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