Thursday, 13 September 2012

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.



1 comment:

  1. very good right up mr story teller butler