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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Rejuvenated Hexham too good for league leaders

DIVISION One leaders Cramlington Town slipped up in the race at the top as they were sent packing by an excellent team performance from a Hexham side struggling for momentum.

With a healthy crowd watching at the Wentworth Leisure Centre, Hexham stunned their high flying hosts as they put in a brilliant all-round display.

Their injury curse is slackening week on week. Most welcomed was the return of popular full back Tom Hacking who enjoyed his first taste of football for 15 weeks.

Fielding a regular goalkeeper remains a problem though as debutant Peter Holland was the eighth person to be utilised between the sticks this year.

Hexham winger Stuart Brown was the first to have an effort on the visitors’ goal as Hexham made nonsense of the differential in the league places.

After a goal on his debut the week before, Aiden Armstrong again impressed and caught the eye as he gave his marker a torrid time with his pace and control.

Yet it was his strike partner Liam Heenan who opened the scoring after 15 minutes when he finished off a flowing move from the hosts.

Brown played in Sam Armstrong and the teenager’s teasing cross was met by Heenan who did well to loop a header over the stranded Tony Young.

The main threat for the table toppers was coming from Chris Anderson but, despite his efforts, the attacking intent from his side was limited.

His threat was neutralised by the form of brothers Scott and Michael Robson who were in great form as they forged a central defensive partnership, while full backs Steven Leetham and Darren Dobson contributed greatly too.

Michael, the younger of the two brothers, allowed Mark Nicholson a clear run on goal when he lost his footing at a crucial time – but he did remarkably well to recover and make a superbly timed tackle to prevent his opponent getting his shot away.

Cramlington were rejuvenated after the break but still struggled to break through, holding midfielder Patrick McAllidon providing plenty of protection to the back four.

At the other end, Hexham were stretching the visitors with Aiden Armstrong particularly tormenting the back line as he outpaced full back Adam Green and crossed for stand-in skipper Brown who fired just wide of the target.

Sitting on just a one goal advantage resulted in a nervy spell for Hexham, goalkeeper Holland called upon to keep their noses in front as he pulled off a great point blank shot from David Mason.

Hexham were not to be thwarted in their efforts to find the back of the net though as Heenan netted his second in a carbon copy of his opener. A high cross into the box from McAllindon was attacked by the striker Heenan and his header again sailed over the head of the goalkeeper to extend his side’s lead.

The goal extinguished any fight Cramlington had in them, and substitute Kurtis Harvey was only too happy to make the most of their guests’ woes.

Having only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes, he pounced first to send home the ball after Young could only parry a great strike from Aiden Armstrong which was heading for the top corner.

With other results going against them, Cramlington were knocked off top spot while Hexham moved up two places to 11th and three points above the drop zone.