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Dunston UTS FC vs Shildon AFC

Report by: Danny Whalen.

Saturday 26th January 2019.

EBAC Northern League - First Division.

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Dunston UTS go in today's currently occupying 1st place at the top of The EBAC Northern League Division 1 table. Last weekends 5-2 victory away to Newton Aycliffe had seen them overtake Consett,  who managed to salvage a point in a 3-3 draw at home to Whitley Bay, Consett grabbing an equaliser in the dying embers of the game. As a result  Bishop Auckland moved up to second in the table following a 3-1 home win against Newcastle Benfield. Only 1 point currently separates 1st from 3rd, all though Dunston UTS do have two games in hand on both Bishop Auckland and Consett.
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Dunston UTS face a Shildon side who are currently experiencing a rich vein of form, having won six out of their last seven league games; including a 2-0 away win at Consett. Shildons' current run of form has seen them move up to 6th in the table, however they are some way off in respect of points on the top three. Shildon come into today's game no doubt brimming with confidence following a 6-1 victory at home to Consett during mid-week in the Durham County Cup Quarter Final. Dunston UTS's Quarter Final fixture in the same competition away to near neighbours Gateshead FC having been postponed until the following week due to a frozen pitch. The extra days rest may play a part in today's match as encounters between today's sides are often very closely contested affairs..
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Shildon have previously won at The UTS Stadium this season, The JR Cleater Cup went the way of The Railwaymen by the way of a penalty shoot-out; Dunston UTS having let a two goal cushion slip. In the corresponding away fixture it was Dunston UTS who left with the spoils following a 4-1 away win at Dean Street back in early November. 
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Dunston UTS make two changes from last weekends starting XI, Karl Dryden replacing Niall Harrison in goal, Liam Marrs returns and is preferred to Callum Elliott at right back. Tom Bexton's loan deal has ended with the former Wolverhampton Wanderers youth player returning to South Shields, he has subsequently joined Newcastle Benfield on a one month loan deal.  Liam Thear and Michael Hall still remain unavailable, both players having undergone operations on their anterior cruciate ligaments during the week, although both operations were successful it is highly probable that both players will be unable to play for the remainder of the season as the rehabilitation times required are lengthy. 
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For Shildon, former Hartlepool Utd youngster Jack Blackford has left the club by mutual consent, having previously been transfer listed. Player Manager Daniel "Bobby" Moore celebrates two years in the Shildon hot seat and names himself on the bench. 
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Dunston UTS: Dryden, Marrs, Halliday (capt), Stafford, Grant-Soulsby, Capewell, J.Elliott (Nellis), Pearson, Fitzpatrick, Heslop (C.Elliott), Brooks (Scott). Subs not used: Haley, Jackson.

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Shildon AFC: Newbrook, Heywood, Robson, Duell, Curl, Mulligan (Ellison), Palmer, Trotter (capt). Atkinson, Steel, Hird (Moore). Subs not used: Eltringham, Greulich Smith, Johnson.

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Match Officials: Referee: James Westgate (Sunderland). Assts: James Lowery (Seaham) Thomas Wilson (Newcastle).

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Dunston UTS Match day Mascot: Caleb Whalen.
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Shildon get the game underway, kicking off towards towards the Clubhouse end on a comparably mild day, today's pitch conditions heavy following the freezing temperatures experienced during the week. The first action of the game sees Dunston UTS winger Jack Elliott land badly following an aerial ball, thankfully Elliott is able to continue. The resulting free kick is played in by Dunston UTS midfielder Michael Pearson, with Jack Elliott and Scott Heslop linking up well together, Heslop shielding the ball, with his back to goal is surrounded by red shirts, it's apparent from the start that Shildon look an organised outfit.

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Shildon's first foray into attack sees a through ball from David Palmer, a defence splitting pass evades the Shildon forward line and is shepherded out for a goal kick. At the other end, Jack Elliott forces a corner for Dunston UTS, Jake Stafford takes the corner and defender Dan Capewell rises well to get above the Shildon defence, only to see his effort saved by Shildon custodian Shaun Newbrook.

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5 minutes into the game and a long ball into Scott Heslop from Jake Stafford sees Heslop attempt to curl his shot into the top right hand corner from the left hand side, the resulting effort is way off target though the movement and positioning of Heslop is good.
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The Shildon fans behind the goal are in fine voice; they've brought a sizable and vociferous away support, as they so often do. They're nearly rejoicing moments later, Shildon number 10 Nathan Steel hits a low powerful shot inside the 6 yard box, connecting well from a long range pass, Dunston UTS keeper Dryden reacts quickly to spread himself and block the shot with the resulting melee going out for a corner which is eventually cleared by Dunston UTS Captain Dan Halliday. Within the first phase of play this effort is the most clear cut of the game as both sides look evenly matched, the two sides so far seem to be sizing each other up.

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Moments later a pass from Shildon Captain Ben Trotter, who is looking to try and pull the strings for Shildon in the centre of the park, sees a Zak Atkinson shot easily saved by Dryden. Atkinson is tightly marked, preventing him from getting enough power into the shot to create any real threat.

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So far the game has been end to end and played at a high tempo. Dunston UTS's link up play is good, with Heslop and Elliot looking industrious, whilst Shildon look well organised they play a quick pressing game and look to exploit the early phase of the game by playing on the counter attack. Both sides look capable of playing attractive technical football on what is a rather heavy January pitch.

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With 13 minutes of the game played, Dunston UTS  full back Liam Marrs plays a pass down the line into Scott Heslop, whose through ball finds Michael Pearson, the midfielder slipping on the wet surface  before seeing his effort go over the bar. Another Dunston UTS attack moments later sees forward Mark Fitzpatrick drill a shot wide of Shildons' left post, having been laid off with a chest pass from Micheal Pearson from a Jake Stafford long pass down the middle of the park.

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Moments later Shildon are forced into making a substitution, defender Dale Mulligan pulls up clutching his hamstring having raced to cleared a ball for a throw in. The Shildon Physio signalling to the bench that he is unable to continue. Mulligan is duly replaced by Marc Ellison.

Dan Halliday goes down with an injury for Dunston UTS, the captain falling backwards awkwardly clearing a  Shildon attack. However, thankfully for Dunston UTS, Halliday is able to continue.
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On 21 minutes Dunston UTS appeal for a penalty following a challenge on Scott Heslop, the forward, who has looked a threat throughout the opening stages of the game, appears to go down in the box having got in front of a Shildon defender who seemingly finds his feet tangled behind Heslop. Heslop's neat footwork taking him in front of the Shildon defender. The referee decides the foul was committed outside of the box and subsequently awards a free kick on the left hand side of the 18 yard box. A Liam Marrs free kick is blocked by the Shildon wall, the ball coming back to Marrs who whips the ball back into the right hand corner, Heslop's backwards glancing header going tantalizingly wide of the Shildon goal. 
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Since the Shildon substitution, Dunston UTS have looked the more threatening of the two sides but the game is still deadlocked at 0-0. Looking to redress the balance of play, a Matty Robson corner for Shildon sees Michael Pearson block a Nathan Steel effort for Shildon. 2 minutes later Shildon substitute Marc Ellison  finds himself in the referees book following a late sliding challenge on Jack Elliott as he tries to intercept an under hit Jake Stafford pass. From the resulting free kick a Mark Fitzpatrick back heel plays in Michael Pearson, his shot going wide of the left hand post. The first 30 minutes have flown by at a high tempo. A Michael Pearson ball into Liam Brooks sees his shot cleared away in the ensuing scramble before falling to Scott Heslop who is unable to get a clear shot  towards the Shildon goal as he's quickly put under pressure by Shildon's defence.
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Shildon look to launch attacks in towards their forward duo of Nathan Steel and Zak Atkinson via aerial balls into The Dunston UTS box. Shildon's tactical approach is dealt with by a solid looking partnership of Dan Capewell and Andrew Grant Soulsby at the back for Dunston UTS. The centre half duo seemingly coming out with the upper hand. An effort from the outside of his right boot from Marc Ellison curls away from the top left hand corner of Karl Drydens' goal. Some neat play from Shildon around the box from David Palmer, Nathan Steel, Aaron Duell and Matty Robson shows that Dunston UTS are capable of remaining steadfast at the back in order to thwart any clear cut chances. Shildon are a good passing side and it is understandable, judging by their performance so far, how they have managed to gain two victories over Consett recently. However trying to breakdown the meanest defence in The League is remaining elusive for the visitors.
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The last real chance of an engrossing first half falls to Dunston UTS. Jack Elliott skillfully beating two defenders before playing in an excellent ball, Scott Heslop wins the header which narrowly goes over the crossbar, Shildon keeper Shaun Newbrook pulls on the crossbar, no doubt asserting the fact that he had Heslop's effort covered. 

Both sides go into half time level at 0-0. An evenly matched first half of few clear cut chances which is testament to the organisation of both defences. So far the game has been played at a fast paced end to end affair. So far there appears to be very little in the game to separate the two sides.
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Dunston UTS kick off the second half towards the Clubhouse end. The appearance of the foreboding dark heavy clouds which have loomed over The UTS Stadium during the half time interval, have now manifest themselves as rain. No changes are made by either side at half time but the change in weather will no doubt impact the playing conditions.

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There's no change in the tempo of both sides, Jack Elliott with a great run through the middle of the park sees a Liam Brooks pass played into Scott Heslop,  only to be adjudged offside. Minutes later a clever Nathan Steel dummy, whilst closely marked, sees Dunston UTS prevent Shildon from gaining the lead. 

Karl Dryden claims the ball from a Bradley Hird shot for Shildon following a ball played back in from Zak Atkinson following a cleared corner. At the other end a Scott Heslop shot for Dunston UTS hits his strike partner Mark Fitzpatrick who is adjudged offside. The second half has continued much in the same manner as the first half with neither side looking the more dominant.

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Eventually the deadlock is broken by Dunston UTS, with an hour played, a superb solo run from the ever energetic Jack Elliott, sees the pacy winger dribble at speed through the middle of the park, with defenders backing off him, he slides a ball through to Fitzpatrick, Shaun Newbrook saves the initial shot by coming out early and closing down the space in front of Fitzpatrick, the keepers' resulting block rebounds back into the feet of Fitzpatrick, with the ball awkwardly trapped under his feet, he manages to slot a composed well drilled low shot into the back of the Shildon net as defenders scramble back to block his effort.. 1-0 to Dunston UTS. This takes Fitzpatrick to 4 goals in his last two games and his 4th goal against Shildon this season in all competitions.
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5 minutes later and Fitzpatrick sees his well taken chip go over the bar. Shildon's offside trap is by and large working well to prevent Dunston UTS from furthering their lead in the game, Scott Heslops workrate upfront is ensuring that Shildon must remain vigilant against the threat he's posed throughout the game.

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As Shildon look to get back into the game a Zak Atkinson pass into Nathan Steel sees Dunston UTS defender Dan Capewell put in possibly the outstanding tackle of the game so far, a strong standing tackle from Capewell makes certain that the Dunston UTS defence remains unbroken, his commanding tackle is rightly met with applause from the home supporters.  
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With 27 minutes of the second half gone, Dunston UTS Manager Chris Swailes makes his first substitution of the game. Jordan Nellis replaces Jack Elliott who has ran himself into the ground. Dan Capewell, yet again, nullifies another Shildon attack. Shildon decide on a substitution as Player Manager Daniel Moore replaces Bradley Hird.

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Dunston UTS are defending resolutely; Shildon attempt to gain parity in a closely contested encounter. From a  Matty Robson corner for Shildon, Dryden struggles to cleanly take the ball as the rain continues pour down, Shildon put the chance over the bar from an ensuing scramble in the box, as they continue to apply pressure.
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With 13 minutes remaining in the second half Dunston UTS decide on a tactical switch and replace forward Scott Heslop with defender Callum Elliott. Heslops' contribution to today's game has been workmanlike and the round of applause he receives is well deserved. 
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With 12 minutes remaining on the clock, Dunston UTS keeper Karl Dryden pulls off a superb save from a powerfully hit diagonal shot from Shildon forward  Zak Atkinson. Such acts of skill seem to be the norm for highly rated custodian.  Shildon midfielder Aaron Duell find himself in the Referees' book following as mistimed challenge, as Dunston UTS look to break on the counter attack through Jordan Nellis. The free kick is cleared for a corner on the right hand side, Shildon turn the ball away for another corner on the left which is swung in only to see Shildon keeper Newbrook acrobatically swing on his crossbar as the effort is watched over. 
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The rain is causing the ball to skid quickly across the playing surface with Shildon looking to launch forward attacks into their opponents box. A Zak Atkinson effort from a corner for Shildon lands on the roof of the net, The Dunston UTS defenders just doing enough to ensure he's unable to get his header on target. Dunston UTS player Jake Stafford receives a yellow card as the battle in midfield continues into the dying minutes of the game. A long range effort from Shildon's Dan Moore goes wide.

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Dunston UTS make their final substitution of the game as Craig Scott replaces Liam Brooks, another tactical decision with a defender replacing an attacker to add numbers at the back and hopefully relieve pressure and add defensive strength against a series of Shildon attacks. The home sides main outlet is through Jordan Nellis on the counter attack, with Dunston UTS continuing to remain resolute in protecting their precarious one goal advantage. Shildon appear to throw everything forward in an attempt to gain a point from today's duel.

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David Palmer for Shildon hits a decent chance over Drydens goal; the rainfall becoming even more torrential. Deep Into injury time and a Shildon corner sees them send their keeper up; Dunston UTS remain indomitable in defence.. As the referee blows for full time it is Dunston UTS who take the spoils from a hard fought and evenly matched EBAC Northern League Division 1 encounter.

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Final score: Dunston UTS -1 (Fitzpatrick 60 mins). Shildon AFC - 0.

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Official crowd attendance: 254.

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Dunston UTS Man of the Match: Dan Capewell. A solid defensive performance today ensured all three points against a strong Shildon forward line. Dan has improved enormously this season under the guidance of Manager Chris Swailes. Dan coped admirably with Shildon's attack and along with the experienced Andrew Grant- Soulsby, Club Captain Dan Halliday and Liam Marrs as a defence unit, together they ensured that their opponents were by and large starved of any any real clear cut chances in tight and evenly contested game. Michael Pearson continued with his good form with Jake Stafford in the middle of the park and the performances of Jack Elliott and Scott Heslop epitomised the work rate which has become a hallmark of Dunston UTS so far this season. 

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The three points gained today ensure that Dunston UTS remain top of the table; rivals Bishop Auckland winning 2-1 away to Seaham Red Star with a winner coming deep into injury time. Next Saturdays away trip to Heritage Park sees the top two clash. A performance in the same vain as today's will be required in order to take anything from the game. Consett put an end to a poor run of form with a 2-0 win away to Ryhope CW and with only a point between the top three it could be all change by quarter to five next Saturday. In the meantime Dunston UTS can take great satisfaction as they currently occupy an automatic promotion place at the top of The EBAC Northern League 1st Division.

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Dunston UTS have now won 77% of their League games this season and currently have the best defensive record in The EBAC Northern League 1st Division. Based on today's performance it is understandable how they have achieved these statistics. 

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Video Highlights

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Match Pictures Thanks to Shildon AFC 

 




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