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


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Town surrender unbeaten run on controversial night at the RGPS


AN unfortunate own goal from substitute Ian Smurthwaite saw Town surrender their five match winning run in controversial circumstances at the RGPS on Wednesday night.

Three times in the first half Town had the ball in the net, and three times referee Michael Thurston ruled them out as Town crashed to defeat in a match they had dominated throughout.

"I am very frustrated," said manager Mark Fanning at the final whistle. "I am not entirely sure how we have lost.

"I said to the lads at half time that this was the best they had played for some time, and the second half was even better. So to have come away with nothing is hard to take."

As one of their games in hand on leaders Ryhope CW, Town were determined to pick up the three points and they were on the attack from the off.

The night may have had a very different outcome had Fanning's side been awarded a penalty inside the opening three minutes. Carl Chillingsworth went down under a reckless challenge from Esh defender Luke Thompson inside the area, but Thurston waved away their penalty appeals and that set the tone for the rest of the match.

Town looked firmly in control, and with the magnificent Marcus Laing directing things from midfield, they thought they had taken a 16th minute lead. Adam Emson, with 12 goals to his name this season already, diverted a shot from Laing into the net from 6 yards, but Thurston angered the home fans again when he ruled it out for a marginal offside decision.

The farcical nature of the match continued when Town had the ball in the net again two minutes later, only to see it once again ruled out. Wayne Gredziak forced home from close range after Esh goalkeeper Gareth Young had failed to gather a header from Grant Hickman, but Thurston had already blown for a foul on the keeper.

Wayne Gredziak has goal controversially ruled out
It did not look being Town's night when Esh then broke out to grab the lead with their first meaningful attack after 23 minutes. Darren Kokes whipped in a dangerous ball from the right and Craig Mickle arrived to smash a first-time volley past James Briggs at the far post.

Town did not let their heads drop and they really should have been level by the break. Craig Winter headed wide from a Gav Parkin corner in the 29th minute, before Emson thundered a drive against the crossbar from 6 yards, after a clever pull back from Gredziak six minutes later.

But the half ended in yet more controversy and once again Thurston was at the heart of it. Hickman met a Parkin corner with a towering header and Chilingsworth turned the ball home from close range but the referee ruled it out for handball.

"It came off the top of my shoulder," said a shocked Chillingsworth afterwards. "If if was handball I would admit it, but it wasn't. Nowhere near."

That just about summed up the first half.

Town, however, looked determined to put those disappointments behind them as they started the second half at a high tempo.

Emson headed over following a right-wing cross from Danny Shoulder two minutes after the resumption, while Chillingsworth, Stephen Butterworth and Emson again all came close as the pressure increased on the Esh goal.

But after Chillingsworth saw a drive kept out by Young's legs with sixteen minutes remaining, it looked as though it was going to be one of those nights for Town. The equaliser, however, finally arrived four minutes later. Hickman hit a long ball into the Esh penalty area and Chillingsworth arrived to nod over the stranded Young from eight yards.

Carl Chillingsworth celebrates his equaliser with Adam Emson, Grant Hickman, Marcus Laing and Gav Parkin
There only looked like being one winner now, but when the third goal of the night arrived, it was surprisingly the visitors who got it. Briggs did well to deny Lee Newby initially but when Thompson pulled the ball back from the left, substitute Smurthwaite, who had been on the pitch less than two minutes, diverted it into his own net.

With just eight minutes left to save their unbeaten run, Town threw everything forward. Smurthwaite almost made amends with a header that flew narrowly wide seconds later, before Emson volleyed over the top in stoppage time.

"At 1-1 I could only see one winner," said Fanning. "It was so one-sided it was unbelievable.

"The referee did not do us any favours. Apart from the disallowed goals, there was a foul on Grant (Hickman) in the build up to their winner. I now know how David Moyes felt the other night," he said, in reference to Everton's controversial match with Newcastle.

"We probably played better tonight than we did to beat Birtley 4-0 last week. It's hard to take but as long as we keep putting in performances like that we'll be fine," he said.

Town will look to bounce straight back on Saturday when Seaham Red Star are the visitors to the RGPS. Kick off is at 3pm.

*Pictures courtesy of Paul Gaythorpe at Pik4images. More available at

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

ESH WINNING - Young, Mitten, Farrington, Newby, Oakley, Thompson(L), Thompson(S), Harrison, Mickle, Kokes, Turton. Subs - Ward, Spence, Harrison, Taylor, Soppitt.

REFEREE; M. Thurston


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Preview of a busy week for Town

TOWN face three homes games in the next week as we step up our promotion challenge, starting tonight with the visit of Esh Winning.

Esh have had a solid start to the season, although they have only played once away from home, a 1-0 defeat at Morpeth last Tuesday. They have struggled for goals, with only 7 in 6 league games, although they did score 4 against Albion Sports in the FA Vase on Saturday.

Top scorers this season are Darren Kokes, Jason Brazauskas, Chris Smith and Gary Turton, all with 3.


Birtey Town          H L0-2
Darlington RA       H D1-1
Brandon United    HW2-0
Jarrow Roofing     HW2-0
Alnwick Town       HW2-1
Morpeth                  A L0-1

Esh have only won once at the RGPS, a 2-0 victory in the 1984-85 season, while last seasons clash ended in a 3-3 draw. This is also one of the two games in hand we have on leaders Ryhope CW.

After Esh, we welcome Seaham Red Star on Saturday. They have had an inconsistent start to the season, but will arrive with a 100% away record. They have, however, suffered some heavy home defeats.

Top scorers are Channon North and Daniel Gray, both with 4, while no one else has scored more than once for them this season.


West Allotment      H D3-3
Jarrow Roofing      H D2-2
Thornaby                 A W2-0
Ryhope CW            H L0-5
Chester-le-Street    H L0-3
Tow Law Town      H D2-2
Whitehaven              A W3-0
North Shields          H W1-0

Seaham do have a very good record at the RGPS, however, with 12 wins and only 4 defeats from their 20 visits. They also won the corresponding fixture here last season, 3-2.

The third home match sees the visit of Brandon United next Wednesday. They have only won twice this season and picked up just one point away from home, so on paper at least, this appears to be the easier of the three games.

Top scorers for Brandon this season are Marc Costello and Owen Lancaster, both with 3, while Liam Bowes has scored twice.


Darlington RA        H L1-5
Crook Town             A D2-2
Alnwick Town        H W4-0
Esh Winning            A L0-2
Horden CW              A L0-3
Tow Law Town      H L0-4
Birtley Town          H W3-1

Brandon are another club to have a decent record here at the RGPS with 4 wins in 10 visits, although we beat them 4-1 in the corresponding fixture last season, and 3-0 the season before.

Nine points from these three matches could see us go to the top of the table, although a return of 7 would be a great effort and keep us in the promotion shake up going into the trip to Stokesley SC at the end of the month.

So get yourself along to the RGPS and do not miss a minute of the action of what is sure to be a very exciting week.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Emson double sees off Silsden as Town march on


TOWN reached the 1st Round of the FA Vase as they came from behind to beat North-West Counties League Premier Division side Silsden AFC in a thrilling cup tie on Saturday.

Town arrived in West Yorkshire on the back of a fine run in Ebac Northern League Division Two and were hoping to carry that into a competition where the ultimate prize is a trip to Wembey in May.

Another brace from Adam Emson, his 11th and 12th goals of a prolific season, and a fourth strike in a week from Stephen Butterworth, ensured they made the first step with this impressive victory over a side from one level higher in the League Pyramid.

"We knew what to expect as we had them watched in pre-season," said manager Mark Fanning.

"Sometimes you have to be able to grind out a result and we did that. At times we played some good football but it was more of a battle today. We showed character to come from behind and it was a very good result in the end."

Fanning's team selection showed just one change from the 4-0 midweek victory over Birtley Town - Anthony Roberts replacing Stu Dunn at left back - but after a long journey south, Town were slow out of the blocks.

Silsden had early chances for leading scorer Michael Garrod and James Nanje-Ngoe, but slowly Town grew into the tie, with Wayne Gredziak, in particular proving a handful up front.

The former Durham City man sent a flicked header into the grateful arms of Silsden goalkeeper Edward Hall in the 11th minute, before Hall then produced a marvellous save to deny him again.

The home stopper was certainly being kept busy and he was forced to turn a header from Butterworth over the top midway through the first half, as Town began show the form that had seen them win their previous four matches with the concession of just a single goal.

But just as it seemed only a matter of time before Town grabbed the initiative, Silsden broke out to go in front in the 21st minute. Grant Hickman and Craig Winter failed to effectively deal with a long ball over the top and Garrod chipped over James Briggs from a tight angle.

Town had not been behind in a match since the 2-0 defeat to Morpeth in August, but they responded well and were level just eight minutes later. Emson broke clear down the left and his cross deceived Hall and nestled into the far corner of the net.

"Yes, it was a cross," admitted Emson afterwards. "Normally I would say I meant it, but as I have scored plenty of goals this season I think it's okay to be honest this time," he said.

Boosted by that slice of good fortune, Town ended the half on top. Emson just failed to get on the end of a Carl Chillingsworth cross three minutes before the break, before Hickman saw a header kept out by the excellent Hall.

The hosts briefly threatened at the start of the second period - Briggs having to be alert to deny Garrod - but it was Town who went in front four minutes after the restart.

A lovely move down the left involving Emson and Chillingsworth, saw the latter's shot fall to Butterworth inside the six yard box and he found the net again with a powerful right-footed drive.

"I'm not sure where all these goals are coming from," said Butterworth. "But I am enjoying the free role. It gives me the freedom to get forward and things are falling for me at the moment. Long may it continue," he said.

Town looked comfortable now but they switched off for a second on the hour-mark and Silsden took full advantage. Full back Matthew Moses was allowed time to whip the ball towards the near post and Kevin Ryan arrived unmarked to head past Briggs from close range.

Roared on by a large and vocal contingent of travelling fans - who took up over half the crowd of 91 - Fanning's side showed character to go back in front fourteen minutes from time. Gredziak was fouled on the edge of the penalty area and Butterworth's free kick fell kindly for Emson to turn home from six yards.

And it should have been 4-2 moments later. Gredziak was played in by Chillingsworth but his weak chip was kept out by Hall.

It could have proved costly too as Nanje-Ngoe tried his luck from 25 yards four minutes from time, but Briggs was down smartly to his right to smother the ball and Town were through to face a 1st Round tie at home to Consett next month.

"We gave away two soft goals, which was disappointing after keeping so many clean sheets lately," said Fanning.

"Briggsy won't be happy to have conceded as he likes clean sheets, as do I, but the over-all performance was very good. We created several good chances while restricting them to very few.

"They were a good side but we showed we have nothing to fear from anyone. Consett will be another great occasion and being at home is a big advantage so maybe we can get a good Vase run going."

Before that, however, Town turn their attention back to the Division Two promotion race with three home matches in a week, starting with the visit of Esh Winning on Wednesday night.

SILSDEN - Hall, Moses, McEneaney, Nanje-Ngoe, Throup, Husband, Hanson, Gaughton, Garrod, Ryan, McNulty.(D) Subs - Holmes, McNulty(J), Marshall.

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

REFEREE - Gibbons

ATTENDANCE; 91 (48 from Town)

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Silsden AFC -The facts

WE travel to Silsden AFC in the FA Vase on Saturday but most Town fans know very little about them. So here, exclusively to Talk of the Town, is all the vital information you need.

Silsden AFC was founded in 1904 but had a fairly unspectacular history until the turn of the 21st Century. They then became one of only two clubs ever to win the West Riding County FA Cup three years on the trot - 2001, 2002 and 2003 - before joining the NWCFL the season after and gaining promotion to the Premier Division (along with Cammell Laird) at their first attempt.

The club still play in the Premier Division of the North West Counties League, which is equivalent to Division Two of The Northern League, and they play at the Angel Telecom Stadium. Their average home attendance this season is 143 and twice they attracted over 200 to the ground.

Silsden currently sit in 7th place in the NWCFL table, having won 4, drawn 2 and lost 3 of their opening 9 league matches. Their biggest win this season was a 4-0 home success over Stone Dominoes on 25 August, while their heaviest defeat was 0-3 at AFC Blackpool last weekend.

Their danger man appears to be Michael Garrod, who has scored 7 times so far this season, while the only other player to score more than once is Kevin Ryan with 2. In fact, goals have been hard to come by for Silsden this season, scoring only 13 in their 9 matches, while conceding 11.

Their recent form is not great with only one win in their last four matches, a run which has seen them score just 4 times and concede 8.

Butterworth scores twice as Town move up to second


A BRACE from Stephen Butterworth was the highlight as Town overcame a slow start to move up to second place in Ebac Northern League Division Two with this comfortable victory over struggling Birtley Town at the RGPS on Wednesday night.

Butterworth, revelling in a new free role, had scored the all-important opener at North Shields the previous Saturday, and he added a second half brace here to complete another impressive performance from Mark Fanning's side.

Town began the night on top of the form table after that win at North Shields four days earlier, while Birtley, who had done the double over Town last season, were in disarray following the resignation of manager Simon Oliver the previous week.

Fanning's starting XI showed just one change from Saturday - Stu Dunn replacing Anthony Roberts at left back - while Steve Banks returned to the squad alongside Michael Colman, Ian Smurthwaite and Academy graduate Sam Grainger on the bench.

But it was Birtley who started quicker. Craig Winter, who was sent off at Birtley last season, was forced into a last ditch tackle to deny Daniel Smart after just four minutes, before Andrew Inness struck the crossbar seconds later.

Town responded with Butterworth testing goalkeeper Neal Bussey from 18 yards, after a lovely flick from Carl Chillingsworth, while Wayne Gredziak twice came close after linking well with Adam Emson down the left.

But Birtley continued their earlier pressure as they struck the woodwork for a second time in the 17th minute - a cross from Daniel Hepplewhite coming back off the post -  although it was Town who grabbed the lead two minutes later.

Gav Parkin whipped in a delicious free kick from out on the left and Emson arrived to glance the ball beyond Bussey from eight yards - his 10th goal of an impressive campaign.

Despite rarely getting out of second gear in the first half, Town were clearly the better side now and they doubled their advantage three minutes before the break.

Again it was the dead-ball delivery of Parkin which created the opportunity, and this time it was Chillingsworth to benefit with a neat header from six yards.

It might have been a different story had the visitors pulled a goal back just before the break, but Town goalkeeper James Briggs, who has been in top form recently, excelled again with a wonderful save to keep out a free kick from Craig Marron.

Birtley's problems increased when Bussey, who had needed lengthy treatment during the first half, was unable to continue, and without a recognised replacement on the bench, substitute Andrew Mallinson was forced to don the gloves for the second half.

He was called into action almost immediately to deny Emson, before Chillingsworth, who was having another fine game in attack, tried an optimistic effort from fully 40 yards.

But it was 3-0 on the hour and it was certainly a goal 'worth' waiting for. Chillingsworth sent Butterworth clear with a superbly weighted pass, and the former Darlington midfielder rounded Mallinson before slotting home his second goal in four days.

That effectively ended the match as a contest and it was now just a matter of how many more Town would score.

They briefly led the table when news came through, via the Twitter feed set up in the clubhouse, that Ryhope CW were losing 3-1 at home Alnwick, and they looked like potential Champions in the final twenty minutes.

Gredziak headed wide from a Parkin cross, while Emson broke clear down the left and only just failed to pick out his strike-partner at the far post.

Fanning switched to a 4-4-2 formation in the closing stages, replacing the flawless Chillingsworth with Smurthwaite, before giving Grainger his debut in place of Craig Winter at the back ten minutes from time.

And it was 4-0 in the final minute. Gredziak did well down the right and when Laing headed the ball back across across the face of goal, Butterworth arrived to nod into the empty net from close range.

"I have got to be satisfied with another three points, another clean sheet and four goals," said Fanning at the final whistle.

"The lads are still getting used to this system as it is only the second time we have used it. We won 2-0 on Saturday and now we have won 4-0 tonight so imagine what we will do they have fully adjusted?

"I am particularly pleased with the defensive side of our game. That is the third clean sheet in a row now. We are closing down the space in wide areas and defending from the front. We are restricting sides to very few chances and we will always score." he continued. "It's a good combination."

The only disappointment on the night was a late comeback from Ryhope which saw them win 4-3 to remain two points clear at the top, but Town have a game in hand and will travel to Silsden in the FA Vase on Saturday with confidence high.

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

BIRTLEY TOWN - Bussey, Quantrill, Smith, Marron, Hepplewhite, Grant-Soulsby, Honour, Inness, Smart, Telford, Dixon. Subs - Wilson, Mallinson.



Saturday, 8 September 2012

Another clean sheet as Town march on


A GOAL at the end of each half from Stephen Butterworth and leading scorer Adam Emson were enough to give Town a third consecutive victory after a tough match at North Shields on Saturday.

On a warm, late summer afternoon in the North-East, Town manager Mark Fanning was delighted at what he described as his side's best performance of the season.

"Yes, I believe that was the best 90 minutes we have produced so far," he said. "We created six or seven very good chances and restricted them to only a couple. To come here and win, and keep a clean sheet, makes it the perfect day for us."

A defence that came in for a lot of early-season criticism has responded in impressive style - keeping a second clean sheet in a row - and Town have now conceded just three goals in their last five matches. Indeed it was that new-found defensive solidity which provided the basis for this latest away day success.

Town arrived at the Daren Persson Stadium with a 100% away record to defend but Fanning was forced into two changes from the side that had beaten Horden so impressively last week.

With Stephen Banks and James Bowman both away, new club captain Danny Shoulder went straight back into the team at right back following suspension, while Wayne Gredziak was given his first start on the right of a front three, alongside Emson and Carl Chillingsworth.

The hosts set off at a tempo but they were unable to really stretch the Town defence and slowly Fanning's side grew into the match.

Chillingsworth was first to threaten when he cut in from the left before firing narrowly over the top in the 16th minute, while Craig Winter then headed a Gav Parkin corner just wide of the left-hand upright soon after.

But Town were fortunate not to go behind midway through the first half. In a rare attack from the hosts, Dean Holmes burst clear and rounded goalkeeper James Briggs, but Anthony Roberts, who was the goalscoring hero a week earlier, got back to clear his effort off the line.

Town were soon back on top and they should have gone in front in the 29th minute. Butterworth, who was often the most advanced of the midfield three, released Emson with a beautifully weighted pass, but Shields goalkeeper Michael Robinson was off his line quickly to deny him.

The hosts did enjoy a good spell of possession as the half came to a close, but the nearest they came to testing Briggs was a shot from Scott Blandford that was deflected over the top three minutes before the break.

It was Town, however, who made the breakthrough in first half stoppage time, slightly against the run of play. Butterworth combined well with Chillingsworth on the edge of the Shields penalty area before bursting forward to drill a low shot beyond Robinson from 8 yards - his first Town goal since late-April.

And it was very nearly 2-0 moments later. Emson beat two men with a thrilling run down the left and his cross was perfect for the late-arriving Gredziak at the far post. The former Durham City man did everything right with a powerful header back across the goalkeeper, but Robinson produced a marvellous one-handed save to push the ball to safety.

The hosts made a change in attack during the break, replacing the injured Andrew Hay with Adam Rowntree, and they came out looking far more dangerous at the start of the second period. Blandford shot over from 8 yards four minutes after the resumption, while Rowntree then saw an effort come back off the crossbar six minutes later.

But Town almost sealed the points on the counter-attack just prior to the hour-mark. Emson ran fully 40 yards with the ball, and as Gredziak created space with a run to the right, the Town top scorer sent a lovely chip over the advancing Robinson. The Town fans behind the goal were already leaping in celebration, but it was to prove a touch premature as the ball landed just the wrong side of the post.

It did not prove too crucial in the end, however, as Emson did find the target nine minutes from time. The Shields defence failed to clear a corner from the right by Parkin, and his cross to the far post was headed home by the towering Emson, his 9th goal of the season.

Game, set and match Town.

"This is never an easy place to come," said goalscorer Butterworth. "They always give us a tough match here so it is a really good win. We worked hard, were solid all over the pitch and kept another clean sheet."

Now up into the top three, Town face Birtley Town at the RGPS on Wednesday night. Another win, and dropped points from both Ryhope and Whitehaven, would see them go to the top of the table. It may only be early September, but for a side who so often start slowly it would be a massive show of intent. Kick off is at 7.30pm.

NORTH SHIELDS - Robinson, Hook, Patterson, Richardson, Harmison, Hall, Blandford, Forester, Hay, Douglas, Holmes. Subs - Watson, McCrudden, Ewruje, Rowntree, Wright.

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

Referee - Stephen Whittaker

Attendance; 145

Saturday, 1 September 2012

One touch, one goal. The perfect debut for Gredziak as Town ease to victory


NEW SIGNING Wayne Gredziak scored with his first touch to complete a routine Town victory over struggling Horden CW at the RGPS on Saturday.

Gredziak, signed from Durham City this week, came off the bench to replace top scorer Adam Emson in the 64th minute, and he sealed a third win in four matches with a first time finish from 20 yards seconds later.

"I was eager to come on and show the fans what I can do," said a delighted Gredziak. "When Chilli knocked the ball to me I just thought I'd hit it and it was a great feeling to see it end up in the back of the net."

But while the former Durham City striker took the plaudits, it merely rounded off a very good all-round Town performance. The only disappointment, in the end, was that the scoreline did not fully reflect their dominance of the match. It really could, and perhaps should, have finished 5 or 6-0.

Fanning's starting XI showed three changes from Monday's win at Darlington RA - Anthony Roberts replaced Stu Dunn at left back, Marcus Laing came in for the injured Ian Smurthwaite in midfield, while Stephen Butterworth replaced Col Anderson on the right.

And it was Roberts who opened the scoring inside two minutes. The Horden defence failed to clear a long throw from James Bowman and the big defender fired home on the turn from 6 yards, his first Town goal for more than seven years.

"I don't score many," said Roberts. "Although I did get one for Marske last season. I used to be a striker but I rarely get over the halfway line these days. It was nice to score but I am more pleased with the three points and the clean sheet," he said.

The early goal - the fourth time in their opening five league matches that Town have gone ahead inside ten minutes - led to a dominate display. It was nearly 2-0 six minutes later when Gav Parkin tried a cheeky chip from 18 yards, after another long throw from Match Day Programme profile star Bowman, but Horden keeper Chris Stoker was able to deny him.

Town did, however, double their advantage midway through the first half. Emson combined well with strike-partner Carl Chillingsworth before hitting a first time shot past Stoker from the edge of the penalty area - the 8th goal of an impressive season for the former Stokesley man.

Horden had arrived in North Yorkshire without a win to their name this season and Town were now in complete control. So much so, in fact, that they appeared to ease off as half time approached and James Briggs had to be alert to deny Matthew Nelson eight minutes before the break.

But the second half saw Town resume their earlier dominance. Parkin fired narrowly wide from 30 yards five minutes after the restart, before Emson was denied by Stoker following a neat shot on the turn moments later.

That was to be Emson's last meaningful contribution, however, as he was replaced by Gredziak soon after, and what an impact the substitute was to have.

He had been on the field less than a minute when Chillingsworth chested a long ball into his path, and Gredziak became an instant hit with fans and team-mates alike with a first time shot from 20 yards.
The Town faithful enjoying a good win

It was now just a matter of how many Town would score. Col Anderson, who had replaced Butterworth down the right, was torturing the young Horden left back Paul Johnson, but the visitors defence always seemed to scramble his crosses to safety.

Anderson, however, did have the ball in the net twenty minutes from time. Gredziak had seen his effort deflected behind for a corner but referee Michael Andrews had already blown for a pushing offence before Anderson turned home Parkin's delivery from close range.

But it really should have been 4-0 three minutes later. Gredziak did well down the right and his cross was perfect for the onrushing Chillingsworth at the far post. The veteran striker, however, who would normally stick these kind of chances away in his sleep, inexplicably headed over the bar from 5 yards with the goal at his mercy.

Town then saw a second effort ruled out when Gredziak tapped home fifteen minutes from time, after linking well with Anderson, but assistant referee Laura Murphy had already raised her flag for offside.

The final ten minutes saw a succession of Town chances, mostly made by or falling to Anderson. The former Richmond Town striker curled over the top after cutting inside Johnson, before seeing another effort kept out by Stoker. Meanwhile, Stephen Banks twice came close to his first Town goal after combining well with Anderson down the right.

Parkin was then denied a contender for goal of the season by the crossbar, when his strike from 35 yards beat Stoker but came back off the woodwork, before Anderson shot across across the face of the goal in the closing stages and it finished 3-0.

"It was a good performance," said Fanning. "We controlled most of the match but I was a little concerned we thought it was getting too comfortable before half time.

"We switched off for ten minutes or so after the second goal but we sorted it out at the break. The second half response was exactly what I wanted and we should have won more comfortably in the end."

Asked about the signing of Gredziak, Fanning said, "We are very pleased to have Wayne. He has played with Emson before and I know they can be a lethal combination, but he also linked extremely well with Chilli today. We have great options in attack now."

With Tuesday night's trip to Tow Law Town now postponed due to their involvement in the FA Vase, the Town attack will not be action again until next Saturday when they travel to North Shields.

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

HORDEN CW - Stoker, Livingstone, Johnson, Brown, Evans, Watson, Nelson, O'Roidan, Wilkie, Atkinson, Brooke-Myers. Subs - Carruthers, Anderson, Robson, Lisle, Hughes.

REFEREE - M. Andrews.