Stokesley vs Hartlepool FC – Wearside League (29/03/2017)

Stokesley: 1 – Jordan Lowrie, 2 – Sean Harland, 3 – Chris Lynas, 4 – Tim Sharples, 5 – Seb Hanratty, 6 – Craig Winter, 7 – Billy McGrath, 8 – Jordan Rivis (C), 9 – Anthony Barnes, 10 – Dan Joseph, 11 – Connor Hardman, 12 – Sean Oddy, 13 – Jon Kinson, 14 – Shaun Laverick, 15 – Jake Laverick, 16 – Chris Mason.

Hartlepool FC: 1 – Elliot Coils, 2 – Luke Naylor, 3 – Kieron Campbell, 4 – Jack Swales, 5 – Paul Moss, 6 – Callum Short, 7 – Kalon Lloyd, 8 – Samuel Cook, 9 – John Stephenson, 10 – Andrew Blackburn, 11 – Jamie Tumilty, 12 – Jonny Murray, 14 – Mat Hughes, 15 – Jack Harrison, 16 – Mat Stokes, 17 – Josh Nobus.

A completely last minute decision, following the late announcement of a day off, I travelled down to Stokesley to watch them host Hartlepool FC in the Wearside League. Stokesley, sitting 14th in the league before kick-off, hosted a Hartlepool side sitting in 7th, so we could be looking at a close game!

On arrival to the ground, we were greeted by a very welcoming gentleman in the ticket office. The bargain hunter in me loves Wearside League games; at £3 each for entry, you really can’t go wrong! The added bonus of today’s trip was availability of badges and scarves on offer – just £2.50 for a scarf, and £3 for a badge. I hadn’t seen the price for the scarves, so I went for just a badge, but I’ll definitely be back for a scarf when I can!

Onto the game, and with all the formalities done with, it was Stokesley who got the game underway. And it was the hosts who created the first chance, but this was headed straight at Hartlepool’s Elliot Coils by Stokesley’s captain, Jordan Rivis, in the first minute.

And it was the hosts who managed to strike first. In just the 3rd minute, Stokesley’s Sean Harland floated a freekick into the area that was touched in past the onrushing keeper. Whilst it was quite the scramble to win the header, Jordan Rivis claimed the goal post match. Traditionally, an early goal in a game usually makes for a cracking rest of the game, so I was hoping for a high scoring game at this point!

But, to my dismay, the game settled down after the goal. In fact, it took nearly 7 minutes for the next half chance to be created. Hartlepool’s John Stephenson made a powerful run towards the Stokesley defence, winning his team a corner as a result. The resulting corner was easily cleared by Stokesley, who countered straight away through Chris Lynas, who managed to run the ball into the Pools half, only to pull it back for Dan Joseph who shot the ball into the car park.

Hartlepool’s John Stephenson seemed like the only source of creativity for the visitors at this point, and it was the pacey striker who managed to win the away side a freekick in the 12th minute. The resulting freekick was, again, easily cleared by the defence; Hartlepool seemed to be struggling to get the ball past the tall figure of Craig Winter so far.

It took until the 18th minute for Hartlepool’s pressure to almost come good. A great cross by Luke Naylor fell kindly to Jamie Tumilty, who struck a half volley straight at Stokesley’s Jordan Lowrie, who’d got down well to save. Certainly not the easiest chance, but a sight of goal for the away side to build on, having struggled so far in the game.

Apart from the goal, the first half seemed a bit dull. The game had gotten a bit heated at times, with players disagreeing with officials, as we often see, but nothing else really happened of note. So the teams went in at 1-0, and not particularly the goal fest I’d craved so far!

Hartlepool kicked off the second half, knowing they really had to step up their game if they were to get anything out of the game. And they did just that. After some great play from Stephenson, the ball was played to the Pools number 2, Luke Naylor, who shot low and squeezed the ball under  Jordan Lowrie, who’ll probably feel he could’ve done better. 1-1 in the 48th minute, and game on!

Not only had Hartlepool come out of the changing rooms the stronger team, they managed to continue the momentum well into the half. Some great pressure from their attacking players kept Stokesley penned back for parts of the game, allowing the away side to create some great chances, although none of these were taken.

But there’s no point of having all the pressure if you can’t convert chances, and this was proven in the 58th minute, with goalkeeping error number 3. Stokesley’s Rivis intercepted a poor clearance, and shot low at Pools’ Elliot Coils, who allowed the ball to skim under him, and into the back of the net. I sympathise with both keepers, because the pitch was soaking due to showers before and during the game, and it was fairly windy. But it was 2-1 to Stokesley, maybe just against the run of play, but that’s the way it goes if you can’t work keeper.

And just three minutes later, Jordan Rivis got his, and his sides, third goal of the game. A great searching ball into the area from Dan Joseph was sensationally put into the back of the net via a sweetly struck overhead kick. Whilst the away side can be disappointed with their poor defending, it takes a great amount of skill to finish in that way, and a great way to cap the hattrick for the home side’s captain. It was 3-1 now, and the away side looked out of the game at this point, despite there being 30 minutes remaining.

But the away side kept their heads up, and carried out with the same determination that they’d shown all game. Hartlepool’s Andrew Blackburn and Jamie Tumilty continued to work together, but nothing really came of it. The only real activity of note between the two was a Tumilty pull back, just after Stokesley’s third goal, falling to Blackburn but this was shot well over.

Onto the 81st minute, and Hartlepool’s pressure paid off.  The ball fell to the feat of Andrew Blackburn, who’d looked exceptionally good in this second half, who managed to shoot the ball rather tamely at the front post. This time, the ball was unfortunately parried into this own goal by Lowrie, making it 3-2 with 10 minutes remaining.

But the last significant action of the game fell to the hosts, much to Hartlepool’s dismay, who’d had a thoroughly frustrating night. Anthony Barnes made way for Sean Oddy in the 87th minute and, with just his second touch following a 1-2, Oddy slotted the ball home, wrapping the game up for Stokesley.

4-2 was how the game finished, with 5 of those goals coming in the second half.

I never realised just how close Stokesley was to home, but I’ll definitely be returning soon following tonight’s game. From the team’s performance, to the Stokesley Ultras, who didn’t stop singing for the whole 90 minutes, I was thoroughly entertained. Good luck to both teams for what’s left of the seasons!

Guisborough Town vs Shildon AFC – 15/03/2017

Guisborough Town: 1 – Jordan Nixon, 2 – Anthony Snook, 3 – D McAvoy, 4 – Lee Bythway, 5 – Matthew Lovatt, 6 – Jamie Poole, 7 – Steven Roberts, 8 – Ben Hugill, 9 – Anthony Hume, 10 – Connor Smith, 11 – Louis Goldsack, 12 – Thomas Bligh, 13 – James Dawson, 14 – David Onions, 15 – J Baily, 16 – Mason McNeill.

Shildon AFC: 1 – Nick Liversedge, 2 – Jamie Harwood, 3 – Matty Robson, 4 – Daniel Moore, 5 – Danny Parker, 6 – Dan Groves, 7 – Lewis Dodds, 8 – Sam Hodgson, 9 – Michael Rae, 10 – Lewis Wing, 11 – Adam Burnicle, 12 – David Vincent, 14 – Marc Ellison, 15 – Chris Bell, 16 – Paul Connor, 17 – Amar Purewall.

There were a wide variety of games on offer tonight, but Guisborough’s home tie stood out amongst the others. Sitting rock bottom of the Northern League division 1, Guisborough welcomed a Shildon side sitting in the top 3, and looking to close the gap on both Shields’ side whilst stretching their advantage from forth placed Morpeth.

Shildon kicked off the game in front of a bumper crowd of 140. And it was Shildon who kicked off the stronger. In just the 2nd minute, Lewis Dodds did well inside the Guisborough area, and forced the home keeper into a low, left-sided save. Guisborough were being immediately pressured on the ball this early on in the game as Shildon clearly showed their intent to dominate the game with possession.

But, for all their pressure, it was Guisborough who struck first, against the run of play. After some great work on the right hand side from Steven Roberts, Guisborough’s number 7 managed to make himself some space and shoot at Shildon’s Nick Liversedge. Liversedge could only parry his shot towards the feet of Whitby Town loanee Anthony Hume, who sidefooted home from 3 yards to give the home side a shock lead.

Shildon didn’t let their heads go down though, and some great play from Matty Robson and Adam Burnicle continued to force chances for the away side. And, this time, the pressure became productive as Shildon won a penalty in the 18th minute. Stepping up to take the penalty was number 3 Matty Robson, who had continued to look dangerous on the left side. Robson took the penalty, aiming to the keeper’s left, but Guisborough’s Jordan Nixon saved incredibly well, parrying into the top left corner, rebounding out of the goal where the post meets the crossbar. But the rebound luckily fell to the penalty taker, who slotted home from point-blank range to make it 1-1.

This equaliser just spurred on the away side, who didn’t stop the pressure with some very well played, on the floor Football. In the 24th minute, the ball fell to Lewis Wing, who must’ve been 20-25 yards out. Shildon’s number 10 then worked some space and struck exceptionally well with the ball swerving away from Guisborough’s Nixon at the last moment, and nestling in the back of the net. I haven’t seen a ball swerve like that all season, and it was a great way for Shildon to take a well deserved lead.

Both teams started to play some great Football, with the ball being continually switched to either flank by both sides. 35 minutes into the game, and Shildon were still looking the stronger of the teams, not allowing Guisborough any time on the ball. After 10 minutes of very little in terms of clear-cut chances being made, Daniel Moore played the ball across to Shildon’s second goal scorer, Lewis Wing. And, same as his previous goal, Wing put his body behind his shot, and launched it into the top of the goal, leaving Nixon with no chance. Wing getting his second of the game, and putting Shildon two goals clear of Guisborough.

40 minutes in, and four goals so far, there was still one more noticeable moment in the first half. Guisborough’s Steven Roberts, the one diamond in the rough for the home side so far, made a great solo run towards the Shildon goal. Shildon’s Matty Robson got back and fouled the Guisborough attacker, and the referee deemed Robson to be the last man, rather controversially. The referee had gone to converse with his official on our near side, but that was only to query whether the foul took place in the area or not. Despite protests from the Shildon players, the referee showed Robson a straight red four minutes before half time.

As the half time whistle blew, it gave us 15 minutes to reflect on what we’d just seen. Where else can you see four goals and a red card for £6 in one half? We were definitely getting our money’s worth so far, and I could only presume this run of goals would continue into the second half.

Guisborough kicked off the second half, and it was the home team who made the first real chance of it. Roberts, the mastermind behind any of Guisborough’s best chances so far, made another one of his solo runs, forcing Shildon’s Liversedge into a great save before the ball was confidently cleared.

But the 10 men of Shildon were still looking confident on the ball, and it looked only a matter of time before they scored again, or Lewis Wing got his hattrick. And Wing did get his hattrick, in emphatic style, in the 61st minute. Making his way into the area, Wing cut back very smartly, pushing the ball onto his left foot, before side footing into the bottom left corner of the goal, again leaving Nixon with very little chance of making a save. Wing’s hattrick was the first I’ve seen this season, surprisingly, and I don’t think I’ll see better any time soon! It was now 4-1 to the away side, and they looked like they’d run away with it.

Despite occasionally looking down and out, Guisborough did start to come into the game stronger as it progressed, showing glimpses of quality. Some solid defending from the away side, as they’d done all game, restricted the Priorymen to long shots, but this didn’t stop them. Substitute Thomas Bligh picked up the ball 25 yards out, and struck towards goal, where a wicked deflection took the ball past the wrong footed Nick Liversedge, and brought the deficit back to two goals.

The last 15 minutes definitely weren’t as entertaining as the previous 75, with Shildon keeping the ball exceptionally well, frustrating the home side by keeping the ball in the corner, and forcing them into silly mistakes.

So it finished 4-2, and one of the more entertaining games I’ve seen so far this season; it had absolutely everything. It obviously wasn’t the result Guisborough were wanting, but they can be proud that they managed to perform fairly well at times against a team sitting 19 places ahead of them in the league. A great advert for Non League Football, and the Northern League, both sides definitely gave the 140 spectators plenty of talking points.

About me – NE Non League

Since I started @NE_NonLeague, I’ve found myself feel welcomed by so many people and teams from the North East, receiving weekly invites to games and constantly conversing about past and future fixtures. It’s crazy to think I only started the page in November, yet I’ve gained over 250 followers which is something I never thought I’d achieve, and it’s still growing!

One thing I do get asked fairly frequently is ‘who is the mystery person behind NE_NonLeague?’ So, I felt a nicely written piece about myself would solve any curiosities anyone may have.

So, my name’s Adam, I’m 24 and I live in Billingham. I’m a lifelong Whitby Town supporter, both home and away, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But, besides a passion for Whitby Town, I absolutely love Non League Football of any kind. I’ve only ever been to two Premier League games, and that’s it for the top four flights of English Football. Every other game I’ve ever been to has involved a Non League team of some sort.

Via direct message, I’ve been asked a few questions, so here are the eagerly anticipated answers:

What’s the furthest you’ve ever travelled to a game?

Back on the 6th September, Whitby Town played an FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay over in Winsford against Winsford United. For myself and my Fiancée, it was an 146 mile, each way, journey across the country to watch a rather feisty game where Whitby Town came away with a 2-1 victory, just. By far the most tired I’ve ever been driving home, but totally worth it!

Out of all the games you’ve been to, which one have you enjoyed the most?

Way back to last season, on the 2nd of January, a struggling Whitby Town travelled over to high flying Nantwich with new manager Chris Hardy at the helm. The weather was torrid and I honestly wasn’t too optimistic about the result. But a Mikey Roberts chip and a Ryan Brobbel wonder strike helped Whitby to a 2-1 victory and initiated the great escape that saw Whitby just about survive the drop.

What’s the most disappointed you’ve been following a game?

It was a Whitby Town game again; no surprises there! It was a tossup between two games, but away to Workington this season just about tops it. It actually sounds a bit selfish, seeing as we’ve been flying high in the Northern Premier League for a while now, and I shouldn’t take it for granted. But, we travelled to Workington high in confidence, and expected a close game. On a pitch that was unplayable, in my opinion, Whitby fought hard, but ended up on the wrong side of a 4-0 result.

But we’re currently fourth in the league! And a lot of my local Non League teams are also high flying, and ever so welcome when I travel over to do a write up on their games.

I’m not too sure if this will help you all form an image of the alias behind NE Non League, but it might!

Thank you to everyone who’s supported me so far with NE Non League, and to every team that’s invited me along and provided amazing hospitality. Here’s to making more memories in the North East!

Thornaby FC vs Darlington Railway (Northern League Division 2) – 04/03/2017

Thornaby FC: 1 – Adrian Boblowski, 2 – Stephen Morrison (C), 3 – Mitchell Morris, 4 – Nico Weatherald, 5 – Michael Joseph, 6 – Stuart Browne, 7 – Benjamin Jackson, 8 – James Rowe, 9 – Daniel Brunskill, 10 – Gary Mitchell, 11 – Karl Charltom, 12 – Lewis Green, 14 – Taylor Crainey, 15 – Jake Marron, 16 – Kurtis Howes, 17 – Danny Crawford.

 

Darlington Railway: 1 – Callum Liddicott, 2 – Danny McLachlan, 3 – Mattie Hughes, 4 – David Harrison (C), 5 – Dan Flounders, 6 – Andrew Lonsdale, 7 – Paul New, 8 – Glenn Donaldson, 9 – Chris Tarn, 10 – Callum Bennett, 11 – Joe Peel, 12 – Ryan Taylor, 14 – Jordan Hanratty, 15 – Aiden O’Connor, 16 – Jason West, 17 – Paul Griffith.

 

Today’s game of choice was Thornaby at home to Darlington Railway. I’ve been to Teesdale Park countless number of times, and my restaurant actually sponsored one of the youth teams a little while ago, but this was my first time watching Thornaby FC play. I’ve seen Middlesbrough Ladies play at Teesdale Park, but Thornaby FC have always played at home at times where it’s been extremely difficult to get over.

A bottom of the table clash, both teams sat in the bottom 5 of the Northern League Division 2, with Darlington Railway sitting at the base of the table. So, on paper, it looked as though we were in for a close affair between two teams struggling to pick up any sort of form.

Indeed, the game started quite evenly, with both teams stringing some great passing plays together. Apart from a few hit-and-hopes, the first real shot fell to Thornaby’s James Rowe, who chose to shoot when he had time to pass; Rowe’s shot went way over the crossbar to the dismay of his colleagues. Darlington were also a force early on, winning two corners in the first 5 minutes of the game, although these came to nothing as they were both well defended.

It looked as though Darlington were getting a hold on the game, but it was Thornaby who continued to create the best chances. In the 12th minute, a smartly crossed corner fell to Thornaby’s James Rowe, again. Under pressure from an outrushing defence, Rowe failed to connect with the ball as he shot, putting the ball wide of the post.

Possession wise, the game was all Darlington, but some stubborn Thornaby defending continued to frustrate the away team. Thornaby’s Danny Brunskill, formerly of Billingham Synthonia and Whitby Town, used his strength continuously to create chances, and looked like the best bet to provide any sort of hope for Thornaby.  In the 21st minute, the ball was crossed in by Brunskill, and headed just over by Karl Charlton, who can think he was unlucky not to hit the target at least.

Both teams went in at half time knowing they’d both not done enough to register a goal, and things definitely had to change in the second half if either side was to break the deadlock.

Thornaby kicked off the second half, and it was their big number 9, Danny Brunskill, who created the first chance. Taking the ball into the corner, he won a freekick that was whipped in by number 3, Mitchell Morris. Morris aimed the ball towards the back post, but no one managed to get on the end of it, and it was confidently cleared.

Straight down the other end, after some great passing play, Darlington’s Paul New crossed the ball across the face of goal, leaving Thornaby’s Callum Liddiecott stranded, but no Darlington players took a risk so they watched the ball float past, to the disarray of their captain, David Harrison, who made sure the whole ground knew his thoughts.

With all these chances though, it definitely looked like a goal was coming. And, in the 53rd minute, the away supporters’ wishes came true. A poor cross field ball was intercepted by Chris Tarn, who made a great run into the area and fired low, under Adrian Boblowski, who watched the ball nestle in the back of the net. 1-0 to the away side, and just about justified given the quality of chances created by both sides.

As the game progressed, the Thornaby players became increasingly frustrated, earning themselves two yellow cards, one for dissent. Their only real chance in the remainder of the game fell to substitute, Lewis Green, who cut inside the defence really well, but shot just wide from the outside of the area. A difficult chance, but probably the best Thornaby had created all game.

Straight after Green’s chance, Darlington’s Callum Bennett got 1 on 1 with Boblowski, who saved well as Bennett was chased down by the Thornaby defence, who just about did enough to put him off.

So the game finished 1-0 to the away side, and maybe a fair result given the hard work each player put in. The player’s reactions after the final whistle showed it all, and just how much it meant to them. The away supporters will definitely be hoping this win propels them in their coming games!