Tag Archives: Billingham

2016/2017 @NE_NonLeague season review.

I started NE_NonLeague back in November and, despite usually working 6 days a week, I managed to get to numerous games at 17 grounds across the North East of England. And whilst I didn’t do nearly as much writing as I would’ve liked, I’ve got plenty to summarise as the season draws to it’s conclusion.

So here’s my best, and my worst, of the 2016/2017 season:

Best result – Guisborough Town vs Whitley Bay (2-1).

Way back in November, promotion chasing Whitley Bay visited a struggling Guisborough Town side. Separated by 18 places in the league, and with both side’s recent form taken into account, I think a lot of the spectators, as well as myself, were a bit pessimistic of Guisborough’s chances. At this time, Guisborough were managerless, and hadn’t won in their last 13 attempts.

In just the 5th minute, Whitley Bay took the lead after dominating the game’s opening exchanges. But a goal before half time, and a 66th minute winner for Dave Onions, gave Guisborough a shock win. Despite everything being against Guisborough on paper, The Priorymen dug deep and grabbed a great result!

Best value for money – Coxhoe Athletic vs Cleator Moor (0-3).

My visit to Coxhoe was my first ever Wearside League game, so I was unaware of how much entry and any extras would be. To my surprise, entrance was only £3, which you really can’t go wrong with!

So, for this visit, £5.50 got me entrance to the game, a sizeable portion of chips, a hot chocolate, and a 3-0 swing in the away team’s favour. Some places I’ve been to this season were £11 for entrance alone, so Coxhoe was definitely the best place I’ve been this season in terms of value. And the game wasn’t too bad, too!

Worst game – Billingham Synthonia vs Billingham Town (0-0).

The first of a double header for me back on Boxing Day 2016, I was expecting big things from my first Billingham Derby. But it never really happened!

The game finished as a very dull 0-0, with neither team doing anything special to edge the game. And, whilst I wouldn’t want to see any fighting on the pitch, it was nowhere near as feisty as I would’ve expected from two local rivals fighting for promotion.

Best new ground – York City’s Bootham Crescent vs Brackley Town (1-0)(FA Trophy).

Having been to games hosted at Premier League grounds, and games played on fields in Spennymoor, I think I’ve seen a variety of what the North East has to offer. But York City’s Bootham Crescent now holds a special place in my heart, having visited back in February for their FA Trophy Quarter-Final game against Brackley.

Whilst the game left a lot to be desired (a solitary first half Jon Parkin header the difference), the ground continually intrigued me and I loved exploring whenever I could during half time and after the final whistle.

There were numerous places to get food, and their club shop was the most professional I’ve seen in Non League as a whole. If you haven’t been to Bootham Crescent before, I definitely suggest it.

Entrance to watch the future FA Trophy winners was just £8 for this game and I thoroughly enjoyed my day!

Best individual performance – Lewis Wing (Shildon AFC) vs Guisborough Town.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dull game when I’ve travelled over to the KGV, and this game was no exception. The game finished 4-2, and Shildon finished with 10 men, but it was the performance of Shildon’s Lewis Wing that was the talking point for the 140 spectators.

Wing scored the first hattrick I’d seen all season, and I think it’ll take me a while to see a better one anytime soon. Wing’s three exceptional finishes, including a 25 yard screamer that swerved away from Guisborough’s Jordan Nixon at the last second, and his absolute control of the game, left everyone talking about his performance.

To cap off an exceptional season, including 21 more league goals, Wing has signed a contract with Middlesbrough U23s and looks destined for bigger things. At Shildon’s presentation night, Wing picked up ‘Supporters player of the year’, ‘Performance of the season’, ‘Top goal scorer’ and ‘Player’s player of the year’.


I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my season with NE_NonLeague, and I hope the page continues to progress in the same direction. as it has done last season. As far as pre-season goes, I’ve seen a lot of exciting fixtures that I’ll be aiming to get to, including Whitby Town hosting AZ Alkmaar. Next season is set to be great and I’ll be there for every step of it!



Hartlepool United Reserves vs Ryhope CW (Durham Challenge Cup) – 03/01/2017

Tonight, I was at Billingham Town’s Bedford Terrace ground to watch this Durham Challenge Cup game between Hartlepool Reserves and Ryhope of the Northern League Division 1. Two teams that I’ve never seen play before, so I didn’t really know what to expect when I travelled down. That being said, I have seen Hartlepool’s Jack Blackford play this season during his 1 month loan spell at Northern Premier outfit Whitby Town.

As Hartlepool set the ball down to kick off the first half, it was apparent just how windy it was out there, and that may have scuppered any plans to play long ball tactics. It was Hartlepool who started out the stronger of the two teams. The ball fell to the feet of their number 8, Brad Walker, who made a strong darting run into the Ryhope area and forced a save from their Goalkeeper, Ball, who managed to clear the ball for a corner. From the resulting corner, a short ball was played out by Hartlepool’s number 11, Jack Blackford, but nothing was made of it.

It was clear that Hartlepool were determined to play some proper Football as they started to knock the ball around with a lot of confidence, although Ryhope kept the pressure up, forcing the young Pools side into a few silly mistakes. At one point, Hartlepool were struggling to get the ball out of their 18 yard box because of the pressure forced on them by the Ryhope attack.

As the game settled, both sides were playing some good looking Football, but failed to make any real chances. Solid defending from both sides forced a few wayward long shots, but nothing of real quality.

It wasn’t until the 13th minute that a quality chance was made. Hartlepool’s number 7 made a great run from 40 yards out into the penalty area, and dragged a smart ball back in the direction of number 8, Brad Walker, who finished coolly into the bottom left corner, giving his side a 1-0 lead in what was, so far, a fairly even game.

That goal definitely settled Hartlepool, and almost ruffled Ryhope, who looked a bit frustrated as they re-kicked off the game. Similar to the first goal, it was same Hartlepool duo that combined again to make the next chance. Following their smart play, the Ryhope defence managed to clear the ball out for a throw. From the resulting throw, the ball was sent into the area, and pinged around, before hitting a Ryhope defender and somehow managing to creep over the line. An own goal, and a frustrating one at that, to make it 2-0 to Hartlepool.

Ryhope’s first chance came in the 25th minute, as their number 7 struck a powerful shot from 20 yards out that went just over the crossbar without challenging the Hartlepool keeper, Dudzinski.

Whilst the game became bogged down in midfield, as both teams managed to cancel each other out, there was time for one more chance before half time. Hartlepool’s Jack Blackford received a fairly innocent ball just outside the area, and managed to work it into some space in the area, and struck the ball with his left foot, but his shot struck the crossbar and went out for a goalkick.

So, it was Hartlepool that went in at halftime the stronger of the two sides, having made the most of the few quality chances they’d managed to create.

Ryhope knew they’d really have to take the game to Hartlepool in the second half if they were to take anything away from this game. And, although they started the half in a similar fashion to the first, they did manage to get their first shot on target. Their number 11 managing to make space following a badly sliced shot, but he shot straight at Dudzinski.

Spurred on by the previous chance, Ryhope started to press up field, leaving unnecessary gaps at the back, and this was capitalised on by Hartlepool. Sensing his chance, the number 9, Jake Orrell, made a darting run between the two central defenders, and calmly received an inch perfect through ball. Using his pace, he managed to make enough space to smartly finish just over the onrushing Ryhope keeper to make it 3-0 to Hartlepool; a lead they didn’t look like surrendering.

Whilst some great Football was played in the remainder of the game, no real chances were made by either side. Whenever Ryhope managed to gather enough momentum to attack, Hartlepool were already back in position ready to defend, determined to keep a well earned clean sheet.

The game finished 3-0. With the chances Hartlepool created, it seemed a fair result simply because of the lack of chances created by Ryhope.

The silver lining for Ryhope is that they can now focus on the league coming into the second half of the season. As for Hartlepool, they can keep looking forward to the possibility of picking up some silverware this season. Good luck to both teams!

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!

Billingham Town vs Washington FC (15/11/2016) – League Cup

Billingham Town team – 1. Tom Dawson, 2. Lee Moore, 3. Mark Dixon (C), 4. Clayton McDonald, 5. Daniel Rowbotham, 6. Matthew Crossen,7. Aaron Foley, 8. Chris Dickinson, 9. Craig Hutchinson, 10. Gary Redman, 11. Connor Dunlavey, 12. Jamie Davis, 14. Elliott Beddow, 15. Scott Close, 16. Carl O’Sullivan, 17. Carl Morris

Washington FC team – 1. Daniel Mullen, 2. Reece Noble, 3. Gary Shaw, 4. Andrew Jennings, 5. Paul Weldon, 6. Jake Fowler, 7. Jordan Jewson, 8. (C) Marc Costello, 9. Callum Hassan, 10. Matthew Waters, 11. George McCain, 12. Scott Brassell, 14. Adam Cocks, 15. Jonathan Wightmam, 16. Charlie Raby, 17. Dale Connor

So, tonight was my first Billingham Town game of the season. A little belatedly, I admit, as my house is within sight of the ground. I’d described the night as ‘mild’ previously, but that soon deteriorated, and it definitely got a lot cooler as the game progressed. That being said, it was a proper Non-League night, and I was really looking forward to the potential of an excellent game.


The hosts, Billingham Town, welcomed a Washington team sat 18th in the Northern League First Division. A team I’ve never seen play before, but I have seen a few of their players when they plied their trade for Whitby Town. Striker Matty Waters was a long term feature in Whitby Town’s first team. Jordan Jewson had previously featured for the Seasiders. As had Callum Hassan, relative to Ibby Hassan – a Whitby Town legend.


As the teams lined up, it was quite evident that both teams had completely different game plans. Washington’s players towered over Billingham’s, showing much more physical stature. As I’d seen in their warm-up, Billingham looked as though they would be playing fast paced, passing Football. And that’s how the first half played out in its entirety.


Straight away, from kick off, Billingham’s Connor Dunlavey received the ball and made a darting run towards the Washington defence, who stood strong and confidently removed any threat. For the next five minutes, the game was slowly moving in Washington’s favour. Some sloppy passing from Billingham lead to numerous long balls into their area, mainly aimed at their physical powerhouse, Callum Hassan. At this stage, apart from their long ball tactic, it didn’t look as though Washington showed much more of a threat. Any time they got close to the Billingham area, it was confidently cleared.


And, so, in the 6th minute, a long ball was played towards the Billingham area, that was, again, comfortably cleared. The Billingham players played it out fantastically well, and put a very pacey ball in towards their number 11, Connor Dunlavey. A slip from Washington’s number 6, Jake Fowler, leads to Dunlavey being in on goal. A cut inside and a smart, low shot under Washington’s goalkeeper, Daniel Mullens, gave Billingham a 1-0 lead. A goal that was seemingly gifted to them, but very confidently dispatched.


Knowing they had to step up their game, Washington attempted to pile on the pressure, to little avail. Keeping with their earlier plan, a long ball was aimed in towards Callum Hassan, who looked like he was being manhandled in the area. Little penalty shouts from the players, and the four away fans I was sat next to, but nothing given. From this moment, Billingham started playing excellent Football; Some of the best I’ve seen so far this season. Playing around the Washington players like a training session, it was clear just how frustrating this was for the away team.


With such pressure from Billingham Town, Washington’s only chance was to attempt a counter attack, as Town had so many players attacking. And this is how they approached it. In the 12th minute, a Washington attack lead to a dangerously placed free kick. The free kick was beautifully crossed into the area, presumably aimed at Callum Hassan, or the only slightly smaller frame of Matty Waters. After the ball was crossed in, it was pinballed around, eventually coming off the post and landing at Andy Jenning’s feet, who prodded the ball home to make the game 1-1. Both teams had started the game fairly well, having equal amounts of chances, despite Billingham having a little bit more ball possession. Talking to the away supporters, even they couldn’t see which way the game was going.


After kicking off, following the goal, Billingham went straight on the attack. A very smart ball was played into the area, aimed at Billingham’s number 9 Craig Hutchinson, forcing a save from Mullen, albeit with his face, but the game remained 1-1.  The Billingham pressure continued, keeping the Washington defenders firmly on their toes, dealing with any threat that came their way. That was until a very smart ball was played into Billingham’s number 8, Chris Dickinson, who smartly finished with his left foot to make it 2-1 to Billingham. Thoroughly deserved after all their recent pressure, the game was only in its 14th minute, so there was definitely much more to look forward to.


Billingham’s ground, Bedford Terrace, is surrounded by train tracks. So, in the 15th minute, as a Grand Central train flashed past, it gave the few Washington supporters something a little brighter to talk about, as they hadn’t yet seen too much to get them excited. Although the game looked pretty even, Billingham were doing much more when they had the ball. Washington’s Matty Waters regularly got the ball, but seemed to continuously run directly towards Billingham’s defence and regularly lost the ball, to the anger of his manager, Neil Hixon. A lot of Washington’s play continued to come from Matty Waters, but a final ball was really missing from his play. A not very characteristic performance from Matty so far, who I’ve seen single handily carry Whitby Town in previous seasons.


After the game became bogged down in midfield, in the 28th minute, a hit and hope ball was played out to the left side of Washington’s attack. The ball was played into the area, aimed at around the penalty spot. The ball was then played square to Callum Hassan, who finished with his right foot, only to be called offside. From where I was sat, it didn’t look offside as the ball was played slightly backwards, and that was the same feeling as the Washington bench and players. Washington’s players quickly surrounded the linesman who’d given the decision, who then called the referee over to talk about the incident. Following a 1 minute conversation, the referee awarded a free kick to Billingham for the offside, much to the Washington benches anguish.


This prompted a whole new approach from Washington, who made use of their very pacey number 7, Jordan Jewson, on the right side. Jewson continued to tease Billingham’s defence, but Billingham still gave him plenty of space, continuously allowing him to get crosses into the area, although these rarely caused many problems. Despite Washington’s height advantage, Billingham were still winning a large portion of 50/50s. The game continued this way for the next 10 minutes; Billingham allowing Jewson all the space he needed, but getting rid of any danger as it approached.


As the half came to an end, I feel like both teams had settled to go in at 2-1. Billingham had almost parked the bus, and Washington were lacking any imagination in the final third, although they’d started knocking the ball around a lot more productively compared to the previous half hour. As Washington continued to attack, a loose ball prompted a very committed tackle from both Washington’s Reece Noble, and Billingham’s Captain Mark Dixon. Both jumping in with studs up, Noble definitely caught Dixon in the thigh, although he’d also won the ball. It looked like even commitment from both players, but the referee only punished Reece Noble, who was given a yellow card. From the resulting free kick, Billingham lost the ball, and Matty Waters smartly intercepted. Attempting to go on a run, Billingham’s Dixon then grappled with Waters, holding him back; Dixon was given a yellow card for the foul. Two yellow cards within 2 minutes of each other, the game was starting to get a bit heated.


As the referee blew for half time, he was quickly surrounded by players from both teams, although I thought he’d had a pretty solid half. A pretty underwhelming half from Washington, Billingham just about deserved to go in with a one goal advantage. 2-1.


The second half started off very similarly to the first with both teams pushing straight on to get another goal. Billingham continued their fast, pacey passing play, and Washington continued to aim at their tall players at the top of the field. Billingham started off the strongest, but it was Washington who had the first real chance. A great ball aimed at Waters by the number 3, Gary Shaw, forced a foul from the Billingham defence; A promising position for Jordan Jewson to float in an attacking ball. The ball in landed at Callum Hassan’s feet, who sliced the ball awkwardly wide, and out for a goal kick. This definitely prompted Washington to continue piling on the pressure having now adopted Billingham’s pacey passing. Each little mistake Billingham made, Washington capitalised on, and really started to take the game to them.


After 10 minutes, the game felt like it was all Washington. Any time they lost the ball, Billingham’s lack of attack gave them plenty of time to regroup and restart. In the 57th minute, a Washington throw-in was won by Callum Hassan, who managed to cleverly head the ball behind him and take a touch, before playing a perfect ball through to Matty Waters. Having looked like he’d taken a heavy touch, Waters chased the ball, getting in on the keeper. Shooting low to the keeper’s left, the ball rolled under Tom Dawson, and nestled in the bottom corner.  The game was now level, but Washington looked like momentum was definitely on their side.


Looking for a slightly different approach, Washington removed Jordan Jewson from the game, replacing him with number 15, Jonathan Wightman. Washington looking to capitalise on their dominance, having come out at halftime looking like a totally different team, they continued to firmly dominate the game. That being said, following their last goal, Washington rarely tested the Billingham goalkeeper, only forcing very simple saves from Tom Dawson. The closest Washington got in the following 5 minutes was a long range free kick from Matty Waters. Around 30 yards out, and with a 4 man wall, Waters forced a good save from Dawson, who managed to keep hold of the ball well.


Straight after the Washington chance, Billingham countered towards the Washington area, forcing a foul. Chris Dickinson took the freekick, aiming for a recently brought on Billingham substitute, Jamie Davis, who rattled the crossbar from a header, but his shot bounced out for a goalkick. As the game developed, it became very end to end. Washington brought on their number 16, Charlie Raby, in the 77th minute, to play a central role in the midfield. Both teams started to take the game to each other, with the dreaded penalty shoot out looming, as the game wouldn’t go to extra time in the off chance the game ended a draw.


Although both teams were keen to attack, both defences stood strong, barely allowing a shot at either goal. Apart from a very slim shout of handball from a Washington cross into the area towards the back end of the game, there were no real opportunities to find that final goal. As it was announced that the game wouldn’t go to extra time, the referee blew the final whistle; This very entertaining game would now finish in a penalty shoot out.


Following some very confidently taken penalties, both substitute Jonathan Wightman and the following Billingham penalty were saved, as the shootout score was 3-2. The next 7 penalties were confidently dispatched, including a beautiful penalty from Washington’s Charlie Raby. As Billingham’s number 2, Lee Moore, walked up to take his penalty, I overheard the Washington bench say he was taking ‘too long to place it’; He looked a bit fatigued, and that showed with the following penalty, that was saved by Daniel Mullen. The next penalty would ultimately win the game, and it was to be taken by another substitute, Adam Cocks. Cocks’ penalty was scored, giving Washington a 7-6 win after a 2-2 draw in normal time.

A game that was, in the end, quite even, although both teams had large spells of dominance that neither could capitalize on. Washington move onto the next round of the League Cup, but Billingham can take a lot of positives from this narrow loss. I wish both teams the best of the luck for the remainder of the season.