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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Armstrong’s double sinks Cullercoats

AIDAN Armstrong helped ease Hexham’s relegation fears as he was instrumental in his side’s 3-2 win at Cullercoats.

Scoring twice and involved in the other, the Rose and Crown Bellingham man was named man of the match for his Saturday team after pulling the strings all afternoon.

On fire since signing for the club recently, he helped get the ball rolling for the visitors when his wicked shot bounced back off the crossbar.

Teammate Liam Heenan was sent tumbling as he challenged for the rebound, allowing another Bellingham man Matty Blackith to confidently open the scoring by sending home the spot kick.

Both teams had to battle against rough weather conditions, and the freezing cold was a dramatic culture shock to Hexham debutant Marco Fleitas after playing his recent football in Spain.

But the new boy was linking up well with Stuart Brown in the middle of the park, the Tynedale side dominating with Steven Coates and Armstrong providing a major attacking threat via the left flank.

Hexham, though, never make life easy and they gave Michael Moor far too much space on the edge of the area to shoot across the face of goalkeeper David Fava – unsighted by the low sun – to level things up.

The goal put a spring in Cullercoats’ step and they nearly had the upper hand when another cross goal effort beat everyone only to hit the far post and bounce back into the grateful arms of youngster Fava.

The tide turned against Cullercoats and Hexham went into the break 2-1 up, a speculative cross from Blackith not dealt with and Armstrong showed no mercy as he rifled his side back into the lead.

Hexham dominated proceedings early in the second period, and the three points looked to be heading back to Tynedale when Armstrong bagged his brace.

After his initial shot from Brown’s cross was blocked, he made no mistake at the second time of asking to put the away side in a comfortable position.

But Cullercoats came back fighting and were only denied by some excellent defending and some great saves from Fava in the Hexham goal.

At the other end, chances were being created still and the normally clinical Heenan will still be scratching his head and wondering how he failed to hit the target after being sent clear by Armstrong.

To make things nervy, Cullercoats threatened to grab something from the encounter when Michael Thompson shot past Fava with four minutes remaining.

Hexham dug deep to see out the game and pick up the victory which brings them to within a point of the six teams above them in a very tight Division One table – and nine points clear of the drop zone.