort was straight at Dawson and he was able to gather.

The lead looked like being doubled on 40 minutes when Scott Heslop was found by a deep Callum Elliott cross at the far post but his firm header scraped the wrong side of Dawson’s post with the keeper beaten for once. Synners were hanging on at times but their determined defending prevented Dunston from increasing their lead. The home side almost paid the price for missed chances just before the break when Ben Jackson made a good run on the left before cutting in and going close.

Half-Time Score:  Dunston UTS  1  Billingham Synthonia 0

Dunston started the second-half in even more determined mood after the late scare at the end of the first period. James Martin drew the first of several brilliant saves by Dawson in the 55th minute when he parried a rocket shot to safety. Three minutes later Dan Halliday was played in by Liam Thear and the keeper somehow kept his effort out. Synners pushed out in the 59th minute and a deft Thear through-ball set Fitzpatrick away but Dawson raced out of his goal to deny the Dunston top-scorer. In the next attack Dawson was in action again to deny James Martin who thought he was on the score-sheet only to see the keeper go full length to tip away. Martin got through again on 61 minutes but his effort drifted just past the angle.

The constant pressure on the Synners goal continued and on 63 minutes Scott Heslop got a header past Dawson but defender Jamie Tunstall was on hand to head away from the goal-line to safety. In the next minute Liam Thear made a
brilliant run into the corner of the six-yard box from the right but his low shot flew into the side-netting. In the 68th minute Mark Fitzpatrick went past two challenges but his low shot went right across goal before clipping the outside of the far post. Dunston were denied a second goal in the 70th minute when Dawson blocked a James Martin effort well behind the goal-line but the match officials were unable to make the decision because their view was impeded by the number of players around the incident.

On 76 minutes, Liam Thear made another forceful run at the visiting defence but his shot flew over the bar. Four minutes later Martin created a great chance for himself after some clever footwork but his shot went agonisingly past the angle with
Dawson beaten. In the 81st minute Martin went close again when he headed a Mark Fitzpatrick cross towards the top corner but Dawson somehow got there to save.

On 88 minutes the roles were reversed for Dunston as Mark Fitzpatrick got on the end of a good Martin cross but his firm headed effort was again saved by the outstanding James Dawson. In the closing minutes the Dunston rearguard had to be
on their toes to prevent an equaliser which would have taken the Tie to a penalty shoot-out.

Final Score: Dunston UTS 1 Billingham Synthonia  0

Dunston’s Man of the Match: Liam Thear
– Liam got the early winning goal and he continued to want the ball throughout the game. His willingness to take on opponents kept the pressure on the visitors.

Dunston UTS:
Harrison, Elliott, Halliday, Stafford, Pollock, Hall, Thear L,Pearson, Fitzpatrick, Heslop, Martin.
Subs not used:
Lowther, Grant, Burrell, Hutchinson, Thear K.

Billingham Synthonia:
Dawson, Gavin, Wilson, Rowe, Tunstall (Reece), Nelson,Garton, Hillerby, Travers, Dinsdale, Jackson.Sub not used: Beblowski
  27th January 2018
Whitley Bay 1 Dunston UTS 3
Northern League Fixture

Dunston travelled to The Hillheads Stadium, the home of Whitley Bay who have put together a very good run of form seeing them move rapidly up the League table.  Having only played one League game in the last month, Dunston have slipped down to eleventh in the table and badly need a good result. Manager Chris Swailes was able to include Liam Marrs, loan signing from Darlington, in a defence that was missing the unavailable Michael Hall and James Martin. David Hiftle moved to central defence to partner Ben Pollock with Michael Pearson slotting into mid-field on the right flank.


The pitch looked rather soft but playable but a stong westerly wind was blowing directly up the the length of the pitch. 


Whitley Bay: Flynn, Nearney, Walker, Haley, Wilkinson, Summers, Potter,Kempster, Johnston (Jasper), Brooks (Cornish), Patton. Subs not used: Anderson, Charmey, Salmon.


Dunston UTS: Harrison, Marrs, Halliday, Lowther (Faiola), Pollock, Hiftle, Pearson, Burrell, Fitzpatrick, Heslop (Stafford), Thear L. Subs not used:  Elliott, Grant, Thear K.


Whitley started with the strong wind at their backs and tested the Dunston defence from the kick-off. After only 2 minutes Callum Johnston tried a shot from 10 yards which went over the bar. On 4 minutes Alex Kempster fired a low shot past the post. Dunston were on the back foot and Whitley took the lead in the 9th minute as Liam Brooks was fed by Aiden Haley and his clever turn and powerful low shot from the edge of the box gave keeper Niall Harrison no chance as it flew into the corner of the net. 1 – 0 to Whitley Bay.


At this stage Dunston had been finding it tough against the strong wind but their determination forced them into the game. On 18 minutes Dunston had a chance to equalise as Mark Fitzpatrick turned on a ball in the 6-yard box and shot but Thomas Flynn pulled off a point-blank save. On 27 minutes Thomas Potter tested Harrison again as he shot from 25-yards but Harrison saved confidently. Dunston then exerted a spell of sustained pressure around the Whitley area as Liam Thear received an excellent pass from Mark Fitzpatrick but his touch and volleyed shot was deflected for a corner with Flynn beaten.


On 34 minutes top scorer Mark Fitzpatrick headed narrowly over after Liam Thear had made a penetrating run on the right before sending over a good cross. A minute later, Dale Burrell laid off  square to Dan Lowther whose rocket shot from 30-yards was expertly saved by keeper Flynn who was able to hang on to deny the onrushing Scott Heslop.


Dunston got a deserved equaliser on 41 minutes when a long throw into the area by Dan Halliday was fumbled by keeper Flynn and Mark Fitzpatrick was on hand to hook the bouncing ball over his head and into the net. 1 – 1.


Whitley Bay seemed stunned by the set-back but as the game approached half-time they mounted a final an attack with Callum Johnston firing in a 35-yard shot which Harrison appeared to have covered as it drifed just wide of the far post.

Half-Time Score:  Whitley Bay  1   Dunston UTS  1


Whitley Bay struggled to get going in the opening minutes of the second-half against the stong wind and it was Dunston who continued to force the pace. In the 53rd minute Dale Burrell won the ball before moving forward to fire in a 30-yard shot which Thomas Flynn brilliantly tipped over the bar. From the resulting corner Flynn was again forced to tip over from the Dan Lowther flag-kick with the referee inexplicably awarding a goal-kick. Dunston continued to put the Bay goal under pressure and got their reward on the hour as Dan Halliday pounced on a poor Whitley clearance and drove the ball low across the keeper and into the bottom corner of the net from 25-yards. 2 – 1 to Dunston.


Just two minutes later, Liam Marrs drove in a penetrating free-kick from the half-way line to Mark Fitzpatrick who held the ball up before playing a measured pass through to Liam Thear who advanced before sending a superb chip over the advancing Flynn and into the net from 16-yards. 3 - 1.


Dunston were now well on top and almost got another goal on sixty-six minutes when Flynn mis-judged a long Dan Halliday free-kick but experienced centre-half Ross Wilkinson was on hand to clear from the goal-line. On 77 minutes Dunston’s Matteo Faiola, on as substitute for Scott Heslop, fired in a terrific shot from 30- yards which flew just over the bar. Still pressing hard, Dunston almost scored again on 79 minutes as Laim Thear raced into the box again and his ball back to Michael Pearson saw his shot scrape just over the bar from the penalty spot with Flynn beaten. On 82 minutes Pearson again went close as he shot just wide the far post from 18 yards. Dunston kept possession in the closing minutes to ensure three well-earned points against one of the in-form sides in the League.


Final Score: Whitley Bay 1   Dunston UTS  3


Dunston’s Man of the Match: Mark Fitzpatrick: Mark was strong in the first-half and alongside Scott Heslop they carried out a good job in holding the ball up in the first-half and scoring an opportunist goal which set Dunston up for a second-half winning performance. A very pleasing all-round team performance.


  31st January 2018
Dunston UTS 2 Sunderland AFC 0
Durham Challenge Cup Quarter Finals


Dunston UTS welcomed Sunderland AFC Under-23’s to the UTS Stadium to play their Durham Challenge Cup Quarter-Final Tie on a very cold and wintry night. The pitch looked fine but it was evident that it would cut up once the game got underway. Dunston were able to select from a virtually full squad of players with the inclusion of Michael Hall and new signing Liam Marrs but Dan Lowther and Jake Stafford missed out. The visitors named a very youthful line-up which included Chris Allan who impressed during a month on loan at Dunston.

The Tie kicked off at a very fast pace with the sides testing each other out. Mark Fitzpatrick tested visiting keeper Max Stryjek with a low shot on the turn in the 11th minute before Sunderland’s Benji Kimpioka made a good run a minute later. The speedy winger went past a couple of challenges before shooting just wide. The home side gradually got on top and some neat passing pressed the visitors back. A great cross by James Martin almost brought the break-through on 17 minutes but when Mark Fitzpatrick got on the end of it with a bullet header, his effort scraped over the bar. Two minutes later Fitzpatrick cleverly slotted through to Liam Thear but he shot just wide of the far post when well placed.

On 20 minutes Stryjek made a solid save to deny Scott Heslop and only two minutes later Dunston should have taken the lead when Thear was clean through again only to shoot across goal and past the far post. In the 24th minute the keeper again denied Heslop before the pressure finally paid off when Mark Fitzpatrick capitalised on a sloppy clearance by Stryjek to slot into the bottom corner in the 25th minute. 1 – 0 to Dunston.

Straight from the kick-off, Dunston regained possession when Dale Burrell won a good challenge before sliding through a perfect pass to release Scott Heslop but the keeper came out smartly to make a brave block at his feet. Sunderland captain Denver Hume made an excellent run from the left-back position on 28 minutes but some strong defending by Liam Marrs prevented him from getting in a shot.

The visitors continued to play some accurate possession football but the determination of the Dunston players ensured that the danger to the home goal was minimal. In the 30th minute James Martin made a great run down the wing as he left three defenders in his wake but his powerful low shot flew just past the far post with Stryjek beaten. The home side deservedly increased their lead in the 34th minute as Michael Pearson won a tackle before sending Scott Heslop into the right corner of the Sunderland box where he beat his man and sent a wicked low shot across the keeper and into the corner of the net. 2 – 0 to Dunston. 

Half-Time Score:  Dunston UTS  2  Sunderland AFC 0

The Sunderland team obviously received a very stern talking-to during the half-time break and came out in a much more determined mood in the second-half. With the wind at their backs, they started to play much further up the pitch and at least had a couple of efforts from centre-forward Lee Connolly to test Dunston keeper Niall Harrison in the opening few minutes. Despite this, it was Dunston who went closest to grabbing the next goal on 50 minutes when Scott Heslop made a really good run at the visiting defence before smashing a low drive which drew an excellent save from Stryjek. The following passage of play was more even with neither side able to create a clear chance until the 59th minute when a good run by Benji Kimpioka set Jack Diamond free but his powerful shot just cleared the Dunston crossbar.

Six minutes later some strong hold-up play by Mark Fitzpatrick saw him set-up Scott Heslop on the edge of the box but his effort was just too high and didn’t trouble keeper Stryjek. On 67 minutes Sunderland came very close to reducing the arrears when a long through ball from Josh Robson released Jake Hackett but as he controlled just inside the penalty area, Niall Harrison raced from his goal and made a telling block. In the 69th minute it was the turn of Stryjek to make a good save at the other end when he was forced to go full length to parry a powerful Scott Heslop shot. The keeper was in action again on 72 minutes when Dunston right-back Liam Marrs sent over a superb cross which was met by James Martin at the back post. Martin looked a certain scorer until Max Stryjek came from nowhere to somehow turn the header over the bar.

As the playing surface became more tricky as it cut-up, clear goalscoring chances became few and far between with most of the action confined to mid-field. The final real chance of the Tie came in the 88th minute when Liam Thear’s strength saw him burst past two tired challenges but his final effort flew straight into the arms of Styjek.

Full-Time Score: Dunston UTS 2  Sunderland AFC 0

Dunston UTS: Harrison, Marrs, Halliday, Pearson, Pollock, Hall, Thear L, Burrell, Fitzpatrick, Heslop, Martin.

Subs not used: Hiftle, Grant, Elliott, Faiola, Thear K.

Sunderland AFC: Stryjek, Robson, Hume, Allan, Taylor, Storey, Diamond (Kokolo), Wright, Connolly L, Hackett, Kimpioka (Connolly J). Sub not used: Young, Wood, Gamble.

Dunston Man of the Match: Scott Heslop – Scott put in a really industrious performance in his preferred position up front. He grabbed the important second goal and also shared the workload with Mark Fitzpatrick throughout the game. In another good all-round team effort, every player did his bit.


3rd February 2018
Billingham Synthonia 2 Dunston UTS 3
Northern League Division One

Dunston UTS travelled down the A19 to the Norton Sports Complex, the new home of Billingham Synthonia since the sad demise of their Central Avenue Stadium venue. After steady rain over the previous twelve hours the pitch appeared to be in decent condition and was fit for play. The previous two meetings between the Clubs this season had ended in single goal victories for Dunston but both games were very hard fought affairs. With the exception of the unavailable Michael Hall, Dunston manager Chris Swailes had a full squad to choose from. “Synners” were also at full strength so a good contest was anticipated.

Dunston started proceedings in confident fashion and took the initiative from the off. Dale Burrell was prominent in the opening minutes and slid in both Mark Fitzpatrick and Liam Thear for shooting opportunities but keeper James Dawson was equal to their efforts. A brilliant move in the 12th minute on Dunston’s left saw Dan Halliday and James Martin exchange passes with the left-back bursting into the box past a defender before squaring to Mark Fitzpatrick who slammed home the opening goal of the game. 1 – 0 to Dunston.

Dunston continued to dominate and on 16 minutes another excellent passage of play saw passes between Fitzpatrick, Martin and Burrell open up the home defence but a very fortunate deflection off Tom Gavin saw the ball end up in Dawson’s grasp. Another superb Burrell pass in the 20th minute released Fitzpatrick whose shot was blocked by a last ditch challenge by Synners captain Wilf Dinsdale. From the resultant corner a Ben Pollock header looked to have increased the lead but the impressive James Dawson went full length to tip the ball to safety from just inside the post. In the very next minute Scott Heslop had the ball in the net but his effort was ruled out for an offside. Michael Pearson came onto a clearance in the 28th minute to strike a firm shot but Dawson was again in the right place to save. The home side hadn’t been seen as an attacking force but they grabbed a shock equaliser in the 32nd minute.

Dunston had thrown bodies forward but a loose pass gave Synners the opportunity to stage a quick break through Foster Garton who fed right-back Alex Nelson. He wasted no time before crossing a great ball to Liam Travers who sent a firm header on goal from close range. Niall Harrison made a good save but the ball looped up and over him for Travers to run on and slot home. 1 – 1.

There seemed no danger to the Dunston goal just four minutes later but a long Richard Gaston pass saw a couple of poor defensive headers allow Liam Travers an unopposed run on goal and he smashed the ball into the top corner.

2 – 1 to Billingham Synthonia.

In a matter of minutes the game had been turned on its head and now it was Synners who looked the more likely to score. On 39 minutes they threatened again when wide-man Ben Jackson made a good run onto a Nelson ball down the right and only cool defensive work by Liam Marrs at the far post prevented Travers from cashing in for his hat-trick. Just on the break, James Martin almost scored an equaliser when he just failed to convert from a Dale Burrell through-ball that picked up pace on the greasy turf.

Half-Time Score:  Billingham Synthonia  2   Dunston UTS 1

Dunston began the second period on the attack and pushed hard for an equalising goal. The Synners back-line worked hard to protect Dawson but they conceded a corner in the 49th minute which Michael Pearson swung over to the head of Ben Pollock but his effort drifted just past the angle. In the 51st minute Dale Burrell won a strong challenge thirty yards from goal and made a determined run towards the Synners goal in the right channel. He dribbled through two challenges before crossing into the goal area past a sea of legs and James Martin returned the ball into the six-yard box where Liam Thear took control before hammering home from close range giving Dawson no chance. 2 – 2.

On 53 minutes Burrell was fouled just outside of the box and he got to his feet to send in a low free-kick which looked bound for the bottom corner before a deflection took it just past the post. From the James Martin flag-kick Liam Thear got in a firm header but it was too close to Dawson who gathered safely. As Dunston pressed to regain the lead, Martin looked a certain scorer when he turned on a loose ball on the corner of the six-yard box only to see Wilf Dinsdale appear from nowhere to deflect his effort over the bar from virtually on the goal-line. At this stage it was one-way traffic but as in the first-half, Dunston had to be wary of the odd swift break-away from Synthonia.

One such attack happened on 62 minutes as a long pass was played up to Liam Travers who did well to hold up the ball before releasing Foster Garton on the Synners left. The speedy winger made ground before drawing a foul from Liam Marrs just five yards outside the Dunston box. Dunston survived the scare when Garton sent the free-kick into the defensive wall when he should have done better. On 73 minutes the home side fashioned what would prove to be their final genuine scoring opportunity when Travers broke through but pressure from Ben Pollock forced him to shoot the wrong side of Harrison’s right-hand post.

Dunston went back on the offensive and were rewarded in the 77th minute when some strong play from Liam Thear on the right saw him go past two defenders in the corner of the box before setting up Dale Burrell. The Dunston captain took on his man before slotting low inside the near post past the despairing dive of keeper Dawson. 3 – 2 to Dunston.

On 82 minutes Mark Fitzpatrick got away from his marker and unselfishly passed to Thear whose shot was saved yet again by Dawson and three minutes later Dale Burrell fired just over the bar after some great work by subsitute Jake Stafford. Burrell was involved once more in the final minute of normal time when he went on a mazy run on the right, drifting past several challenges before sending the ball into the six-yard box where it was hacked out for a corner before Thear could apply the final touch.

Final Score:  Billingham Synthonia  2   Dunston UTS 3

Billingham Synthonia: Dawson, Nelson, Gavin, Rowe, Dinsdale, Gaston, Jackson, Wheeler-Andrews (Hood), Travers, Osmond, Garton. Subs not used: Verity, Tunstall, Marley.

Dunston UTS: Harrison, Marrs, Halliday, Pearson, Pollock, Hiftle, Thear L, Burrell, Fitzpatrick, Heslop (Stafford), Martin (Faiola). Subs not used: Elliott, Grant, Lowther.

Dunston’s Man of the Match: Dale Burrell – Dale played a real captain’s role, leading from the front. His energy and drive was an example to his team-mates and he also scored the winning goal. After a brilliant opening spell we were guilty of over-playing and also gave away two sloppy goals. Once we equalised there was only going to be one winner and at least we got back to a high standard in the second-half.