REPORT | Stockton Town 1-3 Dunston
Dunston booked their place in the semi-finals of the Durham FA Challenge Cup with a comprehensive 3-1 victory away at Stockton Town.
First half goals from Liam Thear and Carl Finnigan gave Dunston breathing space before Cameron Painter hit back for the hosts before half-time. Michael Fowler added a third for Dunston late on to seal a superb victory on the road and continue Dunston’s unbeaten run, which now stands at six games.
A first game for Dunston in over two weeks saw a welcome return for midfielder Phil Turnbull into the starting line-up. Craig Scott also made a return to action having returned from a spell on the sidelines.
Having already beaten Stockton this season in the league, Dunston were full of confidence coming into the game and started well – Liam Thear had the first effort on goal but his low shot was parried wide by Patrick Boyes.
Dunston did not have to wait long to find the breakthrough however, and on 11 minutes Liam Thear added another goal to his impressive tally this season after his shot squirmed over the line despite the best efforts of Boyes to claw it back out.
It was an excellent start by Dunston, and on 21 minutes it should have been 2-0 when an excellent through ball by Thear found Jenkins, who couldn’t find the target with his effort firing over.
Dunston did get their reward for the dominance though as Finnigan added a second when Thear selflessly laid off the ball for the front man who could not miss from out in front.
Stockton hit back almost immediately though on 35 minutes when Painter’s looping effort hit the back of the net to halve the home sides deficit going into the break.
The Anchors started the second half brightly and had the first chance when Kev Hayes met an in-swinging corner with a header which sailed just over the bar.
On 53 minutes, Thear nearly had his second and Dunston’s third when a stunning volley rattled the crossbar.
James Anderson and Craig Scott came to the rescue midway through the half, denying Stockton twice from close range with a series of incredible blocks before Dale Mulligan blasyed the rebound over.
And this defensive effort would prove priceless as Dunston made it 3-1 late on. After Scott saw a header tipped round the post, Michael Fowler (who had been tipped as the “One to Watch” in the Stockton Town preview) buried a rebound after Richard Coulson had hit the post to give Dunston a 3-1 lead with just minutes remaining.
Coulson almost added a fourth after he saw an effort saved at the near post by Boyes, but it mattered not as Dunston held firm to cap off an excellent performance and a second win against Stockton this season.
A home semi-final is already confirmed, with the winners of Spennymoor Town and Bishop Auckland the visitors to the UTS Stadium - ties set to be played on the week preceding Saturday 18th February.
Match Report by Dom Bingham
Dunston UTS FC Man of the Match - Sponsored by The Great North Eastern Brewing Co - awarded to Liam Thear.