Following Penrith’s home match against Dunston UTS being postponed today due to them playing in the Cumberland Senior Cup, we have two changes to the fixtures:

Wednesday 3rd April 2019
Penrith v Guisborough (from 10/04)
Wednesday 10th April 2019
Penrith v Dunston UTS (from 23/03)

Durham City 0 Billingham Synthonia 4 – Ebac Northern League Division Two

Ten minutes.  Twenty minutes. Sixty minutes.

Ten minutes:  A lively start by both teams and a “vertical” opening, with players looking to mostly pass it forward and attack, with not many sideways and backwards passes.  It looked quite promising, with Anthony Chapman with the first effort on goal, only to put it straight at Synners keeper Callum Lee Roberts.  A couple of minutes later, the visitors’ captain Ben Pollock with a chip pass into the Durham box, just too far in front of Dominic Tiffany to get his head to it.

Both teams were knocking on the door in and around the 18 yard box, with both defences doing just enough to thwart attacks.  So far so good.

Twenty minutes:  Soon after the promising opening, the game then started to peter out into an untidy game of football.  And that was the only note I made until….

Sixty minutes:  Just after the half-hour mark:  A ray of hope turned the game decisively and emphatically Synners’ way.  Connor Smith hit a sharp half volley, with the assistant referee flagging that the ball had crossed the line before being hooked away by a Durham defender.  Within two minutes Alex Bruton had made it 2-0, with another half volley.  A high, long ball was sent into the Durham box, it was only half cleared straight to Bruton whose shot went under Durham keeper David Smallman.  It was a reward for Bruton who’d been the busiest player on the pitch.

Clearances from their own box were a constant problem for the home side throughout the game, piling unnecessary pressure on themselves.

From there Synthonia never looked back, while Durham fell into a rut and couldn’t find a way out of it.  The rest of the game belonged to the Synners.  They closed the first half off with three shots: two shots by Smith, one put wide and the other straight at Smallman, and then Cameron Wilson with a shot, again straight at the keeper.

They opened the second half with a much better effort when No. 9 Louis Johnson put a curling header goalwards, with Smallman doing well to get his fingertips to it to push it over the bar.  For the next 10 minutes Durham were pinned deep into their own half.  Another poor clearance was punished in the 50th minute when the attempted kick to clear their lines only went a couple of yards, not even managing to get the ball out of the box.  Instead it went straight to Smith who had time to pick his spot and hit it just inside the right hand post to put Synthonia 3-0 up.

The Synners then hit a bit of a purple patch.

In the 64th minute a weak back pass put Smallman under pressure as Johnson bore down on him.  Smallman’s attempted clearance hit Johnson but he was too close to control the ball and it rebounded back to Smallman who was able to grab it.  In the 67th minute Johnson flicked the ball over a defender for Smith to run on to, but Smallman was able to get to it first. In the 69th minute Max Thomas tried to clear his lines, only for the ball to hit Smith – re-bounding to Smallman.  Within seconds Durham’s Thomas Langan produced the tackle of the match when he slid in to dispossess Smith as he was about to shoot.

Inevitably Sythonia’s fourth goal and Smith’s hat-trick came from another poor clearance.  Smallman kicked it straight to the No. 10 who was able to tuck away into an empty net. It was a good performance by the Synners.  Eventually.  It just took them a long time to get going.  Durham suffered from too many self-inflicted wounds, the kind that drain confidence and sap morale.

Mike Snowdon

Three players have been transferred during the last week:

John Mordey – Heaton Stannington to Whickham

Steven Turnbull – Durham City to Esh Winning

Clark Kay – Willington to Whickham

(This season’s transfers close at 5pm on Sunday, March 31.)

Several fixtures have been moved, including yesterday’s postponements:

Tuesday 26th March 2019

Dunston UTS v Guisborough Town

Newton Aycliffe v Hebburn Town  (from 09/03)

Sunderland RCA v North Shields

Wednesday 27th March 2019

Esh Winning  v Durham City (from 06/03)

Heaton Stannington v Brandon United  (from 20/04)

Northallerton Town v Willington (from 10/04)

Friday 29th March 2019

Chester-le-Street Town v Birtley Town (from 30/03)

Tuesday 2nd April 2019

Hebburn Town v Shildon

Thornaby v Durham City (from 16/03)

Wednesday 3rd April 2019

Bishop Auckland v West Auckland

Friday 5th April 2019

Billingham Synthonia v Northallerton Town (from 06/04)

Tuesday 9th April 2019

Durham City v Washington (from 10/03)

Tow Law Town v Thornaby (from 10/03)

Wednesday 10th April 2019

Billingham Synthonia v Ryton & Crawcrook Albion (from 10/03)

Esh Winning v Birtley Town (from 16/03)

Jarrow v Bedlington Terriers (from 16/03)

Willington  v Chester-le-Street (from 16/03)

Thursday 11th April 2019

Easington Colliery v West Allotment Celtic (from 16/03)

Tuesday 16th April 2019

Bedlington Terriers v Durham City

Tow Law Town v Birtley Town

Wednesday 17th April 2019

Brandon United v Billingham Synthonia (from 16/03)

Saturday 20th April 2019

Heaton Stannington v  Billingham Town     (from 16/03)

Ashington 0 Whitley Bay 1 – Ebac Northern League Division One

The weather had a significant effect on yesterday’s games.  Most of the 16 fixtures involving Northern League sides fell foul of the weather and consequent waterlogged pitches.  It was only hours of work by club officials that meant this game went ahead.

At kick-off the pitch looked in remarkably good nick considering the snow that had fallen.  But it was the wind that had a more direct impact on the football.

In the first half Whitley Bay had a good opening spell and finished the half with a flourish.  Sandwiched in between, Ashington dominated most of the possession with the wind at their backs and with much of the play in the Whitley Bay half.  It was role reversal in the second half – this time dominated by the visitors, with Ashington struggling to get anything going at all.

Ashington’s best chances came in quick succession in the 19th minute – both thwarted by Whitley keeper Daniel Lister:  the first getting a hand to a half-volley by Colliers captain Wayne Buchanan and pushing the ball out, the second from the subsequent corner as the ball was put under the bar, with Lister again punching it clear.

In the 40th minute Luke Salmon saw a shot skim off the bar for Whitley and that was followed up by a goal-bound shot by Daniel Wright, deflected for a corner.  In the 44th minute Ashington keeper Conor Grant tipped a Luke Taylor header over the bar.

As the half came to a close, Colliers right back Ben Sampson proved to be their main attacking threat – putting two shots over the goal and sending over a cross that was just out of reach for Sammy Perez.

Grant was quickly called into action in the second half – twice saving shots by Salmon in the 48th minute.  Ten minutes later Whitley Bay took the lead, thanks to lax defending.  A corner was sent into the Ashington box and Whitley No. 9 had a clear header that he planted into the net.

They should have made it 2-0 in the 66th minute when substitute Andrei Ardelean got behind the Ashington defence and took the ball into the box before being brought down by Grant, but Wright saw his penalty kick blocked by Grant.

In the second minute of added time Ashington had one final chance to score when Perez tried to get on the end of a through ball, but Lister came racing out to just beat him to the ball.  It wasn’t a great game.  The winner was probably the weather.

Mike Snowdon

Northallerton Town 2 Redcar Athletic 0 – Ebac Northern League Division Two

You might need to be sitting down for this, but for the first time this season I managed to witness a Northallerton Town win – at the sixth time of asking.  I was garnishing something of a Jonah reputation, especially with their chairman Peter Young, after witnessing two draws and three defeats so far this season.

It was a fully deserved victory too.

They started positively and were 1-0 up in the 7th minute when Richie Walker’s put the ball through  to Chris Emms who scored with a crisp finish, to round off the first real attack of the game.

In the 25th minute Walker launched the ball into the goal mouth from close to the right touchline, forcing Redcar keeper Will Lawrence to dive backwards to make the save.

It took Redcar almost half an hour to make any headway going the other way and show a bit more purpose to their play.  They’d spent quite a lot of their time up until then passing the ball sideways and backwards.  Their play certainly lacked drive and penetration.  Too many of their long balls into the Northallerton box also seemed to be kicked in hope than with any great precision.

Their best bit of individual skill came in the 42nd minute when Northallerton’s Dale Elgie sent Walker away into promising space at the edge of the Redcar box, only for the full back Lee Farrington to put in a well-timed tackle before Walker could get a shot away.

Just like the first half, Northallerton started the stronger in the second half, while Redcar were finding the Town defence a tough nut to crack.  They were given a helping hand in the 58th minute when Town captain Dan Jones was sent off for a second yellow card.

But they couldn’t make the extra man count.  A high ball into the box by Jordan Rivis caused problems for the Northallerton defence in the 73rd minute and five minutes later one of their best attacks was stopped in its tracks when substitute Sam Calvert was judged to have handled the ball on the edge of the box.

For the last 7-8 minutes of the Redcar pushed forward with more determination and more bodies as they tried to find an equaliser, but as they pressed forward it was Northallerton who bagged the next goal and secured the win.  Town substitute Ryan McKendry deserves most of the credit for the goal:  he won the ball back off a Redcar defender close to the visitors’ corner flag, got round another Redcar defender and set Northallerton No. 9 Nick Martin up with a cross that the striker side-footed in.

The goal capped the usual lazy as a bee performance by Martin who had to battle hard after Jones’ dismissal as Northallerton pulled more men back into midfield and defence, leaving him somewhat and understandably isolated.

In the 6th minute of added time Northallerton almost got a third as Redcar pushed just about everyone forward.  Town’s Damon Reaks got behind Redcar No. 5 Joe Bennett and raced towards goal only for the defender to put a great tackle in to whip the ball away.

A win sealed.  An albatross off the neck.  Back on Mr Young’s Christmas card list (For now anyway.  We’ve still got the EA Cup Final to go.)

PS – And the winner of the “Trained Observer of the Day” competition was assistant referee Jess Shuker who spotted that Dan Jones had donned a tracksuit top after being sent off and was trying to get in the dugout.  What’s even more commendable was that she was on the opposite side of the pitch too.  He was duly sent to the sidelines to watch the rest of the game.

Mike “The Jonah” Snowdon