Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Late Smith goal ends Town's perfect away record


TOWN were left frustrated as a late equaliser from Jake Smith saw them make the long journey home from Whitehaven with just a point when it could, and perhaps should, have been all three.

Mark Fanning's side made their longest trip of the season with a 100 per cent away record to defend but were missing injury victims Danny Shoulder, Carl Chillingsworth and James Briggs, while Ian Smurthwaite was still on holiday.

Therefore the starting XI showed four changes from the previous week's win over Chester-le-Street. Steve Craggs replaced Briggs in goal, Stu Dunn came in for Steve Banks at left back, James Bowman replaced Chillingsworth in midfield, while David Alderson made his first start for the club at right back.

Despite the wintry overnight conditions, the pitch at Whitehaven was a good condition but Town nearly found themselves behind after just two minutes when leading scorer Matt Tymon headed narrowly wide from close range.

But it was the visitors who grabbed the lead three minutes later. Alderson sent over a great cross from the right and Steve Butterworth headed firmly past home goalkeeper Brian Miller from 8 yards.

Things looked to be going Town's way when Wayne Gredziak appeared to be brought down by Kevin Law when clean through on goal midway through the first half, but after consulting with his linesman, referee Steve Cavanagh did not even award a free kick let alone a red card for Law.

Buoyed by their stroke of good fortune, Whitehaven were level by the break when the lively Kevin Connolly beat Craggs from close range following a right wing cross from Stuart Shaw.

Town were given a lucky escape five minutes into the second period when Alderson appeared to handle the ball inside his own penalty area as he tried to shepherd it out of play, but Cavanagh waved away the home appeals.

That looked to be the turning point as Town regained the lead in the 66th minute. Marcus Laing sent Adam Emson clear and he coolly lofted the ball over the on-rushing Miller for his 16th goal of the season.

With time running out it appeared Town would hold on to make it five wins out of five on the road this season, but with just four minutes remaining Whitehaven grabbed a dramatic equaliser. Craggs did well to keep out a volley from Connolly but the ball fell to Smith who made no mistake from 6 yards.

The game really came to life after that as Town pushed on for the winner. The travelling fans behind the goal felt their team should have a penalty when Emson went down under a challenge from Miller as he rounded the Whitehaven goalkeeper, but Cavanagh awarded a corner instead. And from Parkin's delivery, Laing's header was cleared it off the line by Adam Johnson.

Then, deep into stoppage time, Alderson was denied a first goal for the club by a marvellous point-blank save from Miller and it finished with honours even.

"I was disappointed not to come away with all three points, especially leading so close to the end," said Fanning.

"A couple of big decisions didn't go our way but we should not have to rely on the officials. I am sure we will look back in time and consider it a decent point as its a tough place to come and win."

Town are next in action with the visit of Washington on Saturday as they look to continue their promotion push. Kick off at the RGPS is 3pm and entrance is £5 for adults and £2.50 concessions.

WHITEHAVEN - Miller, Brown, Johnson, Smith, Law, Lewis, Shaw, McRea, Tymon, Connolly, Robson. Subs - Donald, Lily, Roseby, Quayle, Taylor.

TOWN - Craggs, Alderson, Dunn, Hickman, Winter, Parkin, Butterworth, Laing, Emson, Grgedziak, Bowman. Subs - Roberts, Banks, Caisley, Colman.

REFEREE: S. Cavanagh.


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