Wednesday, 29 August 2012

NASA relieved as Emson gives up penalty duty

AFTER his miss from the spot against Morpeth Town on Saturday, Northallerton Town striker Adam Emson has announced he is now off penalty duty, much to the relief of local residents and even NASA.

The 28 year old, signed from Stokesley SC this summer, has enjoyed a great start to his Town career with 7 goals in the opening 5 matches - including a hat-trick up at Alnwick - but he has failed to find the target from 2 of his 3 penalties this season and has decided enough is enough.

"I took some stick for the miss against Morpeth, and rightly so," he said.

"I scored at Alnwick with a driven penalty so I thought I would do the same again. Unfortunately it didn't come off this time so that's it for me and penalties now."

That stoppage time spot kick against Morpeth not only failed to find the target but also posed a risk to passing aircraft and was even spotted by NASA radars.

A spokesman for Durham/Tees Valley Airport said, "We are pleased to hear Mr. Emson has decided to stop taking penalties. A state of emergency was called at 4.45pm on Saturday when an unexplained round object was discovered in our flight zone over Northallerton.

"At first we thought it was a UFO and alerted NASA, so we were relieved to find it was only a football. When we later found out it was a penalty taken by Mr. Emson, we were concerned this would become a regular occurrence, so we are literally 'over the moon' to hear he will not be taking them any more."

After an extensive search of the area, the ball was finally discovered in a back garden in Sadberge, near Darlington, on Monday afternoon.

The householder, who did not want to be named, said, "We were shocked to find the ball in our garden as we live nowhere near a park or a football stadium.

"When we discovered the ball had come all the way from Northallerton we were a little shocked to say the least, but thankfully it did not cause too much damage, just flattened a few of our daffodils."

Town are now on the look out for a new penalty taker and a NASA spokesman has urged them to choose carefully.

"We do not want an international incident every time Northallerton are awarded a penalty, so we hope the new taker will be able to keep the ball inside the stadium," he said.

Town would like announce there is no truth in the rumour they are set to make the goals bigger before Saturday's match against Horden just in case a new taker cannot be found.

We will keep you updated with any further developments.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Winter arrives in Darlington just in the nick of time for Town


TOWN put Saturday's disappointing defeat firmly behind them as a late header from Craig Winter gave them victory at local rivals Darlington RA on Bank Holiday Monday.

The hosts began the day sitting proudly on top of the table with an unbeaten record to defend, but with just a minute of normal time remaining, Winter arrived to meet a corner from the left by Gav Parkin and give Town the points.

"That was a very good win," said manager Mark Fanning.

"This is a tough place to come and not many teams will win here, but we showed the desire that was lacking on Saturday," he continued.

After their 10 match unbeaten league run had been surrendered with an abject performance against Morpeth two days earlier, Town arrived in a wet and windy Darlington looking determined to put things right.

With several players missing, the Town starting XI showed just one change from that weekend disappointment - James Bowman replacing Stephen Butterworth, who was nursing a calf injury picked up in the defeat by Morpeth.

On a pitch that looked as if it had not seen a lawnmower throughout the summer, Town started well and were close to grabbing the lead inside three minutes. Grant Hickman whipped in a dangerous cross from the left but Winter and Adam Emson seemed to get in each others way and the chance was gone.

But Emson more than made amends seven minutes later. Parkin sent a free kick to the far post and when Bowman headed it back across goal, Col Anderson turned it into the path of Emson who applied the finish from 6 yards - his 7th goal of the season.

The hosts were struggling to find any rhythm at this stage but they almost fashioned a 13th minute equaliser. James Evison did well down the Town left but his cross to the far post was fired wide by Lee Johnson.

But it was Town creating the better chances in the first half. Emson was a constant threat down the left and he almost doubled his tally in the 25th minute, only to see his effort blocked by Muir.

Then, from the resulting corner, Winter was denied by a fine save from former Town goalkeeper Alex Kell before the RA defence were able to scramble the ball clear.

Emson's pace was proving too much for the hosts and he nearly turned provider twice in the closing stages of the opening period. His pull-back from the left in the 37th minute just evaded Bowman at the far post, before a similar move two minutes later saw Nick Harrison forced into a desperate clearance under pressure from Anderson.

But the hosts began the second period with a higher tempo to their play and they came close to drawing level four minutes after the resumption. Goalkeeper James Briggs did well to deny Evison initially but he got lucky when Steve Allison's follow up come back off the post.

The RA came even closer three minutes later. A corner from the left by Graham Whitehead was met with a near post header by Muir but with Briggs beaten, Parkin was in the right place to clear the ball off the line.

Town were forced to play on the break now but one such move almost brought them the cushion of a second goal on the hour. Parkin put in a lovely ball from the right and only an incredible save from Kell kept out Emson's 10 yard volley.

But the equaliser that had been on the cards for much of the second period finally arrived twenty minutes from time. Stu Dunn did well to deny Evison with a superb tackle inside the penalty area but the ball broke to substitute David Webster who curled the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

But instead of pushing for the winner in the closing stages, the hosts seemed content with the point and it was Town who now looked the more dangerous.

Kell denied Emson again from a Gary Cook free kick three minutes later, before the Town leading scorer then flicked a header just wide with six minutes left.

But with the clock running down towards the 90 minute mark, Parkin sent in a corner from the left and Winter arrived right on cue to head the ball beyond Kell and give Town a vital three points.

"Even at 1-1 I fancied us to get a winner," said Fanning.

"I knew if we could get a set-piece and if the delivery was right we had a chance, and that's exactly what happened. I could not be more pleased."

"The pitch was not the best but we got on with it and were fully deserving of the win. Hopefully we can get a run going now and keep ourselves in a good position near the top of the table."

DARLINGTON RA - Kell, Ramsbottom, Swankie, Elgie, Harrison, Muir, Whensley, Johnson, Allison, Evison, Whitehead. Subs - Howlett, Hanraty, Cheeseman, Webster, Huscroft.

NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Briggs, Banks, Dunn, Hickman, Winter, Parkin, Cook, Smurthwaite, Anderson, Emson, Bowman. Subs - Roberts, Craggs, Colman, Butterworth.

REFEREE - K. Beckett.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Unbeaten run over as Town limp to 'passionless' defeat


TOWN saw their 10 match unbeaten league run brought to an end on Saturday as Morpeth Town left the RGPS with an impressive 2-0 victory.

Having played well up at Alnwick on Tuesday evening, Town were expected to continue in a
similar vein here, but they never recovered from the loss of an early goal and rather meekly surrendered their proud unbeaten run.

Manager Mark Fanning was forced into two changes from that midweek victory as Carl Chillingsworth and Marcus Laing were both unavailable, so Col Anderson and Ian Smurthwaite came in, the latter making his first appearance of the season.

Having taken an early lead in each of their opening two league matches, Town found themselves behind this time. A long ball over the top again caused the problems and when Chris Lunn caught James Briggs in no-mans-land, Anthony Keegan was able to tap home after just six minutes.

It nearly got a whole lot worse for Town three minutes later when they failed to clear a corner from the right by Paul Dunn, but Marc Walmsley fired over the top from the edge of the area.

It was not looking like being Town's day when they then lost Stephen Butterworth to a calf injury after twenty minutes, so Gary Cook was brought on to replace him down the left-hand side of midfield for his first appearance of the season.

Town went on to enjoy far more of the possession before the break but they rarely threatened the strong and well organised Morpeth defence.

They did, however, come close to an equaliser midway through the half. A shot from Smurthwaite was deflected onto the post and could have fallen kindly for Town, but it went straight into the grateful arms of goalkeeper Jack Wells and the chance was gone.

Cook then fired over the top following a forceful run at the heart of the visitors defence as Town headed into the break on top.

With the words of encouragement from Fanning and assistant Martin Collins still ringing in their ears, Town were close to drawing level five minutes after the restart.

Stephen Banks crossed from the right and Stu Hardy, on his farewell appearance for the club before leaving to travel Australia, was only denied a goal by a terrific save from Wells.

But, other than a chip from Anderson which landed just the wrong side of the post on the hour, Town appeared to run out of ideas and it was Morpeth who doubled their advantage sixteen minutes from time.

Mark Grant's powerful drive from 20 yards was well saved by Briggs but Michael Chilton reacted quickly to tuck home the rebound.

Briggs was called into action again three minutes later with a fine reaction stop to deny substitute Stephen Anderson and that seemed to give Town a new lease of life.

They thought the had grabbed a lifeline when Adam Emson, who had been quiet until then, headed home a left wing cross from Anderson, but the assistant on the near-side had already raised his flag to indicate the ball had gone out of play.

Morpeth were then reduced to ten men when Dunn, who had earlier been booked, was shown a straight red card for an elbow on Anderson, but it came too late to make any difference to the outcome.

Town should have reduced the arrears in stoppage time, however, when Anderson was sent sprawling in the area by Wells but Emson, with 6 goals to his credit already this season, blasted the spot kick high over the bar and into Ainderby Road.

That just about summed up Town's day.

"The lack of passion and desire today was not acceptable," said a disappointed Fanning.

"Too many thought that all they had to do was turn up and the game was won. It was a rude awakening and I expect a vast improvement on Monday (at Darlington RA).

"Fair play to Morpeth," he continued. "They wanted it more than us."

NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Briggs, Banks, Dunn, Hickman, Winter, Smurthwaite, Parkin,
Hardy, Butterworth, Anderson, Emson. Subs - Roberts, Craggs, Bowman, Cook,

MORPETH TOWN AFC - Wells, Johnstone, Walmsley, Grant, Hall, Tumilty, Keegan, Fry, Lunn, Chilton, Dunn. Subs - Anderson, Derwent, Young, Dormand, Henderson.

REFEREE - T. Chambers


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Emson treble makes it a happy away day for Town


ADAM EMSON continued his impressive start to life at Northallerton as his superb hat-trick gave Town their first win of the season at Alnwick on Tuesday evening.

The 28 year old, signed from Stokesley SC this summer, took his tally for Town to six in just three matches as Mark Fanning's side built on the hard-earned point against Crook on Saturday with this impressive away day performance.

For the long midweek trip up the A1, Town were without the suspended Danny Shoulder, while Colin Anderson, Gary Cook, Ian Smurthwaite and Steve Craggs were also unable to travel due to work commitments.

So Fanning's starting XI saw two changes from Saturday's exciting 3-3 draw with Crook. Stephen Banks replaced Anthony Roberts at right back, while Steve Butterworth was back in the side in place of James Bowman down the left, who dropped to the bench.

Despite the long journey, Town were fast out of the blocks and once again got the boost of an early goal. Having scored within two minutes on Saturday, Town repeated the trick again as a ball out of defence by Craig Winter was deftly flicked on by Butterworth into the path of Carl Chillingsworth. The veteran striker, who had grabbed that early goal against Crook, drilled home his third of the season from the edge of the penalty area.

It was nearly 2-0 soon after when Emson crossed from the left but Chillingsworth was off target this time as his first-time effort flew just over the crossbar. Butterworth was then unlucky to see the ball come back off the post after he chipped the advancing Alnwick goalkeeper following a sparkling solo run.

Town continued to create the better chances in the opening period and Emson was also denied by the woodwork before the break when his drive from the edge of the area skimmed the crossbar as it flew over the top.

The Town travelling army at Alnwick.

The hosts came out strongly at the start of the second half but the Town defence, which has been criticised after conceding eight goals in their previous two matches, stood firm and restricted Alnwick to very few chances.

With that strong base behind them, Town were able to regain their earlier control. Chillingsworth was denied by the Alnwick goalkeeper after a lovely right-wing cross from Stu Hardy on the hour, but it was 2-0 five minutes later.

Emson, who was now enjoying more and more influence, cut in from the left before arrowing a low drive into the far corner of the net.

Town could relax now and began to play some good football. They were rewarded with eighteen minutes remaining when Gav Parkin split the Alnwick defence and Emson added his second with a cool finish from a tight angle.

And he completed his hat-trick three minutes later. Butterworth was sent sprawling in the area and Emson confidently dispatched the spot kick to complete a perfect away day for Town and their 12 travelling fans.

"I was really pleased with the attitude of the lads tonight," said Fanning.

"We have taken stick in some quarters for the number of goals we have conceded, so to keep a clean sheet was our priority as we will always score goals. You have to be happy with a 4-0 win away from home."

Assistant manger Martin Collins was equally fulsome in his praise. "We were disappointed to only take a 1-0 lead into the break as we knew Alnwick would put is under pressure in the second half. But the defence stood firm and the second goal gave us some breathing space.

"We were pleased with the way we saw the game out and equally pleased to keep a clean sheet against a lively attack."

The night was brought to an end with a presentation to Olympic 1,500 metre finalist Laura Weightman, who was born in Alnwick, in the clubhouse after the match.

NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Briggs, Banks, Dunn, Hickman, Winter, Parkin, Hardy, Laing, Emson, Chillingsworth, Butterworth. Subs - Roberts, Bowman, Coleman.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Thrill-a-minute stuff as Town open the season with a point


TOWN KICKED OFF their Ebac Northern League Division Two campaign with this exciting 3-3 draw against Crook Town on Saturday.

Following on from the nine-goal thriller in the F.A Cup against Guisborough last week, Town certainly knows how to keep the crowd entertained as they served up another goal-fest in the sunshine at the RGPS.

There was drama in the build up to the game when captain Martin Butterworth announced he was leaving the club - saying the time was right for a new challenge - so the starting XI showed three changes from the cup defeat by Guisborough.

Anthony Roberts replaced Steve Banks at right back, Stu Hardy came in for Butterworth in midfield, while manger Mark Fanning preferred Carl Chillingsworth to Col Anderson up front in a 4-4-2 formation.

That looked to be a master-stroke when Chillingsworth got the Town league campaign off to a flying start. Adam Emson broke clear down the left inside two minutes and when his shot was saved by Crook keeper Barry Poskett, Chillingsworth was on hand to tap home the rebound.

Crook had arrived as pre-season favourites for promotion but Town were the better side for much of the opening half an hour. Emson's pace down the left was causing the visitors problems, while Chillingsworth was hungry for more goals as he fired over after linking well with Gav Parkin.

But for all their dominance it was the lapses of concentration at the back which were once again to prove their undoing. A long ball over the top by Chris Pearson caught the Town defence square and veteran striker Kevin Devine ran clear to coolly slot beyond the exposed James Briggs.

And Crook went in front two minutes later. David Paul was given far too much space on the right-hand edge of the penalty area and he made no mistake with an assured finish from 15 yards.

But, just as the previous week, Town responded well to going behind and turned the match on its head with two goals of their own in a stunning three minute spell.

They got themselves back on level terms in the 41st minute when a shot from James Bowman was deflected into the path of Chillingsworth to nod his second from close range, before Emson burst clear, rounded Poskett and slotted home his third goal of the season.

But Town could not hold on until half time. They failed to adequately defend a corner from the left by Christopher Wallace and defender Graham Liddle arrived unmarked to head home at the far post. So in a breath-taking ten minutes of football we had seen five goals.

The second half had a lot to live up to after that and sadly it did not produce any further scoring. Town clearly had the better of things, especially after Wallace was dismissed by referee Michael Thurston for lashing out at Parkin nine minutes after the restart.

Emson chipped narrowly over the top before appearing to be pushed in the back by Liddle as he burst into the area on the hour. But Thurston angered the home crowd by waving away their appeals for a penalty.

The ten men of Crook seemed happy to hang on for the point now although Briggs had to be alert to deny Paul and substitute Alex Marshall as they briefly threatened on the counter attack.

But there was only going to one winner in the closing stages as we witnessed wave after wave of black and white attacks. Anderson, who had replaced Emson, came close to creating what would surely have been the winner fifteen minutes from time with a lovely cross from the right.

Chillingsworth looked odds-on to complete his hat-trick from inside the six-yard box, but his shot was deflected harmlessly into the arms of Poskett as he was already wheeling away in celebration.

Meanwhile Steve Butterworth - another second half substitute - chipped the ball over the advancing Crook keeper only to see it nestle frustratingly on the roof of the net.

The best chance of all, however, fell to Hardy six minutes from time. Again Anderson was the creator with a lovely cross from the right and when Chillingsworth nodded the ball back across goal, Hardy only had to apply the coup-de-grace from four yards. But he somehow managed to completely miss his kick and it finished with honours even.

"It's very frustrating as I thought we had the chances to win it in the end," said Fanning. "We will always score goals so when we stop conceding them at the other end we will be fine.

"We have worked very hard on defending corners so it was disappointing to give them a free header just before the break, but after going behind we showed great character again.

"If they really are one of the better sides in this division then we really do not have much to fear," he concluded.

Town's busy early season schedule continues with a long trip to Alnwick on Tuesday evening before Morpeth Town visit in a rearranged game next Saturday.

NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Briggs, Roberts, Dunn, Hickman, Winter, Parkin, Hardy, Laing, Emson, Chillingsworth, Bowman. Subs - Banks, Smurthwaite, Cook, Butterworth, Anderson.

CROOK TOWN - Poskett, Maddison, Riding, Bickerstaff, Liddle, Pearson, Price, Wallace, Devine, Paul, Bird. Subs - Davies, Pickering, Marshall, Wear.

REFEREE - M. Thurston


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Town throw it away as late Johnson header sends Guisborough through


NORTHALLERTON TOWN saw their FA Cup dreams brought to a premature end as they somehow contrived to twice throw away a two goal lead against Ebac Northern League Division One side Guisborough Town at the RGPS on Saturday.

For 65 minutes Mark Fanning's side were in complete control against their more illustrious visitors, as a debut brace from Adam Emson and a goal from James Bowman gave them a fully deserved 3-1 lead. But some suicidal defending in the final twenty-five minutes saw Guisborough come back to snatch a dramatic victory.

"We were comfortable," said manager Mark Fanning. "They had barely threatened but we gave away a soft goal and it gave them a lift. The disappointing thing is we did not learn from it and gave them two more. Then, having got ourselves back into it, we fall asleep at the end. To say I am disappointed is an under-statement."

Fanning's first team selection of the new season saw him make four changes to the side that had drawn away at Billingham the previous week.

James Briggs returned in goal behind a back four of Stephen Banks, Grant Hickman, Craig Winter and Stu Dunn. Marcus Laing was back in a three-man midfield, making his official club debut alongside Martin Butterworth and Gav Parkin, with Col Anderson and Bowman supporting lone-striker Emson - another making his first competitive appearance for the club.

The tough pre-season campaign looked to have paid off for Town in a dominant first half performance. Anderson and Emson were combining well up front while the high defensive line was catching Guisborough forwards Billy Blackford and Nathan Steele offside on numerous occasions.

Town were close to breaking the deadlock midway through the half when a great cross from the left by Emson would have been headed home by Laing from 6 yards had it not been for a fine block by defender Michael Jameson.

The danger was not quite over for the Priorymen, however, as the resulting corner - whipped in from the left by Parkin - saw Hickman denied by visiting goalkeeper James Escritt.

But it was 1-0 eight minutes before the break. Referee Darren Whatling spotted a push in the area by Mark Casey on Parkin - as he attacked a corner from the right by Emson - and pointed to the spot. Emson stepped up and while his initial kick was kept out by Escritt, he reacted quickly to smash the rebound into the roof of the net - his first goal for the club.

The Town fans behind the goal had barely stopped celebrating when their heroes doubled their advantage. Anderson clipped a lovely ball through to Bowman who coolly rounded Escritt at the second attempt before rolling home from 12 yards.

But with half time approaching Town switched off at the back and were made to pay. A long ball from the back by ex-Town defender Lee Bythway caught the home defence square and Blackford ran through to slot past Briggs.

"We just needed to see it out at 2-0 until half time," said Fanning. "We had a free kick and instead of knocking it into the corner for Col (Anderson) to chase, we committed too many forward and were caught out."

That looked like being the turning point as Guisborough started the second half on the front-foot. Indeed they thought they had equalised five minutes after the resumption when Adam Gell turned home a cross from Blackford, but assistant referee Peter Hartley had already flagged for offside.

But what could have been 2-2 suddenly became 3-1. Anderson, who was now at the heart of everything, put Emson through on the right-hand edge of of the area and he made it a perfect debut by firing past Escritt from eight yards.

Guisborough looked a beaten side now and it was very nearly 4-1 on the hour. Emson, now on a hat-trick of course, found space on the edge of the penalty area but shot narrowly over the top.

Then, almost out of nowhere, the visitors found a way back into the tie. Town's high defensive line, which had looked so assured earlier, was caught out again by a long ball over the top and Gell ran through to beat Briggs from 18 yards.

That changed the whole complexion of the match and Guisborough turned it completely on its head with two goals in six minutes. In a repeat of both the earlier goals, the Town defence was unable to deal with a ball over the top and this time substitute Lewis Wood profited as he rounded Briggs to make it 3-3.

Incredibly the visitors then went in front for the first time thirteen minutes from time. Liam O'Sullivan beat the offside trap down the left and found Gell to slot home his second from close range.

Town refused to let their heads drop, however, and showed the character they will need throughout the coming nine months. With just nine minutes remaining Bowman sent a lovely ball over the top of the Guisborough defence and Anderson got the goal his all-round display deserved with a cool finish from a tight angle.

But, with the 118 fans making their travel arrangements for the midweek replay at Guisborough, the visitors won it. Liam McPhillips was given far too much room to cross from the left and, as the clock ticked down towards the 90 minute mark, Austin Johnson placed a perfect header beyond the reach of Briggs to send Guisborough through.

NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Briggs, Banks, Hickman, Winter, Dunn, Laing, Butterworth(M), Parkin, Anderson, Bowman, Emson. Subs - Roberts, Craggs, Butterworth(S), Cook, Chillingsworth.

GUISBOROUGH TOWN - Escritt, Connor, O'Sullivan, Bythway(Lee), Casey, Gell, Jameson, Johnson, Blackford, Steele, McPhillips. Subs - Harris, Matthews, Foster, Wood, Guy.

REFEREE; D. Whatling


Monday, 6 August 2012

Controversial Owen equaliser denies Town first pre-season victory


NORTHALLERTON TOWN concluded their pre-season campaign with a fully deserved draw at Ebac Northern League Division One side Billingham Town on Saturday.

A goal from Adam Emson inside the opening minute gave Town the perfect start - the first time they have led in a match this pre-season - and it led to a solid, confident display.

“Yes, it was great to finally get ourselves in front,” said manager Mark Fanning. “We have been criticised in some quarters for our results in pre-season but we deliberately wanted tough games, and that is what we have got.

It was a good performance today. We created plenty of chances, especially in the second half. We had 8 players missing for one reason or another but at least it gave the lads a good work-out.

We looked a little tired towards the end, and would have benefited from having another body on the bench, but we worked really hard again and are a little disappointed not to have won.”

The Town starting XI showed five changes from the unfortunate defeat up the road at Norton on Wednesday evening. Steve Craggs replaced James Briggs in goal, while Stu Dunn switched to right back with James Bowman on the left.

Grant Hickman was partnered in the centre of defence by Steve Banks, with a midfield four of Stu Hardy, Gav Parkin, Martin Butterworth and Gary Cook. That left Carl Chillingsworth and Adam Emson up front, with Anthony Roberts and Alex Caisley on the bench.
Billingham kicked off but it was Town who pressed the ball early. Parkin won it in midfield, fed Cook out on the left and his cross was spectacularly volleyed past home keeper Danny Molyneux by Emson from 8 yards – his first goal since signing for the club this summer.

But the hosts struck back quickly and were almost level moments later. Nicky Martin broke clear and chipped the ball over the advancing Craggs from the edge of the penalty area, but it landed on the roof of the net and the score remained 1-0.

Town played some good football in the first half, knocking the ball around confidently and enjoying some long spells of possession. However, it was Billingham who created the better chances.

The dangerous Glen Butterworth drilled over from the edge of the area after 20 minutes, while former Middlesbrough trainee James Cronesberry was only denied by a brave save from Craggs after beating the Town offside trap six minutes later.

But Town were fast out of the blocks at the start of the second period. Chillingsworth was close to doubling their advantage within two minutes of the restart with a shot from the right-hand edge of the area which brought the best out of Molyneux.

The hosts were almost gifted an equaliser three minutes later when a poor clearance from Craggs saw the ball fall to Cronesberry on the left. But just as it appeared Jamie Owens was about to tap home, Hickman appeared from nowhere to make a superb block.
It was 1-1 ten minutes into the second period, however, with a goal that had more than a hint of controversy. Fanning had just made two substitutions – replacing Chillingsworth and Cook with Caisley and Roberts and switching to a 4-3-3 formation – but before they had the chance to reorganise, Owens was allowed space to head home a free kick from Cronesberry.

“The referee allowed them to take the free kick quickly before Roberts had the chance to get into position,” said a disappointed Fanning. “And he may have been able to block the run of Owens.”

The game really opened up after that and both sides could have won it. Town's best chance fell to Emson who broke through the home defence on the hour and tried to round Molyneux, but the Billingham keeper just managed to deny him with an outstretched left hand.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Martin did round Craggs but rolled the ball wide of an empty net and it finished 1-1.
With the big kick off now less than a week away, when Guisborough Town visit the RGPS in the FA Cup on Saturday, the time for talking is over. The team may not have won a match in pre-season but the performances have steadily improved and it would not be a surprise if Town hit the ground running when it really matters.

BILLINGHAM TOWN – Molyneux, Garbutt, Gamble, Perry, Middleton, Gaston, Butterworth, Coussavilla, Martin, Owens, Cronesberry. Subs – O’Brien, Clarke, Arthur.
NORTHALLERTON TOWN – Craggs, Dunn, Bowman, Hickman, Banks, Parkin, Hardy, Butterworth(M), Emson, Chillinsworth, Cook. Subs – Roberts, Caisley.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Another second half comeback not quite enough for Town


TOWN RETURNED to the venue of their cup final triumph last April, but there was to be no repeat of the success against Team Northumbria as they slipped to another pre-season defeat at Norton & Stockton Ancients last night.

In a now all-too familiar tale, Town followed up a rather lacklustre first half performance with a much improved second half display which almost brought them another well deserved draw.

In fact they felt they had done just that when a header from Carl Chillingsworth appeared to have crossed the line after bouncing down from the underside of the crossbar three minutes from time, but the referee and his assistant waved away their appeals.

“Most of the lads thought it was in,” said centre half Craig Winter. “The linesman was right in line with it so I’m not sure why he didn’t give it.”

Manager Mark Fanning was more philosophical. “I was happy with the second half performance,” he said. “We tried something different in the first half and it didn’t really work, but this is what pre-season is all about," he said.

"We are two games behind everyone else, after we lost our opening two friendlies to the weather, so we are playing catch-up a little bit. Depending what happens on Saturday at Billingham, we may try to arrange another game for next Wednesday evening.”

The Town starting XI showed six changes from Saturday’s draw at Synthonia. Anthony Roberts and Stu Dunn replaced James Bowman and Stephen Banks in the full back positions, while there was a three-man midfield of Martin Butterworth  - making his first appearance of the season  - Alex Caisley and Gav Parkin. Meanwhile, Carl Chillingsworth was supported from wide areas by Colin Anderson and Harrison Davies, who was also making his first appearance of the season.

In keeping with much of their pre-season campaign so far, however, Town found themselves behind early on. A long throw from the right by Norton full-back Alderson caused confusion in the Town defence and Dunn sent a header looping into his own net inside three minutes.

The new-look formation was not really working in the early stages as Chillingsworth was left isolated and Town were restricted to mainly long range efforts. Chillingsworth tried his luck from 25 yards following a clearance from goalkeeper James Briggs in the 19th minute, while Parkin was denied by Norton stopper Howard from a similar distance soon after.

But it was the hosts who doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark. Town failed to deal adequately with a corner from the right and the ball fell to Clarke 25 yards out. His shot was going well wide of the target but Alderson reacted quickly to turn the ball home from the edge of the six yard box.

Despite rarely threatening in the opening period, Town were close to pulling a goal back in the final minute of the half. Davies whipped in a lovely set-piece delivery from out on the right and Grant Hickman’s header at the far post was somehow scrambled clear by the Norton defence.

But it could have been even worse for Town moments later as only a tremendous save from Briggs prevented Hume adding a third for Norton in first half stoppage time.

Fanning made changes at the break - bringing on Bowman, Banks, Stu Hardy and Adam Emson for Caisley, Davies, Roberts and Chillingsworth - and switching to a  more conventional  4-4-2 formation, but the game was nearly over within four minutes after the restart.

Norton forward Marshall created space inside the Town area with a neat turn and shot but Briggs produced his second superb save of the night to tip the ball over the top.

That was a rare attack from the hosts, however, in a second half largely dominated by Town. Hardy’s pace down the right was providing a much needed outlet, while Anderson and Emson were combining well up front.

In fact it was Emson who should have brought Town back into it seven minutes into the second period. A free kick from Parkin found the substitute 8 yards out and, after his initial header was blocked, he somehow fired over the top from close range.

Anderson did have the ball in the net moments later - after linking well with Emson down the left - but his celebrations were cut short by an offside flag. However, he was not to be denied for long.

Parkin whipped in another dangerous free kick from the left and Hickman nodded the ball back across the goal for Emson, eight yards out. He thought he had scored when his header was tipped onto the inside of the post by Howard, but Anderson made sure by forcing the ball home from right on the line.

It was all Town now and they were close to an equaliser moments later. Winter beat Howard with a close range header but Dalton was in the right place to clear the ball from his own goal-line, while Hardy then fired narrowly over the top with an opportunist effort from 30 yards.

Fanning sent Chillingsworth back into the fray - in place of Anderson - and it almost paid dividends three minutes from time. Parkin and Emson combined well down the left and Chillingsworth’s glancing header hit the underside of the crossbar before appearing to bounce down over the line. But the ‘goal’ wasn’t given and it finished 2-1.

NORTON & STOCKTON ANCIENTS – Howard, Alderson, Lilley, Prockets, Mulligan, Dalton, Martin, Clarke, Hume, Marshall, Brunt.

NORTHALLERTON TOWN – Briggs, Roberts, Dunn, Hickman, Winter, Caisley, Butterworth(M), Parkin, Anderson, Chillingsworth, Davies. Subs – Bowman, Banks, Hardy, Emson.