Crook Town 2 Penrith 1 – Ebac Northern League Division One:

Keepers Ronan Makepeace and Aaron Taylor played crucial parts in a game between two teams sitting perilously close at the wrong end of the table.

And the quality of the first half reflected their league positions – lacklustre, with too many long balls punted up the field.  There wasn’t too much to write home about (or write a blog about).

In the 4th minute Crook winger Craig Moody crossed the ball to Kai Hewitson whose shot was stopped with a reflex save by Penrith keeper Taylor.  It took the visitors half an hour to create a decent chance:  Luke Hunter attacking down the left, with his cross evading team mates, with the ball falling back to him and his follow-up shot taken by Makepeace at the near post.

The half closed in dramatic fashion.  Makepeace produced a good save to parry another Hunter shot, but the ball fell straight to Jonny Murray with his shot forcing another excellent save by the keeper only for the ball to ricochet off Murray and into the net.  It was tough luck on the Crook keeper and a lucky break for Penrith.

The Bonny Blues finished the half strongly – Adam Main with a 25-yard shot that went just wide left and Hunter hitting the post with a shot over the shoulder on the turn (although it would have been chalked offside by a team mate had he found the back of the net).

The second half was much more spicey.

Penrith made the stronger start to the second half but Crook levelled the scores in the 61st minute with the best goal of the match.  Reece Brown threaded the ball through the Penrith defence, finding Craig Moody who deftly curled the ball round Taylor and in.

Taylor’s next involvement handed the momentum to Crook.  A ball was sent down the the Crook right wing, with Crook sub Archie Leonard and Taylor both racing to get to it first.  Taylor lost the race, clattered into Leonard and was shown a straight red for the challenge.  Apart from going down to 10 men, Penrith put Murray in goal, depleting them of their attacking options.

It wasn’t quite backs to the wall for Penrith, but Crook took the game to the visitors with a couple of chances for Hewitson and it was the No. 9 who was credited with the winning goal in the 79th minute, getting on the end of a Zack Bewley cross that hit Penrith defender Matthew Coombe before it crossed the line.

Bewley continued to be the main source of attacking options, sending over a couple of crosses that team mates could only hit wide and high.  The referee was kept busy right to the end:  Crook No. 4 Dan Mitton sent off for a second yellow card and Penrith defender Joshua Crews sin binned, both in time added on.

Mike Snowdon