West Allotment Celtic 2 Chester-le-Street Town 1 – Ebac Northern League Division Two

We were a bit grateful for the last 25 minutes of the game.  Up until then it had been a stodgy game, lacking in quality.

In the 4th minute Chester keeper Maximiliano Coombes shouted “keep it” as the ball went astray.  It was advice that both teams would have done well to heed for an hour or so, although Celtic were a little more successful at ball retention than their visitors.

The paciest player on the pitch was Chester’s winger Nathan Wade.  Allotment keeper Finn Hodgson telegraphed a throw out and Wade was quick enough to intercept it, pass it to Michael Hepplewhite who put his shot into the side netting.

Allotment had three shots by Matthew Hayton and Shane Donaghey around the 25-minute mark but they were either off target or straight at Coombes.  In the 35th minute Jake Forster thought he’d put the home side ahead but he was judged offside when he planted a header into the net from a free kick.

Wade’s pace was the crucial factor for the game’s opening goal four minutes after the break.  Although looking suspiciously offside, he managed to get behind the West Allotment back four, latch on to a through ball and tuck it past Hodgson.  The defenders were less than chuffed with the assistant’s decision.

They were more fortunate five minutes later when Hepplewhite was chipped in the penalty area.  The No. 10 stayed on his feet and the attack fizzled out.  If he’d have gone down under the challenge, it would have given the referee a decision to make.

In the 58th minute Allotment No. 2 Mikel Thompson (who was their most positive player throughout the game), took the ball across the Chester box and passed it to Abu Salim whose side-footed shot hit the right hand post.

The hosts finally made it 1-1 in the 65th minute when Hayton managed to squeeze the ball past Coombes.  The equaliser was the cue for the game to perk up.  There was more pace and drive from both teams.

In the 73rd minute Hepplewhite beat the offside trap and his shot was heading in until Michael Scott made an excellent sliding clearance on the goal line.  At the other end, Hayton put a shot over the bar and Thompson put a couple of balls across the six-yard box.

The winner came in the 84th minute when West Allotment won a corner and a Jack Errington header crept past a Chester player on the line.

The game closed with each team putting shots over the bar.  The best chance fell to Thompson who tried to place the ball under Coombes, with the Chester keeper managing to fall on the ball.

Mike Snowdon

Newton Aycliffe 3 Ryhope CW 1 – Ebac Northern League Division One

Talking to the Aycliffe camp before kick-off, it was clear they were expecting a physical battle and in the first half they got it.  However, the second half was a very different affair.

The opening 45 minutes was fast and furious, with neither team given time and space.  Everything done at pace, including throw-ins and free kicks.  Everyone seemed to be in a rush.

Ryhope got off to a fast start too.  They were 1-0 up in the third minute when the ball was knocked through to Robbie Bird who was left unmarked in front of goal (with the defenders presuming that he was offside but not playing to the whistle).  The No. 7 took a touch, didn’t hit the ball particularly cleanly but still managed to get it past Aycliffe keeper Adam Pickford.

Aycliffe were authors of their own misfortune in the 9th minute too when Matty Lowrie failed to control a pass, allowing Ryhope’s Micky Rae to have a clear run at goal and he only failed to score after Pickford spread himself to block Rae’s shot with his legs.

Aycliffe then started to press forward without testing Ryhope keeper James Winter.  A couple of shots were sent well wide and a couple of others put straight at him.  Some of Ryhope’s defending was effective rather than elegant, with a couple of unceremonious big boots out.  At the other end, defender Nick Green put in a diving block for a Rae shot and then captain Aaron Brown slid in to block a potentially dangerous Bird cross.

In the 41st minute, Aycliffe’s Liam Jarvie had a shot saved with his legs by Winter.  In the last minute of the half the Aycliffe No. 8 got them level.  Persistent work down the left by Kevin Carr allowed the No. 2 to get the ball to Jarvie who found the inside of the right hand post from an angle to the left of the Ryhope goal.  All square.

As quick a start as Ryhope got in the first half, Aycliffe got off to an even quicker start after the break, scoring within seconds of the re-start, with Jarvie getting his second when he got enough in his shot to get it past Winter.  The goal changed the game.  It gave Aycliffe bags of confidence while Ryhope never recovered.

It was pretty close to being one-way traffic – a Shaun Ryder shot pushed out for a corner by Winter and then Dean Thexton putting an effort just over the bar.  Ryhope had problems clearing their lines.  Jarvie posed a constant threat and in the 75th minute he almost got on the end of a cross when right in front of goal.  Despite the heavy pitch, Aycliffe were still able to play with pace and mobility.

Ryhope’s best effort of the half came in the 74th minute when Rae had a free kick rattle off the right hand post.

In the 90th minute, Winter saved a shot by Aycliffe sub Jake Petitjean with his legs, but another sub – Johnson Ballan – put the finishing touches to their evening’s work.  Winter got a hand to the No. 14’s shot but couldn’t keep it out.

Ben Riding:

As good as Jarvie was, Ryhope defender Ben Riding put in the best individual defensive display I’ve seen for quite some time.

22nd minute – put in a crucial tackle in the penalty area just as Jarvie was about to shoot.

58th minute – Jarvie driving into the box, dispossessed by a beautifully timed tackle by Riding.

79th minute – Jarvie again threatening to break free towards the Ryhope goal, only to be stopped by another Riding tackle.

82nd minute – The fourth and final well-timed tackle to snuff out an Aycliffe attack.  (In the 85th minute he had Ryhope’s only other chance in the second half when he tried to hook the ball into the Aycliffe goal as he fell to the ground following a corner, only for it to go over the bar.)

Outstanding.  An ace of a game.

PS – In the closing minutes, I got talking to a Ryhope supporter and said what a great game Riding had.  It was just as well I was complimentary about the No. 4.  It was his dad.

Mike Snowdon

Local journalist Mark Carruthers will be hosting a talk-in about his book on the league’s FA Vase exploits over the last 40 years, with special guests Gareth Bainbridge, Paul Dixon and Chris Swailes.

The event is at the Wallsend Customer First Centre, 16, The Forum, Wallsend, NE28 8JR on Thursday, November 21 from 7-9pm.

For further details and to book a place go to:


There will be a collection for the MNDA and If U Care Share Foundation charities.

Northallerton Town 2 North Shields 3 – Ebac Northern League Division One

There’s a big difference between being able to spot a 50-yard pass and being able to deliver it.  With a couple of minutes to go, North Shields midfielder Gary Ormston both saw and delivered the pass – and it turned into a game winner.

In increasingly heavy conditions, it seemed as though this game was heading towards a draw until the Robins’ No. 4 looked up and picked out team mate Kyle Patton as the winger ran towards the Northallerton box.  As good as the pass was, Patton still had plenty to do and he managed to beat Northallerton left back Gary Shaw and keeper Andy Coulson to the ball and prod it into the net to score North Shields’ third and seal the game.

It was the best bit of football of the match but was somewhat harsh on Northallerton who had bravely fought back from 0-2 down.

North Shields got their first after a slip by Northallerton centre back Dan Jones allowed the ball to go to Adam Forster who struck it from 25 yards out and found the gap between post and the hands of Coulson, diving to his right.

It gave the visitors a bit more impetus.  Up until then it had been very much even-stevens.  North Shields could have doubled their lead in the 29th minute.  Scott McCarthy sent over a cross that was headed back to him by the Northallerton defence.  His second cross found Ryan Carr at the far post but the No. 10 couldn’t get any power in his shot which was easily taken by Coulson.

Carr was able to make a more positive contribution in the 32nd minute.  Right back Nick Cassidy hit a Shields free kick into the box.  Carr was unmarked and he knocked the ball back across the six yard box, leaving McCarthy with a simple, easy tap in from a couple of feet away from the goal line.

It only took Northallerton three minutes to get back into the game.

A Northallerton corner was only half cleared by North Shields and David Hillerby hit a nicely struck volley to score a goal in the 35th minute – a goal that gave his team a lift just when they needed it.

There was a lively 10-minute spell at the start of the second half.  North Shields’ Cameron Cunningham with a shot parried away by Coulson and Carr with a shot just wide of the keeper and the post; and then Northallerton No. 9 Connor Lowes putting the ball across the face of the North Shields goal, with Callum Smith only inches away from connecting.

In the 55th minute, Northallerton levelled it up when Ryan McKendry was fouled in the area by Ben Christensen.  Shields keeper Greg Purvis got to Smith’s spot kick but couldn’t keep the ball from spinning into the net.

Halfway through the second half, the pitch was getting heavier*, making it hard work for the players.  Rather than sit back and play for the draw, both teams kept going to try and find a winner, but it was Northallerton who applied most of the pressure in the closing 15 minutes of the game, until Ormston found his game changing pass.

(* Despite some heavy rain leading up the match, the groundsman had done a terrific job to get pitch ready and playable.)

A ‘not quite’ halfway report:

In my opinion, in recent years the gap has been growing between our first and second divisions and so it was no surprise that Northallerton have taken a while to find their feet, but in recent weeks they seem to be getting the measure of the division – with a couple of league wins under their belt and their losses in league and League Cup have only been by the odd goal.  Work in progress, but progress being made.

North Shields:  They got their season off to an indifferent start, but with an away win at Penrith on September 21, they’ve been on a 10-game unbeaten run in league and League Cup.  What seems like all of a sudden, they have quietly progressed and sit second in the league.  I’m sure they’ve played better than yesterday, but they found a way to get three points – the kind of three points that can matter at the end of a season.

Mike Snowdon

Below is a photo of the minute’s silence for Remembrance Day weekend.

Helped by a red card

Washington 0 Easington Colliery 3 – Ebac Northern League Division Two

To be honest, the first half wasn’t great.  Fortunately for the spectators, things improved in the second half and the game shifted decisively Easington’s way.

For the opening 45 minutes there was a brisk pace to the match, but attacking moves by both sides regularly broke down as they approached the 18 yard box.

They both had two decent chances to take the lead, but couldn’t convert them.  Washington’s Jak Hanson set Kieren Broomfield up with an excellent through ball, leaving the No. 11 one-on-one with Easington Colliery keeper Alex Lawrence who managed to block Broomfield’s shot with his body after rushing out of the box.  Lawrence presented the hosts with their second opportunity:  scuffing a clearance straight to Dan Quine, but the Washington No. 9 slipped just as he was about to shoot with the goal gaping.

For Easington, Liam Adamson had a shot saved by Washington keeper Ryan Lumsden and captain Chris Pearson’s first time, curling shot went just a foot or so over the bar.

As soon as the second half started, Easington looked more positive.  They had three shots in the opening five minutes, the only trouble was they were all well off target.

In the 62nd minute Kyle Middleton beat the offside trap, with his shot well saved by Lumsden, and Jack Pounder unable to get a clean connection with the rebound.

Three minutes later Washington’s Jack Warriner was sent off for a second yellow card and only a couple of minutes after that, Easington broke the deadlock thanks to a goal by Jack Brown who broke past Washington’s back line to place the ball past Lumsden.

Easington continued to pile on the pressure and in the 83rd minute Adamson had a shot cleared off the line by Washington captain Aiden Hutchinson.  Down to 10 men, gaps started to appear at the back for Washington and in the last couple of minutes of the game they conceded two more goals.

In the 85th minute Kieran Mitchell had the chance to hit the ball first time but decided to take it round a defender and was able to slot it in.  And with the last kick of the game, Adamson fired the ball into the goalmouth from the byline and it was deflected in off a Washington defender.

Mike Snowdon

Thornaby 2 Whitley Bay 2 – Ebac Northern League Division One

Apologies for the repetition and apologies if it’s getting boring, but it’s getting repetitive and boring in a rather dramatic, entertaining way.

Yep, it was a game with another batch of late, late, late goals.  Remarkably, there were three of them in time added on.  It made up for what had previously been a rather pedestrian game that had more than a hint of 0-0 about it.

Whitley Bay started briskly enough, with some neat fluent football.  They tried to make some creative passes but were unable to execute them as precisely as they intended.

Thornaby took a bit longer to get into the game, but once they did, their passing was more straight forward and, in turn, more effective.

However, neither team was able to produce many moves of more than four or five passes and there was a distinct lack of goalmouth action.  Until the goals arrived, Thornaby produced some potentially dangerous crosses – particularly from the boot of Daniel Chapman – and it was a bit of a surprise that Adam Preston and Ian Ward weren’t able to capitalise on them.  For their part, Whitley Bay’s Mark Robinson and right full back Connor Smith looked the two players most likely to open up the home defence.

The highlights of the first half were a Preston header that hit the foot of the post and a Nathan Stephenson shot that had Thornaby keeper James Dawson at full stretch to make the save.

With less than 15 minutes to go, Thornaby edged ahead when Whitley Bay’s Callum Anderson fouled Thornaby sub Kyran Clark in the area and Preston converted the penalty.  And that, it would seem, was that, with the game drifting into time added on.

And then the fun started.

In the 91st minute Thornaby made it 2-0 with the best pass and move of the match.  A great cross-field pass by Chapman allowed Joseph Scaife-Wheatly to break unopposed down the left and the Thornaby captain drove towards the penalty area and guided it past Bay keeper Dan Lister.

With only a couple of minutes to go, Whitely Bay were dead and buried, well, until the 93rd minute anyway.  Smith took the ball to the byline and pulled it back to Robinson who managed to strike it through the Thornaby defence and into the net.

And Smith set up the equaliser in the 95th minute when he doggedly managed to keep possession by the byline despite a couple of Thornaby defenders trying to tackle him, before he sent the ball across the box where Craig McFarlane managed to drive the ball home with only seconds left.

I don’t think either team could quite believe it.

Mike Snowdon