Another defeat for Stockton this time to a well organised unbeaten Dunston despite a spirited second half performance they fell to a Jake Stafford first half goal.
Two changes to last weeks line up as Michael Arthur returned between the sticks for the Anchors and Shabs Mohammed came in for Nathan Mulligan.
It was a cagey opening period as both sides felt each other out, Stockton’s players taking a while to get used to the slow bobbly surface.
The first proper effort on goal came after 8 minutes when a ball down the line saw Fitzpatrick work his way inside to find Jordan Nellis in the box who shot wide. That was a warning that Dunston were about to kick into life and two minutes later Nellis worked Arthur as he turned and fired in a nice crisp low effort.
The Anchors were feeding on scraps and looked hungover from last weeks turgid display but the ever willing Woodhouse found some space and slid the ball through for Bulmer who beat the offside trap but his slight hesitation allowed Capewell to slide in and tackle him on the corner of the box and the chance had gone. Then Mikey Roberts found himself with the ball and in space on the edge of the box but his curled shot was just too high as Dunstons defence closed him down.
Max Craggs picked up an unnecessary yellow card when a bad touch allowed Dunston to break and he pulled back the attacker to stop him in his tracks
Dunston’s powerful all action style was making it increasingly difficult for the Anchors to contain them and they were first to most balls now and a weak challenge from Stockton led to what was to be the winning goal as Benton found the energetic Fitzpatrick, he ran at the Stockton defence as he was pushed wide he found the unmarked Elliot who crossed for Jake Stafford running in late to slot home from 10 yards.
Dunston were in control now and had the Anchors pushed back, a formation change with Risbrough going to sweeper ultimately improved Stockton but almost led to a second as a poor clearance by him, as he found himself on his wrong side, was picked up by Stafford and he passed to Fitzpatrick who’s rasping shot was well saved by Arthur….. Stockton were glad to see half time at 0-1
After what was apparently a good talking to during the break Stockton came out with a new vigour and the back 3 was definitely helping that as they dealt better with any Dunston threat, this in turn meant the Anchors had a lot more of the ball.
Pete Bulmer figured strongly in the early part and his run and cross fell to Roberts in the box but he was challenged before he could get a shot off. Then 2 minutes late Roberts did get a volley in at goal after more good work from Bulmer but it was too high to trouble Dryden.
Dunston had a couple of moments through the constantly active Fitzpatrick but his efforts were never threatening the goal
The second half turned into a pretty even affair with both defences holding off the opposition attack, Dunstons keeper Dryden was the busier of the two however but rarely stretched.
Neither side carved out any real clear cut chances, Dunstons Elliot shot tamely wide when in good position after Heslops good run, then an Elliot ball into the box brought a great last ditch challenge by Adam Nicholson to take the ball off Heslop on the edge of the 6 yard box on 72 minutes. Coulthard suffered a nasty cut on his shin after a poor challenge by Fitzpatrick, which went unpunished by the Referee when on another day he could have walked for it.
The Anchors gave it a good go, the introduction of Carter gave them fresh impetus in the last 15 minutes and Dunston slipped deeper into their own half as the game went on. Carters good run and cross found Bulmer who’s shot was blocked for a corner which was fumbled by Dryden but the Referee decided it was a foul. A nice free kick by Craggs found sub Petijean who headed over when well placed. The Anchors best attempt started with Nicholson pushing into the Dunston half and finding Fred Woodhouse who left Marrs for dead and pulled the ball back to Jimmy Ward who’s well executed scissor volley found the safe hands of Dryden, when anything a foot either side would have found the net.
Despite a terrific second half effort it wasn’t to be and Dunston had their resolute defending to thank again for all 3 points,conceding 9 goals in 12 games is going to give you a chance to win games.
Stockton lost this game in a 20 minute spell in the first half as they allowed Dunston to dominate them and didn’t compete in vital areas of the pitch. Dunston are a good side and everyone works extremely hard to stop the opposition playing and thats two weeks in a row Stockton couldn’t find an answer to that type of opposition.
A formation change and a lot more spirit made the second half competitive and the Anchors probably edged it, but both defences did well to hold out. The Anchors keep making slow starts and need to get a bit more workmanlike at times when things aren’t going well with everyone taking responsibility for defending situations. A week off then a massive Vase game at home to Hebburn.