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



  1. Not sure how Fanning thinks its the best performance for sometime ?, although not bad some of the passing was aweful, and as for the long range shots, some are still in orbit.

  2. You need to look at the bigger picture. We were playing a decent side and dominated for 90 minutes. With a little luck we would have sscored 4-5 goals and everyone would be saying what a superb performance it was.
    Yes, some of the shooting was a little wayward but we had the ball in the net 4 times against one of the strongest defensive sides in the league.
    For what it's worth, I thought we played very well last night and the result should not disguise that. If we play like that in every match for the rest of the season we will win a hell of a lot of games.
    But football is all about opinions and I am happy to hear yours.

  3. A big money pot usually gets a win, but not last night.Still looking a portly team. Must be the new shirts!

  4. One or two debateable decisions really, the others were totally correct, Esh are no mugs, they came with a game plan and a number of regulars missing, they mugged us really and they will mug other teams too, because they are not also rans!
    We move on and need to be more clinical, as was said, especially when you consider our investments.