Thornaby 2 Billingham Town 1 – Ebac Northern League Division Two

There were three clear nominations for man-of-the-match from this top of the table derby match:

Nomination One:  Thornaby keeper James Dawson.

Nomination Two:  Thornaby keeper James Dawson.  And….wait for it, wait for it….

Nomination Three: Thornaby keeper James Dawson.

He had a bit of a good ‘un.

He single-handedly kept Thornaby in the game in the first half.  Three times Billy Town winger Matthew Robinson had excellent chances to score and three times Dawson produced great saves to thwart him in the 14th, 19th and 41st minute.

He kept the best to last.  Thornaby were seconds away from a famous win when left back Jordan Wilson (who up until then had an excellent game) had a wild swing at the ball only to clatter into Dan Flounders in the box to concede a penalty.

Billy Town sub Ash Lavan stepped up to take the spot kick, hit it low to his left and decently place just inside the post, only for Dawson to pull off a fantastic diving save to secure the win.  Understandably he was mobbed by his team-mates.

The day belonged to him, so I’ll keep the rest fairly brief.

In the first half Thornaby relied several times on the long ball up to Kyran Clark and Ian Ward.  It bore fruit in the 25th minute when Clark knocked it back to Jack Bailey who took a moment to choose his spot and planted it in a tight gap between Town keeper Lewis McDonald and the post.

Billingham’s equaliser was just as precise.  Elliott Beddow latched on to a through ball, composed himself before rolling it under Dawson and into the net.

Thornaby re-took the lead in the 63rd minute when Town captain Lee Moore tripped Kurtis Howes as the No. 11 ran into the box.  Howes stepped up to take the penalty himself.  McDonald got a touch to it as he dived to his left but he couldn’t keep it out.

Thornaby showed a lot more purpose than Billingham in the second half and deserved to take the lead, but they only have one man to thank that they held on to it.

Take a bow, James.

Thornaby leap-frog Billingham Town to go top of the second division.  Town have a game in hand and are a point behind, but the title race has got very, very interesting.

(And finally, everyone knows about the “two men and a dog” jibe about non-league football.  It was somewhat different at Teesdale Park yesterday.  There was a great crowd of 480 spectators, which included two chickens.  I shall refrain from imposing dreadful chicken-related puns on you.)

Mike Snowdon