By Chris Sweetman
KYLE Stubbs’ first half strike secured Newcastle Town’s safety as they beat Trafford 1-0 at the Red Industries Stadium.
Newcastle came into the game knowing that their first consecutive wins of the season would be enough to secure survival if other results went their way.
They dominated a scrappy first half, with Stubbs’ powerful strike off a clever free kick routine just reward for their aggressive pressing game.
Despite continuing to push hard, Newcastle could not add to their lead, although James Askey went close just after the break.
Trafford began to dominate as the second half progressed, but an obdurate Newcastle defensive effort held on to secure consecutive wins and survival.
Defeats for Colne and Glossop North End with Widnes only drawing with Kidsgrove Athletic, mean that Newcastle are now safe from all forms of relegation this season.
The first half was a largely scrappy affair, with Trafford having most of the play, but Newcastle’s pressing ensuring they could not capitalise.
Due to this, it took almost ten minutes for the first real scoring chance of the game, as Nathan Morley broke free, but his shot was straight at Trafford keeper Matthew Cooper, who just about gathered the ball.
However, Newcastle goalkeeper Joe Slinn was called into action moments later, although the save was routine.
Newcastle were starting to find their feet in attack, as Morley’s cross found Lewis Holdham, who could not keep his header on target.
Moments later Morley was leading protests for a handball penalty, as his shot was blocked, but the referee was unmoved.
Trafford then had a golden chance to take the lead, as Max Hazeldine broke free, and his chip beat Slinn but landed wide of the goal, allowing Newcastle to clear.
Newcastle then worked a fine move that ended with a perfect cross picking out Patryk Mazurkiewicz, whose header landed on the roof of the net.
Moments later Newcastle took the lead, as off a free kick, Jack van der Laan laid off the ball to Stubbs who hammered home from the edge of the box.
The lead was no more than the hosts deserved, and was just reward for an aggressive performance on both sides of the ball.
Newcastle were hungry for further goals to cement their advantage, with the attacking group of Morley, Mazurkiewicz, Holdham and Louis Holden all causing Trafford problems.
However, the finals balls could not quite connect to fully unlock the defence, meaning there were few clear chances, although Holden and Holdham both fired over the bar.
Newcastle went on to the attack immediately after the break, and should have doubled their lead as Askey got onto the end of free kick, but his header flew over the bar.
From there, Trafford started to take control of the game, as their passing helped them beat the Newcastle press, although their composure in the final third was frequently lacking.
Too often the visitors found themselves forced back or dispossessed in promising positions, or playing poor balls to surrender possession and pressure.
On a few occasions, Trafford did well to get wide and past the Newcastle defence, only for crosses to be fired into a penalty area devoid of attacking players.
Slinn was also key in coming forward to claim long and through balls when Trafford did get into dangerous positions.
Consequently, despite being on the front foot for much of the half, it was close to 80 minutes before Trafford had a scoring chance, as Slinn just about recovered a corner he’d spilled.
However, with time running out a trio of Trafford throw-ins almost forced an equaliser.
The first came to Aaron Fleming whose shot from the edge of the area needed Slinn to get a hand to it to keep it out.
The second eventually fell to Jack Sloan, whose shot ended up wide of the Newcastle net, before Matthew Barlow fired high and wide from the third.
That was it for chances for Trafford to salvage a point, as Newcastle held out for the win that secures their place in the Norther Premier League – West Division next season.
The win also moves Newcastle to 14th, and their final game this season sees them travel to relegated Ramsbottom United, with an outside chance of finishing ninth in the league.