Saturday, 3 April 2010

Well Done Whitley Bay!!

Congratulations to Whitley Bay who beat Barwell 3-2 at Hillheads today (6-5 on aggregate).
Whitley Bay did the Northern League proud last year at the home of English football, so let's hope they can go on and do it again this year!!
From all associated with this site, Good Luck in the Final, and I may even pop down this year as well.

Friday, 2 April 2010

West Auckland 3v1 Tow Law 2/4/10

A wet night in County Durham was livened up by some entertaining football at West Auckland's Darlington Road ground, with the home side coming out on top.
There was some debate in my head this morning. It was either the 10:45 kick off at Eppleton for the Durham Challenge Cup final (Synners beat Ryton 2-0 for the record) or West Auckland for their evening game against the Lawyers. It seemed to early to take in the DCC Final, so I went back to sleep and opted for the later kick off instead.
Leaving home, it seemed like a nice evening was in store, and I was rather looking forward to an entertaining game. It wasn't long before my spirits were dampened...literally, when the heavens opened. On arrival into the ground, we immediately moved to the sheltered area next to the main stand, where we remained for the whole game, except going for some half time food.
Despite the weather, the pitch looked in good condition, and both teams began the game strongly, with some good passing football.
West Auckland had the first of many chances that were produced in the game, but a back post header was straight at Poskett in the Tow Law goal. Not long later, Tow Law had their first real chances of the game, but Lewis Teasdale put his header wide, and in the 16th minute, Mark Eccles' free kick was parried wide by the goalkeeper.
The deadlock was broken 5 minutes later, when a poor throw from the Lawyers keeper was intercepted, and Adam Nichols slotted home from 20 yards.
West Auckland continued to press on, and on the half hour, a 50 yard run from captain Mattie Moffat, followed by a nifty inside pass lead to a cross-come-shot turned home by number 6 Jonathan Gibson.
The curse of the Tea hut nearly struck again, like Wednesday at Guisborough. I was just picking up my Burger and tea, when a brief cheer came from the stand. As I turned around, the ball was nestled in the back of the net, but as my head continued to turn, I saw the linesman with his flag up-offside. As injury time began, Mattie Moffat missed a first of many chances he had as he poked wide from 6 yards.
Half time came and went, and just minutes into the second half, Moffat spurned another chance, as he shoots straight at the grateful Tow Law keeper. It was then the Lawyers who went into attacking mode. Firstly, a long range effort went just wide of the right hand post, and then on 57 minutes, a looping free kick from the left by Danny Craggs should have been an easy take for the West Auckland keeper, but the wet weather had obviously had its effects as he went and dropped it into his own net.
However, this didn't seem to effect any of the other Auckland players, as they went straight on the offensive again, and a minute after the Lawyers had pulled one back, West Auckland nearly restored their two goal buffer, but the keeper saved. Then in the 63rd minute, Neil Pattinson's free kick struck the post for West. His opposite number Richard Slaughter then had an equally good chance, but his 25 yard effort was comfortably gathered by Billy Hanson in the West Auckland net.
Victory was all but sealed in the 75th minute, when some fantastic passing build up play was finished by Mattie Mofffat; tapping into the empty net. Referee Mr P Brown must be given some credit for this, as his great advantage around halfway let the game to continue flowing. In fact, the referee deserves a lot of praise for tonight's performance. He was consistent in everything he did, and controlled what could have been a dangerous game on a very wet pitch very well-not one bad decision all game!
The last 15 minutes belonged to Tow Law. Teasdale headed another good chance just over after a great cross from the right flank, and then Danny Craggs came close again from a free kick. Moffat went close to getting his second, but Poskett saved well again with his legs.
Slaughter nearly made it a nervous last few minutes, but his long range strike cracked off the bar and over. However, West Auckland held on, and three points were theirs.
Two good teams had provided for a very good game in difficult conditions. It was nice to see both West and Tow Law passing the ball around on the floor, as many teams would have lumped the ball forward every time in conditions like tonight. Praise for both teams for doing this.
An entertaining game, with the home team duly coming out on top.
West Auckland: Hanson, Pattinson, Green, Beckett, Stephenson, Gibson, Ross, Berj, Moffat, Olusoga, Nichols Subs: Maddison, Lanning, Garthwaite, Bromley, Brown
Tow Law: Poskett, Slaughter, Turner, Tobin, Foster, Mudd, Craggs, Eccles, Teasdale, Fort, Davison Subs: Harrison, Johnson, Irwin, Parkinson, ?

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Guisborough 2v4 Hebburn 31/3/2010

Hebburn upset the odds at the KGV tonight with a 4-2 victory over 6th place Guisborough; in a game that went ahead at the 3rd time of asking.
The two previous times this game was scheduled, the weather got the better of it, and tonight looked like history repeating itself, after severe weather warnings were issued and heavy rain fell during the day.
Several hours sat looking at Ray Simpson's updates on NonLeagueZone started to get me rather nervous, seeing Northallerton, Bedlington and Norton to name a few falling victim to the weather. At 6:15, I presumed it was game on and set off on the road to Guisborough, stopping off at Tesco on the way to get an Easter Egg and to pick up my friend Alex for the nights entertainment.
This was to be my 4th visit to see Guisborough Town play this season, and there is good reason for that. Not only is it my local team, and I see a Guisborough Town fanatic nearly everyday of the week, it is also a lovely place to go and watch football. It is a small, enclosed ground which has the lovely backdrop of the Cleveland Hills. Everyone at the ground makes you feel welcome, from the man on the turnstiles, to the boy selling raffle tickets. The tea ladies and the man in the fluorescent jacket who I spoke to at the end of the game after I had retrieved one of the Match balls. It really is a great place to visit and a fantastic club to have in the local area.
After paying my £4 to get in, and the pound for the programme, I headed over to the Tea Hut, voted best in the league two seasons running, and purchased a cup of tea to see me through until kick off, and then made my way over to the covered standing area to take in the 1st half's action.
At kick off, a quick headcount finished with me having fingers remaining-only 8 people in the ground. After the whistle was blown however, the crowd did increase in size slightly. It did not take long for the scoreboard to get ticking, as just a few minutes in, Hebburn scored on their 1st attack. A long ball from the back saw the Hebburn man clean through, and slotted neatly home. There was a case for offside perhaps, but not one player complained. This was to be Hebburn's best chance for a while, as Guisborough seemed to apply the pressure. They kept driving forwards, though silly mistakes gave possession back to the opposition, but even they could not do much with the ball. The pitch didn't help much, as the bobbling ball deceived some players, though considering the weather that we've had, no one can complain. We got a game of footy in didn't we?
Guisborough continued to press, with Mike Roberts pushing forwards down the right. Hebburn's keeper was called into action several times, and recovered well after one of his poor clearances feel straight to the feet of the Guisborough man, who forced the goalie into a good save.
However, it wasn't long before Guisborough did break through. Some intricate passing play saw a ball knocked across the box from the right. A well placed shot could only be parried by the keeper, and David Onions was on hand to tap in the rebound.
Guisborough continued to push, another header struck the bar off a corner, and the keeper was yet again called in to make a good save. There was a brief handbags at dawn moment, though the referee intervened and gave both players a ticking off. I got the impression that he did not like getting the cards out of his pocket during the game...
As half time approached, the lure of the tea hut had catastrophic consequences. As I was waiting to order my Tea and Chips, David Onions scored to make it 2-1, and then Hebburn came up the other end to make it 2-2 going into the half time break. That, I believe, is one major weakness of the club. The food is that good and is fantastic value-for-money, that it is hard to resist going! Another disappointing thing was the young children that came to sit next to me, all dolled up in their tracksuits and black trainers and socks rolled over their trousers. One lad didn't seem to know there was a game of football going on, and another obviously had excess saliva in his mouth, as he constantly felt the need to spit.
It wasn't long before we moved positions, and also heard our quote of the night. A man known on Non League Forums as Nonleaguenutter, came out with a classic. "A lino who has a sense of humour!" Maybe offensive to some assistant referees out there, but good to see such a friendly atmosphere by all concerned.
Hebburn's 3rd came of a defensive lapse. A weak effort trickled along the six yard line. The two complacent Guisborough defenders sauntered towards the ball, only to see them beaten to it by the Hebburn striker steaming in, and making it 3-2.
Despite this setback, Guisborough continued. A goal was rightly ruled out due to offside. With not long to go however, the nail was hammered into the coffin, as a goalmouth scramble saw Hebburn net their 4th, and take all 3 points back home with them.
A shock result it was, though the game could have gone either way. In context, a draw probably would have been fair, but give Hebburn the credit they deserve, they battled on and took their chances well. Guisborough had two late chances at the end. A turn and shot from 6 yards which should have been finished, if it wasn't for a well positioned keeper, and then a free header which was met too early and went over.
A cold night in East Cleveland came to an end, with the away side coming away the happier party, and a dent in Guisborough's promotion hopes. It could be between Stokesley, Marske, RCA and Jarrow now. Only time will tell...
I apologise for the lack of reports over the winter. Obviously, a lot of games were lost due to the weather, and work commitments got the better of me. I hope to get to 4 games by the end of Easter Monday, so should hope to start getting some more action in to report about.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Marske 0v2 Guisborough Town

The second meeting between the 2 sides this season saw a very close encounter at the GER Stadium on Wednesday night, with the away side getting revenge over their local rivals after their opening day defeat.
We received a nice friendly welcome as we entered the ground 10 minutes before kick-off, and after getting a nice cheese burger from the food hut, we ventured round to the opposite side of the ground behind the dugouts.
Despite the volume of games called off on the night, and the fact that this was one of the league's biggest derby games, there was a distinctly low turn out for the game. Many may have been deterred by the weather forecast, but the night was nice, and the pitch was perfect for football.
The opening period of play was frantic, with both teams looking to make an early breakthrough. Marske had the best of the early chances, but they couldn't break the deadlock. Fine saves from both keepers-and the Guisborough Woodwork, kept the score at 0-0. With 30 minutes on the clock, the Guisborough centre forward went down in the penalty area without any contact been made. Despite strong appeals, the referee was having none of it, and waved everyone away. If anything, the Guisborough lad was lucky not to get booked for diving!
The rest of the first half seemed to disappear slowly into nothing, and when the half time whistle came, despite Marske been firmly on top, it looked like a strong possibility we were going to see extra time!
A short walk around the ground at half time to get a cup of tea stretched the legs a bit, though it was more just to pass the time waiting for the teams to come back out.
Whatever the Guisborough manager said to his lads at Half time certainly paid off. Pressure was piled on the Marske defence from the whistle. It wasn't long either before the deadlock was broken, when a Glen Butterworth strike from outside the box found its way in after maybe a very slight deflection. This gave the away side massive impetuous, and it was not long later before it was 2, when another long range strike, this time from Michael James crept just inside the post.
Marske weren't going to let things go though, and another effort hit the woodwork, and before the night was out, they hit the frame of the goal for the fourth time, which summed up there night.
The handbags did come out as expected, although the first incident went unpunished. The second incident inside the Marske box was seen clearly by referee Richard Brine, and Guisborough were awarded a penalty, with the Marske left back escaping with a yellow card, despite appearing to elbow or punch his opponent in the back of the head. However, a magnificent save from the Marske keeper kept them in it.
This proved to be in vain however, as Guisborough held on to go through to the next round of the E.A. Cup.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Billingham Town v Billingham Synthonia 03/11/09

A bitter cold evening at Bedford Terrace provided for some half-decent entertainment as Billingham Synthonia snatched their first derby win since 2005.

Manchester United played in Moscow the other week, with sub-zero temperatures. Well, now I know how they felt...sort of!! It was bitter cold in Billingham tonight, probably the same anywhere you went, and the November air started to hint that winter is upon us. Walking into the ground a whole 30 minutes before kick off, we managed to get a programme and make our way nicely around to behind one of the goals. The programme provided excellent pre-match entertainment, with the Goalkeeper quiz proving to be too difficult for us. I got 3 right, which was more than any of the others did. The next bold choice to make was to make a pre-match visit to the canteen, where I indulged in a warming "Cup of Soup". Our exit from the tea hut was timed perfectly, as I bumped into a familiar face from a previous game, and as we walked back to our spot behind the goal, we began catching up on all that had happened in the last two months.

As the players made their way out from the tunnel, an enthusiastic young "fan" close to me shouted "Come on Billingham!" Obvious who he was supporting then...

The opening 10 minutes provided no real openings for either side. Much of the play was centred around the middle of the pitch, and when the ball did venture deep into the last third of the pitch, it was swiftly cleared. The first half chance of the game came in the 15th minute, when Synners Nathan Jameson cross from the left eluded everyone, and somehow found its way into the back of the net. It wasn't long though until town hit back. Three minutes later, Stephen Flockett found himself with time and space in the box, and his curling effort passed the helpless Synners keeper to make it 1-1.

Synners were the team who looked more likely to take the lead, and some lackluster Town defending made you wonder how long it would take for this to come. Half way through the half, another Synners effort hit the side netting, and a corner soon after from the left sees another good chance go begging.

With 10 minutes left before half time, Town broke away. This risky situation left a Synners defender no choice obviously but to rugby tackle his opponent. Some optimistic cries of "OFF, OFF, OFF" from the home support were not met by referee Khatib, and the offending player walked away with a caution. The resulting free kick almost saw Town draw level, with the shot just whiskers away.

Half time arrived, and the usual entertainment of watching the subs warm up provided mild entertainment, and it was easy to see why they were on the bench!!

I delayed my Half time venture to the tea hut until the beginning of the second half. Despite coming away with a tasty steak burger, this proved to be a vital mistake, as I missed Jameson's second goal against his former club. More aggressive fouls went in left, right and centre; showing how much this game meant to the players.

The game seemed to be fizzling out, with few chances been created by either team. I was starting to think whether my 3-1 Synners win prediction would come true, and just as I was talking about it...GOAL!!! Danny Earl pounced on a weak back pass and a slip from the Town keeper- whom he duly rounded, and slotted home to give Synners a two goal cushion. With just 5 minutes left on the clock, a free kick from the left hand side was headed across goal. With the Synners keeper nowhere to be seen, Stephen Flockett flew in and scrambled home to grab his second of the game, also against his former club.

Despite the late goal, Town just didn't seem to have it in them to push for the equaliser, and it was the away fans celebrating their first derby win since 2005. That was also the year England last won the Ashes before winning them again this year. Maybe something in it?!?

An interesting fact as well from the game. I was aware that all the Synthonia goals were scored by former players, and have found out that all the goals on the night were scored by players against there old club! There's one for a future pub quiz. (Thanks to Paulo on NLZ for that.)

All the best to Synners in the next round!!!

Friday, 30 October 2009

West Auckland Town v Spennymoor Town 31/10/09

A superb Spennymoor performance saw them run out comfortable 5-0 winners over the West Auckland at Darlington Road today.
I knew I had arrived in West Auckland when my friend spotted a sign that read "Home to the winners of the 1st ever World Cup Winners". As soon as I decided to venture west to the small town/large village of West Auckland, I knew parking would be a problem. The Memorial Hall Car Park was full, the roads were lined with cars, and the advice of a local shopkeeper was to park at the Post Office...which was also full!
After finding a quiet road to park in, we embarked on the walk to the ground. After a short excursion into the shop to a get a drink, (where I ended up buying two drinks for £1.60, even though I didn't want them!) we arrived at the small ground. I was very impressed with the small stand that lined one side of the pitch, along with the clubhouse next to it. Behind one goal was a uncovered terraced area, where all the away fans congregated in the second half. Myself and my friend set up camp opposite the main stand towards the corner flag at the bottom of the ground. A quick glance through the programme, and a look at the Half Time food menu filled the time before kick off quite nicely.
The two teams walked out of the tunnel to Tina Turner's "The Best", but today this applied to one team only. Spennymoor kicked downhill the 1st Half, and centre forward Jamie Clarke had the first real chance of the game, but his free header was straight into the keeper's arms. However, the deadlock was broken shortly after when on 11 minutes, a ball across from the right wing bounced over a West Auckland defender's head, and a first time shot on the half volley from Chris Emms flew into the back of the net.
Another defensive mix up, this time between the West Auckland keeper and centre back almost allowed Jamie Clarke through, but his toe poke just went wide. Another Spennymoor chance from distance was saved easily by the keeper, but this really did signal their intentions. My friend-who made lots of comments during the game as you will find out-commented on Jamie Clarke's ability, stating he was very good for his age. This seemed to be a jinx Clarke, as in the 28th minute, he completely missed the ball. However, Spennymoor kept pressing, and a minute later, the West Auckland keeper was forced into a fine save close to his left post. Former Darlington man Anthony Peacock started a bit of show-boating, but his audacious pass did not come off.
Clarke was yet again at the centre of another chance. After been played through, he looked destined to score Spenny's second, but a last ditch challenge saw the ball taken off his big toe just as he was about to pull the trigger. Screams from the Spennymoor following behind the goal for a penalty were waved away quite correctly by referee Mr Campbell. It wasn't long before the Moor's had another penalty shout, and this time the referee pointed to the spot-rightly so. He still wasn't popular with the Spennymoor fans, who believed he should have let play go on. However, former Republic of Ireland international Keith Graydon slotted home the spot kick to send Spennymoor into half time 2 goals to the good. West Auckland's best chance of the half came with 8 minutes left of the first half, but the long range effort went wide.
Half time arrived, and I sampled the Burgers on offer from Kath's Kaff. I wasn't disappointed with what I tasted. Very nice, topped off with a hot cup of tea. I was worried however, to see a 5 year old walking out of the clubhouse with a half a pint of lager! It wasn't too bad...until he took a big mouthful of it!! Minutes later, we saw him running across the terrace behind the goal, in a joyous mood. In the Football League, half time entertainment varies from people taking penalties, cheerleaders and even Delia Smith making a drunken plea to football supporters. West Auckland, like many non-league teams, involves the substitutes warming up and having shots at goal against each other. The twist here was the goalkeeper. A young lad, maybe 13/14ish, and the same in stone took up position between the sticks. I didn't expect much of him, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. He was pulling off some stunning saves from the West Auckland substitutes. His hands must have been stinging afterwards!!
The second half continued on from the 1st. Spennymoor had a chance early on, but another regulation save was all that was needed from the keeper. A ball across from the right wing also provided another chance for Spennymoor, but Clarke's overhead kick attempt made contact with only one thing-the head of the West Auckland Centre Back! After some excellent build up play, Clarke was again played through, but his right foot shot hit the side netting.
West Auckland's best chance of the game fell in the 55th minute. A well struck free kick was goal bound, but Chris Turns saved well to his right.
Something I never thought I would hear at a Northern League game, but I must quote my friend. "That 10 [Anthony Peacock] and 11 [Chris Emms] remind me of Messi and Eto'o at Barcelona last season." If that's not a compliment, I don't know what is. The play between the two all game was fantastic, some fluid passing and moving between the two was exquisite.
Play seemed to die down for a bit, and it appeared Spennymoor were happy to play out the remainder of the game, and settle for the scoreline.
However, with 18 minutes left on the clock, a ball over the top was latched onto by Chris Lawther, who had come on as a substitute, and he took the ball forward and slotted home for 3-0. Lawther had another good chance, but the keeper saved well low with his legs. On 82 minutes, Keith Graydon made it 4 with his second of the game. More great build up play down the left and a reverse ball from the byline to Graydon saw him finish comfortably for his second.
A 30 yard effort a minute later for Spennymoor nearly made it 5, but the post came to the keeper's rescue. However, with 5 minutes left, a fine through ball was pounced upon by Lawther who put the ball nicely into the net to complete Spennymoor's 5 Star Performance.
A late chance for Spennymoor's number 7 forced the Keeper to make a fine reaction save.
There had been many handball shouts during the game, and they were getting rather annoying. However the stupidest of the game occurred just before full time, when a shout by a Spennymoor player came in a good 5 seconds after the incident!
The best thing that West Auckland could hope for was for the final whistle to go...and when it did, they were resigned to the fact that the best team win. Despite a poor performance from West Auckland, you cannot take anything away from Spennymoor's performance. They played great football for the whole 90 minutes. They were not afraid to get the ball on the floor and play football. Their passing was brilliant, and the off the ball movement was second to none. If I were to criticise anything about their performance, it would be their poor set-pieces. I don't think that one set play led to a decent chance, and I think if they could sort that out, then Spennymoor will be the perfect package.
Admission: £5/£2.50; Programme £1

To Norton and Back...

Congratulations to Nathan Mulligan, who after impressing Darlington Manager Steve Staunton has signed a Contract with the League 2 Club until the end of the season. This will be Nathan's second spell at the League's bottom club, after failing to make the grade as a youngster with both Darlington and Middlesbrough.
This is the 2nd Northern League player to make the step up to League football this season, after Billy Greulich made the switch from Brandon to Hartlepool.
Both contributors to Around the Grounds wish Nathan all the best at Darlington!!