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!!!