Killingworth made the short trip to High Heaton to take on the much fancied Newcastle Uni in the Bay Plastics challenge cup semi final. This was the third meeting between the two sides this season which had seen the teams play out an entertaining 0-0 on the opening day of the season and the uni run out 1-0 winners in the league cup back in November in another tight affair.
On a mild afternoon the away side were forced into a number of changes with no fewer than 9 players injured or unavailable. Killingworth welcomed Graham Williams back into the heart of the defence and there were also starts for Chris Tate, Lee Waugh and Ali Henderson.
The game started with the away side playing into the wind and looking the more dangerous working the flanks well and causing the uni early problems. On five minutes Killy had a goal bound shot blocked and just two minted later good work by Howe set up Tate who cut inside and his shot was well saved by the home keeper. The first 20 minutes saw Killingworth really piling the pressure onto the home side but on 21 minutes the home side almost took the lead against the run of play when they sent a header crashing off the crossbar. This gave the home side confidence as they forced their way back into the game and started to see more of the ball. Regan had to be at his absolute best to save down low full stretch and it looked certain Killy were going to be 1-0 down as the rebound fell to an un-marked uni player but Dixon came from out of nowhere to pull off a tremendous tackle with the goal gaping.
This scare only revitalised the away side who were not going to be beaten today and a smart ball from Regan was sent forward to Howe who headed out wide to Hopper who beat his man and sent a ball into the box David Beckham would of been proud of. Chris Tate leaped to send a brilliant looping header into the top corner from 15 yards out to deservedly give Killingworth a 1-0 lead on 41 minutes.
The uni can never be counted down and out as they are without doubt one of the best sides in the league and on 45 minutes their impressive number 9 broke free and smashed a shot off the inside of the post with Regan beaten but the score remained 0-1 at half time.
The second half saw an even start with both sides looking to score and having half chances. Howe almost headed home on 55 minutes then just a minute later a defensive mix up left Waugh one on one with the keeper but his shot was blocked with a last ditch tackle and the ball found its way back into the box and a header looked to be goal bound but the keeper recovered well to tip the ball over the bar.
The game was now a midfield battle with the uni seeing more of the ball but the away back line were superb and stopped any real danger. On 64 minutes a shot from distance from Waugh was spilled by the keeper as it somehow went through his legs and just went wide for a corner much to his relief. 2 minutes later the scores were almost level at the uni broke free and sent a shot just wide of the post. On 70 minutes it looked as if the home side had a perfect opportunity to level the scores and the ref blew for handball and looked to originally give a harsh penalty. After speaking with the assistant it was judged to be outside the area and the following free kick was sent over the bar.
On 77 minutes the uni were really pressing hard for an equaliser but couldn't break down a resilient Killingworth back line as they headed over from a half chance. The away side still looked dangerous going forward as a very good game continued to be played at a high standard and tempo. On 78 minutes Howe and Waugh linked up well and forced the home keeper into a good save. Just a minute later the university full back gave the ball away which Lee Waugh pounced on and drove forward making no mistake this time when one on one slamming the ball home to put his side 2-0 up and send the away bench and supporters into raptures.
The away side continued to work hard as the uni were still a dangerous side and on 88 minutes the impressive Hopper burst forward once again and his shot was saved by the keeper with the rebound falling at his feet and somehow his second shot was blocked sending the ball into the air where Hamilton was on hand to head at goal with the keeper again tipping the ball just over.
The away side wrapped up a perfect afternoon on 90 minutes when a thunderous Andy Waugh drive was too hot to handle for the home custodian and saw Hamilton do well to collect the rebound and unselfishly cut the ball across goal for the onrushing Henderson to smash home despite the efforts of the home defence. Henderson then proceeded to show off his gymnastics skills producing a perfect somersault.
The game finished 0-3 with Killy running out deserved winners against one of the best sides in the league and title contenders. The final is TBC but will be against the winners of Ponteland United vs Walker Central.
Assistant manager Rob MacGregor said after the game 'we were superb from minute one today, everyone was top class today. The energy, determination and togetherness was first class from the lads on the pitch to the injured lads turning up to cheer on their team mates we honestly couldn't have asked for anymore. We asked for a reaction following the disappointment of last week and are delighted with what the lads gave today. They deserve all the credit in the world and now have a cup final to look forward to'.
TEAM: Regan, Dixon, Scott (c), Williams, Ardley, Bamborough, Tate, Henderson, L.Waugh, Hopper, Howe
SUBS: Hamilton (80) A.Waugh (85) Buzzeo, Symington
KILLINGWORTH TOWN FC
Northern Alliance Premier Division 2016/17