AND THE MAN OF THE MATCH IS…
Northallerton Town 0 West Auckland 3 – Ebac Northern League Division One:
It doesn’t take the wisdom of Solomon to pick out the Man of the Match* from this encounter – step forward West Auckland No. 11 Cieran Jackson.
After a first half with not much to choose between the two teams (with Northallerton Town marginally edging it), Jackson was pivotal in West’s emphatic second half performance.
56th minute: Jackson weaved his way through a couple of defenders before crossing the ball into the heart of the area where Jordan Blinco had a simple tap in from a couple of feet away from the goal. The goal gave West the impetus, tipping the balance of play their way for most of the rest of the match.
77th minute – provider turns finisher; Corey Nicholson turned the ball into Jackson’s path and the No. 11 hit a belter from an acute angle into the top of the opposite corner of the goal.
86th minute – a shot by Jackson forced a diving save by Northallerton keeper Sam Taylor but the ball fell to Ryan Wright who applied the finishing touch, chipping the ball over Taylor.
In fairness, the 3-0 scoreline was harsh on Northallerton Town who, in the first half, had played the better football but both team’s defences were well on top in the opening 45 minutes, despite the busy, high tempo pace set by both sides, with plenty one-touch-and-pass football. West’s battle-hardened defender Jamie Harwood was particularly impressive.
Before West’s first goal, Northallerton came close to taking the lead when Stephen Jackson got past a defender with a neat flick, with his cross just out of the reach of David Parker as he slid into the goalmouth.
With the score at 0-1, Northallerton were only denied for a second time by an excellent sliding interception by Matthew Wade, stopping a dangerous cross by Northallerton sub Jack Stapley from reaching a couple of attackers who were running on goal.
Stapley’s introduction gave the home team a spark but they couldn’t match West Auckland’s clinical moves and finishes in the second half.
PS: Due to injuries, suspensions and holidays, West Auckland only had one substitute. Fortunately for them, they didn’t need any more – they had a one-man wrecking crew in Mr Jackson.
(*In Wednesday’s blog, I said I tend to shy away from Man of the Match awards, but Jackson’s performance didn’t leave me with many other options.)