Stockton Town FC v Hebburn Town
Kev Hayes scored a dramatic late winner to earn Stockton Town a 2-1 victory over Hebburn Town – their first in the Northern Premier League East Division.
Mikey Roberts ensured of a perfect start to the first home game of the season, opening the scoring early in the first-half.
Jamie Owens struck the post just four minutes later, and the Anchors continued to create chances before Connor Bell scored an equaliser against the run of play.
Roberts, Tom Portas and Nathan Mulligan all went close in the final half-hour, but there was time for one more chance in the game, which was taken by Hayes in the dying embers of the game.
The Anchors are back at home at the weekend as they take on Ossett United in the Preliminary Round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Manager Michael Dunwell named an unchanged side from the one that drew on the opening day against Stocksbridge Park Steels for the first home game of the season.
It was the hosts that settled quickly and started the game on the front foot, with M.Roberts going close with a header inside the first two minutes.
Owens himself had his first sight of goal within the opening stages, and a lively start to the game from the Anchors was rewarded in the 18th minute, after Kev Hayes was denied by Mark Foden.
Jonathan Franks drove forward from midfield and found Hayes out on the right side. The winger stood up a cross to the back post and M.Roberts was on hand to bury the ball into the bottom corner.
Just four minutes later, the home side were inches away from doubling their lead. Hayes threaded a pass inside to Owens, who fired a shot low and off the foot of the post.
The hosts continued to assert themselves on Hebburn in the first half, either side of Tom Potter heading over for the visitors, both Franks and Owens went close.
Moments after Shane Henry had the ball in the back of the net – ruled out for offside – the Hornets scored against the run of play with Bell volleying neatly across goal and into the bottom corner.
The Anchors began the second half on the ascendance, Owens guided a header at goal from Roberts’ cross and was denied by Foden, before Hayes tested the Hornets shot-stopper just after the hour-mark.
As the half progressed, so did the pressure being applied from the hosts, with chances opening up. There was still the threat of Hebburn catching the Anchors on the counter, but the partnership of Adam Nicholson and Tom Coulthard dealt with everything thrown their way.
Hayes cut inside and forced a save out of Foden in the 82nd minute and the winger almost had an assist to his name when his free-kick found Nathan Mulligan at the back post, but the second-half substitute fired just over the bar.
A moment of sheer brilliance in the final stages of the game, with Henry pinging a 40-yard cross-field ball over the Hebburn defence. Hayes brought the ball down exquisitely and slotted into the bottom corner before wheeling away to the corner flag – celebrating in front of the home fans.
Stockton Town: McDonald, King, McWilliams, Portas (A.Conway, 90+4), Nicholson, Coulthard, M.Roberts (N.Mulligan, 78), Henry, Owens (Steel, 90+1), Franks, Hayes
Subs Not Used: D.Mulligan, S.Conway
Hebburn Town: Foden, Groves, Aplin, Carson (Taylor, 69), Donaghy, Devitt, Potter (Alshabeeb, 72), McLeod, Bell, Richardson (Archer, 87), Martin
Goals: 1-0, 18 min, M.Roberts; 1-1, 38 min, Bell; 2-1, 90 min, Hayes.
Referee: Samuel Ross
Assistants: Geoffrey Mann and Jack Arrowsmith
Photo: Harry Cook