THORNABY WIN – PIKES SHOW METTLE
Thornaby 1 Pickering Town 0 – Ebac Northern League Division One:
The game took quite a while to get going, with both teams trying to get the measure of the other. For 20 minutes there were only one shot each – by Thornaby’s Joey Smith and Pickering’s left back James Ward – both easily taken by the keepers. It wasn’t a stodgy start; it just lacked sparkle, with most of the play between the two boxes.
Thornaby left back George Priest changed all that with the only goal of the game in the 25th minute. Thornaby worked the ball across to the left where Priest hit a swerving shot that was hit cleanly, crisply and past Pikes keeper Quinaceo Hunt. Pickering’s best opening of the half came in the 33rd minute: Kieran Grist got a touch on an attempted clearance, deflecting the ball to No. 9 MacKenzie Dicicco only for the striker to pull his shot wide.
Four minutes later the visitors were dealt a body blow – Brad Mills sent off for a foul on Priest. It was certainly a mis-timed tackle that caught the left back on the shin, but it could easily have been a yellow rather than a red.
The second half saw Thornaby push Pickering back, with the visitors packing their defence and relying on quick counter-attacks by Dicicco, Grist and Liam Love. Quarter of an hour into the half, Joe Pickett came close to doubling Thornaby’s lead, forcing his way through the Pickering defence before prodding the ball goalwards, with the strike coming back off the bar.
A couple of minutes later, the tide started to turn. Pickering picked up the pace and started attacking with more men pushed forward in search of an equaliser. A quick ball up forward found Dicicco who was pulled back, but he managed to shrug off the challenge (with a good advantage played by the referee), run forward and round keeper Robert Dean but could only hit the ball into the side netting.
It heralded their best spell of the match. A free kick Wayne Brooksby was met with a header by Grist, forcing a save by Dean who tipped the ball over the bar. That save was matched at the other end when Hunt dived bravely at the feet of Thornaby sub Connor Smith as he ran into the box.
There were positives for both teams to take away from the game.
(PS – I tend to shy away from Man of the Match mentions, but Pickering striker MacKenzie Dicicco couldn’t have given more to the cause.)
Esh Winning 1 Billingham Syntonia 1 – Ebac Northern League Division Two:
Recent league form by these teams has been contrasting, to say the least. Esh Winning came into the game on the back of three wins, while they Synners had lost four on the bounce – albeit some of the games dating back to October.
As so often happens, a controversial moment at one end was quickly followed by a goal at the other. Initially, Esh had to deal with some early Synners pressure but then they started to pose more of a threat. Striker Joe Bates hit a half-volley that was blocked by Synners right back Alfie Simpson. A minute later Bates got on the end of an excellent through ball by Cobi Jones. The No. 9 took his time before shooting, only to see the ball rebound back out off the inside of the post.
At the other end, most Synners attacks floundered on the edge of the Esh box. Their best two attacks came halfway through the half. Liam Travers found Danny Earl wide right and Esh keeper Jak Wells was able to grab his cross before it reached Matthew Willshaw. Willshaw then had a shot stopped by Esh defender Liam Colledge.
In the 28th minute a Synners defender was lucky to get away with a clip on Bates just outside the box as the striker got past him and was about to get a clear run at goal. He followed that up with a shot across the Synners goal.
Both goals then came in a 10-minute spell towards the end of the half, with controversy surrounding the first. There was contact between Synners defender Connor Johnson and Bates as the Esh player ran into the box. The referee waved appeals for a penalty away and on the counter attack, Synners got the ball to Willshaw who had plenty of time to curl the ball round Wells and into the net.
(For what it’s worth, I thought the ref should have given a free kick and booking for the 28th minute incident but got the second decision right – it looked like a solid shoulder-to-shoulder challenge. Others disagreed.)
With the half ebbing away, Esh captain Jonny Swift guided a free kick on the left past Synners keeper Ben Fairless and into the net, clattered into for his troubles too.
As in the first half, Synners got off to the better start in the second. Swift made a crucial interception of a Ash Lavan cross before a Synners striker could connect with it and then Willshaw and sub Joshua Hatton couldn’t get much power or placement in shots.
Esh then started to gain the upper hand. Full back Andy Taylor hit a dipping shot that Fairless had to scramble away round the near post. Bates hit a cross across the face of the Synners goal that Willian Alves Olimpio was within a whisker of connecting with and scoring.
Esh had most of the late pressure. A strong run allowed Lewis Heap to find Reece Wilkinson overlapping on the right and his cross/shot skimmed just over the bar and then Bates’ final effort was well off target. With only minutes to go, Synners sub Elliot Duff saw a header loop over the bar.
It finished all square, ending the teams’ very different run of form.
Whickham 4-1 Heaton Stannington – Ebac Northern League Division One
Whickham started the better of the two sides, however Heaton took control of the game once they went ahead – Jordan Lashley intercepting a loose pass before tapping home into an empty net.
The hosts came close to an equaliser just before the break when Jamie Dunn’s goal-bound header was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Thomas Flynn.
Whickham levelled the game on the stroke of half time. A long ball forward was flicked on by Dunn into the path of Kyle Patton who placed his effort beyond Flynn.
Both sides had chances to take the lead just after the break – Nathan Greenwood fired just wide before Louis Anderson sent his shot wide of the post.
The hosts took the lead just after the hour mark – Greenwood picked up the ball out wide before cutting inside and firing into the bottom corner. He added his second and Whickham’s third just 10 minutes later. The winger brilliantly turned his man on the edge of the area before firing the ball beyond Flynn.
Greenwood sealed the game and completed his hat-trick in the last minute of stoppage time on the counter attack as he slid the ball into the net.
Whickham travel to Newcastle Benfield in their next game, whilst Heaton Stannington host Crook Town.
Whitley Bay 1 Seaham Red Star 0 – Ebac Northern League Division One:
For once, football and the result weren’t the most important part of last night. It was a night to remember Derek Breakwell – Whitley Bay secretary and my colleague on the League Management Committee – who passed away earlier this month. A night for a minute’s applause before kick-off, players wearing black arm bands and the proceeds of programme sales going to Cancer Research UK.
He was a stalwart of the club as well as the league and the perfect example of volunteers in non-league football up and down the country.
No doubt he’d have been delighted with the three points but, more importantly, proud of the grit and determination his team showed, especially in the second half. They needed it.
For the first half Seaham were the better team, while Whitley Bay looked out of synch. Red Star should have taken the lead in the 9th minute. Joe Hailes drilled a shot that came back off the post straight to Bradley Chisholm, but it came to him so quickly he couldn’t control his shot, which went wide with him only a couple of feet from goal. Minutes later, the two Red Star players linked up again – Hailes hitting a cross to the near post but Chisholm couldn’t force the ball past Bay keeper Pat Nash.
Red Star kept pressing – Danny Sayer dragging a shot wide left, Nash getting a touch to a Thomas Bott shot and then Nathan O’Neill pulling a shot across the goal. Their last chance fell to O’Neill who tried to lob the keeper after intercepting a back header by a defender, but he put the ball well over the bar.
Meanwhile, Bay’s first decent shot came in the 37th minute when Ben Richardson hit the ball straight at Seaham keeper Andy Jennison. Malcolm Morien pushed the ball through to Harvey Neary but the Seaham defence was able to close him down before he could shoot and then Morien pulled a shot wide in the closing minutes of the half.
The home team were on the back foot from the off at the start of the second half – Cameron Brewis sent off for a tackle on Sayer.
A fellow groundhopper described the first half as niggly. There were certainly plenty of fouls peppered across the whole game. And it was a foul that ultimately decided the match – Daryll Donnelly leaning on a Bay attacker in the area. The referee’s assistant flagged for a foul immediately and after consulting with him, the referee awarded the spot kick, converted by Morien.
For Red Star, right back Jordan Patterson produced their best shots, hitting a first time shot at Nash and then thumping a pile driver that Bay No. 5 Scott Lowery bravely got his head to. Patterson’s third effort shaved the outside of the right hand post.
But despite being down to 10 men, Whitley Bay launched as many attacks as the visitors and kept pushing forward – Morien with a free kick sent wide left, Adam Hutchinon met a free kick with a header that flashed across the goal and then Jackson Ward tried to chip Jennison who was able to grab the ball.
Deep into time added on, Red Star substitute Bailey Judson was sent off after catching a Whitley Bay player on the shin, with the final chance falling to Whitley Bay – Hutchinson winning possession before running at the Red Star goal and finding Dan Lister who fired the ball wide.
A win for Whitley Bay. A win for Derek.
If you’ve got some spare cash, please make a donation to UK Cancer Research.
Willington 1 Brandon United 2 – Ebac Northern League Division Two:
In horse racing parlance the going was heavy. Very heavy.
The recent bad weather had done the pitch no favours at all, with patches very claggy underfoot, making runs and passes a challenge for the teams. It wasn’t a night for elegant football.
Willington took an early lead – Kieron Gellatley with a well weighted cross that was met by No. 9 Luke Smithyman who was given all the time and space he needed to choose his spot and plant a header into the Brandon net.
The game then got bogged down into a bit of a scrap until Brandon found an equaliser in the 25th minute at the third time of asking. The ball was sent into the Willington area where Kobe Bewicke had his first shot blocked. Team mate Callum Oldfield picked up the rebound and his shot was well saved by keeper Harvey Gunn. In turn his shot rebounded back to Bewicke and he made no mistake in finding the net to make it 1-1.
The visitors had the upper hand for the rest of the half. Adam Knowles sent a shot over the bar and then Connor Ward tried to score with an audacious effort – scooping the ball over his head with both feet as he lay on the ground on the six yard line, but it was Wilington sub Jack Evans who came closest to scoring on the stroke of half-time, taking the ball round a defender and keeper Aaron Skelton only to put the ball into the side netting.
It was more of the same in the second half – with Brandon with most of the possession and attacks without testing Gunn in the Willington goal until the 70th minute when they worked the winner. Knowles broke down the right before passing the ball across to Drew Lake who drilled it past Gunn.
Despite more attacks, the visitors couldn’t find a third. Willington defender Robert O’Connor slid in with a perfectly timed tackle just as Lake was about to shoot; Gunn pushed away a Scott Oldfield shot; and Aaron Willoughby delivered a couple of crosses but team mates couldn’t convert them.