Coxhoe Athletic: 1 – David Atkinson, 2 – Aiden Hart, 3 – Dominic Joynes, 4 – Sam Nugent, 5 – Philip Best, 6 – David Gibson, 7 – Ross Morrow, 8 – Chris Baxter, 9 – Kyle Morris, 10 – Chris Foster, 11 – Mitchell McKenna-Little, 12 – Summerson, 13 – Harry Wray, 14 – Steven Fothergill, 15 – Rhys Greenwood, 16 – Michael Connelly.
Cleator Moor Celtic: 1 – Darren Johnston, 2 – Joe Atkinson, 14 – Rhys Little, 4 – Tom Mahone, 5 – Callum Jackman, 6 – Brad Tatton, 7 – Josh Charlton, 8 – Bradley Rooney, 9 – Jay Weatherill, 10 – Callum Birdsall, 11 – Jonny Donat, 12 – Adam Meagan.
Today, there was a huge range of possibilities in terms of games I could get to, but I thought I’d take a break from the Northern League to go in search of something a little lower. The Wearside League was my choice, and Coxhoe’s Beechfield Park was my destination for today.
In a rush for the 14:00 kick off, I was relieved that the kick off was set back 10 minutes for whatever reason, but it gave me enough time to buy the nicest hot chocolate I’ve had this season! And so, at 14:10, Cleator Moor kicked off the game, playing in their green and white strip, with Coxhoe Athletic in red and black.
It was Cleator Moor who started the game the stronger of the teams. Their number 10, Callum Birdsall, making the first chance of the game, but his shot was straight at the home team’s goalkeeper, David Atkinson, who managed to hold on. The away team continued to maintain their pressure as the game progressed, forcing a dangerous freekick in the 2nd minute. Cleator Moor’s Bradley Rooney took the freekick, and it fell kindly for Brad Tatton, who fired high into the net, totally out of reach for the home keeper, to make it 1-0 to the away team.
As the day started, Coxhoe were 7th in the league, and Cleator Moor were 15th, but it looked like Coxhoe would struggle to get anything out of the game already as Cleator Moor continued to pile on the pressure. In the 4th minute, Jay Weatherill made a darting run towards the edge of the area, and was felled by the Coxhoe defender. The ball was played into the area well, and pinballed around, before falling to Rhys Little who sliced well wide. Cleator’s Rhys Little and Bradley Rooney were giving Coxhoe a nightmare, as the game started flowing a bit more, with their pace and physical presence.
After 15 minutes, the game did start to even out a bit, with Coxhoe starting to pass the ball around smartly, and they did manage to make their first chance of the game. A great run by Coxhoe’s Mitchell Mckenna-Little was ended by a rash tackle, but did win a nicely positioned freekick. The resulting freekick was taken by Chris Foster, but was cleared confidently by the Cleator Moor defence. Apart from a few wayward chances by both teams, it was Coxhoe with the next real chance. Another perfectly positioned freekick was taken by Ross Morrow, who fired straight at the wall, who then managed to rush out and clear the ball.
Nothing else of note happened in the first half, so it was the away team who went in with a one goal advantage; an advantage that was thoroughly deserved having edged the first half in pretty much every area of the pitch.
The second half started very similarly to the first, with Cleator Moor forcing the first chance. A well taken corner was directed towards goal, but cleared off the line by the Coxhoe defence. Coxhoe had definitely set out with a more attacking game plan in the second half, ultimately leaving 1 person back and allowing the other 9 to attack. A risky tactic leaving them open to the counter attack, it was clear they weren’t happy with the first 45 minutes.
With all the attacking intent from Coxhoe, they only managed to make one genuine chance in the whole half. Another corner, a set piece that has been a continued threat from both teams fell to their man mountain, Philip Best. ‘Besty’ fired just over the bar, where it seemed easier to score. A goal that could’ve changed the course of the game, it didn’t seem like anything would fall kindly for the home team.
Despite some genuinely dangerous attacking from the home side, it was Cleator Moor who were cruelly gifted a second goal. In roughly the 68th minute, the home side’s keeper David Atkinson played the ball out to his defensive counterpart Philip Best. Under pressure, Best passed the ball back to his keeper. Atkinson then cleared the ball, but managed to strike Best in the back. The ball then kindly fell to Callum Birdsall, who rounded the keeper and slotted the ball home to make it 2-0 to the away team.
And it was 3-0 merely a minute later. A weak freekick earnt by Coxhoe was blocked by Rhys Little, who collected the ball and passed it forward. Following some smart play, the ball, again, fell to the feet of Callum Birdsall, who fired into an empty net, after the keeper was lured towards the ball before it was passed across.
Similarly to the first half, the last 15 minutes didn’t prove to be that interested, with little to no chances being made by either team. Following 90 minutes of controlling the game, it was Cleator Moor who bagged the points by finding the net three times. Cleator Moor seemed to be stronger than Coxhoe in every aspect, despite being 8 places behind the home team at the beginning of play.
A great quality of Football on display again, it won’t take me that long to return to a Wearside League game; a refreshing change from my usual Northern League outing. Good luck to both teams for the remainder of the season!