Friday, 28 December 2012

Away Days - Tow Law Town 18/12/2012

A MIDWEEK trip in the middle of December to Tow Law is not the sort of thing to get excited about, but as I hadn't been able to watch the lads for the best part of a month I made the drive up the frozen, misty wastelands of the A68.

As I was off work for Christmas the plan was to get up there early and be prepared, but me being me I got side-tracked and did not end up leaving Darlington until just before 7pm.

Then I could not find the ground. For some reason my sat-nav sent me right past it and out of Tow Law altogether, but luckily I had spotted a small sign on the road side and I finally pulled up outside the ground at 7.34pm, just four minutes after kick off.

Luckily there was not much of a crowd waiting to get in. In fact there was barely a soul in the ground at all. As the cold wind blew in from the east I have to say I was not surprised. Conspicuous by their absence was the usual loud away following too, which led to a rather flat, gloomy atmosphere. Just like the weather.

The next thing I noticed was the slope on the pitch. The touchline on the far side was at least two foot higher than the one or the other side. Apparently it used to be worse too. Can't imagine how they ever managed to play football on it back then...

Anyway, we were attacking the far end in the first half, or the end furthest away from the clubhouse. The game was scrappy and neither side created very much. Town began to get on top as we approached half time and perhaps should have gone in at the break with a lead to defend. But it was goalless and cold, very cold, as the referee blew his whistle.

Half time was spent in the clubhouse trying to get warm. Not an easy task in just 15 minutes I can tell you. Then, just the feeling had begun to return to my fingers and toes, the players were back out and I was having to brave the elements again.

Thankfully the second half was far more exciting. The introduction of man-flu victim Emmo on the hour made a massive difference and we scored soon after with a lovely finish from Pete Bulmer -  his first goal since returning the club last month.

But almost immediately we gifted them an equaliser thanks to an error from Craggsy. Having drawn with the same opponents on Saturday, we really needed to win this time and that was not the way to go about it.

But redemption looked to have arrived when Emmo showed his class with a marvellous goal eight minutes later. He twisted and turned their full back about four times, leaving him on his backside on the sodden turf, before planting the ball beyond the goalkeeper to make it 2-1. I would have cheered if only I wasn't literally frozen to the spot.

That looked to be enough to win it but with just eight minutes left we switched off from a free kick and they equalised for a second time. Funny how you always that little bit colder when the opposition score.

But we should still have won it. Straight from the restart Chilli burst through and you would have put your house on him scoring, but their keeper - only small in stature big on ability - somehow managed to block it with his legs and we had to settle for a point.

By now I was so cold I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I grabbed a quick word with Mark Fanning and to say he was not happy would be an understatement. He was spot on though. We should have won and had thrown away two precious points. Not good enough.

He said the other top sides would have seen the game out, and the fact that Crook came here over Christmas and won 3-2 backs him up.

The drive home gave me time to reflect on the evening's events. It was cold, that is a given. Their pitch is awful. Likewise. The game, on the whole, was scrappy, although the second half had it's moments. The people of Tow Law were very welcoming. And did I mention it was cold. Oh and we should have won.

As away games go this will not live long in the memory, even if Emmo's goal may do. But despite everything it still beats a night in by the television watching Eastenders or some Christmas special. Now lets just hope my sat-nav can find Birtley on Saturday.

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