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

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