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


  1. Not looking good for you Col, Off to Aycliffe.

  2. Just got new of how M Butterworth was treated by the club after his last game. Not good you know who you are.