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.

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.