Monday, 31 December 2012

Town suffer first away defeat of the season as Crook break a club record


TOWN ended 2012 with a disappointing defeat at new Division Two leaders Crook Town on Saturday.

With several players missing, Town failed to produce their best form and saw their 13 match unbeaten away run in the league - a record stretching back to March - brought to an end.

The Town starting XI saw three changes from the Boxing Day draw with Darlington RA. Leading scorer Adam Emson, Stephen Butterworth and Marcus Laing were all unavailable so Stu Dunn, Ian Smurthwaite and Wayne Gredziak all came in.

Crook, who came into the game on the back of an 11 match winning, got off to the perfect start in their quest for a club record 12th when Chris Wallace headed home at the second attempt after just 16 minutes.

Town were forced to chase the game after that and manager Mark Fanning brought on York City Academy graduate Chris Dickinson for Carl Chillingsworth on the hour.

But the nearest they came to what would have proved to be a vital equaliser was when Gav Parkin rattled the crossbar midway through the second half.

That proved to be the turning point as Crook sealed the points, and the club record, when Kyle Davis headed home a left wing cross from Dave Gordon in the closing stages.

"If Gav's effort had gone in, then it would have been a different story," said manager Mark Fanning at the whistle.

"Our game plan was not to concede an early goal, but they were quicker and sharper than us today."

Town will look to get back to winning ways when they travel to Brandon United on Saturday, before facing a trip to York City in the North Riding Senior Cup the following Tuesday.

TOWN - Craggs, Alderson, Dunn, Hickman, Shoulder, Parkin, Smurthwaite, Burton, Bulmer, Chillingsworth, Gredziak. Subs - Banks, Bowman, Dickinson, Caisley.

REFEREE: S. Henry.


2012-13 - The season so far

WE have now reached the half way point of the season so it is time to take a look back at 2012-13 so far...

The season began with the club full of optimism after a great finale to 2011-12, culminating in Town lifting the Ernest Armstrong Trophy with victory over Team Northumbria at Norton in May - the clubs' first honour for 18 years.

After the celebrations had died down, however, manager Mark Fanning had to plan for his next aim - promotion back to Division One.

Fanning looked to strengthen his squad during the close season and brought in goalkeeper James Briggs, defenders Stephen Banks and Anthony Roberts, midfielder play-maker Marcus Laing and striker Adam Emson, all of whom had experience of first division football.

There were changes off the field too during the summer as press officer and programme editor Ian Bolland stepped down after over 20 years in the role. He left at the top too as his match day programme was voted the best in Division Two. Ricky Butler, who had been working at The Darlington and Stockton Times and Dagenham and Redbridge FC, was brought in to replace him.

The new season began with a record attendance of 710 at the RGPS for the pre-season visit of Darlington 1883. Although the visitors won 3-0, Town showed enough to suggest they could compete with a side who would prove to be one of the strongest in the Ebac Northern League.

The pre-season campaign brought a series of tough games against sides from Division One and although it did not bring any victories, it did prepare the squad well for the battles that lie ahead.

The big talking point as the season kicked off however, was the new Secret Shopper initiative as the league tried to cut down on poor discipline and foul and abusive language.

Early August saw the serious business begin and Town could not have asked for a tougher start. They kicked off with a home tie against Division One side Guisborough Town in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup but what a match it turned out to be.

Town dominated for an hour and were 3-1 ahead before finally going down to a last minute 5-4 defeat. Emson marked his debut for the club with two goals, while James Bowman and Carl Chillingsworth were also on target.

Off the field, club captain Martin Butterworth left for Newton Aycliffe the following day while Academy goalkeeping coach Dave Skelton joined the coaching staff.

The league campaign opened with the visit of pre-season title favourties Crook in what proved to be another exciting affair - the sides sharing 6 goals, all of which came in a breathless first half.

The first victory of the season arrived at Alnwick in midweek as a hat-trick from Emson sealed a 4-0 success, but the inconsistent start continued as Morpeth left the RGPS with a 2-0 win the following Saturday. Meanwhile, a late Craig Winter header gave Town a 2-1 success at Darlington RA on Bank Holiday Monday to bring the month to a close.

September started with another new signing - striker Wayne Gredziak arriving from Durham City - and he marked his debut with a goal with his first touch after coming off the bench in a 3-0 win against Horden.

September proved to be a very good month with seven wins from eight matches, the only disappointment being an unfortunate 2-1 home defeat against Esh Winning - a match which saw 2 Town goals controversially disallowed. The highlight of the month however, was undoubtedly the 3-2 success at Silsden in the FA Vase - with Emson scoring another late winner.

By now Town had established themselves in the top 2 in the league behind early pace-setters Ryhope CW, and the team was fulfilling their pre-season promise of a promotion push. The month also saw the departures of striker Col Anderson and midfielder Gary Cook who were both frustrated by the lack of first team opportunities.

October saw just one defeat - 3-2 at Division One side Consett in an FA Vase replay - although 2 important promotion points were dropped when Whitehaven grabbed a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw in Cumbria. That would be a familiar theme for Town as autumn turned into winter.

November saw more new arrivals. Defender David Alderson was recruited from Norton, while winger Pete Bulmer re-signed after leaving in the summer, but it proved to be a difficult month for Town. It began in the worst possible way with a shock 4-3 home defeat at the hands of Washington in a match that marked the first team debut of Academy goalkeeper Dean Hudson.

Town looked to be heading for another defeat at Thornaby the following week as they trailed 2-0 inside 25 minutes, but a Gredziak hat-trick and Emson's 18th goal of the season helped seal a thrilling 5-3 victory. North Ormesby were then beaten 4-2 in North Riding Senior Cup - Gredziak on target again - before leaders Ryhope visited the RGPS.

In another thrilling encounter, the top two sides in the league shared four goals in a match that was a great advert for Division Two. The month ended with a 4-1 victory at West Allotment Celtic thanks to two goals apiece from the deadly duo of Chillingsworth and Emson.

Another new face arrived in December in the shape of left-sided defender Jonathan Burton, the son of former Town boss Paul, but the month also saw another departure - goalkeeping coach Dave Skelton. However, bad weather meant Town only played three times. They kicked off with double-header against Tow Law Town but it only brought a return of two points as both encounters ended in 2-2 draws.

Gredziak was sent off in the first meeting at the RGPS where a late Chillingsworth equaliser rescued a point, while it was Tow Law who scored late in the return match three days later.

Boxing Day saw more points dropped as Martin Butterworth returned to haunt his former club, scoring for Darlington RA in a 1-1 draw, while the year ended with a disappointing 2-0 defeat at new league leaders Crook Town, where York trainee Chris Dickinson made his debut.

Overall it has been a satisfactory first half to the season. When you think where the club were a year ago, the progress made in 2012 has been significant. On the pitch the new signings have all settled in quickly and have made positive contributions, keeping the club in the heart of the promotion race going into 2013.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes innovations like the live Twitter feed in the clubhouse on match days and the match programme available to download online have increased the profile of the club even further.

So that is the season so's to a successful 2013.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Away Days - Tow Law Town 18/12/2012

A MIDWEEK trip in the middle of December to Tow Law is not the sort of thing to get excited about, but as I hadn't been able to watch the lads for the best part of a month I made the drive up the frozen, misty wastelands of the A68.

As I was off work for Christmas the plan was to get up there early and be prepared, but me being me I got side-tracked and did not end up leaving Darlington until just before 7pm.

Then I could not find the ground. For some reason my sat-nav sent me right past it and out of Tow Law altogether, but luckily I had spotted a small sign on the road side and I finally pulled up outside the ground at 7.34pm, just four minutes after kick off.

Luckily there was not much of a crowd waiting to get in. In fact there was barely a soul in the ground at all. As the cold wind blew in from the east I have to say I was not surprised. Conspicuous by their absence was the usual loud away following too, which led to a rather flat, gloomy atmosphere. Just like the weather.

The next thing I noticed was the slope on the pitch. The touchline on the far side was at least two foot higher than the one or the other side. Apparently it used to be worse too. Can't imagine how they ever managed to play football on it back then...

Anyway, we were attacking the far end in the first half, or the end furthest away from the clubhouse. The game was scrappy and neither side created very much. Town began to get on top as we approached half time and perhaps should have gone in at the break with a lead to defend. But it was goalless and cold, very cold, as the referee blew his whistle.

Half time was spent in the clubhouse trying to get warm. Not an easy task in just 15 minutes I can tell you. Then, just the feeling had begun to return to my fingers and toes, the players were back out and I was having to brave the elements again.

Thankfully the second half was far more exciting. The introduction of man-flu victim Emmo on the hour made a massive difference and we scored soon after with a lovely finish from Pete Bulmer -  his first goal since returning the club last month.

But almost immediately we gifted them an equaliser thanks to an error from Craggsy. Having drawn with the same opponents on Saturday, we really needed to win this time and that was not the way to go about it.

But redemption looked to have arrived when Emmo showed his class with a marvellous goal eight minutes later. He twisted and turned their full back about four times, leaving him on his backside on the sodden turf, before planting the ball beyond the goalkeeper to make it 2-1. I would have cheered if only I wasn't literally frozen to the spot.

That looked to be enough to win it but with just eight minutes left we switched off from a free kick and they equalised for a second time. Funny how you always that little bit colder when the opposition score.

But we should still have won it. Straight from the restart Chilli burst through and you would have put your house on him scoring, but their keeper - only small in stature big on ability - somehow managed to block it with his legs and we had to settle for a point.

By now I was so cold I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I grabbed a quick word with Mark Fanning and to say he was not happy would be an understatement. He was spot on though. We should have won and had thrown away two precious points. Not good enough.

He said the other top sides would have seen the game out, and the fact that Crook came here over Christmas and won 3-2 backs him up.

The drive home gave me time to reflect on the evening's events. It was cold, that is a given. Their pitch is awful. Likewise. The game, on the whole, was scrappy, although the second half had it's moments. The people of Tow Law were very welcoming. And did I mention it was cold. Oh and we should have won.

As away games go this will not live long in the memory, even if Emmo's goal may do. But despite everything it still beats a night in by the television watching Eastenders or some Christmas special. Now lets just hope my sat-nav can find Birtley on Saturday.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Home woes continue as Butterworth returns to haunt Town


FORMER TOWN captain Martin Butterworth returned to the RGPS with a Boxing Day goal to deny Town another two promotion points.

With three draws from their previous four matches, and without a home win in the league since late October, Town were in desperate need of a win against an RA side who have dropped out of the promotion race in recent weeks. But it was a ghost of Christmas past who came back to haunt Mark Fanning's side.

Butterworth was on hand to head the RA into an early lead, after a shot from another ex-Town player Steve Allison had come back off the crossbar, and he looked like a man with a point to prove throughout.

Ex-Town captain Martin Butterworth (blue shirt, left) in the thick of the action
But his new club were denied a first ever win at the RGPS thanks to a second half equaliser from leading scorer Adam Emson as Town finally awoke from their post-Christmas slumber.

Fanning's starting XI showed two changes from the draw at Tow Law ten days earlier. Emson was back up front in place of Ian Smurthwaite, while recent signing Jon Burton was given his first start for the club at left back in place of Stephen Banks.

Jonathan Burton impressed on his full Town debut

On a pitch that did not lend itself to good football, it was the visitors who were given the perfect start. Less then five minutes were on the clock when Allison saw his effort deflected onto the crossbar by Steve Craggs and Butterworth stooped to nod home from close range.

Town looked way off the pace in the opening period and the RA should have doubled their lead midway through the half. Allison again created the opportunity with a great run down the right but Louis Whensley fired over the top from 18 yards.

Steve Butterworth (centre) takes on the RA midfield before injury forced his early departure

Town's problems increased when Steve Butterworth was forced off with an ankle ligament damage ten minutes before the break, after landing awkwardly in the centre circle, so Smurthwaite was brought into the fray.

But it took almost 44 minutes for Town to finally create a chance of note. Emson whipped in a dangerous cross from the left but Gav Parkin failed to trouble RA goalkeeper Matt Calvert with a header from 6 yards.

Town scorer Adam Emson (right) takes on Andy Ramsbottom

Indeed it was only a fine double save from Craggs that prevented Fanning's side going in at the interval with a two goal deficit to pull back. He was out quickly to deny ex-Town forward Aaron Ramsbottom before keeping out Allison's follow up.

Town needed a big improvement in the second half if they was to rescue something from the match, and they came out for the restart looking far more determined.

Carl Chillingsworth (centre) looks for a breakthrough
Grant Hickman, who was having another solid game at the back, almost headed Town level from a Pete Bulmer free kick within four minutes of the restart, but it was the introduction of Wayne Gredziak on the hour that finally made the difference.

The former Durham City man saw a header tipped over the top by Calvert within seconds of coming on before Town finally drew level in the 66th minute.

Gav Parkin (left) denied by RA 'keeper Matt Calvert
Parkin released Emson down the left and he showed great strength to hold off the challenge from Andy Ramsbottom before producing a composed finish past Calvert from 12 yards.

The game really began to open up after that and both sides had chances to win it. Whensley shot straight at Craggs from 10 yards while RA substitute Jordan Hanratty then saw an effort deflected narrowly wide.

Meanwhile at the other end, Emson brought the best out of Calvert after Gredziak sent him clear down the left, before James Bowman, who had replaced the injured Parkin, saw an effort from 20 yards deflected narrowly wide by the RA 'keeper, while Chillingsworth fired wildly over in stoppage time.

"The first half was poor," said Town assistant manager Martin Collins. "The pitch did not help but we improved in the second half and at least we managed to get something from the match.

"Wayne (Gredziak) made a big difference when he came on and gave us some impetus, but overall we are disappointed."

Town now face a promotion six-pointer at in-form Crook on Saturday with four key players likely to be missing. Emson and Marcus Laing are both away while there are now injury doubts over Butterworth and Parkin.

Following a run of three consecutive draws, it is now a match Town cannot afford to lose.

TOWN - Craggs, Alderson, Burton, Hickman, Shoulder, Parkin, Butterworth(S), Laing, Emson, Chillingsworth, Bulmer. Subs - Dunn, Roberts, Bowman, Smurthwaite, Gredziak.

DARLINGTON RA - Calvert, Ramsbottom, Hewitt, Elgie, Howlett, Muir, Butterworth(M), Whensley, Allison, Ramsbottom, Farrington. Subs - Hamilton, Hanratty, Cheeseman, Webster.

REFEREE: G. McMullen.


*pictures copyright of Paul Gaythorpe at pik4images. No unauthorised use is allowed

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Fanning furious as Town throw away another two points


MANAGER Mark Fanning was furious as his side threw away two precious promotion points at Tow Law on Tuesday night.

Having been held by the same opponents three days earlier, this had become a must-win game for Fanning's side as they looked to keep themselves in the promotion frame. But despite leading twice in the second half with great goals from Pete Bulmer and Adam Emson, defensive fragility again proved costly.

"Once again we have thrown away points from a winning position," said a disappointed Fanning at the end.

"Teams do not have to work hard enough to score against us and that has got to change. The other top sides would have won this game 2-0 and we need to address that.

"We had enough chances to have won, and to have got ourselves in front twice and not win is very disappointing. We have a weak under-belly and I am not going to accept that.

"We need the players to roll their sleeves up and see these games through."

Due to injuries and work commitments, Fanning's starting XI showed two changes from Saturday's 2-2 draw. Pete Bulmer came in for flu-victim Adam Emson, who dropped down to the bench, while Marcus Laing replaced the unavailable Wayne Gredziak.

After a scrappy opening quarter of an hour, Town began to settle and the first half became a succession of missed opportunities. Steve Butterworth flashed a shot narrowly wide from a good position out on the right, while Laing fired into the side netting after a lovely through ball from Gav Parkin.

The best chance of all however fell to Carl Chillingsworth just past the half-hour, but his low shot rolled just the wrong side of the far post with goalkeeper Stephen Robinson beaten.

Butterworth then headed a cross from Bulmer narrowly wide before Bulmer himself was denied by Robinson as it remained goalless at the break.

Tow Law began the second period on the front foot but just prior to the hour-mark Fanning threw on Emson for Ian Smurthwaite and changed the shape of his team. It paid immediate dividends when Butterworth, now given more freedom in the centre of the park, released Bulmer down the right and he kept his cool to slot past Robinson.

But the lead lasted less than 60 seconds. Danny Shoulder had the opportunity to clear the ball but instead elected to pass it back to Stephen Craggs. However, the Town goalkeeper completely missed his kick and Matthew Scott was able to walk the ball into the empty net.

Town were shell-shocked but they recovered their composure to regain the lead in the 67th minute. Butterworth was again the creator with a lovely ball through to Emson out on the left and he tied full back Lewis Harrison in knots before drilling a left-footed shot under Robinson from 12 yards.

Although far from their free-flowing best, Town would have taken the points now especially as Craggs had to react quickly to deny Scott a second equaliser fifteen minuets from time.

But with just eight minutes left the hosts did get back on terms and again it was thanks to some woeful defending. A free kick from Michael Hall caught the Town back line napping and Scott nipped in unmarked to turn the ball home from 8 yards.

That was not quiet the end of the drama as Chillingsworth almost snatched victory moments later. Bulmer sent the veteran striker clear in the inside right channel but Robinson somehow kept out his low shot with his legs.

Then, in stoppage time, Emson tricked his way past Harrison again but his shot was scrambled to safety and it finished 2-2.

TOW LAW TOWN - Robinson, Harrison(L), Hall, Brassell, Thompson, Ryder, McVicker, Turnbull, Scott, Lee, Parkinson. Subs - Wilson, Killeen, Harrison(J), Alderson.

TOWN - Craggs, Alderson, Banks, Shoulder, Hickman, Parkin, Butterworth, Laing, Smurthwaite, Chillingsworth, Bulmer. Subs - Dunn, Burton, Emson.

REFEREE: M. Thurston.


Ten-man Town battle to a point but drop out of the promotion places


TOWN returned to action after a three week break for bad weather with the first of two meetings with Tow Law Town in the space of three days.

Despite playing much of the contest with ten men, following the second half dismissal of Wayne Gredziak, goals from Carl Chillingsworth and a penalty from captain Danny Shoulder saw Mark Fanning's side earn a point.

The Town starting XI showed two changes to the win over West Allotment Celtic some three weeks earlier. Steve Banks and Ian Smurthwaite replacing Craig Winter and Marcus Laing, who both dropped down to the bench. New signing Jon Burton, who joined the club from Marske United last month, was also named in the squad for the first time.

Despite a good start from Town, it was the visitors who grabbed an early lead when Anthony Lee turned home a low right wing cross by Lewis Harrison after 14 minutes.

However, Town were soon back on top and missed several good opportunities to draw level. Stephen Butterworth fired straight at goalkeeper Stephen Robinson after the ball seemed to get stuck between his feet, while Gredziak saw an effort cleared off the line by Scott Thompson.

But their pressure was rewarded ten minutes before the break. Gav Parkin released Chillingsworth with a lovely through ball and he showed great composure to slot the ball past Robinson from 12 yards.

Town lost leading scorer Adam Emson during the break due to illness so Pete Bulmer was thrown into the fray for the second half. But it was the Lawyers who went in front again soon after the restart when referee Craig Keighley awarded a penalty after Grant Hickman brought down Daniel Wilson just inside the area and Scott Brassell duly beat Steve Craggs from the spot.

Town's cause was not helped by the dismissal of Gredziak soon after as his frustration got the better of him. The Town striker believed his shot had crossed the line being cleared away and his tirade directed at the linesman earned him a red card. But the ten men battled hard to get something from the match.

It was not looking like being Town's day when Chillingsworth saw an effort come back off the post with twenty minutes left, but the equaliser finally arrived soon after. Chillingsworth was brought down in the area by Shaun Ryder and Shoulder smashed home from the spot..

Fanning was unsure if it was two points lost or one gained. "Playing with ten men for so long on a heavy pitch was not easy so I suppose it is a point gained," he said.

"However, we could easily have picked up all three had we taken our chances in the first half."

With the recent batch of postponements, Town are now out of the top two for the first time since September, although they do have games in hand on the sides above them, starting with Tuesday night's return meeting at Tow Law.

TOWN - Craggs, Alderson, Banks, Shoulder, Hickman, Parkin, Butterworth, Smurthwaite, Gredziak, Chillingsworth, Emson. Subs - Dunn, Burton, Winter, Laing, Bulmer.

REFEREE: C. Keighley


Monday, 26 November 2012

It's the Chilli and Emmo show as Town win away again


A BRACE each from deadly duo Carl Chillingsworth and Adam Emson gave Town another impressive away victory at West Allotment on Saturday.

Arriving in Benton with an unbeaten away record to defend, Town manager Mark Fanning named an unchanged 16 from the squad that had played so well in drawing with leaders Ryhope the previous week.

Despite heavy rain leading up to the match, the pitch was in good condition and Town settled quickly to take control with two goals in four minutes midway through the first half.

Chillingsworth opened the scoring in the 17th minute when he arrived unmarked at the far post to turn a Wayne Gredziak cross past West goalkeeper Ryan Beal from close range, before Emson made it 2-0 four minutes later.

The former Stokesley man did well to control a long ball out of defence from Craig Winter before beating Simon Wilthew and smashing an unstoppable shot past Beal from the edge of the penalty area.

Town were now in complete control and it was very nearly 3-0 before the break when only a desperate goalline clearance from Marc Allen denied Gredziak after a great ball from Emson.

The second period followed a similar pattern as Emson and Winter both came close before Chillingsworth made the points safe with his second - and 14th goal of the season - on the hour.

Beal failed to hold a speculative cross from Steve Butterworth and Chillingsworth followed up to force the ball home at the second attempt from virtually right on the goalline.

Town continued to play some good football and had the chances to make the scoreline more emphatic. Butterworth and Emson were both denied by Beal before Emson grabbed his 21st goal of the season, two minutes from time.

Gredziak sent the 28 year old clear of the West defence and he chipped the ball over the onrushing Beal from 12 yards.

The only blot on the Town copybook was a soft goal conceded in stoppage time. Goalkeeper Steve Craggs did well to keep out an effort from West player-manager Paul Stoneman, but Sean Reid was first to react to nod the ball home from close range and it finished 4-1.

Town manager Fanning said: “"It was a good win, because West Allotment have been going well recently. We played some very good football during the game, and it was a good three points.”"

WEST ALLOTMENT CELTIC - Beal, Pendlebury, Douglas, Allen, Stoneman, Wilthew, Henderson, Reid, Dormand, Hudson, Lee. Subs - Bell, Findlay, Quinn, Hutchinson, Raffo.

TOWN - Craggs, Hickman, Alderson, Shoulder, Winter, Parkin, Butterworth, Laing, Emson, Chilingsworth, Gredziak. Subs - Roberts, Bulmer, Bowman, Dunn, Smurthwaite.



Sunday, 18 November 2012

Late Gredziak goal gives Town a vital point in top-of-the-table clash


A late equaliser from in-form Wayne Gredziak rescued a point for Town in an exciting meeting between the top two sides in the league on Saturday.

Ryhope arrived at the RGPS with a five point advantage at the top of the table but Town have a game in hand so it was a match neither side could really to lose.

Town manager Mark Fanning made seven changes to the side that had beaten North Ormesby in the North Riding Senior Cup three days earlier. Steve Craggs returned in goal, while Dave Alderson, Danny Shoulder and Craig Winter were all recalled in defence. Meanwhile, Gav Parkin and Marcus Laing were back in the heart of midfield, with Gredziak returning to the starting XI after scoring from the bench in midweek.

The game was in doubt at lunchtime after rain had left the pitch very heavy, but referee John Harper deemed it playable, much to the relief of the bumper 154 crowd that had arrived in Northallerton anticipating a thrilling encounter.

After an even opening twenty minutes the game burst into life midway through the first half with three goals in less than six minutes. Town grabbed a 23rd minute lead when Gredziak found Adam Emson with a measured through ball and he fired past Ryhope goalkeeper Chris Rookes into the roof of the net with his weaker right foot.

But the leaders turned the match on its head with two goals in quick succession. Their 27th minute equaliser had a touch of controversy about it as the linesman signalled a Town goal kick but Harper overruled him and awarded Ryhope a corner instead, which was headed home by leading scorer Johnny Butler - his 26th goal of the season.

Worse was to follow for Town, two minutes later as James Cook's cross evaded everyone and nestled into the corner of the net, possibly via a slight touch off Chris Trewick, to give the visitors the lead.

Town were causing problems from set pieces, with Craig Winter twice heading efforts wide of the target, before a David Alderson header was flicked on by Gredziak only for the ball to sail narrowly over the crossbar.

It was not all one-way traffic however, and as half time approached Craggs was forced into a full length save to deny Butler a second.

Town started the second half on the front foot and created a number of openings. The impressive Alderson broke into the box and his shot was heading for the top corner of the net until the fingertips of Rookes deflected the ball behind for a corner, before the Ryhope keeper then did well to deny Butterworth.

But Butler almost made the game safe of 73 minutes when he worked a good position in the box but stabbed the ball wide of the post, while Town were grateful to Craggs for a point blank save from Chris Winn soon after.

Fanning introduced Peter Bulmer for Carl Chillingsworth thirteen minutes from time, and his pace created the equaliser six minutes later. The new signing from Norton beat his full back and cut the ball back from the bye line to Gredziak, who's shot struck the bar and bounced down into the net, via the back of the unfortunate Rookes.

The home fans could sense a win now and Butterworth's shot from the edge of the area was saved at full length by Rookes before,  Alderson's goal-bound effort was blocked on the edge of the 6 yard box in stoppage time.

"It was a good game of football played on a very heavy pitch," said Fanning at the whistle. "I thought it was a great advert for 2nd division football and I expect both sides to be thereabouts at the end of the season."

Ryhope manager Martin Swales said: "I thought it was a very tough game against a very strong side on a very soft pitch which made it hard to pass the ball. I thought a draw was a fair result but I was disappointed when we conceded a late goal. However, overall I a’m happy with a draw.”"

Town return to action on Wednesday evening when they begin their defence of the Ernest Armstrong Trophy with a home tie against Alnwick Town. Kick off at the RGPS is 7.30pm and entrance is £5 for adults and £2.50 concessions.

TOWN - Craggs, Hickman, Alderson, Shoulder, Winter, Parkin, Butterworth, Laing, Emson, Chillingsworth, Gredziak. Subs - Roberts, Dunn, Bowman, Smurthwaite, Bulmer.

RYHOPE CW - Rookes, Stead, Cook, Dunn, Swansbury, Trewick, Charlton, Johnson, Butler, Winn, McMahon. Subs - O'Neill, French, Linton, Ward, Mordey.

REFEREE: J. Harper


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Town ease past North Ormesby in North Riding Senior Cup


TOWN eased into the second round of the North Riding Senior Cup with this routine victory over Teesside League Division One side North Ormesby at the RGPS on Wedneday evening.

With half an eye on Saturday's crucial league meeting against Ryhope CW, Town manager Mark Fanning made seven changes to the side that had won at Thornaby last weekend.

So in came Academy goalkeeper Dean Hudson, while Stu Dunn, Steve Banks, Pete Bulmer, Steve Butterworth, James Bowman and Alex Caisley were all given a much needed run out.

The visitors knew they had nothing to lose and started well, with Pete Griffiths going close in the early stages, but Town took control with two goals in the opening twenty minutes - both typical strikers finishes from Carl Chillingsworth.

Carl Chillingsworth puts Town 1-0 up
He opened the scoring on 12 minutes, tucking away a neat pull back from Adam Emson with the minimum of fuss, before rounding goalkeeper Michael Duff and tapping home from close range ten minutes later.

But it would not be Town if they were to make things too easy for themselves and they gifted Ormesby a way back into the tie on the half-hour. A long ball into the penalty area should have been dealt with, but John Cairnes was allowed to nip in front of Hudson and nod home from 6 yards.

Fanning was forced into a change during the break as Chillingsworth was nursing a knee injury picked up while scoring the second goal, so Saturday's hat-trick hero Wayne Gredziak replaced him up front for the second half.

And it was 3-1 six minutes after the resumption. Emson again created the opportunity with a pull-back from the left and this time Butterworth was on hand to sweep the ball past Duff from 8 yards - his 8th goal of an impressive season.

The tie was as good as over four minutes later when Town added a fourth. Bulmer, who was having more and more influence down the right-hand side, found Gredziak through the centre and he coolly lofted the ball over the stranded Duff from 20 yards - his 6th goal in the last 5 matches.
Wayne Gredziak celebrates putting Town 4-1 ahead
Fanning's side were now in complete control and could have added more gloss to the scoreline in the closing stages as Butterworth, Gredziak, Bowman and Emson all came close as Ormesby tired.

In fact Bulmer did have the ball in the net fifteen minutes from time after a lovely turn and finish on the edge of the area, but referee Philip Yates ruled it out as Emson had drifted offside, even though he was not active in the move.

In the end it was the visitors who scored the final goal of the night. Hudson, who had been largely inactive for much of the second half, did well to keep out a low drive from Cairnes, but when the resulting corner was only half-cleared to the edge of the area, Andrew Lambert drilled it back into the roof of the net.

"We got what we wanted from the night," said Fanning at the whistle. "It was a good win, we gave a few lads a much needed run out and we came through it largely unscathed.

Mark Fanning and Martin Collins watch over another Town win
"Chilli should be fit for Saturday. He tweaked his knee so we took him off as a precaution. It was a good opportunity to utilise the squad and give some lads much needed match time.

"Alex Caisley, Stuey Dunn and Steve Butts all did very well, but the whole team put in a good shift. We knew what to expect from them and we dealt with it. We can now concentrate on Saturday."

TOWN - Hudson, Roberts, Dunn, Hickman, Banks, Caisley, Butterworth, Bowman, Emson, Chillingsworth, Bulmer. Subs - Gredziak, Shoulder, Alderson, Laing, Colman.

NORTH ORMESBY - Duff, Kennedy, Jack, Griffiths,(P) Hardy, Brown, Lambert, Hebron, Boldison, Griffiths(J). Subs - Cordeiro, Williams, Turner, James.



*Pics courtesy of Paul Gaythorpe from Pik4Images

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Gredziak rediscovers scoring touch at just the right time

AFTER scoring with his first touch for the club back in September, it appeared Wayne Gredziak would go on to challenge the leading scorers in Ebac Northern League Division Two this season.

But it had not quite worked out that way. After that debut goal against Horden CW, Gredziak went 10 matches without scoring as he seemed to constantly run into opposing goalkeepers on the very top of their form. And when he did find the target, like against Esh Winning at the end of September, the referee disallowed it for an earlier offence.

"That summed up the run I was on," said Gredziak. "Sometimes as a striker that happens. I never lost faith in my ability but you need to be scoring goals. I always felt that once I got one, others would follow and thankfully that has been the case."

Since breaking his barren spell with a goal in the win over Chester-le-Street last month, Gredziak has hit top form and Saturday's hat-trick at Thornaby took his tally to five goals in the last four matches.

It had appeared his luck was out again early on at Teesdale Park on Saturday when he saw a close range effort cleared off the line by Thornaby skipper Stephen Morrison, but it all came good for the former Durham City man in the end.

"That was my first hat-trick for a while," said the 32 year old in the wake of his match-winning treble.

"I knew I was onside for the first one, as I was behind Chilli when he had the original shot. The second was a great cross from Emmo but it was slightly behind me so I had to re-adjust my position.

"I didn't even look at the goalkeeper for the third. It was a great ball from Gav and I knew that if I could bend it around him, it would go in."

Gredziak's treble, along with goals from substitute Stephen Butterworth and Emson, helped Town came back from 2-0 down to beat Thornaby 5-3.

"It was a big result for us after the disappointment of Washington the previous week," said Gredziak. "We knew the first half was not good enough but we stepped it up after the break and we are all delighted with the win, especially as (leaders) Ryhope lost."

Town manager Mark Fanning also paid tribute to his striker. He said: "Wayne has worked extremely hard since coming to the club. He sometimes moans a bit but you cannot fault his attitude. We were pleased to be able to sign him and he has given us exactly what we hoped he would.

"I wasn't really worried about his lack of goals. I knew he would score eventually. His record speaks for itself. His hat-trick on Saturday was just reward for the work he has put in up until now, and I can see him pushing Emmo all the way for top scorer at the club now."

With leaders Ryhope visiting the RGPS on Saturday, it was a good time for Gredziak to rediscover his goalscoring touch. The Ryhope front two of Johnny Butler and Chris Winn have scored over 50 goals between them so far this season, but the Town forward line of Gredziak, Emson and Chillingsworth have now contributed 34.

"Ryhope are not just about the front two," said Fanning. "They are a very good side. They have won everything at Wearside League level over the last few years so we know it will be a tough match.

"It is too early in the season to call it a title decider as there will be many twists and turns along the way, but if we can close the gap a little on Saturday, I will be delighted."

Before the visit of Ryhope, however, Town entertain Teesside League Division One side North Ormesby in the North Riding Senior Cup tomorrow night. Town were originally drawn away, but as Ormesby do not have floodlights at their Vicarage Field ground, it was agreed to switch venue.

North Ormesby have enjoyed a decent start to the season with only two league defeats so far, so they will provide Fanning's side with a tough examination ahead of Saturday's summit meeting.

With that in mind the Town boss is expected to make changes to the side that won at Thronaby, with Academy goalkeeper Dean Hudson expected to start, while other Academy players like Sam Grainger and Alex Caisley could feature.

Although Town have never won this competiton, they were beaten finalists in both 2006 and 2007 so will be hoping to go one better this time. Kick off at the RGPS tomorrow night is 7.30pm and entrance is £5 for adults and £2.50 concessions.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Gredziak treble seals exciting Town comeback


A HAT-TRICK from Wayne Gredziak saw Town come back from 2-0 down to win a dramatic match at Teesdale Park on Saturday.

Having done the hard work by turning a two-goal deficit into a 3-2 advantage, Mark Fanning's side looked to have thrown away another two points when they allowed former Town striker Gary Mitchell an equaliser with just four minutes remaining.

But stoppage time goals from Gredziak - to complete his hat-trick - and leading scorer Adam Emson, gave Town another impressive away victory.

"The opening twenty-five minutes apart, I thought we played well," said a relieved Mark Fanning at the end.

"We seem to relax more away from home and perhaps that explains why we are unbeaten on our travels. The players maybe feel the pressure a little more at home and we are not as fluid in our play.

"We carry a threat going forward but perhaps the way we set up leaves us vulnerable at the back at times. However, I will take a 5-3 win away from home any time."

Fanning rang the changes after last week's shocking 4-3 reverse against Washington, so out went goalkeeper Dean Hudson, Craig Winter, Stu Dunn, Pete Bulmer and Stephen Butterworth, with Steve Craggs, Danny Shoulder, Anthony Roberts, Ian Smurthwaite and Carl Chillingsworth all coming in.

But the changes did not appear to have worked in a dire opening twenty-five minutes from Town. As is the fashion these days, they conceded an early goal when Mitchell rose above Grant Hickman to head home a left wing cross from the impressive Liam O'Mahoney after just 14 minutes.

And worse was to follow, twelve minutes later. The Town defence stood off Rocky Andrews, who was allowed to turn and fire past Craggs from 18 yards to make it 2-0.

But slowly Fanning's side began to settle. They were close to pulling a goal back in the 32nd minute when only a spectacular goal-line clearance from Thornaby skipper Stephen Morrisson denied Gredziak, while home goalkeeper Nicholas Farrell then did well to keep out an effort from Emson three minutes later.

It was nearly all over five minutes before the break however, when only a superb save from Craggs prevented David Howe making it 3-0, and that proved to be the turning point as Town gave themselves a lifeline in the final minute of the half.

Chillingsworth's spectacular scissors kick was kept out by Farrell, but Gredziak was lurking on the 6 yard line to tuck away the rebound, despite home appeals for offside.

As well as giving Town a way back into the match, the goal also saved them for the full Fanning hairdryer treatment during the interval and they came out for the second half looking a different side.

Indeed they felt they should have had a penalty ten minutes after the resumption when Emson appeared to be impeded by Farrell as he bore down on goal, but referee Michael Taylor was unimpressed.

Fanning made changes - bringing on Steve Banks and Butterworth for Roberts and Smurthwaite - and it looked to be an inspired move when Butterworth grabbed the equaliser sixteen minutes from time.

Chillingsworth's tame effort was probably rolling towards the bottom corner of the net when defender Richard Walker inadvertently directed it back along the line for Butterworth to tap home - much to the joy of the travelling masses behind the goal.

The turn around then appeared complete two minutes later when Gredziak twisted his neck to power a header past Farrrell from 10 yards following a delightful left wing cross from Emson.

But Town switched off for a moment in the closing stages and gifted Thornaby an equaliser. Mitchell was left in acres of space down the Town right and he drilled a low shot past Craggs at the near post to make it 3-3 with just four minutes left on the clock.

However, Town dug deep and showed their attacking quality to win it in stoppage time. Gav Parkin created the fourth with a wonderful defence-splitting pass for Gredziak to gratefully gobble up his hat-trick.

Then, after missing a similar chances moments earlier, Emson ran through to dink a delicate chip over the on-rushing Farrell to put the seal on another great away day for Town.

"I am delighted for Wayne," said Fanning. "He has worked hard since arriving at the club and today he has got his reward.

"The second half performance was much better. I was a little disappointed we let it slip at 3-2, but credit to the lads for sticking at it. It sets us up nicely for the top-of-the-table clash with Ryhope next week."

That match now has added significance after Ryhope were surprisingly beaten at home by Tow Law Town, meaning the gap at the top is down to just five points.

Before that however, Town face North Ormesby in the North Riding Senior Cup on Wednesday evening at the RGPS. Kick off is 7.30pm and admittance is £5 for adults and £2.50 concessions. With 19 goals in the last 3 matches, you would be mad to miss it.

THORNABY - Farrell, Walker, Morton, Morrisson, Joseph, Horsman, Callan, Andrews, Mitchell, Howe, O'Mahoney. Subs - Howard, Hubbard, Wilkinson, Bonner, Keenan.

TOWN - Craggs, Alderson, Roberts, Hickman, Shoulder, Parkin, Smurthwaite, Laing, Emson, Chillingsworth, Gredziak. Subs - Dunn, Banks, Bowman, Butterworth, Bulmer.

REFEREE - M. Taylor.


Monday, 5 November 2012

Town suffer promotion set back as Washington leave with the points


TOWN's promotion hopes suffered an unexpected blow as Washington left the RGPS with a surprise three points on Saturday.

Manager Mark Fanning had announced the re-signing of Pete Bulmer from Norton two days earlier, and the winger, back for a third spell at Northallerton, was named in the starting XI at the expense of James Bowman, who dropped to the bench.

The big team news however, saw the first team debut of Academy goalkeeper Dean Hudson, while club captain Danny Shoulder returned to the bench following a groin injury.

Washington, who had lost 6-1 at Morpeth the previous week, started well and Hudson was immediately called into action to tip a shot from Chris Tate around the post.

Therefore, it was no real surprise when the visitors went in front in the 12th minute. Nick Evans sent Michael Latimer clear of the Town rearguard and he beat Hudson with a low shot from 15 yards.

Town responded with a header from leading scorer Adam Emson that went just the wrong side of the target, but they were back on level terms midway through the first half. The Washington defence was unable to deal with a corner from Gav Parkin and Wayne Gredziak arrived unmarked to head past goalkeeper Chris Bannon from close range.

But rather than lift Town to greater heights, the goal merely stirred Washington into action and they regained the lead less than two minutes later - Latimer sweeping home his second following a swift counter attack.

The open nature of the game continued as Fanning's side came close to drawing level again moments later when only a fine double save from Bannon kept out Marcus Laing and then Gredziak's follow up.

And that proved to be the turning point as Washington broke out to add a third, two minutes before the break. A strong run from Dan Young resulted in Tate firing past Hudson from 25 yards to make it 3-1.

But Town gave themselves something positive to build on for the second half when Emson's shot from 12 yards was deflected past Bannon to reduce the arrears to a single goal.

Indeed, Town began the second period on the attack and were close to an equaliser inside the opening minute when Emson seized on a poor clearance from Bannon but fired into the side netting.

However, it was Washington who restored their two goal cushion seconds later when Tate returned the favour for Young with a lovely through ball which the Washington midfielder finished well from close range.

Fanning had seen enough and sent on Chillingsworth for the ineffective Bulmer, and he made an immediate impression with a towering header from a Gredziak cross to make it 4-3 with twenty minutes still to play.

Town now sensed a comeback and threw everything forward in the closing stages. They looked to have been rewarded in stoppage time when Emson turned the ball home from 6 yards, only for an offside flag to cut short his celebration and Washington held on for the points.

TOWN - Hudson, Alderson, Banks, Hickman, Winter, Parkin, Laing, Butterworth, Emson, Gredziak, Bulmer. Subs - Chillingsworth, Shoulder, Dunn, Roberts, Bowman.

WASHINGTON - Bannon, Pattison, Latimer(R), Evans, Compson, Atkinson, Young, Wade, Latimer(M), Tate, Turner. Subs - Locke, Robinson, Hyde, Covell, Swann.

REFEREE: M. Hedley


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Late Smith goal ends Town's perfect away record


TOWN were left frustrated as a late equaliser from Jake Smith saw them make the long journey home from Whitehaven with just a point when it could, and perhaps should, have been all three.

Mark Fanning's side made their longest trip of the season with a 100 per cent away record to defend but were missing injury victims Danny Shoulder, Carl Chillingsworth and James Briggs, while Ian Smurthwaite was still on holiday.

Therefore the starting XI showed four changes from the previous week's win over Chester-le-Street. Steve Craggs replaced Briggs in goal, Stu Dunn came in for Steve Banks at left back, James Bowman replaced Chillingsworth in midfield, while David Alderson made his first start for the club at right back.

Despite the wintry overnight conditions, the pitch at Whitehaven was a good condition but Town nearly found themselves behind after just two minutes when leading scorer Matt Tymon headed narrowly wide from close range.

But it was the visitors who grabbed the lead three minutes later. Alderson sent over a great cross from the right and Steve Butterworth headed firmly past home goalkeeper Brian Miller from 8 yards.

Things looked to be going Town's way when Wayne Gredziak appeared to be brought down by Kevin Law when clean through on goal midway through the first half, but after consulting with his linesman, referee Steve Cavanagh did not even award a free kick let alone a red card for Law.

Buoyed by their stroke of good fortune, Whitehaven were level by the break when the lively Kevin Connolly beat Craggs from close range following a right wing cross from Stuart Shaw.

Town were given a lucky escape five minutes into the second period when Alderson appeared to handle the ball inside his own penalty area as he tried to shepherd it out of play, but Cavanagh waved away the home appeals.

That looked to be the turning point as Town regained the lead in the 66th minute. Marcus Laing sent Adam Emson clear and he coolly lofted the ball over the on-rushing Miller for his 16th goal of the season.

With time running out it appeared Town would hold on to make it five wins out of five on the road this season, but with just four minutes remaining Whitehaven grabbed a dramatic equaliser. Craggs did well to keep out a volley from Connolly but the ball fell to Smith who made no mistake from 6 yards.

The game really came to life after that as Town pushed on for the winner. The travelling fans behind the goal felt their team should have a penalty when Emson went down under a challenge from Miller as he rounded the Whitehaven goalkeeper, but Cavanagh awarded a corner instead. And from Parkin's delivery, Laing's header was cleared it off the line by Adam Johnson.

Then, deep into stoppage time, Alderson was denied a first goal for the club by a marvellous point-blank save from Miller and it finished with honours even.

"I was disappointed not to come away with all three points, especially leading so close to the end," said Fanning.

"A couple of big decisions didn't go our way but we should not have to rely on the officials. I am sure we will look back in time and consider it a decent point as its a tough place to come and win."

Town are next in action with the visit of Washington on Saturday as they look to continue their promotion push. Kick off at the RGPS is 3pm and entrance is £5 for adults and £2.50 concessions.

WHITEHAVEN - Miller, Brown, Johnson, Smith, Law, Lewis, Shaw, McRea, Tymon, Connolly, Robson. Subs - Donald, Lily, Roseby, Quayle, Taylor.

TOWN - Craggs, Alderson, Dunn, Hickman, Winter, Parkin, Butterworth, Laing, Emson, Grgedziak, Bowman. Subs - Roberts, Banks, Caisley, Colman.

REFEREE: S. Cavanagh.


Monday, 22 October 2012

Child's play for Town as Hickman and Gredziak sink Chester-le-Street

A GOAL in each half from Grant Hickman and Wayne Gredziak were enough to give Town all three points against Chester-le-Street on Saturday, as they closed the gap on leaders Ryhope CW to three points with a game in hand.
On 'Kids 4 Free' day, a crowd of 113 arrived at the RGPS to see if Town could continue their impressive recent run of form against an inconsistent Chester side who had lost 5-0 to Tow Law the previous week.
Town manager Mark Fanning was looking to start a busy week with maximum points, so added Colin Anderson and new signing David Alderson to the squad that had performed so well in the FA Vase replay at Consett in midweek. With Ian Smurthwaite unavailable, however, it meant a return to the starting line-up for Steve Butterworth in the only change from Tuesday night's narrow defeat.
Town almost got the perfect start when a slick passing move between Adam Emson, Gredziak and Carl Chillingsworth inside the opening minute freed Butterworth, but the visiting goalkeeper Matthew Crook did well to block his shot.
Then, six minutes later, the keeper could only stand and watch as Gredziak crossed to Butterworth and his first time volley flew past Crook but, unfortunately for Town, just the wrong side of the post.
An injury to Danny Shoulder after just 15 minutes meant an earlier-than-expected debut for Alderson, while the captain's absence saw Craig Winter take over free kick duties and it paid dividends with the crucial opening goal just past the half-hour mark.
Winter's well flighted set-piece was headed upwards by a Chester defender and Hickman waited for the ball to drop before nodding home, despite the best efforts of defender Matthew Smith on the goal line.
But Town had goalkeeper James Briggs to thank for preserving their lead, as he produced a stunning save to keep out a powerful cross-shot from Marc Nixon as half time approached.
Town pressed the visitors back at the start of the second half but it took 15 minutes for the pressure to result in a second goal.
Chillingsworth and Butterworth battled for a loose ball in the penalty area and as it ricocheted across the goal, Gredziak headed back across the keeper to make it 2-0.
The visitors sensed they were still not out of the game and Briggs again produced another crucial save, diving at the feet of Michael Hepplewhite who had broken clear. The loose ball was then fired back towards goal by Nixon but Hickman threw himself in front of it and the danger was cleared.
Town should have added a third late on when Butterworth headed across goal for Chillingsworth who hooked his shot over the bar from 8 yards.
Stuart Dunn replaced Steve Banks on 68 minutes and, with 15 minutes to go, James Bowman replaced Alderson, who is still building up to full match fitness.
"I'm starting to sound like a stuck record," said Fanning at the end. "But that is another clean sheet and another three points which keeps that gap between us and the chasing pack."
TOWN - Briggs, Shoulder, Banks, Hickman, Winter, Parkin, Laing, Butterworth, Chillingsworth, Emson, Gredziak. Subs - Bowman, Dunn, Alderson, Craggs, Anderson.

CHESTER-LE-STREET - Crook, Smith, Davison, Patterson, Robson, Henderson, Doyle, Pattison, Nixon, Hepplewhite, Lynch. Subs - Dukes, Weir, Scope, Forsyth, Wilkinson

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Heartbreak for Town as late Slocombe goal ends Vase dreams


An injury time goal from Consett substitute Matty Slocombe brought Town's FA Vase dreams to a heartbreaking end at Belle Vue on Tuesday night.

After a second half performance as good as anything they have produced all season, Town were caught out by a sucker-punch in the fifth minute of stoppage time at the end of a pulsating cup tie.

"Yes, we are disappointed to lose so late, but we can take the positives," said manager Mark Fanning.

"Last year we were 4-0 down inside half an hour in the League Cup here, so we were determined to keep ourselves in the game this time, and we did that.

"At half time we realised we had nothing to fear so we went for it a bit more. It could have gone either way in the end but we gave as good as we got," he said.

After heavy rain overnight and most of the morning, the match was in doubt until a 4pm pitch inspection deemed it playable, but the surface remained heavy.

The Town starting XI showed four changes from the original tie three days earlier. James Briggs returned in goal, while Steve Banks was preferred to Stuart Dunn at left back, Marcus Laing replaced Steve Butterworth in midfield, and Wayne Gredziak was back in place of James Bowman.

Town almost got the perfect start when Craig Winter met a Gav Parkin corner at the near post, but Consett goalkeeper Chris Elliott produced a marvellous save down to his left and Gredziak's follow up was blocked.

But that was a rare foray forward from Town in a first half largely dominated by the hosts. Mickey Mackay, Steven Aiston and Anthony Lund all tried their luck from distance, while Ian Smurthwaite did well to spectacularly clear an effort from Aiston off his own goalline.

The goal Consett had been threatening, however, finally arrived in the 24th minute, just as it had done on Saturday. Callum Smith created the opportunity with a ball in from the right and Aiston applied the coup de grace from 6 yards.

Town responded well to going behind and they were close to an equaliser twice in the final ten minutes of the half. Adam Emson was sent clear down the right by a lovely ball from Gredziak, but he dragged his shot wide of the far post, while Carl Chillingsworth then saw a powerful drive from 25 yards deflected behind for a corner.

After a reserved first half display, Town really came to life after the restart. Gredziak fizzed an effort just wide of the right-hand upright within a minute of the resumption, while the former Durham City man then seemed to be caught in two minds after a lovely ball from Emson six minutes later. With just Elliott to beat, Gredziak elected to square the ball to Chillingsworth when a shot may have been the better option, and the chance was gone.

It was not all out-way traffic, however, as only a smart save from Biggs denied the lively Lund soon after.

But Town were deservedly level just past the hour-mark. A free kick from Parkin was not cleared by the Consett defence and Smurthwaite hit a stunning volley from 25 yards that gave Elliott no chance - reminiscent of his strike at Brandon last season.

Parity, however, lasted barely two minutes. A cross from Lund struck Banks on the arm from point-blank range and, after some initial hesitation, referee Paul Brown pointed to the spot. It did seem a very harsh decision.

But after the Town protests had died down, former Hartlepool striker Mackay stepped up and confidently dispatched the kick past Briggs.

That led to a thrilling final twenty minutes as the game really opened up. Grant Hickman, who had been the Town goalscoring hero on Saturday, thought he had repeated the trick with a stunning strike from 10 yards, but Elliott produced an even better save to tip it over the top.

Town then thought they should have had a penalty of their own fifteen minutes from time when Chillingsworth appeared to be pushed in the back by Carl Piecha, but Brown was unimpressed.

"I didn't think it was a penalty if I'm honest," said a candid Chillingsworth afterwards. "The officials got that one right to be fair."

Fanning's side really stepped up the pressure after that and Hickman headed narrowly wide before Emson, usually so deadly in such positions, fired inches wide of the far post after a lovely ball from Gredziak.

But Town looked to have rescued themselves in the final minute of normal time when Winter rose to head home another Parkin corner and send the travelling fans into ecstasy.

Despite so little time remaining, neither side was content to just hang on for extra time. Chillingsworth was denied by the outstanding Elliott again as Town sensed a dramatic winner, but it was the hosts who won it in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Substitute Ryan King was initially denied by Briggs but the loose ball fell to fellow-replacement Slocombe who smashed it back past the beleaguered Town goalkeeper and into the net to leave Fanning frustrated.

"We didn't get what we deserved, but that's football," he said. "I'm not sure where the five minutes of stoppages has come from but we didn't really want another period of extra time after Saturday, which was why we pushed on to try and win it.

"It's more important we pick up three points on Saturday anyway as the league has always been our priority."

Town will look to do just that when Chester-le-Street are the visitors on 'Kids 4 Free' day. All under 12's will be admitted free with a full paying adult.

CONSETT - Elliott, Pearson, Davison, Cuthbertson, Scorer, Piecha, Smith, Robson, Aiston, Mackay, Lund. Subs - King, Jameson, Thompson, Slocombe, Martindale.

TOWN - Briggs, Shoulder, Banks, Hickman, Winter, Parkin, Smurthwaite, Laing, Emson, Chillingsworth, Gredziak. Subs - Craggs, Butterworth, Bowman, Colman, Dunn.


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Late Hickman header keeps Town's Vase dream alive

A late header from Grant Hickman earned Town an FA Vase replay against Division One side Consett after an epic 1st round battle at the RGPS on Saturday.
Manager Mark Fanning had been on a scouting mission to Consett recently and made four changes to his starting XI in a switch to a 4-4-2 formation to nullify the danger of former Hartlepool striker Mickey MacKay.
So Wayne Gredziak, Marcus Laing and Anthony Roberts all dropped to the bench, with James Bowman, Ian Smurthwaite and Stu Dunn coming in to replace them, while Carl Chillingsworth returned in place of the absent Col Anderson.
After a tight opening twenty minutes, it was Consett who took the lead when defender David Scorer  was given far too much time to fire home an unstoppable shot from 25 yards - the first goal conceded by Steve Craggs this season.
Town were playing some good football in the first half but they failed to seriously test visiting goalkeeper Chris Elliott, and Consett were close to doubling their advantage just before the break when MacKay struck the post.
With half time approaching there was more concern for Town when Smurthwaite required lengthy treatment after a clash of heads, but thankfully the damage was not as bad as first feared and he was able to continue.
Town knew they were still in the tie and they came out looking far more dangerous at the start of the second period. They were close to grabbing an equaliser within five minutes when Adam Emson got to the bye-line and cut the ball back for Steve Butterworth, but his shot was well saved by Elliott.
Fanning introduced Gredziak soon after as Town looked to keep their Vase dream alive. The game opened up after that, with Consett being frustrated by Town's excellent defence and Town themselves creating a number of half chances. But with less than ten minutes to go, the Division One side still led.
Town, however, dug deep and they were rewarded on 83 minutes with a fully deserved equaliser. Gav Parkin's corner from the right reached the back post where, reminiscent of his Ernest Armstrong Cup winning goal, Hickman ghosted in unnoticed to head past Elliott.
In fact Town almost won it in stoppage time when Gredziak's cross eluded both Emson and  Chillingsworth in the centre sending the tie into extra time.
The extra half an hour saw both sides have chances to win the game. Twice Consett got in behind the Town defence but both times the danger was cleared, while at the other end Gredziak's through ball freed Emson, only for his shot across goal to be scrambled to safety.
"It was a much better performance than we have produced in recent weeks," said Fanning at the end. "And a draw was a fair result. We'll just have to do it all over again in the replay now."
Consett manager Kenny Lindoe said: "It was a tale of missed chances at one end, and a goalkeeping error at the other that has cost us the game, but at least we have another crack at it."”
The replay is this Tuesday evening at 7.30pm, meaning Town's league match at Ryton & Crawcrook, scheduled for the following night, has been postponed.
NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Craggs, Shoulder, Dunn, Hickman, Winter, Parkin, Smurthwaite, Butterworth, Emson, Chillingsworth, Bowman. Subs- Briggs, Roberts, Banks, Laing, Gredziak.

CONSETT - Elliott, Pearson, Davidson, Smith, Scorer, Piecha, King, Robson, Sullivan, MacKay, Lund. Subs - Aiston, Slocombe, Davies, Stanger, Jameson
REFEREE: D. Storrie

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Emson again the difference as Town overcome Whickham


A SECOND half goal from leading scorer Adam Emson was just enough to give Town another important three points against a battling Whickham side at the RGPS on Saturday.

Manager Mark Fanning made three changes from the team that had won at Stokesley SC the previous week - Anthony Roberts replacing Stuart Dunn at left back, Craig Winter was back in place of the absent Steve Banks at the back, while Colin Anderson come in for Ian Smurthwaite in midfield.
The first half was an even contest with possession shared and neither side creating many clear cut chances. Town's best two openings both fell to Wayne Gredziak. In the 18th minute he glanced Danny Shoulder's cross narrowly wide of the post before he then took a pass from Steve Butterworth and turned his defender before shooting narrowly over the bar.
Town started the second half on the offensive, but while much of the game was played in Whickham territory, they defended well and allowed Town very few openings.
But Fanning's side were close to making the breakthrough just past the hour-mark, Colin Anderson burst into the box and hit a powerful shot that Whickham goalkeeper Scott Cresswell did superbly to keep out. Steve Butterworth hooked the loose ball back towards goal and, with Gredziak waiting to apply the finishing touch, the ball was cleared from under the bar by a defender.
The all-important breakthrough, however, was not far away. Carl Chillingsworth replaced Anderson three minutes later, and within a minute he had helped create goal. Emson's initial shot was blocked but the ball fell to Chillingsworth, who's mishit shot reached Emson 8 yards out and he lifted the ball over Cresswell to give Town the lead - his 15th goal of the season.
The visitors went in search of an equaliser with most of their attacks coming through the impressive Jordan Lartey, but every cross that came into the box was handled cleanly by Town goalkeeper Steve Craggs and the defence held firm to keep a second successive clean sheet.
"We are still struggling to hit top form," said Fanning at the whistle. "But we are looking solid and keep picking up three points. Long may it continue.”"
TOWN - Craggs, Shoulder, Roberts, Hickman, Winter, Parkin, Butterworth, Laing, Emson, Gredziak, Anderson. Subs - Dunn, Smurthwaite, Chillingsworth, Colman, Bowman.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Away-day specialists Town continue great run


SECOND half goals from Marcus Laing and the returning Colin Anderson were enough to give Town another away victory at Stokesley SC on Saturday.

Arriving with a 100% success rate on the road this season, Town were without goalkeeper James Briggs and in-form striker Carl Chillingsworth, so Steve Craggs took over in goal for his first appearance of the season, while Ian Smurthwaite came into midfield in a change to a more conventional 4-4-2 formation.

Elsewhere Steve Banks replaced Anthony Roberts at right back, while Anderson returned to the bench having missed the previous six matches through injury.

Town started well and almost grabbed an early lead when Adam Emson’s left-wing cross just evaded the late-arriving Steve Butterworth and Laing in the centre, while Butterworth then brought a fine save from home goalkeeper Graeme Willey, who then did even better to keep out Gav Parkin’s follow up.

Stokesley rarely threatened, although they could have grabbed the lead against the run of play after half an hour. Some sloppy play from Town saw Greg Upton burst through from midfield, but with just Craggs to beat, he dragged his shot wide of the far post.
With half time approaching it was Town who stepped up the pressure as they searched for the crucial breakthrough. Wayne Gredziak twice came close to ending his seven-match goal drought in the final ten minutes of the half - first being denied by the outstanding Willey before heading over from an Emson cross five minutes before the break.

With the words of manager Mark Fanning still ringing in their ears, Town came out at the start of the second half with a much higher tempo to their play and only the agility of Willey kept them at bay. He denied Gredziak again five minutes after the restart, before turning a free kick from Emson around the post, and diving full-length to deny Butterworth.
But the pressure finally paid off just past the hour-mark, with a goal that was almost a carbon copy of the opener against Brandon three days earlier. Parkin whipped in a dangerous corner from the right this time, and Laing arrived to nod home at the near post. Having waited 11 games for his first Town goal, he had now scored twice in as many matches.

Emson almost doubled the lead six minutes later with a neat lob over Willey following a long clearance from Craggs, but he was denied a 15th goal of the season when the ball landed just the wrong side of the post.
It did matter in the end, however, as Town sealed the points – and a ninth win in their last 11 matches – deep into stoppage time. A lovely flick from Gredziak sent substitute Anderson clear and he fired past Willey from six yards - his first goal since the opening day of the season. It was also the first time Town had won without Emson finding the net.

"We had to roll up our sleeves and grind out a result," said Fanning at the whistle. "The football was not pretty at times but a clean sheet and a fifth straight away win this season was pleasing. All of this means we are keeping the pressure on those around us."

Town now have a rare midweek off before the visit of Whickham next Saturday.

STOKESLEY SC – Willey, Jones, Robinson, McManus, Bell, Butterworth(L), Redman, Aninakwak, Bonner, Upton, Bivins. Subs – Hodgson, McNichol, Kamara, Lee, Hawkins.
NORTHALLERTON TOWN – Craggs, Banks, Dunn, Hickman, Shoulder, Parkin, Butterworth(S), Laing, Emson, Smurthwaite, Gredziak. Subs – Anderson, Bowman, Roberts, Winter, Colman

REFEREE: K. Beckett

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Chilli doubles up again as Town march on


IN-FORM Carl Chillingsworth struck twice as Town came from behind for the second time in four days to beat a battling Brandon United at the RGPS on Wednesday evening.

Veteran striker Chillingsworth had scored four times in the previous four matches, including a brace of headers against Seaham Red Star the previous Saturday, and he continued that run with another two headed goals to finally see off the challenge of Brandon on a wet night in Northallerton.

The match had been in doubt after heavy rainfall left the pitch under water on Tuesday, but thanks to the hard work of Les Hood and Dave Rennison it went ahead as planned, although the kick off was delayed for half an hour after assistant referee Mark Waldock had been stuck in floods on the way to the ground.

The Town starting XI virtually picks itself these days, but manager Mark Fanning was forced into a change when Craig Winter was unavailable due to the imminent arrival of his first child, so Stu Dunn started at left back, Anthony Roberts switched to right back with Danny Shoulder moving to the centre alongside Grant Hickman.

But as has been a theme in recent matches, Town started slowly. The visitors, who began the night in the bottom four, had a game-plan to frustrate Fanning's side and for twenty minutes it worked to perfection.

And they even got the bonus of an early goal. Just 12 minutes had elapsed when Ryan Readman was given time and space to turn on the edge of the penalty area and his shot squirmed under the body of goalkeeper James Briggs.

But that seemed to spark Town into life. Wayne Gredziak, who had not scored for five matches, looked determined to end that drought as he brought the best out of Brandon goalkeeper Ryan Graham, while Adam Emson chipped just wide after a lovely ball from Roberts.

The goal they had been threatening duly arrived, however, in the 26th minute but it came from a rather unlikely source. For all his great work in midfield in recent weeks, Marcus Laing had yet to find the net for his new club, but he picked the perfect time to break that duck with a close range header from a Gav Parkin corner.

And the turn around was complete two minutes later. Again Parkin created the chance with another inch-perfect corner from the left, and this time it was Chillingsworth who was the beneficiary with a near post header.

Emson was close to making it 3-1 just past the half hour mark after a great run down the left, but his shot flew inches wide, while Gredziak again came out second best in his private duel with Graham - the Brandon keeper making another fine save to deny him.

But Town did add a third just before the break. Gredziak skipped clear down the right and when his cross was missed by Chillingsworth in the centre, Emson arrived to force the ball home at the far post despite the best efforts of Graham to keep it out.

To their credit, Brandon worked hard to get back into the match and they almost reduced the arrears within seconds of the restart. Mark Bell was sent clear in the inside right channel and beat Briggs with a first time shot, but the ball skimmed the side netting on its way past the post.

In truth the second half was a scrappy affair in which neither side were able to get into a rhythm. Town had the better chances, with Steve Butterworth, Parkin and Gredziak all denied by the impressive Graham, but it was the visitors who grabbed a lifeline with fifteen minutes left.

Bell whipped a great ball in from left and Stephen Moody arrived to flick a powerful header beyond the reach of Briggs from 12 yards.

But before they had the opportunity to build on it, Town went straight up the other end to seal the points. Gredziak may not have found the net himself but he had been at the heart everything good from Town and it was his superb ball in from the right that gave Chillingsworth the chance to head his second - and 9th of the season - at the far post.

Chillingsworth should have ended the night with a hat-trick when substitute Ian Smurthwaite pulled the ball back from the left in stoppage time, but he smashed high over the crossbar into outer space and it finished 4-2.

"I am just happy to have won," said Fanning at the full time whistle. "It was not our best performance by any means but we played well in spells.

"The 3rd goal was a lovely move. Had we done that more often it could have been a cricket score, but Brandon worked hard and made it difficult for us.

"We needed the fourth goal and it came at a vital time. I'll take a 4-2 win after a performance like that," he said.

Town now face a tough trip to Stokesley SC on Saturday as they look to keep the pressure on leaders Ryhope CW.

NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Briggs, Roberts, Dunn, Hickman, Shoulder, Parkin, Butterworth, Laing, Emson, Chillingsworth, Gredziak. Subs - Banks, Bowman, Smurthwaite, Colman.

BRANDON UNITED - Graham, Lancaster, Clarey, Wraith, Conroy, Readman, Jackson, Costello, Moody, Bell, Mordue. Subs - Reade, Hilder, Blackburn, Hird, Rumble.

REFEREE: C. Gilbraith.


Monday, 24 September 2012

Town bounce back in style to stay in touch with the leaders


TOWN bounced back from an unlucky midweek defeat with what turned out to be a comfortable victory over Seaham Red Star at the RGPS on Saturday.

In a now familiar tale, Town started slowly and had to come from a goal behind before clicking into gear with three goals in fifteen minutes at the start of the second half to seal an important three points.

I’m just happy to get back to winning ways,” said manager Mark Fanning at the end.

“We struggled for the first twenty minutes, but once we got going we did enough to win the game. We played better on Wednesday and lost, but that's football.”

Fanning made one change to the starting line up from that midweek defeat by Esh Winning, bringing in Anthony Roberts in place of Stuart Dunn at left back.

Seaham arrived in North Yorkshire in good form, having won their previous two away games, and they settled much quicker. They were rewarded for that fast start inside four minutes when Alan Pegram fired past James Briggs after a neat ball from Daniel Gray, and Town were forced to come from behind again.

But the goal sparked Fanning’s side into life and they equalised seven minutes later. Adam Emson crossed from the left and Carl Chillingsworth arrived to head low into the net from 8 yards.

The game really opened up after that and there were chances at both ends, but it was Town who grabbed the lead just prior to the half-hour. Again it was Chillingsworth who found the target with a header from Roberts' cross – his 7th goal of the season.

The next goal was always going to be important and it was Town who got it just two minutes into the second half. Chillingsworth turned provider this time with a lovely ball to send Stephen Butterworth clear of the Seaham defence, and he found the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area - his fifth goal in the last five matches.

And the game was as good as over four minutes later. Gav Parkin, who was having a fine game in the centre of midfield, found Adam Emson with a defence-splitting pass, and the Town leading scorer controlled the ball before rifling past Seaham's debut-making goalkeeper Aiden Grant to make it 4-1 – the 13th strike of an incredible campaign for the former Stokesley man.

But Town were not quiet finished and they went nap just past the hour-mark. Butterworth squared the ball for Parkin to fire low to Grant's right for the goal his overall performance deserved, his first of the season.

Parkin then thought he had doubled his total ten minutes later when he ghosted into the box to meet substitute Dunn's free kick and lashed the ball home, but his celebration was cut short by referee  Paul Mosely for an infringement – the 4th Town goal to be disallowed in three days.

Seaham were a beaten side now but to their credit they finished the game strongly, forcing Briggs into three saves in the closing stages, the best of which saw him get down low to his right to push a shot from Michael Pattison around the post.

The visitors, however, were rewarded four minutes from time when Pattison and Paul Kane combined to set up Pegram for his second goal of the day to make the final score 5-2.

Town continue their promotion challenge when Brandon United visit the RGPS on Wednesday evening. Kick off is at 7.30pm and admission is £5 for adults and £2.50 concessions. Oh and don't forget to buy a programme, just £1 for 40 pages!

NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Briggs, Shoulder, Roberts, Hickman, Winter, Parkin, Laing, Butterworth, Emson, Chillingsworth, Gredziak. Subs - Craggs, Dunn, Smurthwaite, Colman, Bowman.

SEAHAM RED STAR - Grant, Stubbs, Gray, Pegram, Bryson, Phillips, Watson, McKeown, Gordon, North, Malley. Subs - Pattison, Olusuga, Kane, Thorp, Goodman.

REFEREE: P. Mosely