THORNABY WIN – PIKES SHOW METTLE
Thornaby 1 Pickering Town 0 – Ebac Northern League Division One:
A much-needed win and three points for bottom of the table Thornaby, but The Pikes showed plenty of character and mettle and they could well have snatched a point.
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.)