Shildon marched to the top of the Northern League Division One table tonight after a comfortable win against ten-man Morpeth Town.

The home side had their numbers reduced within 15 minutes when Steven Anderson received a straight red card for kicking Mark Hudson in the face while the Shildon captain lay on the ground after being fouled.

Although both sides had chances in the first period, Shildon’s numerical advantage saw them come closest to opening the scoring. Ben Wood’s curling shot cannoned off the bar while Paul Connor forced an excellent save from Steven Mundy. The home goalkeeper was performing heroics to keep Shildon at bay during the first half.

The home side went into the break having survived the onslaught, but they had barely drawn breath in the second half before the Railwaymen were two up.

Two minutes after the restart, Ben Wood scored a curling, dipping free kick from 22 yards and, almost immediately, Sam Garvie fed Paul Connor who deftly chipped the keeper for a swift two-goal lead that allowed Shildon to take complete control of the match.

The Railwaymen cruised through the remainder of the tie before adding two late goals to more accurately reflect the dominance of the visitors. Mark Hudson fed Sam Garvie on the right edge of the box for the striker to slot home before the captain added to the tally himself by dispatching a penalty in the 90th minute.

Shildon’s competitiors for top spot both slipped up in tough ties this afternoon. Celtic Nation lost at home to ten man West Auckland while Spennymoor were held at Heritage Park by Bishop Auckland.

The results mean that Shildon, for the first time since season 2009-10 – and with six home matches in a row coming up – sit proudly atop the league table this evening.