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


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