Horden CW 1 Billingham Synthonia 0 – Ebac Northern League Division Two:

When you’re battling for promotion, it’s points rather than the quality of the win that’s important.  Horden can and will play much better than this game but it was three points in the bag in a promotion race that is likely to go down to the wire.

The Synners, meanwhile, will no doubt be frustrated by their afternoon’s work.  Their second half performance was good enough to have earned them a draw.  They came close, just not close enough.

It was Horden who were on top for the first half but neither side really clicked in a game that never got faster than third gear.  For more than 10 minutes they traded half chances:  Horden No. 11 Liam Wright sending over a cross out of the reach of team mates and his opposite number – Stevie Johnson – taking the ball across the Horden 18-yard line but was shepherded away before he could get a shot off.  Both No. 11s were the main attacking outlets.

The home team crafted more openings but their final ball wasn’t precise enough and their shots didn’t trouble Synners keeper Ben Fairless.  In the closing minutes of the half they looked more dangerous.  Wright and No. 9 Ross Kidson had back-to-back shots blocked by Synners defenders Cam Wilson and Connor Johnson; Barney Dobinson then beat the offside trap, with his shot stopped with his leg by Johnson.

They found the back of the net with the seconds ticking away before the half-time whistle.  They finally got their last ball right:  Kieran Campbell produced the perfect delivery to the far post where Kidson was on hand  to apply the finishing touch.

It was a different story in the second half.  The Synners started brighter and more positive than their play in the first half.  Ash Lavan made a long run through the Horden midfield before passing to Danny Earl, only for the No. 9 to spoon his shot high.  Jack Caygill tried to find Johnson but Horden keeper Craig Foster raced out of his area to clear his lines.  Caygill and Johnson then combined again, with Johnson hitting the ball over the Horden bar.

Their “came close but not close enough” moment came in the 59th minute with their best move of the match that was finished off with Johnson hitting a shot that cannoned off the post.

It took Horden more than 20 minutes into the half before they showed much, with Kidson hitting their first shot but the effort was always going wide.  They also had the last two chances of the game:  Dobinson hitting a volley over the bar and then Wright pulling his shot a foot or two wide left.

Horden play Division Two leaders Boro Rangers twice in April in what should be a fascinating climax of the season.

Mike Snowdon