FIRST HALF JUST THE OPENING COURSE
A pretty decent first half turned into an absolute belter of a second half at Perth Green.
The tone was set in the opening minutes when a Jonathan Hirst shot hit the left hand post. Not content to leave it there, he then hit the right hand post in the 16th minute with another strike. In between those chances, Bedlington had made a good start of their own, pushing Jarrow back on the defensive for most of the first 10 minutes.
They almost took the lead in the 31st minute when a Bradley Higgins shot was saved by Jarrow keeper Jak Wells as the No. 1 fell backwards but managed to keep the ball out with his legs. Eight minutes later they swept into the lead with the best move of the half, finished off by Higgins playing the ball across to John Sherlock who produced an assured strike.
The opening 45 minutes were just for starters.
Jarrow grabbed the initiative from the off in the second half, playing with more energy and purpose and they were level in the 52nd minute when Jonathan Higham was fouled just inside the area, with Kris Allen converting the spot kick. Three minutes later Jonathan Wightman chipped the ball over Cameron Armstrong in the Terriers goal, with Kyle Dobson clearing it off the line.
From then on in, we were treated to goal and chance after goal and chance.
In the 64th minute, Hirst pulled the ball across to Higham, with his shot Stephen Gibson saving an almost certain goal with a sliding tackle, just as the No. 9 hit the ball.
67th minute: A Bedlington corner flicked on by Stephen Gibson and headed in by Higgins, with no Jarrow players picking up either of the Terriers men.
68th minute: A long free kick from the left found Higgins and his first time volley found Sherlock and his first time volley gave Wells no chance and all of a sudden it was 1-3. After Jarrow’s promising start to the half, the game had been turned on its head in the space of a couple of minutes. But we were far from done.
In the 72nd minute Jarrow strung a series of passes together, with the ball eventually pushed out to Hirst who threaded the ball through the channel to Higham who pulled the ball across the box for Jonathon Evans to volley in. From a couple of goals down, Jarrow were up and running again.
Seconds later Armstrong snuffed out another Jarrow attack as Higham turned in the box – the keeper timed his tackle perfectly to clear the danger just before making contact with the Jarrow No. 9 as he was about to shoot. Higham got his revenge in the 76th minute. Faced with three Bedlington defenders, he feinted to go one way then the other before planting the ball in the top left hand corner of the goal. 3-3 and we were all square.
There was still time for Jarrow’s Aidan McGee to hit the post with another shot. And then, with two minutes to go a flurry of chances for Jarrow and great defending by Bedlington: shots by Wightman and Hirst blocked with sliding blocks and then a Darryll Donnelly header cleared off the line by Ian Herron.
It was anything but an end-of-season canter by the teams. The teams produced the best game I’ve seen for weeks, a game that included some of the best long passes witnessed in either division over that time too.
And finally, plaudits to the ground staff at Perth Green. The pitch is one of the best in the league, and despite all the games that have been played on it, it was still in immaculate condition.