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.


  1. So thats 5 pre seasons and just 1 draw. We havent even taken the lead yet. Lets hope we are getting the defeats out of our system before the season starts.

  2. Poor defendeing costs!

  3. Over rated, over paid, over the hill, nuff said!

  4. Hey, what with all this negativity from you Hillbillies down there, it was a friendly game, you looked a bit like headless chickens and on another day the result could have been different. So chill, have some moonshine what you brew down there, put some cotton eye joe on and relax.

  5. I like this blog site Ricky, it allows people to voice their opinion unlike the non league zone which is heavily policed by the Northallerton KGB. The match reports are also good unlike the Baghdad Bob reports we usually got.

  6. You mean you can spout as much sh1t as you like and don't have to put your name to it. How mature or should it be bitter?

  7. Love that kind of reaction. Mature look it up my friend, you fail to qualify.

  8. Funny how he came on as ANONYMOUS and in his words spouts off. Dont embarras yourself.

  9. Dont you be upsetting the Red Necks, remember the films Deliverance and Pulp Fiction, they will set the Gimp on your sorry arse!

  10. KGB! KGB! KGB! sang to the tune of USA! USA! USA! I told you the Northallerton KGB would be watching. Is there a man sat in a car outside your home wearing a dark mack and trilby.