Newton Aycliffe vs Guisborough Town – 17/12/2016

Newton Aycliffe: 1 – Pentoney, 2 – Marley, 3 – Harrison, 4 – Brown, 5 – Hitton, 6 – James Oliver, 7 – Nicholson, 8 – Trotter, 9 – Boagey, 10 – Owens, 11 – Gray, 12 – Brassel, 14 – Jack Oliver, 15 Mellanby, 16 – Wood, 17 – Wilson.

Guisborough Town: 1 – Dawson, 2 – Bligh, 3 – McAvoy, 4 – Roddam, 5 – McPhillips, 6 – Bythway, 7 – Orritt, 8 – Wood, 9 – Onions, 10 – McNeill, 11 – Blake, 12 – Livingstone, 14 – Roberts, 15 – Scott, 16 – Lovatt, 17 – Goldsack.

Today’s game choice, as determined by a Twitter poll, was Newton Aycliffe at home to Guisborough. Encouraged to go to witness the ‘rebirth’ of Newton Aycliffe following recent events that lead to the dismissal of the previous manager and some of the playing staff, I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I turned up at Moore Lane.

On arrival to the ground, I was greeted with a mince pie, which I absolutely needed, and it went down a treat! I even managed to squeeze in a few chats with some of the club staff and supporters who were all looking forward to what we were hoping would be a cracking game.

Onto kick off, and Newton Aycliffe were in their dark blue home kit. Guisborough were in their purple kit. And it was Guisborough who started the livelier.

In just the second minute, Guisborough’s number 10, Mason McNeill, out battled Aycliffe’s Alan Harrison, getting himself 1 on 1 with the opposing keeper, Pentoney. After taking a few smart touches, McNeill coolly finished under the outrushing goalkeeper to put the away team 1-0 up very early on.

After the opening goal, Aycliffe started to get back into the game. Although Guisborough’s number 8, Gary Wood, continued to show great strength and power to push Guisborough into the attacking third, nothing materialised as Aycliffe managed to stand strong. At this point, the game became very even, with both teams counteracting any moves the other team attempted.

Aycliffe’s first chance fell to their number 7, Nicholson. Managing to use his strength to get round Guisborough’s number 3, Dylan McAvoy, Nicholson tamely shot at the Guisborough goalkeeper, James Dawson, who saved easily. The next chance of the game also fell to Aycliffe, but this time to their number 10 and new captain, Jamie Owens. A great solo run allowed him to get a shot away, although this was also straight at James Dawson, who held the shot at the second attempt.

Following a bit of attacking Aycliffe pressure, Guisborough’s number 5, Liam McPhillips, picked up the ball in his own half. McPhillips played a clever ball over the top to his attacking counterpart, McNeill, who managed to strike the crossbar with a side footed shot after a run past the Aycliffe defence.

In the 27th minute, Ayecliffe’s Jamie Owens again caused Guisborough more problems. After making a darting run leaving the Guisborough midfield standing, Owens cut inside and whistled a shot, from just outside the area, just past the far post. Aycliffe showing a lot more attacking intent at this point and, if it continued, it was only a matter of time before they scored.

And so, in the 30th minute, as Aycliffe sustained their attacking pressure, the ball, again, fell to Jamie Owens. As he had done previously, the Aycliffe captain very smartly cut inside, and beautifully shot with the outside of his boot into the bottom left corner of James Dawson’s goal. Just out of the reach of the goalkeeper, the ball nestled in the back of the net, equalising for the home team. The first goal of the Mellanby / Browne tenure, it definitely meant a lot to the players, staff and supporters alike.

Shortly afterwards, Aycliffe managed to make it 2-1. Aycliffe’s Marley received the ball just on the edge of the area, and brilliantly took a first time shot that looped over James Dawson and into the top right corner. A shot that looked unstoppable, it was jubilantly celebrated by all the Aycliffe players, who’d all managed to capitalise on some great, consistent attacking play.

After the Aycliffe turnaround, Guisborough had slowly started getting back into it, with some smart, passing play. That was until a miscommunication between the two Guisborough defenders, Liam McPhillips and Bythway. An innocent Aycliffe ball over the top was called for by both players, who both went for the ball, and clattered into each other in the process. A break in play followed as McPhillips received treatment for a cut and bleed received when he went for the ball.

Taking advantage of Guisborough’s number 5 not being on the pitch, Aycliffe’s Zak Boagey made a smart run into the area, and managed to get off a shot towards the Guisborough goal. Parried by James Dawson, the ball fell to the Aycliffe number 8, Trotter, who calmly side footed the saved shot into the goal, giving Aycliffe a 3-1 lead just before half time.

At this point, it was very hard to believe that Aycliffe had gone through such a dramatic change in the last week, having appointed a new management duo, and signing 11 new players. The team had taken a commanding lead, and one they didn’t look like they’d let slip in the second half, but did it by playing some very smart Football.

And it was Aycliffe who continued to attack as the second half got underway. It was the main man again, Jamie Owens, who forced the first save of the half. Another solo run, jinking past the defence, forced a simple enough save from James Dawson, who’d definitely been the busier of the two goalkeepers thus far.

Obviously being woken up by the amount of defending they’d done so far, Guisborough started to come to life with long periods of attacking play, but never managing to get any clear cut chances. Aycliffe continued to dig in, and cleared anything that came their way to maintain their two goal advantage.

That was until the 72nd minute. A rather aimless overhead kick / pass was misjudged by the Aycliffe defence and fell kindly to Guisborough substitute, number 14 Steve Roberts, who finished smartly into the bottom right corner, out of the reach of the goalkeeper, Pentoney, making it 3-2 and sparking an exciting end to the game.

In the closing of the game, Guisborough definitely had more of the possession, but Aycliffe continued to have as many bodies back as possible, and created an unbreakable wall to maintain their one goal lead.

Frustrating for the Guisborough players as Aycliffe held the ball whenever they received it, a late tackle from Guisborough’s Dave Onions sparked a mass surrounding of the referee, as his line running colleagues also joined him on the pitch. I didn’t quite see anything after the tackle, but both Dave Onions and the Aycliffe left back were dismissed. In my opinion, it wasn’t a red card offence, but I can’t say what happened when the players surrounded the referee, so the red card offence may have been committed then.

All in all, a great game. Maybe not for the travelling Guisborough supporters, but for everyone connected to Newton Aycliffe FC and the neutrals that’d gone along to see a totally new Newton Aycliffe side.

As always, continued good luck to Guisborough Town, who I continue to keep an eye on and always enjoy watching. And good luck to this new Newton Aycliffe side, who’s ‘rebirth’ has started with a bang!

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Stockton Town vs Team Northumbria – 14/12/2016

Stockton Town: 1 – Michael Arthur, 2 – Matthew Garbutt, 3 – Jimmy Ward, 4 – Alan Cossavella, 5 – Adam Nicholson (C), 6 – Tom Coulthard, 7 – Fred Woodhouse, 8 – Max Craggs, 9 – Joe Carter, 10 – Kallum Hannah, 11 – Kevin Hayes, 12 – Tony Johnson, 14 – Joe Scaife Wheatley, 15 – Sonni Coleman, 16 – Chris Dunwell, 17 – Steven Roberts.

Team Northumbria: 1 – Steven Mundy (C), 2 – Nick Green, 3 – Aiden Haywood, 4 – Harry Jewett, 5 – Liam McNamara, 6 – Robert Grainley, 7 – Kevin Carr, 8 – Robert Spence, 9 – Daniel Taggart, 10 – Joel Bradley, 11 – Nathan Evans, 12 – Ben Dieb-Fuller, 14 – Michael Saver, 15 – Alex Barnes, 16 – Scott Gunn, 17 – Gerrard Richardson.

 

After missing last night’s cup fixture between Thornaby and Billingham Synthonia due to work commitments, I chose Stockton’s home league fixture against Team Northumbia as my Football fix. 2nd placed Stockton Town hosted a Team Northumbria side sitting pretty at the top of the Northern League Division 2 with two games in hand.

Team Northumbria’s starting line up boasted a mix of youthful energy and physical experience, as did Stockton’s, so we were definitely in for a great game!

On to kick off, and it was Team Northumbria who started the better of the two teams. Looking calmer on the ball, and knocking the ball around more confidently. The first shot of the game also came to Team Northumbria. Northumbria’s number 11, Nathan Evans, picked the ball up just outside the area and drove a shot towards Stockton’s keeper Michael Arthur, who parried the shot and collected the rebound comfortably.

As Stockton started to settle into the game a bit more, they also started creating some promising chances. Number 8, Max Craggs, fired a low shot at Northumbria’s keeper and Captain Steven Mundy, who parried his shot out for a corner. From the resulting corner, Stockton’s Captain Adam Nicholson headed just over and out for a goal kick.

In the early exchanges, it was Nathan Evans who continued to be the stand out player. In the sixth minute, Evans decided to go alone, taking on four Stockton players, before losing the ball in the area. His desire to run at Stockton Town’s defence was already causing problems, and his teammates were always in position to support him, giving Town a lot of worries early on.

On to the 20th minute, and Stockton got their first real chance of the game. The Team Northumbria defence gave away a soft free kick just outside the area; a perfect position for Max Craggs. Craggs’ shot at goal went just wide. From some angles, it looked like it’d nestled the back of the net. And this was evident as Adam Nicholson prematurely celebrated, only to quickly work out that his teammate hadn’t scored.

And so, in the 28th minute, during a period where both teams were continually attacking but struggling to find a quality shooting opportunity, Northumbria’s Nick Green squeezed a low cross into the area. Controversially, however, as from where we were standing, it looked like the ball had gone out for a throw in. From the cross, Northumbria’s number 9, Daniel Taggart, shot low and hard through the legs of the helpless Michael Arthur, giving the away team the advantage.

Nothing noticeable happened in the remainder of the half, as both teams started to play direct Football, with numerous aerial battles being fought, but not much quality football on show.

As the second half kicked off, it was Stockton Town who started the stronger. After receiving the ball out wide, Stockton’s number 11 Kevin Hayes smartly cut inside and played a very clever through ball to Matthew Garbutt. Garbutt managed to drill a low cross into the area, but was unable to reach any of his teammates. His cross was cleared in front of goal, but probably the best sight of goal Stockton had created thus far.

The game had become very end to end around the 60th minute mark, with both teams looking like they could grab the next goal and, with the score at 1-0, any goal could manipulate the game in either team’s favour. Stockton continued to pile pressure on the Team Northumbria defence, who stood strong and stayed resilient for a long period of the game.

In the 82nd minute, Stockton’s continuous pressure forced a tame back pass from Alex Barnes that was pounced on by Sonni Coleman, who managed to control the ball and finish under Northumbria’s Mundy, levelling the game late on. Maybe a bit unfair on Northumbria, who had played exceptionally well up to this point, but were punished for a momentary lapse in concentration.

Even this late on, it was the type of game that wouldn’t have been right if it ended in a draw. And, from Northumbria’s kick off, it was Stockton who were straight on the attack. A high ball into the area was met by Sonni Coleman, again, who very smartly shot over his head, and over Steven Mundy, giving Stockton a 2-1 lead in the 86th minute, having been losing the game just 5 minutes previously.

The next 10 minutes were all about Stockton who were brilliantly controlling the play, leading the Team Northumbria players to become exceptionally frustrated, but this played into Stockton’s hands even more.

So the game finished 2-1, with Stockton just about edging a relatively tight game, but there were always going to be a few twists in a game between two teams filled with such quality. Good luck to both teams this season, not that you’ll need it if you both keep playing Football like some of the play on show tonight!

Easington Colliery vs Tow Law Town – 08/12/2016

Easington Colliery: Donaldson, Bell, Goodey, Pearson (c), Martin, Atkinson, Hodgson, Kenney, Adamson (Norton, 60′), Renton, Jones – Unused subs: Thompson, Doyle, Freeman, Kerridge.

Tow Law Town: Allan, Collinson, Oldfield, Soulsby, Dixon, Caygill (c), Lee, Whitworth, Dixon, Thear (Mordue, 62′), Barker – Unused subs: Ward, Blades, Shields, Gibson.

My choice of games this week was the 25 or so mile journey up to Easington Colliery. A team I’d never seen play at a ground I’d never been to. Upon arrival, and after purchasing a programme, we went into the club house for a drink, seeing as we’d manage to arrive an hour before kick off!

Flicking through their exceptionally well presented programme, I noticed that three of their last eight games had finished 0-0, a scoreline I hadn’t seen all season. Ever the optimist, I continued to hope for a few goals.

Easington, currently 5th in the league, were playing a Tow Law team sitting in 15th, having struggled to find any sort of form at home. Easington knew that a win would take them joint first in the league, but it was always going to be a struggle against a determined Tow Law side. Easington would be spurred on by the fact they hadn’t lost at home in their last 8 encounters.

Onto the kick off, and Tow Law started the slightly brighter team. The first shot on goal fell to Tow Law’s number 11, Kieran Baker, who managed to shoot high and wide, losing the first Football of the game. As the playing surface had taken a battering from the recent weather, it was clear both teams would struggle to play on the ground, and this was apparent as both teams attempted numerous high balls.

The first real chance fell to Tow Law, and their number 3, Scott Oldfield. Following a pass from his teammate, Liam Whitworth, he shot straight at Easington’s Kyle Donaldson, who parried high and caught well.

In a game that was slowly becoming more bogged down in the midfield, some of the best attacking play came from Easington’s number 2, Chris Bell. Some very strong and clever play from Bell meant Easington could try and get a sight of goal. Something that had previously been elusive, Bell’s hold up play allowed Easington to get into the right positions, although nothing really materialised for the boys in green.

Easington’s only real chance of the half came in the 39th minute. A pacey ball across the face of goal from Easington’s number 3, Aidan Goodey, avoided all Easington attackers, who knew the slightest of touches would have put their team ahead just before half time, and would have definitely changed the way Tow Law approached the game, who continued to defend stubbornly.

The best chance of the half fell to Tow Law in the 44th minute. 16 year old striker Kelvin Thear took advantage of some weak Easington defending, and managed to get 1 on 1 with Kyle Donaldson. Completely out pacing the Easington defence, Thear shot exceptionally high over the bar, losing another ball. Definitely not an easy chance with the defenders chasing him down, Thear may believe the playing surface played a big part in his chance missing by such a distance.

As the teams went in at half time, with the score 0-0, both teams will acknowledge that they’re lacking a final ball, and will be looking to change that for the second half.

 

Although the second half started similarly to the first, with Tow Law showing a bit more intent, the first chance of the half fell to Easington. Some very smart play, something we didn’t see in the first half in its entirety, got Easington’s James Atkinson a chance at goal. Atkinson’s shot was dragged across goal, narrowly missing the left hand post and going out for a goal kick.

Tow Law’s number 7, Jordan Lee, had one of his team’s only meaningful shots of the half, but his long range shot was comfortably held by Kyle Donaldson.

With time ticking down, another long ball from the Easington defence was cleverly flicked on and ended up at the feet of Easington’s substitute, Bryan Norton, who attempted a very cheeky chip which was saved and went out for a corner.

At this point, it looked like the game would finish goalless, and a few wide headed efforts from Easington’s Norton and Nathan Renton, cemented that.

So the game finished 0-0, something I’d predicted before the game, so I wasn’t too disappointed.  I very much enjoyed my time at the Welfare Ground, and I’m genuinely excited to return for a 3pm kick off so I can see the views from their hilltop ground!

 

Good luck to both teams for the rest of the season.