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!!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Norton & Stockton Ancients v Bishop Auckland 28/10/09

The last kick of the game was the decider in this thrilling contest on a cold evening at Norton's Station Road venue.
A very late arrival at the ground after going to pick up fellow attendees en route to the match went horribly wrong. It's not my fault that there are two churches with village halls on the same road! Then I had to pick my young cousin up who I had kindly invited along to see his first Non-League game. It was then a case of finding the quickest way to Norton...which I didn't.
With a slightly delayed kick off, we were lucky, and I got my favourite spot at Norton, just near the home dug out.
After last weeks 2-0 home win for Norton, Bishop were always going to be looking for revenge. A bright opening period of play started with Norton getting a free kick 30 yards out, which saw a comfortable save for the Auckland keeper. With 15 minutes on the clock, Norton's Keeper James Briggs flapped at a corner. A back post effort headed goal wards, and was cleared off the line, and the rebound was blocked by the same Norton Defender.
A Norton Counter attack created their first threatening chance of the half, but the finish was missing as the striker poked the ball wide.
However, the deadlock was broken on 22 minutes. A long clearance from the huge boot of the Bishop Auckland Keeper found his man to perfection. The ball was brought forward, and a nifty "one-two" between two Bishops players saw the ball volleyed into the back of the net from point blank range.
Norton didn't let their heads drop, and on 30 minutes, a 25 yard effort out of the blue produced a fine save from the Auckland keeper, and from the resulting corner, another chance was cleared off the line. This bizarrely resulted in jubilant cries from the Bishop's supporters. I don't know what goes in the drinks in their neck of the woods!
Briggs was again tested in the Norton Goal, pulling off a fine save from a goal bound effort. The 3rd clearance off the line of the night, again by an away defender, lead to a quick Bishop Auckland break. A defensive slip left Tyson Masters one-on-one with the keeper, and duly slotted home.
The last chance of the half fell to Norton. A defensive header went towards goal, but he was spared his blushes by a team-mate clearing off the line...again!!
Tonight, came a new phenomena in a Northern League game. I ate nothing at half time! However, I had promised my cousin that the Burgers from the "Norton Cafe" were top quality. And he wasn't disappointed! I quote: "These are better than McDonalds Burgers!" Back to the action on the pitch...
Norton came out onto the pitch looking like a determined team. With just 5 minutes on the clock, Norton won a free kick right on the edge of the Penalty Box. A routine straight from the training ground saw a near post shot hit the side netting. However, Norton still pushed on, and they were rewarded for the patience in the 61st minute, when a ball over the top was finished off past the keepers outstretched arm and into the back of the net. 2-1, and the game was back on!
Norton still drove forward, and Bishop Auckland were penned back in their own half for a long period. Another corner was half cleared by the nervous Bishop's defence. It was taken down nicely by the number 10 Sonny Andrews, and he hit the ball sweetly on the half volley. Now, this is time for a bit of poetic licence. I had the honour of been stood directly behind him when he struck the ball. It moved from left to right in the air, and the last minute dip took the keeper by surprise. A quality finish by a quality player. By some stoke of luck, my cousin had his phone out filming at the time. So Sonny, just for you, it will be on the site before long for you to savour!
The game was now any one's. Play went back and forth, until the 80th minute when a desperate tackle by a Norton defender, not dissimilar to one you'd see on the adjacent rugby fields, saw Bishop's win a penalty.
Again, my cousin had his phone out, and it will be another Norton Man who will want to see the video over and over again, as he pulled off a great penalty save, from what was a poor penalty.
And now our famous Quote of the Day. This week was from the Norton Dugout, where the shout of "Don't lose it, don't lose the f***er!" came from. Priceless!!
With just minutes to go, tempers flared up after a few tasty challenges, but the referee was quick to diffuse the situation.
Another Bishops counter, and another fine save. Play went down the other end, and Andrew's headed over from 4 yards out; a chance which could and should have sealed it.
However, with just seconds on the clock, Bishop Auckland has one last big push. A run through the middle, ball played out right-appeal for offside: "NO!" shouts the linesman! Striker clean through on Goal...Pandemonium behind the goal! The Bishop Auckland fans went mad!!! It was like they'd won the league! The ball is placed on the centre spot...3 long blasts on the referee's whistle, and Bishop Auckland had won in truly amazing fashion.
Final Score 3-2
A brilliant game for the neutrals, and what a reintroduction after 4 weeks away from it all.
Roll on Saturday...!!!
No photo's from the game tonight, but hopefully video action should follow shortly.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Sorry...

I think we must apologise for the lack of coverage over the past few weeks.
Sadly, Sporting and Work commitments have limited the opportunity to get to a game recently, and I am now starting to suffer from Withdrawl Symptoms.

Hopefully, next Saturday will see the return of us to a Non-League ground, and I can't wait!!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Billingham Town 1 v 6 Whitley Bay 29/09/09

Apologies for the absence in the last few weeks as sporting commitments and work have prevented us from being able to get to a match. So, we visited Billingham Town to see them take on an inform Whitley Bay for our first match in 3 weeks, Town looking to move up the table and Bay looking to take the top spot in SNL 1. There was a decent crowd to accompany what was to be a more than decent match, even the Town keeper gave us his thoughts as to what the outcome was going to be as he said " should see alot of goals tonight", and he wasn't wrong. It didn't take long for the action to begin and it was Town who created to first chance, the winger cut inside and and hit the shot from 18 yards which would have gone in if it wasn't for the Bay keeper tipping it onto the post. 3 minutes later it was Bay who were on the attack, they managed to win a corner which was played short, no one reacted to it and the Bay player had time to look up and whip the ball in to the back post which was then headed in by the Bay No.6 to give them a 1-0 lead. The action was non stop in favour of Whitley Bay and in the 12th minute they grabbed another, a shot from the edge of the box was going straight into the keepers hands but Bell managed to get a head on it which took it away from him and into the net, 2-0 Whitley. They were non stop and relentless and scored their 3rd in the 14th minute when a again a shot from the right of the box wasn't going in, however Bell was there again to turn it in from the penalty spot to pretty much seal the game even though the majority of the game was left. After that the game seemed to calm down and become even again and the scoreline stayed the same until half time luckily for Town.
The second half brought a change and not one to one of the teams but a change in officials, the referee had injured himself so one of the linesman stepped into the middle meaning that a qualified spectator had to run the line for the second half.
So back to the game and pretty much the same of the first half, Bay pressure and Town dogged defending. For Town it was damage limitation and for Bay it was how well could they increase there goal difference. They did so even more in the 63rd minute when substitute Lee Kerr shot low to the keepers left from the top of the box after a good passing build to give them a 4-0 lead. If Bay kept scoring like they were it would end up like a cricket score, however they seemed like they had taken there foot off the gas but were still pushing forward when they had the chance and made it 5-0 in the 70th minute. The ball was worked down the right hand side, the Bay player ran to the by line and cut the ball back across for Lee Kerr to head in for his second of the game. Town had a few chances to pull a couple of goals back during the game but they didn't have the quality to take the chances and the Bay keeper was also on form making a few good saves. They did grab a late consolation goal in the 88th minute when a ball was crossed in from the right to a man at the back post, he then passed the ball across the 6 yard box for a Town player to finish well. Bay weren't finished yet though as they showed that they were still wanting more goals as a minute later in the 89th minute they made it 6-1 when a cross from the right was headed in just to rub salt in the wounds. The final whistle went to Towns relief and it was back to the training ground for them as a lot of work needs to be done if they are to move away from the relegation zone, Bay on the other hand will see this as a good nights work and a job well done

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Stokesley FC 1 v 4 Seaham Red Star 09/09/09

Tonight we made the trip to Stokesley for the first time this season as they took on Seaham Red Star. Both sides were mid table and both on the same amount of points so were looking to push on and start moving there way up the table. From the kick off it was Stokesley who were immediately on the attack as a shot from 25 yards was easily saved, the next few minutes was all Stokesley really however against the run of play Seaham grabbed the opening goal in the 5th minute. A long ball was headed forward by a Seaham player straight into the path of the oncoming striker who then headed home to the keepers right to give them a 1-0 lead early on. For the next 10 minutes of the game Stokesley struggled to get the ball to one another and were'nt keeping there shape, this became even more of a problem when in the 17th minute a Stokesley defender tried to clear but it rebounded straight off a Seaham player and luckily into the path of the forward. He then carried the ball for a few yards, looked up picked his spot and curled it in from 20yards to the keepers left giving Seaham a 2-0 lead and giving Stokesley alot of work to do if they wanted to get back into the game. Just over a minute after the restart Stokesley were deep in trouble as Seaham grabbed their 3rd after a ball was played down the left wing for the winger to chase, the defender than casually went to clear the ball not realising that he had a player chasing him down from behind. The Seaham winger then nicked the ball away from the defender and ran away down the left hand side, he then whipped a good ball into the box. However in the process he was taken out by the defender trying to make up for his mistake but the referee played good advantage and let the play go on, the cross fell to the Seaham striker who had an easy finish to the keepers left giving them a 3-0 lead and what looked like the 3 points. It had to be said that Stokesley didn't look at all organised and they deserved to be 3-0 down, no one seemed to want to take the game to Seaham and at least give them a bit more of a game. They seemed flat and didn't' seem to know how to go about grabbing a goal back, however they did manage it in the 33rd minute from a corner from the left. The initial header was saved well by the keeper, the ball then rebounded around a bit finally falling to a Stokesley player who put the ball in the net making it 3-1 at half time. We then made our way to the tea hut for our usual refreshments and in the process finding out that England were 2-0 up against Croatia via the radio to our pleasant surprise.
Into the second half and it started very much like the first in the sense that Stokesley were pressing and searching for a goal. They were also looking for a way back into the game and although they never managed it they had periods of sustained pressure on the Seaham goal and at least they looked like they were more organised as a team. However it was starting to get frustrating for the Stokesley players and this showed as the yellow card count started to slowly increase, this lead to the manager having to tell his players to step off it a bit and be care full as another yellow card would mean a £150 fine for the club, one they could do without having to pay. Seaham made Stokesley's misery even worse in the 77th minute when a defender tried to clear but played the ball straight into the path of a Seaham player, the resulting through ball fell to the Seaham striker who's initial shot was saved by the keeper. The rebound then fell to the incoming Seaham player who put the ball into an empty net making it 4-1 and game over as far as the result was concerned. Overall a poor night for Stokesley and a performance they will want to quickly forget, however you can't take it away from Seaham that they pounced on the opportunity and made them pay for it, a decent performance and one that they can build on.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Saturday 5th September

No match report today sadly, work and sport commitments. However, there will be a midweek match report from Wednesday Nights Game between Stokesley and Seaham Red Star.
Best of Luck to all teams in the Vase today, hope we get as many NL teams through as possible.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Guisborough Town 1v0 Wakefield FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay 02/09/09

Its all in a name! Well, nearly! Luke Bythway, the near namesake of last season's FA Cup giant killers Blyth, scored after just 15 seconds to send Guisborough Town into the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round.
The minute I arrived at the ground, I knew it was going to be lucky in a sense. Arriving just after the last programme had been sold, I was kindly given the content by the gate man, just to staple together myself! How kind!!
Despite the poor weather, there was still a good atmosphere inside, and as time grew near to kick off and the crowd swelled, the atmosphere got better and better. The contingent of young Wakefield Supporters congregated beneath the standing area in one corner, and as the players made their way out onto the KGV Pitch, they began chanting and psyching the lads up for the challenge ahead.
Now, normally the toss of the coin never matters in football. It is not like cricket where you win the toss, make 500, bowl the other team out twice and win. No, winning the toss in football loses you kick off and allows you to change ends. So, Guisborough lost the toss, and kicked off into the rain. They attempted a cross field ball to the left winger, though this was headed to "safety". Out of the blue, a 25 yard effort looped over the outstretched hand of the keeper and rattled the underside of the bar. With the keeper looking on desperately, Luke Bythway ran in to head into the empty nets from 8 yards. The Guisborough fans were ecstatic. Then, the best moment of it all. One hardcore Guisborough Fan, who will remain nameless (you know who you are!!), walks in 5 seconds later!! GUTTED!
As the rain began to come down harder, the balance of the game was even, both teams creating half chances, but every time the ball ended safely in the keepers palms. A few heavy tackles went in, and a few fouls conceded, but nothing troubled either team for the rest of the half. An off-the-ball incident was the only talking point of the first half. Elbow, Fist, Forearm? Or even a kick out, I don't know. Regardless of what it was, it went unpunished by the referee.
Half time arrived, and as usual we had got to the tea hut just before half time. It was time to sample the Mince Pie this time, and again was not disappointed, though the pastry was a touch on the dry side. I can't complain however!!
We took up our spots again in the second half opposite the main stand. The rain was now even heavier, virtually horizontal! We had contemplated going to stand behind a goal, but decided against it.
And then ATG realised people read this blog! A very nice chap came over and began talking, and asked about ATG. It is nice to hear that people do read this blog, and enjoy reading it. It gives us a sense of happiness to know that it is appreciated, especially when people come and tell you, face-to-face. Following the brief discussion about the site, we went on to talk about all things Northern League. Some of the things we discussed were very interesting, such as the Durham City situation, various Northern League Grounds and the new teams in the league. I am thoroughly looking forward to my first visit of the season to Stokesley.
The second half provided no real excitement. Wakefield had most of the possession and chance, winning many corners, but could not turn possession into chances. More mistimed lunges went in, with lack of punishment. More off-the-ball shenanigans went on, and as time went on, things looked less likely to happen for Wakefield. Guisborough had a chance late on to secure the match, with a sweetly struck right foot effort destined for the back of the net, only to be denied by a superb save.
With just minutes left, some Wakefield fans began to head for the gate. And to the delight of the Guisborough and general Northern League Following, the referee blew up for full-time.
A joyous crowd stood by the players changing rooms to cheer the Guisborough Lads off. A nice £1,500 prize money for the club, but most importantly an visit to Kendal in the next round.
Congratulations to Guisborough, and Good Luck on the 12th!!

Sadly, no pictures tonight due to lack of camera!!

Monday, 31 August 2009

Harrogate RA v Consett FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay 31/08/09

Only one of the ATG team could make it to the match today so I took 3 friends who are Northern League fans, one of which had just got back from holiday on Saturday having missed four matches so he was looking to catch up and see a good first game upon his arrival back in sunny England (well maybe not as sunny as we would like it to be). After a 0-0 stalemate in the first match both sides were looking to finish the game off second time round. We were hoping that the game wasn't going to end up goalless again and it didn't disappoint as after 8 minutes a hopeful balled was played up to the Consett forwards, the initial header was won by the Consett striker which left one defender on his backside. He then played the ball to to Consett's number 9 Craig Tate who finished the ball well to the keepers left to give them a 1-0 lead. This lead didn't last for long as in the 16th minute a Harrogate move down the right ended up with the Harrogate player cutting inside and into the box, he then laid the ball off to Paul Stansfield who was stood on the penalty, he took a touch and placed the ball to the keepers bottom left to bring the scores level again at 1-1. Not long after the restart the Harrogate keeper James Mann produced two fine saves to keep Railway in the game, one after a defensive error which left Craig Tate 1 on 1 with the keeper. He tried to lob him but Mann produced a fine save. Then from the resulting corner a close range glancing header was kept out well by a diving save to his left and in the process keeping Railway very much in this game. After that the game settled down a bit and neither side created clear cut chances. The score line stayed the same until half time and we made our visit to the canteen where we tasted the best Pie and Peas we have ever had on our travels.
Into the second half and the game didn't really have the pace of the first and neither side creating many chances. Consett had the better of the possesion but they never managed to do anything with it and with the game nearing full time both sides were looking like they would have to settle for extra time. The frustration of not being able to break the deadlock showed in the 88th minute. As the ball was going out of play Dan Verity kicked out at a Consett defender resulting in a straight red card, this seemed a bit harsh but Railway where now down to 10 men non the less and they would have to cope with 10 men for 30 minutes more as the game entered extra time.
The first half of extra time was identical to the second half of normal time, Consett possesion and no real chances for either side. The second half of extra time however suddenly came to life with Consett looking like they might steal it right at the death. A Steven Huggins free kick came within inches of going in and had the keeper scrambling across his goal. Then with 3 minutes left a ball in from the right was met by a Consett player from about 3 yards out, luckily for the Railway keeper it was hit straight at him off his face and over the bar. That was it and after 210 minutes of football nothing could separate the sides apart from the number of players on the pitch. To penaltys....
Both sides missed their opening penalty with the Railway keeper saving and the Railway player blazing the ball over
The next two were both converted as was the third penalty for both sides.
Then Consett's next penalty was saved but there was controversy as the Harrogate keeper appeared to be a good metre off his line but the linesman did nothing about it. Harrogate went on to score theirs meaning that if they missed they were out.
They did miss however a re-take was allowed as this time the linesman had judged that the Railway keeper was too far off his line. The re-take was scored which meant that Harrogate needed to score their final penalty to win. They obliged and this meant that they went through to the next round. However what happened during the celebration was not acceptable, the Railway keeper ran up to the Consett keeper and punched the ball out of his hands whilst shouting and jeering in his face all because the Consett keeper had complained to the linesman about how far off his line he was, totally unacceptable and a shame because it made people overlook his great performance during the game as he was the one who kept Railway in it. A good match and one worth the hour journey down there, got lucky with the weather aswell.

FINAL SCORE:
Harrogate RA 1v1 Consett AET
Harrogate RA win 4v3 on Penalties

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Billingham Synthonia 0 v 3 Dunston UTS 25/08/09

We made our first visit of the season to Central Avenue Stadium, the home of Billigham Synthonia. Tonight they faced tough opposition in Dunston UTS who hadn't had the best of starts to the season losing there opening 3 games whereas Synthonia were unbeaten so far this season. The game started off very brightly and it wasnt long until the first goal came around when a ball was crossed in from the right from a Dunston free kick, a Dunston player managed to flick the ball on to the back post where the initial shot hit the post. However the rebound came back to the same player and this time he put the ball in the net squeezing the ball between the post and the goal keeper to give Dunston a 1-0 lead after only 2 minutes. This set the pace of the game for the rest of the half as both sides were playing good attractive football and both looking to push forward at every opportunity. Synners were looking a bit shakey at the back however and in the 17th minute one of the Billingham defenders played a hospital ball across the top of his own box which was intercepted by the Dunston forward, he managed to beat the only defender but blazed his shot over the bar missing a glorious opportunity to give them a 2-0 lead. Luckily he wasn't to regret that miss as four minutes later in the 21st minute they got their 2-0 lead when a ball was played in from the right, again the Dunston player flicked the ball on hoping that someone would latch onto it. This time though it fell to a Billingham defender who miss timed his header giving the Dunston forward chance to flick the ball over the defenders head and volley the ball past the keeper to his right. Both sides were creating chances but Synners weren't converting those chances into goals and they went even further behind in the 33rd minute due to a piece of brilliance from Lee Bell. A poor throw from the keeper fell straight to him about 35 yards out, he took a touch looked up and saw the keeper was still off his line and lobbed him from about 30 yards just like Reid did for Sunderland against Norwich to give them a 3-0 lead. Dunston now seemed to have the game fully under control and were passing the ball around comfortably. No more real openings came after that and the scoreline stayed the same until half time.
Into the second half and compared to the first half the pace had dropped and both sides couldn't get back into the rhythm of the first. Dunston seemed like they were happy with the 3-0 lead but were still trying to get forward when they had the opportunity. There next chance to extend their lead even further came in the 60th minute when a player cut in from the left and shot across the goal to the keepers left. The ball hit the post and rebounded straight to a Billingham defender who cleared well. After that it was fairly even both sides having fair possesion and it was mainly Synthonia who were creating the chances but they still couldn't force that goal to get them back into the game. It was a game where if chances had being taken it would have being more like a rugby score, however they weren't and the scoreline stayed the same giving Dunston a convincing 3-0 win and their first points of the season.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Sunderland RCA 1 v 0 Marske United 22/08/09

A game that promised so much in the early exchanges ended in farcical circumstances as both teams ended without their full compliment of players.
The town of Ryhope certainly would not of expected what happened on the pitch at Meadow Park, and if the bright sunshine was anything to go by, a good game of football was expected.
We duly took up our usual position next to the dugouts, and made our way through the truly brilliant programme, well worth the £1 that was charged for it. The crosswords and "Guess the Stadium" quiz kept us occupied in the build-up to the kick off. I never did realise that 2 Down Paulo Sousa built Swansea! Or is it that he is their manager?? Hmmm...
Anyway, the game got underway, and the first half set off at a frantic pace, with some delightful football from both teams; play going from end to end in no time. You can see why these two teams were challenging for promotion in the last campaign. RCA had the best chance of the half, but the final effort was headed right at the fortuitous Markse keeper.
ATG could write a book on the many quotes we have heard in our travels, and today brought up an absolute beauty. Throughout the first half, players, officials and supporters of Marske hurled abuse at the referee, and after a "dubious" free kick awarded to Marske, a shout from the away dugout came: "You've got a f****** whistle...I thought you'd swallowed the c**t" The culprit was the Marske manager, and had most of the crowd in the recent vicinity in stitches! Entrance to Meadow Park, £4; Programme, £1; Mars Bar, 50p; Non League Quotes, PRICELESS!
I sampled the "Famous Pies" at half time, and was not disappointed. The warm corned-beef and pastry encasing it was delectable. The Soccer Saturday in the Clubhouse was also a nice addition and was useful to check the half time scores and see how the "mighty" England were getting on in the ashes. Anyway, back to the action...
The second half saw the match explode, and for a change in this game (!), the referee got involved. Tough, hard tackles flew in all over the pitch, yet the only cautions were for dissent. Elbows, arms and studs-up tackles went in as if commonplace in football, without punishment with cards-or even free kicks, from the referee!
A brilliant cross from the right wing provided the opening goal and gave RCA the lead in the 73rd minute, despite a period of prolonged pressure from the visitors. The main action was still to come however, when a late innocuous challenge went in on the already cautioned Marske number 10. The retaliation was that of a heavy weight boxer who had just been knocked down in the 1st round. A left hook was thrown, followed by a forearm jab, and finished with an uppercut. The only difference between him and a boxer was that the boxer would have made contact with his opponent. A brief retaliation from the RCA defender resulted in the pair being dismissed from the field of play. Whilst both players left the field of play, another already-booked Marske player decided he wanted to join in. Presumably, this chap was watching the action on digital, as when he joined in, everything had stopped. He duly received his marching orders, and this left Marske leading 2v1...on the red card count. The remainder of the game was full of argy bargy and abuse being hurled from the Marske dugout.
Eventually, the referee had had enough of the Markse Manager, Paul Burton, and he was relieved of his position in the dugouts-all the way to behind the dugouts, were he could still shout instructions, hurl abuse and go about his normal duties. A job that should have been done in the 60th minute was done in the 90th minute, and had no effect on the manager or game at all, and the best thing that was possibly done all day by the referee was the final whistle.
Admission £4 + free raffle ticket. Programme £1. Pie + Hot Dogs £1.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Consett Sign Steven Huggins

Steven Huggins made the move from Whitby Town to Consett on Wednesday night to end speculations as to where he had or was going to move to. He returns there for his second spell at the club as they look to challenge for the league title. He will bring strength to the midfield and will add that extra driving force going forward. He is rated as one of the top players in the northern league and hopefully he will have a successful season.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Billingham Town 0 v 3 Newcastle Benfield 18/08/09

Only one of the ATG team could make it to a match tonight due to the other having work commitments so I was accompanied by another northern league fan and another who was attending only his second northern league game having being to Shildon with us at the weekend to see the 0-0 draw so he was hoping to see his first goal and that's exactly what he got. We made the trip to Billingham Town to see them take on last seasons Division One champions Newcastle Benfield. Both teams had made a steady start to the season with both winning one and losing one however Town suffered a heavy defeat in the FA Cup at the weekend which will have lowered their confidence a bit. This showed in the early encounters as Town didn't seem to be able to settle in to a rhythm and didn't look comfortable passing the ball around. The opening 20 minutes was fairly even with neither side creating many chances and both teams struggling to get going, however Benfield then started to take more control of the game and create a few openings which they didn't convert. It wasn't until the 35th minute that the first goal of the night arrived, a through ball was played between Billingham Town's centre backs and the Newcastle Benfield striker Chilton ran onto it and finished well past the keeper's right to give them a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later Benfield threatened again when they hit the cross bar, a long throw from the left was met by a Benfield player who's header looped up and over the keeper and onto the bar. That was it for the first half with Town having alot to do if they wanted to bring this game back. After our steak burgers and pie and peas (which were very nice by the way) the second half began in the same way that the first ended with Benfield being on top and looking to extend their lead. Town were doing a better job than first half of holding Benfield off and they seemed like they had settled down a bit, however in the 60th minute Town were looking to go forward when they lost possesion and Benfield broke down the left hand side. The ball was played in across the 6 yard box and the incoming Benfield player Chilton met it and put the ball past the diving keeper to his left to give them a 2-0 lead and to bag his second putting the game out of Billingham's hands. They did their best to get back into the game but they lacked a target man upfront which shows how important their striker from last season Alexander was to them, no one was able to hold the ball up or create an opening. When they did create a chance they lacked the quality needed to convert that into a goal. From then on Benfield looked like they could go on and score more with 2 or 3 good chances to extend their lead but they never managed to do so and it looked like that was it for the night. However in the 88th minute a Benfield player received the ball at the top of the box and just inside the box, the Billingham defender then tackled him from behind giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. It wasn't a hard decision as to who was going to take the spot kick, Chilton stepped up and converted the spot kick giving him his hatrick and making it an even better nights work with a comfortable 3-0 win. They will now be looking to push on and defend their title where as Town will have to improve considerably if they want to get into the top 10 this season. Apologies for the picture quality as the usual camera wasn't available to me for this game but I will have it for the upcoming games so usual quality will be resumed.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Shildon AFC 0 v 0 Northallerton Town 15/08/09 FA Cup EP



Today we made our first trip up to Shildon to see the Railwaymen take on Northallerton Town in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary round. It was a windy day which immediately made us think that it would be a day to play good passing football along the ground and to peoples feet. What we got was completely the opposite of what we expected. Right from the first whistle it was played in the air and alot of long balls being lumped forward and after the opening exchanges we knew that we were in for a long afternoon. Both teams never got into their rhythm and neither side seemed to be able string a few passes together and there were only a few glimpses of what Shildon could do passing it along the floor. The best of the chances went to Shildon in the first half and a few good chances were put over the bar, there were also a few shots that were hit straight at the keeper but apart from that there weren't many clear cut chances. The second half also turned out to be much of the same apart from right at the start when Northallerton forced the Shildon keeper into a good save. After that it was almost a carbon copy of the first half with long balls being played and neither team realising that the air ball was not the way to go about things. The final whistle went with Northallerton being the most pleased with the replay as they never really looked like troubling the Shildon keeper and his defence. A game not really worth the £6 admission but a game of football non the less.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Guisborough Town 3v2 Gilllford Park 12/08/09



The first visit to the KGV Stadium for half of the ATG team saw 5 goals banged in, all coming in the second half.
A warm evening with hazy sunshine peering over the trees that lined the ground welcomed us to the stadium. The pitch was in decent condition, though the grass was on the long side, but still looked good for the football. Both teams were out warming up as we walked in, and the referee's were just making their way in after what must have been an "intense" warm up looking at one of the linesman.
The teams walked out at 7:25 and performed the usual pre-match ritual. The "RESPECT" Campaign handshake. This to me seems a pointless exercise. It is basically the players walking past each other and saying: "Have a good game mate- before I kick your head in!" Anyway, the men at the top say it must be done. And today, I think the conversation between the two sets of players must have been similar to what I have just said, as this was to be a very physical battle.
The first half was probably the dullest half of football I have witnessed. In fact, I have seen better action on a Tidlewinks mat. So, straight to half time.
The refreshments at Guisborough have received "The Northern Co-op Tea Hut" award two consecutive seasons-the only team ever to do so. And to an extent, I see why. Very good value for money. I was overcharged by 25p, but didn't say anything! He was only little-and I didn't want to get into any bother.
Whatever was in the players half-time drinks certainly fired them up. Both teams came out like the proverbially bats out of hell. After just 8 second half minutes, Gillford Park had a reasonable shout for a goal turned down, after the ball bounced down and perhaps crossed the line, although from my angle, it was difficult to tell. This was to prove costly to them, as 5 minutes later, Guisborough took the lead, after a 30 yard screamer bounced off the bar. The Gillford Park lads where caught napping and former Thornaby hit-man Paul Vickers snuck in behind the defence to head the hosts 1 up.
This lead lasted just 5 minutes, when Gillford Park's Bannon slotted him from a corner. Tempers began to boil over after this, and after some scrappy play in the midfield, Guisborough broke free and David Onions placed the ball passed the oncoming keeper to make the score 2-1. There was uproar from all involved with Gillford Park, after an apparent foul in the build up. I have a feeling that Carlisle's Specsaver's Branch could do a roaring trade, as the foul seemed to be made on a player in white. Now, unless I got it mixed up, I thought Guisborough were in white and Gillford Park in "Celtic" colours.
This setback however seemed to strengthen the Cumbrians, who not long after equalised thanks to a back post tap in from Bannon. There were calls for offside, but the linesman was having none of it. The poor chap had been berated from the first whistle to the last by everyone in the ground, yet barely put a foot wrong. All that because he wore black...
Gilllford Park could, and perhaps should have had a lead, but the Guisborough keeper was in fine form, and made a string of fine saves to keep them at bay.
The deadlock remained unbroken, until with around 5 minutes to go, a back post cross from the right flank found its way onto the head of Guisborough's Court, who diverted the ball into the net to snatch a late goal.
In the 3 minutes of added time, Gillford Park piled on the pressure, but all was in vain, as Guisborough took the 3 points in this game of what just seemed to be one half!

The ATG team will be attending an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round game this coming Saturday.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Weekend Round-Up

The first weekend of the season kicked off yesterday, and some shock results sprung up from the 21 fixtures that took place. A total of 74 goals went in, with three games producing 7 goals, the biggest margin of victory going to Jarrow roofing in their victory over Darlington RA.
The biggest shock of the day arguably came at Dunston UTS, where the Unibond League hopefuls suffered a 0-2 defeat at the hands of newly-promoted Norton & Stockton Ancients. The other two First Division new boys; Esh Winning and Horden, both suffered defeats. Esh went down 0-2 at home to Ryton, and Horden were beaten 3-1 at Bedlington Terriers.
Elsewhere in Division One, reigning champions Newcastle Benfield scraped to a 1-0 against Ashington, the Battle of the Wests was won by Allotment 2-0 (against Auckland if you didn't guess!), and last season's FA Vase Winner's Whitley Bay won 1-0 against Consett. Morpeth were the victims of a 5-0 drubbing against Penrith, at the Cumbrian's new base at Frenchfields, and a tense game at what is officially the coldest ground in the Northern League, resulted in a 4-3 win for Tow Law against money-bags Spennymoor. Bishop Auckland started the season on a bad note, losing at Billingham Town 2-1, South Shields bagged the points in a 1-0 over Chester-le-Street, whereas at Shildon the spoils were shared as they drew 2-2 with Billingham Synthonia.
Division Two saw two Step 6 newboys in action, but with completely different outcomes. Gillford Park's start to Northern League life was not one to remember as they received a hammering from promotion-chasing Sunderland RCA, whereas Newton Aycliffe seemed to have completely forgotten about losing out on the double last season, as they overturned a two-goal deficit to beat Hebburn 3-2 (Full report below).
The stand out fixture in Division Two was played at King George V Playing Fields, where Guisborough and Marske battled it out. Guisborough went into the break 1-0 to the good, but by the time the full-time whistle blew, it was Marske who came away with the spoils, securing a 2-1 victory. Relegated Northallerton Town drew 2-2 with Brandon, as did Washington and North Shields. Team Northumbria had a long drive to play against Whitehaven; beginning their second season in the Northern League, and it was the West Cumbrians who walked away victorious as they won 3-0. Thornaby lost against Crook Town at home to continue on from last seasons dismal display, whereas Seaham began life in Division 2 with a 2-0 win over Whickham.
And finally, I wouldn't have wanted to venture down to Stokesley last night after their 3-1 win over Birtley. I bet the Stokesley Gaffer wasn't half pleased!
The featured midweek fixture comes from Guisborough as they entertain Gillford Park on Wednesday night.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Newton Aycliffe v Hebburn Town 08/08/09



For the first game of the 2009-10 season we visited newly promoted Newton Aycliffe who were looking to get off to a winning start against Hebburn Town. The sun was shining and the ground was buzzing with excitement at the prospect of Aycliffe's first Northern League game. Aycliffe had the better of the early exchanges having the majority of the possesion and a few chances which went just wide of the goal. They kept the pressure on for the first 20 minutes of the game but they just couldn't force that opening goal which would have settled them down and helped them get into their rhythm. This proved costly as Hebburn began to come back into the game and although they never really looked like scoring they were stopping aycliffe playing their football. For the rest of the half the game stayed fairly level and neither side looked menacing. It wasn't until the stroke of halftime when a ball was played into the box and it fell to the Hebburn striker who had his back to goal, the Aycliffe keeper then made a challenge from behind and brought him down giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot and reward a penalty. The Hebburn forward made no mistake as he placed the ball in the bottom right hand corner off the post to give them a 1-0 lead going into half time.
The start of the second half was very event full as in the first minute Hebburn created a move down the right hand side and the resulting cross was met by the forward with his head causing the Aycliffe keeper to pull off a great save diving to his left with one hand. Seconds later Aycliffe went straight up the other end and a shot from the left hand side hit the post and rebounded away from the incoming Aycliffe player looking for an easy tap in. The pace stayed high throughout the second half and in the 52nd minute a corner was crossed in from the right by Hebburn which was headed goal wards, the Aycliffe player did his best to prevent the ball going over the line but the linesman judged that it had crossed the line giving Hebburn a 2-0 lead with 35 minutes to go. Aycliffe still looked the better side after this and their early pressure and many missed chances finally turned into a goal in the 57th when a ball was played over the top from the defence and the Aycliffe forward beat the offside trap to be 1 on 1 with the keeper, he kept his composure by taking it around the keeper and slotting it home to give them some hope of a comeback at 2-1 down. Aycliffe upped their game as they could sense that a comeback was on and after 15 minutes of pressure they got what they were looking for as a cross came in from the right and the Aycliffe winger missed a glorious chance to volley them level, however the ball came to the midfielder on the left and he played the ball straight back into the box which this time was headed home to complete the comeback. Aycliffe had deserved the draw but they felt that they could get more out of the game and kept pressing to get the winning goal in what would be an amazing result after being 2-0 down. Hebburn held firm until the 89th minute when a through ball was flicked on to the Aycliffe striker who turned and hit the ball on the half volley, the place seemed to stand still as everyone watched the ball nestle in the net and give Aycliffe a 3-2 lead. After that it was just a case of get the ball away from their goal and wait for the final whistle to go. Deep into stoppage time to make their day even worse Hebburn had a man sent off, the ball was played down the line and the Aycliffe player had hold of the midfielders shirt, the Hebburn player reacted and raised his arms and pushed the Aycliffe player out of frustration giving the referee no choice but to send him off. The final whistle went and the crowd went home after seeing a great game of football and an amazing comeback from Northern League newcomers Aycliffe who showed that they aren't here just for an easy first season.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Norton & Stockton Ancients 0 v 2 Whitby Town 31/07/09



We made the trip to Norton again tonight to see them take on Whitby Town. With the weather being better tonight the pitch was looking good and a nice surface to play on. Both teams made quite a lively start but it was Whitby who took the early initiative in the 14th minute when a through ball fell to their striker who controlled well, took it around two players and put the ball past the Norton keeper diving to his right. After that the game evened out with not many clear openings being made and both teams holding strong in defence. Then in the 43rd minute a pass was played into the Whitby forward who was given chance to turn and shoot from 20 yards out, the keeper failed to deal with the shot above his head and spilled the ball which trickled into the net to give Whitby a 2-0 lead going into half time. After my colleague's had being for their half time refreshments of burger and chips (which I am told where of a good standard) the second half got underway and immediately it seemed that both teams had taken their foot off the gas a bit with neither team attacking and trying to gain control of the game. Norton created the best of the chances with a few balls being crossed into the box and headers going just wide of the goal. They also created a 5 minute period of pressure in the final part of the game where they looked like they might grab a goal but they never managed to break down the Whitby defence or beat the keeper who had kept Norton out a few times during the game. The final whistle went and Whitby came away with the win having being the better team for most of the game, however it was a good run out for both sides and Norton can take many positives from the game having put in a respectable performance against a strong Whitby side.