Tag Archives: City

Durham City vs Hebburn Town (25/11/2017)

The home of Willington FC was the venue for today’s Northern League clash between Durham City and Hebburn Town. Before the game, six places separated the two sides in the league, with the visitors sitting in 5th and the hosts sitting in 11th. Durham went into this game full of confidence following a comprehensive 3-1 win over the league leaders, Northallerton, just a week previous. A crowd of 80 brave spectators turned out to watch today’s game with the cold weather uniting both sets of fans in the stands.


It was Hebburn who kicked off proceedings this afternoon, shooting downhill, and it was Hebburn who had the best opportunities in the opening exchanges. Just one minute in, and the visitor’s Craig Mally, after some decent work and a bit of luck, pulled the ball back for Peter Jones who shot just wide. And the visitors continued to pile on the pressure with Jonathen Wightman trying one from 20 yards, only to strike it directly towards Nathan Armin in the host’s net.

Hebburn Town weren’t allowing Durham any time to think at this point, closing them down at every possible chance. And it paid off in the sixth minute. Ross Toward made a run down the left hand side, playing a smart pass to Gary Shaw, who laid it back off to Toward. A little bit of hold up play lead the ball to be played back to Shaw on the edge of the area, who finished smartly, beating Nathan Armin. 0-1 to the visitors, and thoroughly deserved with the way they’d started.

And the pressure didn’t stop there. Durham not being given a chance to get going whatsoever, leading to sloppy passes, and consistent counter attacks from Hebburn. Clever play from Hebburn’s Wightman, in the 21st minute, lead to the ball falling to Paul Chow’s feet. The tall number 9 did extremely well to get the ball onto his left foot, and his side footed curling effort went just over the Durham goal. A let off for the hosts, who could well have been two down at this point.

Just two minutes later, Hebburn’s Anthony Myers played a smart rabona pass through to Wightman, who struck well, forcing Armin into an acrobatic save. Another let off for the hosts, and half time couldn’t come sooner.

The last chance of the first half fell to Hebburn, surprisingly, with Paul Chow turning both ways to set himself up, forcing another save from Armin after a well struck right footed shot – the rebound, following the save, was confidently over and out for a goal kick.

Durham City struggled to get going in the first 45 minutes. A few counter attack attempts were stopped by a well disciplined Hebburn defence. 0-1 at the break, and a big team talk needed if the hosts were to get back into the game.

And a big team talk was what they received. As Durham kicked off the second half, it was clear that they’d had a good talking to. Just two minutes after the game had kicked back off, some very pacey wing play lead to the ball falling to the host’s Nicky Allen, who struck the ball perfectly into the top of the net, leaving Hebburn’s Steven Hubery with absolutely no chance. 1-1, and it almost looked like the momentum had completely shifted compared to the team’s first half displays.

Hebburn, refusing to give in, did restart brightly following that early blow, and continued to take advantage of the obvious height difference between to the two sides. A fumbled Hebburn cross was nearly bundled over the line following a scramble, only for Josh Rodgers to clear the ball off the line and out for a corner. Whilst the game was pretty even at this point, it was hard to believe it would finish a draw.

Durham’s attacking force was full of pace and trickery, and it obvious just how confident they were on the ball. Durham’s Chris Pattinson did an exceptionally good job of forcing his marker, Craig Mally, into a tough position, forcing a foul just inside the penalty area. No one debated the penalty, but the away side looked deflated at the chance of throwing away their lead. Durham’s Craig Hennis stepped up to take the penalty, and smashed it home after 56 minutes. Just 11 minutes into the second half, and Hebburn’s 0-1 lead had completely evaporated.

In a completely opposite display to the first half, it was Durham who continued with the attacking play. A perfectly positioned freekick was put just over the bar by the scorer of Durham’s second, Craig Hennis, in the 66th minute. Just three minutes later, and Durham had another great chance to make it 3-1, this time with the ball falling to Daniel Knowd, who put the ball agonisingly wide. Much to the frustration of the home supporters around me who thought their side had scored.

But it was Durham who had the deciding say in the 72nd minute. Again, some great work on the left wing by Chris Pattinson, lead to the ball ending up at the feet of Sam Steele, who scored at the second time of asking. Jubilation followed on the pitch as Durham knew they’d all but secured the three points.

And that’s how it finished, after Durham started running down the clock with the ball in the corner, and forcing fouls from the frustrated visitors. A game of two completely different halves, but Durham did enough damage in the second half to secure all three points.


West Auckland vs Guisborough Town – League game (08/08/2017)

My first visit to a league game this season took me to the Wanted Stadium, home of West Auckland. A ground I had never visited before tonight, but one I’ll definitely be looking to go back to when the heavens aren’t well and truly opened.

West Auckland’s visitors tonight were Guisborough Town. Guisborough had an exceptionally poor start to last season that was only, just about, recovered towards the back end after their relegation was overturned following an appeal to the FA. So Guisborough would obviously be looking to get off to the best possible start to avoid all that happening again. But it wouldn’t be an easy game, against a very strong West Auckland side, in not very favourable weather conditions.

West Auckland were the side that got us underway, but the first chance fell to the visitors. A smart ball to Thomas Bligh from Connor Smith was crossed invitingly into the West Auckland penalty area. Guisborough’s Nathan Steel was the player who met the ball with his head, only to see his shot go narrowly past the post and out for a goal kick. Hopefully a sign of things to come for the travelling Guisborough faithful!

But it wasn’t to be, as it was West Auckland who struck first after some smart play in the centre of the park. The ball was played out wide to Jack Walker who put a sublime ball into the area which was met confidently by Nathan Fisher who prodded the ball towards goal and past the helpless Jordan Nixon. 1-0 to the home side after just 8 minutes.

And just two minutes later, West Auckland had their second. A smart run from Amar Purewall was attempted to be stopped, only for the ball to fall back at his feet and 1 on 1 with the Guisborough keeper. Purewall confidently finished past the outrushing Nixon to make it 2-0 to the home side, who now looked firmly in control of the game. ‘It’s a long time since we’ve been two goals up after 10 minutes’ is what a West Auckland supporter had said to me shortly after the previous goal. He had a lot more to look forward to!

And, surprisingly enough, it was soon 3-0. Amar Purewall, again, was slotted through very smartly, beating Guisborough Town’s offside trap. Feeling déjà vu from 8 minutes ago, Purewall again finished smartly past the outrushing Nixon. You could hear the shock from the West Auckland fans as they started laughing between themselves as opposed to cheering. It would be a long evening for Guisborough if they didn’t change something soon.

It wasn’t the best first half of the season for Guisborough so far, but they kept on fighting and attempted to get forward. But West Auckland matched Guisborough exceptionally well, staying very professional, even with their comfortable lead. Guisborough had one more meaningful shot in the first half, with Steven Roberts laying the ball off to Ben Hugill. Hugill’s powerful shot went just past the post, but a clear sight of goal that really needed to be capitalised on at this stage of the game.

But, apart from some speculative efforts from both sides, the first half finished 3-0. West Auckland very much in the driver’s seat, but if they can score three goals in 45 minutes, so can Guisborough, as long as they didn’t let their heads go down.

As Guisborough kicked the second half off, the main thing they had to focus on was sticking together and ensuring it didn’t get any worse for themselves. And, for 12 minutes, they did just that. Playing some very good Football, the away side created some promising opportunities for themselves, but couldn’t work any clear chances.

Unfortunately for Guisborough, it was West Auckland who managed to get the next goal, and almost putting the game out of the away side’s reach. West Auckland’s Amar Purewall passed the ball across to Nathan Fisher, who finished very well and secured his second goal of the game. It was noticeable at this point that the away side had started to become a bit demoralised and frustrated, lunging needlessly into tackles and losing the ball very easily. 4-0 to the home side, with little over 30 minutes still to play.

The next real memorable moment of the game, again, came from West Auckland. A fairly average corner was whipped in for the home side. The corner was cleared by the Guisborough defence as far as West Auckland’s Michael McKeown who sent the ball back into the area. The ball was flicked on to Nathan Fisher who headed easily into an almost empty net to make it 5-0, and grabbing his hattrick in the process.

It was starting to get out of hand for the away side now, with everything seemingly going against them. And so it would prove in the 71st minute – A freekick sent into the Guisborough box ricocheted around before somehow going into the back of the net. I couldn’t see what happened too well from where I was standing, but it was Matthew Lovatt with the OG, although Nathan Fisher definitely wanted to claim it.

And it was soon seven! West Auckland substitute Denver Morris passed the ball across the edge of the area to another substitute, Ben Wood. Wood struck the ball sweetly, being described as a ‘thunderbolt’ by the West Auckland Twitter team, straight past the helpless Nixon in the Guisborough net to make it 7-0. I don’t think anyone had predicated this from the start but, from a neutral point of view, it was a perfect night. West Auckland were still massively up for this game and, with 15 minutes left on the clock, there was plenty of time to add to their tally.

To the 77th minute, and it was West Auckland still powering forward. Some smart play around the Guisborough area from Morris and Wood, again, found some space for a cute little pass across to Amar Purewall, who sliced under the keeper, making it 8-0. The previous goal also made Purewall the second player to score a hattrick tonight – an achievement I’ve never seen before in a league game.

And the home side saved the best until last! A West Auckland corner, taken by Adam Mitchell, was cleared well by the Guisborough defence, only to fall to Michael McKeown, who struck the ball from 20 yards. The resulting shot kept rising and rising, until it found the top of Nixon’s net, making it 9-0 to the home side.

And that’s how it finished.

West Auckland 9 (nine) – Guisborough Town 0

I’ve got a lot of love for Guisborough Town, and I hope tonight was just one to get out of the way early so they can crack on and have a great season, because they deserve it! But West Auckland were superb tonight, and they didn’t allow Guisborough a moments peace.

The Wanted Stadium was my 25th North East ground visited, and not very many games will be as memorable as this one was! Best of luck to both teams for the forthcoming season.

Northern Premier League new boys – 2017/2018

As a new season begins, and teams start to ready themselves for their preseason campaign, it’s about time we welcome the six new sides in the Northern Premier League, and start to get to know them a bit better!

As you probably already know, two teams get promoted out of the Northern Premier; one outright, and one via the playoffs. Relegation captures four teams per season, leaving room for six new teams to ply their trade in the Northern Premier.

The first of these teams is Altrincham FC, who were relegated into the Northern Premier from the National League North, having finished on just 21 points from 42 games. Altrincham’s ground, Moss Lane, has a capacity of just over 6000, with 1154 seated.

Altrincham have almost been a ‘yoyo’ club throughout their recent history, culminating in successive relegations after finishing in the relegation places of the newly renamed Vanarama National League back in the 2015/2016 season. But they’ll be looking to bounce straight back to the National League North, and have recently signed former Hartlepool and Salford FC star James Poole, which is a huge statement of intent. Poole has Northern Premier experience, having won a hard fought promotion with Salford two seasons ago, beating Workington 3-2 in the play-off final.

Altrincham definitely have the experience needed to win promotion at the first attempt, and they will no doubt continue to bolster their lines in order to have the best possible chance. But we all know it’s a tough league, so they’ll have to continually be at their best to see their plan come to life.

Predicted finish: 2nd.

The next team we can take a look at is Farsley Celtic, based in West Yorkshire. Throstle Nest, home of Farsley Celtic, has a capacity of 3900, with 300 of those being seated. Farsley won promotion to the Northern Premier the hard way, having finished second in the First Division North, after being narrowly pipped at the post by another Northern Premier new boy, Lancaster FC. Farsley drew Colne in the play-off semi finals, and confidently defeated them 4-0 to set up a final against Ossett Town. Farsley went on to win the final 4-2, and rightfully earn them a place in the Northern Premier; a target they’d had a majority of the back-end of the season.

But it hasn’t always been plain sailing for The Villagers. Financial problems in the 2009/2010 season led to them going into administration in March 2010, after being unable to fulfill fixtures. This ultimately led to the team being disbanded on the 10th March 2010. But the club was reformed, playing as Farsley A.F.C. The newly reformed side have had a relatively successful history, leading them to where they are now. In 2015, Farsley A.F.C welcomed back the name Farsley Celtic.

And to hit the ground running, the Celts have brought in experienced defender Danny Ellis from Harrogate Town. Farsley manager, Adam Lakeland, said he could ‘not be more delighted’ to bring in Ellis. I’m sure the rest of the Northern Premier will be keeping an eye on the newly promoted side, and any more new investments they make before the season begins. Newly promoted sides often have a good first season in the Northern Premier, such as Spennymoor who won promotion at the first attempt last season, so Farsley Celtic might be a surprise package.

Predicted finish: 5th.

Third on the list of Northern League new boys are Lancaster City FC. The Dolly Blues play their home games at Giant Axe. Giant Axe holds 3500 spectators, of which 513 are seated. The 513 seat main stand is named after the club’s late president, John Bagguley. Lancaster secured Northern Premier Football by winning the First Division North, after finishing just one point ahead of Farsley Celtic.

And, despite it being two weeks before the preseason gets underway, boss Phil Brown has already strengthened his side to the point where it’s ‘just about done’ for the beginning of the Northern Premier season. City have bolstered the side with six fresh faces, having also tied up a lot of the side that won last season’s title.

It’s a new era for Lancaster, with current manager Phil Brown only just finishing his first full season at the helm. But Brown is definitely doing the right things, and only time will tell how they get on in the higher division. But with a mixture of energetic youth, and vast experience, it looks like they’re in the best possible position to tackle next season.

Predicted Finish: 10th.

Next up is Shaw Lane, based in Barnsley. Nicknamed ‘The Ducks’, Shaw Lane was only formed in 2012, as Shaw Lane Aquaforce, although this name had to be changed to comply with FA regulations due to their success in climbing the ladder. Shaw Lane achieved promotion to the Northern Premier after winning the First Division South. Shaw Lane had a brilliant season, finishing on 102 points, and only dropping six points at home all season. In fact, in their five season existence, they’ve only failed to win promotion once, back in the 2015/2016 season.

And, despite being fairly inexperienced, Shaw Lane do have some history against Northern Premier sides. Having drawn Whitby Town at home in the FA Trophy, Shaw Lane went on to confidently defeat the higher tiered side 3-0, in front of 320 spectators. Despite the away side finishing the game with ten men, Shaw Lane started the game exceptionally well, and only grew stronger as the game went on.

Similar to Lancaster City, a bulk of Shaw Lane’s title winning team have put pen to paper to stay on for the Northern Premier fight, whilst they also continue to scout the market for some fresh faces, including the signing of Harrogate Town’s Chib Chilaka.

Shaw Lane are stepping into the unknown, and they’re bound to give 110% throughout this new adventure. It looks like they have the right resources to give it all that they have this season, and to really make it a season to remember.

Predicted finish: 8th.

Our penultimate team is Stalybridge Celtic, relegated from the National League North after finishing 21st out of 22 teams, only finishing ahead of Altrincham. Stalybridge play their home games at Bower Field. Bower Field holds 6500 spectators, of which 1300 are seated.

Recent times haven’t been too great for Stalybridge, who’ll be looking to use their relegation to the Northern Premier as a turnaround point to get themselves back on track. Notably, though, U20 World Cup winner Dominic Calvert-Lewin, grabbed two goals and two assists on his debut for Stalybridge, back on boxing day 2014, whilst on loan from Sheffield United.

Stalybridge have already delved into the transfer market, signing three players up, including former Trafford striker Aaron Burns, who grabbed 34 goals in 67 games for his former club. Burns is a crucial signing for the Celts, having already shown his capability at this level, and at similar levels, over the last few years.

Stalybridge boast an impressive academy, the Stalybridge Celtic FC Academy, supporting in the development of young footballers ages 16-19. Hosting an academy is a great way to make a real different in young, aspiring player’s lives, and it’s really nice to see Stalybridge get behind it so much.

Overall, it looks like Stalybridge have got a really nice set up, and an experienced team that can really have a go at winning promotion at the first attempt.

Predicted finish: 4th.

Last, but not least, we’ve got Witton Albion. Witton play their home games at Wincham Park, which holds 4813 spectators.

Witton Albion secured Northern Premier football through the playoffs, having finish second to high-flying Shaw Lane in the First Division South. Witton played Spalding in their play-off final, beating them 2-1. Albion have a vast amount of Northern Premier experience, so they know exactly what they’re going to be coming up against come August.

Predicted finish: 11th.


I’ll be looking to travel over to all of the new member’s grounds, if possible, throughout the coming season. With such a great mixture of teams in terms of experience and history, we’re bound to have yet another exciting Northern Premier League campaign!