Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Home woes continue as Butterworth returns to haunt Town


FORMER TOWN captain Martin Butterworth returned to the RGPS with a Boxing Day goal to deny Town another two promotion points.

With three draws from their previous four matches, and without a home win in the league since late October, Town were in desperate need of a win against an RA side who have dropped out of the promotion race in recent weeks. But it was a ghost of Christmas past who came back to haunt Mark Fanning's side.

Butterworth was on hand to head the RA into an early lead, after a shot from another ex-Town player Steve Allison had come back off the crossbar, and he looked like a man with a point to prove throughout.

Ex-Town captain Martin Butterworth (blue shirt, left) in the thick of the action
But his new club were denied a first ever win at the RGPS thanks to a second half equaliser from leading scorer Adam Emson as Town finally awoke from their post-Christmas slumber.

Fanning's starting XI showed two changes from the draw at Tow Law ten days earlier. Emson was back up front in place of Ian Smurthwaite, while recent signing Jon Burton was given his first start for the club at left back in place of Stephen Banks.

Jonathan Burton impressed on his full Town debut

On a pitch that did not lend itself to good football, it was the visitors who were given the perfect start. Less then five minutes were on the clock when Allison saw his effort deflected onto the crossbar by Steve Craggs and Butterworth stooped to nod home from close range.

Town looked way off the pace in the opening period and the RA should have doubled their lead midway through the half. Allison again created the opportunity with a great run down the right but Louis Whensley fired over the top from 18 yards.

Steve Butterworth (centre) takes on the RA midfield before injury forced his early departure

Town's problems increased when Steve Butterworth was forced off with an ankle ligament damage ten minutes before the break, after landing awkwardly in the centre circle, so Smurthwaite was brought into the fray.

But it took almost 44 minutes for Town to finally create a chance of note. Emson whipped in a dangerous cross from the left but Gav Parkin failed to trouble RA goalkeeper Matt Calvert with a header from 6 yards.

Town scorer Adam Emson (right) takes on Andy Ramsbottom

Indeed it was only a fine double save from Craggs that prevented Fanning's side going in at the interval with a two goal deficit to pull back. He was out quickly to deny ex-Town forward Aaron Ramsbottom before keeping out Allison's follow up.

Town needed a big improvement in the second half if they was to rescue something from the match, and they came out for the restart looking far more determined.

Carl Chillingsworth (centre) looks for a breakthrough
Grant Hickman, who was having another solid game at the back, almost headed Town level from a Pete Bulmer free kick within four minutes of the restart, but it was the introduction of Wayne Gredziak on the hour that finally made the difference.

The former Durham City man saw a header tipped over the top by Calvert within seconds of coming on before Town finally drew level in the 66th minute.

Gav Parkin (left) denied by RA 'keeper Matt Calvert
Parkin released Emson down the left and he showed great strength to hold off the challenge from Andy Ramsbottom before producing a composed finish past Calvert from 12 yards.

The game really began to open up after that and both sides had chances to win it. Whensley shot straight at Craggs from 10 yards while RA substitute Jordan Hanratty then saw an effort deflected narrowly wide.

Meanwhile at the other end, Emson brought the best out of Calvert after Gredziak sent him clear down the left, before James Bowman, who had replaced the injured Parkin, saw an effort from 20 yards deflected narrowly wide by the RA 'keeper, while Chillingsworth fired wildly over in stoppage time.

"The first half was poor," said Town assistant manager Martin Collins. "The pitch did not help but we improved in the second half and at least we managed to get something from the match.

"Wayne (Gredziak) made a big difference when he came on and gave us some impetus, but overall we are disappointed."

Town now face a promotion six-pointer at in-form Crook on Saturday with four key players likely to be missing. Emson and Marcus Laing are both away while there are now injury doubts over Butterworth and Parkin.

Following a run of three consecutive draws, it is now a match Town cannot afford to lose.

TOWN - Craggs, Alderson, Burton, Hickman, Shoulder, Parkin, Butterworth(S), Laing, Emson, Chillingsworth, Bulmer. Subs - Dunn, Roberts, Bowman, Smurthwaite, Gredziak.

DARLINGTON RA - Calvert, Ramsbottom, Hewitt, Elgie, Howlett, Muir, Butterworth(M), Whensley, Allison, Ramsbottom, Farrington. Subs - Hamilton, Hanratty, Cheeseman, Webster.

REFEREE: G. McMullen.


*pictures copyright of Paul Gaythorpe at pik4images. No unauthorised use is allowed

No comments:

Post a Comment