LATE DRAMA IN HISTORIC GAME

Redcar Town 2 Redcar Athletic 2 (Town win 4-3 on penalties) – North Riding Senior Cup:

A historic match turned into a dramatic cup tie thanks to late, late drama, with the spoils eventually going to Town.

It was the first time the two teams had played each other in a competitive match and I suspect the bumper crowd of more than 600 people will be talking about the game for quite some time.

The action started early, with Town taking the lead in the 11th minute after getting off to the better start.  A corner found Kurtis Howes at the far post, the No. 11 skipped past one defender before placing the ball past another defender and the keeper.

Minutes later, Howes hit a first-time half volley over the bar with clear sight of goal.  He was then within a whisker of connecting with another corner as he made a run into the six yard box as both he and Town made the early running.

Athletic started to find their feet in the last 20 minutes of the half but they were unable to capitalise despite most of the play in Town’s half.  Their best chance fell to Brandon Holdsworth who connected with a Mason McNeill cross but curled his first time shot wide.

The visitors picked up where they left off at the end of the first half and drew level six minutes after the re-start.  A corner sailed over to the far post where Ben Dale was on hand to nod it over the line.

McNeill and Town No. 9 Carl Williams then traded shots that were deflected for corners, but overall Athletic were on top, with Town unable to repeat the quality of their passes and moves of the first half.  It wasn’t one-way traffic but the visitors certainly had the upper hand.  Town started to string a couple of attacks together  in the last 15 minutes.

Dale put in a well-timed tackle just as Town sub Jack Chapman was lining up a shot and then Williams hit an acrobatic overhead shot that was blocked by a defender, but it looked as though we were heading for a penalty shoot-out.  Town had other ideas.

In the 90th minute Athletic keeper Jack Norton pulled off two great back-to-back saves but Town sub Joe Dixon picked up the loose ball from the second to thread a shot into the net.  Surely the goal had sealed a Town win?

Athletic had their own ideas too.  Town full back Sam Wheatley caught Isaac Walker as he tried to clear the ball from the home area and referee Jonathan Gill pointed to the spot.  Walker coolly tucked the spot kick away.  Right, surely that’ll be it before the penalty shoot-out?  Not a bit of it.

In the dying seconds, Town launched a lightning quick counter attack, with three attackers up against one defender.  Williams squared the ball to Howes only for Norton to pull off another outstanding save to keep his side in the cup tie which eventually went to the shoot-out.

Norton was saint turned sinner when he took Athletic’s second spot kick only to chip the ball on to the bar.  Team mate Matthew Garbutt had his penalty saved by Town keeper Mike Algie and Town penalties by Nico Weatherald, Williams, Josh Elcoate and Dixon sealed the famous victory, despite Joe Bennett chipping his spot kick over.

An historic match had turned into a memorable one.

PS – after the loss, Athletic announced that they had “parted company” with manager Steve Connolly.

PPS – it was the only game involving our teams in county cup matches to survive the weather – with huge credit going to the ground staff at the Vibrant Doors Stadium.  The pitch looked perfect.

Mike Snowdon