Pictures John Hopkins
WARRINGTON Town kicked off the new Northern Premier League season with a 3-1 defeat at home to newly-promoted Morpeth Town.
A stunning volley by Sean Reid on the stroke of half time gave the north east side the lead, and an early goal in the second half put them in control.
Mark Roberts dragged one back as the Yellows pushed to get back in to the game, but Ben Harmison made sure of the points with his first touch late on.
The Yellows handed a debut from the start to new signing Alex Byrne, while Steve Jennings made his second debut.
It’s the second successive season Warrington have started with a home defeat, having been turned over 2-0 by eventual champions Farsley Celtic in the opener 12 months ago.
Their start didn’t suggest a defeat was on the cards for last season’s play-off champions, as they forced an early corner and forced a good smothering save out of Daniel Lowson from Dylan Vassallo inside the first three minutes.
They earned five of their 14 corners during the match inside the first 15 minutes, without really carving out a clear cut opening.
Morpeth, who won the NPL East Division at a canter last season, created the best opening of the half on 30 minutes, Tom Potter blazing over when well placed on the left hand side of the box.
Potter was perhaps fortunate to stay on the pitch 10 minutes later, he scythed down Jack Mackreth barely seconds after the winger had come on for the injured Vassallo, but eventually the referee dished out a yellow card after calming down the headed situation.
The visitors ended the half well, Mark Roberts standing firm to block Joe Walton’s well-struck shot.
There was no finer struck shot than the one that opened the scoring though. The Yellows headed clear a free-kick only as far as new signing Sean Reid, who unleashed a superb 30-yard volley to beat Tony McMillan for an early contender for goal of the season in first half injury time.
That gave Morpeth a 1-0 half time lead and they made it a double sucker-punch just two minutes in to the second half. Adam Carden completed mis-kicked an attempted cross in the attacking third for the Yellows, and Morpeth broke, Liam Henderson travelling down the left and crossing for Jack Foalle to head home.
Warrington had it all to do, and though they huffed and puffed for much of the second half, they couldn’t blow the Morpeth house down.
Ben Garrity’s shot was tipped over the bar by Lowson shortly before the hour, and the tireless Alex Byrne curled a free-kick just over the bar.
A comedy of errors at the other end almost saw the Yellows concede a third, but they did manage to give themselves hope on 64 minutes when skipper Roberts headed home from a Byrne corner.
The pattern of the game continued, with most of the play in the Morpeth half, but the hosts just couldn’t create anything of note and the match was put beyond them two minutes from time, when substitute Harmison crashed home in to the roof of the net from close range barely seconds after coming as a substitute after McMillan had failed to hold a header from a corner.
Warrington had two “how did they not score” moments in stoppage time, but by then it was too little too late, and they start the season with a defeat.
Their next game comes against another newly-promoted side, Atherton Collieries, away on Tuesday evening.
Warrington Town: McMillan, Carden (Beeley), Duggan, Jennings, Roberts, Raven (Chadwick), Byrne, Garrity, Amis, Gray, Vassallo (Mackreth). Unused subs: McCarten, Sephton.
Morpeth Town: Lowson, Walton, Turner, Philips, Thackery, J Henderson, Foalle (Mohamed), Hodgson, L Henderson (Harmison), Reid, Potter (Forster). Unused subs: McKeown, Petrache.