Bedlington Terriers and Northallerton Town produced one of the best second division matches I’ve seen.

The defending in this 11-goal extravaganza left a lot to be desired, and we absolutely loved it.  There could easily have been a few more goals too, with some near misses.

Last season Northallerton were just pipped for promotion and were expected to be among the front-runners to make the step up this season.  Meanwhile Bedlington struggled for most of last season.  It’s the first time I’ve seen them this season.  This team is clearly a vast improvement.

It didn’t take long for the goals to start flowing.

5” – Dylan Williamson has a leg kicked out from under him in the box.  Ian Herron strikes a confident penalty to make it 1-0.

8” – Route One:  a long kick out by Northallerton keeper Lewis McDonald straight to No. 9 Nick Martin who gets goal side of the defence, beats Terriers keeper Craig Whinham to the ball and knocks it in.  1-1.

12” – A cross from the right by Bedlington’s John Sherlock just evades Cameron Fenton and the Terriers back four before being hammered home with a first time shot by Williamson making a far post run and making it 2-1.

It was a great start to a open, attacking game.  We had to wait all of 15 minutes for the next goal.

27” – Another Bedlington ball in from the right, missing the defenders but this time it was Sherlock making the far post run, taking a touch and slotting it past McDonald. 3-1.

It had been a brisk and busy game and that pace didn’t let up, with both teams looking to play positive football.  The only downside for the visitors was that their defence looked unsure of themselves.  At the other end they had three opportunities to make in-roads into Bedlington’s lead.

Kerry Hedley sent over a cross but none of the three Town attackers took a gamble and attacked the space between the defenders and Whinham.  Chris Dickinson then only just missed the target with a shot with the outside of his right boot.  They came closest in the 39th minute with another long ball by McDonald.  Martin put Terriers centre back Adam McGuinness under pressure, forcing him to head the ball back to his own goal.  It went past Whinham, hit the post and trickled back out from the line.

42” – They finally convert a chance.  A poor back pass by Herron is intercepted by Martin who takes it round Whinham and finds the gap between keeper and post. 3-2.  Half time.

The first chance of the second half fell to Northallerton too, with a Martin shot cleared off the line by Steve Gibson, but Terriers pulled two goals clear again minutes later.

55” – A well delivered cross by Williamson is bundled in at the far post by Fenton.  4-2.  It was a set back for the visitors who had started the second half the better of the two sides.  Four minutes later Bedlington were close to scoring a fifth when Kevin Westphal sees a shot come back off the bar.

62” – A surging run down the right by Williamson is finished off with a ball into Fenton who thumps it into the net. 5-2.  The goal leaves Northallerton looking shell shocked.  It took them almost 10 minutes to regain their poise.

It was Bedlington’s best spell of the match.  They were playing some impressive football with well-constructed attacks, involving intelligent runs and passes.

69” – Northallerton mount a comeback.  Chris Emms is given all the space he wants to make a 40-yard run through the Bedlington half.  He has several chances to shoot but keeps turning round defenders.  Finally, on the edge of the box, he pulls the trigger and finds the corner of the goal with a great solo effort. 5-3.

70” – Hedley is given too much space by the Bedlington defence and he hits a beaut of a shot, for the second quality goal by Northallerton within seconds of each other.  5-4.

With 15 minutes to go, Terriers manager David Leightley sent on a substitute and told his team to keep it tight.  Things didn’t quite go according to plan – Northallerton squandered a good chance to make it 5-5 and the Terriers still had two more goals in them:

79” – Martin passes the ball sideways to Dickinson, presenting his team mate with the chance to strike, but he takes too long on the ball, allowing the defenders to get back in numbers and block his shot.

84” – Luck played a part in the 10th goal, with a Northallerton pass out of defence hitting referee Reece Scott.  Fenton seized his chance and hit a screamer, giving McDonald no chance.  6-4.

88” – Kevin Westphal plays a one-two with Fenton before taking the ball back from the No. 9 and scoring with another superb strike.  7-4.

It was a fitting end to the tremendous entertainment put on by both teams.

Sometimes you make bad decisions about which game to go to.  Last night wasn’t one of those occasions.  Cheers lads, a cracker.

PS – There were 46 spectators at the game.  On this showing, the people of Bedlington are missing a treat.  Time to get behind the team.

Bedlington Terriers 7 Northallerton Town 4 – Ebac Northern League Division Two

Mike Snowdon