Saturday, 12 January 2013

Late rally not enough as Town slip up again


TOWN paid the price for a poor first half performance as they slumped to a fourth consecutive defeat at Esh Winning on Saturday.

A season that was promising so much in the autumn is now threatening to de-rail completely as the free-scoring forward line has suddenly seen the goals dry up making the defensive frailties all the more decisive.

But having found themselves 3-0 down early in the second half, Town at least showed the heart and spirit needed for the battles ahead with a strong rally that may well, on another day, have brought them a point.

However, manager Mark Fanning was not going to let that late flourish disguise another disappointing performance.

"We cannot expect to play for 30 minutes and win a game," he said. "We started reasonably brightly for 5 minutes or so but the next hour was just awful.

"If we had played all the game as we did the final half an hour we would have won, but teams like this will take advantage if you not at the races from the start and that is what happened."

Fanning made three changes to the side that had fought so bravely at York City in midweek. Out went James Bowman, Pete Bulmer and Ian Smurthwaite, with Adam Emson, Wayne Gredziak and Jon Burton all coming in.

After a bright start from Town, it was the hosts who soon began to get on top. They should have gone ahead after 15 minutes when the impressive Stuart Thompson brushed off three challenges and beat James Briggs from 18 yards, but Danny Shoulder got back just in time to make a dramatic goal-line clearance.

Darren Morton and Craig Coates then missed presentable opportunities for the hosts before Esh finally went in front ten minutes before the break. Kevin Hamilton whipped in a dangerous cross from the right and former Town striker Neil Campbell arrived to turn the ball home at the near post.

And even worse was to follow seven minutes later. Coates floated a harmless-looking ball into the Town penalty area and Darren Kokes somehow managed to squeeze it in at the near post.

It should have been 3-0 at the break too when Hamilton was given the freedom of the penalty area after he was not picked up at a corner, but Briggs denied him with a smart save down to his right.

The second half needed to be better but within five minutes of the restart Town found themselves 3-0 down. Kokes slipped in Coates down the right and after Briggs had saved his initial effort, the winger coolly slotted home the rebound to leave Town with a mountain to climb.

But they say you find out more about a team in adversity, and if that is true then perhaps the future is not as bad as it may appear.

With everything going against them, Town rolled up their sleeves and finally showed the fighting spirit so badly lacking up until then. With 35 minutes still to play they gave themselves a lifeline when Emson was released down the left by Gav Parkin and he raced past full back Adam Ward before crossing low for Carl Chillingsworth to turn home from close range.

It was all one-way traffic now as Town had the hosts pinned back for long spells. Chillingsworth should have made it 3-2 with twenty-five minutes remaining after another superb left-wing cross from Emson, but with the goal gaping he could only head over the top.

Emson did have the ball in the net soon after, after a lovely flick from Chillingsworth, but the linesman on the near side had already raised his flag for offside even though it looked a close call.

Burton then tested Esh 'keeper Thomas Courtney with a 25 yard free kick before the former Whitby stopper did well to deny both David Alderson and Emson in the closing stages.

Newly appointed player-coach Craig Winter said: "We need to get back to basics. This is the same team who were brushing everyone aside a few weeks ago and we need to get that back.

"We look a pale shadow of our best at the moment but we still have the quality. We just need to work harder as a team and the results will come."

Town now face Whickham in the Brooks Mileson League Cup at the RGPS on Wednesday evening before a league meeting with bottom side Alnwick Town next Saturday. Failure to pick up three points then is really not an option.

ESH WINNING - Courtney, Ward, Thompson, Morton, Garthwaite, Newby, Hamilton, Halliday, Campbell, Kokes, Coates. Subs - Davies, Brazauskis, Atkinson, Ferguson, Phillipson.

TOWN - Briggs, Alderson, Banks, Shoulder, Hickman, Parkin, Burton, Laing, Chillingsworth, Emson, Gredziak. Subs - Dunn, Smurthwaite, Bowman, Caisley.

REFEREE: G. McMullan.


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Town out but certainly not down after York defeat


TOWN crashed out of the North Riding Senior Cup at York on Tuesday evening but there was certainly no disgrace in the performance against a side who fielded 9 full time professionals.

This trip south was a welcome break from the rigours of the Ebac Northern League Division Two promotion race but it was a match manager Mark Fanning desperately wanted to win.

His starting XI showed two changes from the weekend's disappointing defeat at Brandon. Goalkeeper James Briggs returned from injury in place of Steve Craggs, while Marcus Laing came in for Jon Burton in midfield.

Meanwhile leading scorer Adam Emson, absent for the previous two matches, was back on the bench alongside Stu Dunn, Alex Caisley, Burton and goalkeeper Dean Hudson.

Despite being up against such an accomplished side, Town started well and for half an hour they gave as good as they got. Carl Chillingsworth might even had given them the boost of an early goal when he looked to have got on the end of a Gav Parkin corner, but defender Tom Allan just nicked the ball off his head at the crucial moment.
Pete Bulmer (right), takes on the York defence.
But it was the hosts who made the breakthrough after 34 minutes, although it was a goal gifted to them rather than one they created for themselves. Steve Banks' back-pass seemed to catch Briggs by surprise and he slipped under pressure from John McGready, leaving the former Darlington man with a simple tap in.

And it was 2-0 just before the break. Reece Kelly looked to be in an offside position when he ran onto Jamie Reed's through ball but the linesman kept his flag down and the speedy winger coolly slotted past Briggs from 18 yards.

With nothing to lose, Town came out for the second half looking to get more support to loan striker Chillingsworth and they should have found a way back into the tie five minutes after the restart. Hickman did well to head a Parkin free kick back across the goal but James Bowman put his header wide from 6 yards.

Undeterred, Town continued to take the game to their more illustrious opponents and Pete Bulmer saw an effort scrambled off the line by the impressive Allan following another set-piece delivery from Parkin.
Town manager Mark Fanning, right, looks on with pride as his side take on a strong York City side
Fanning introduced Emson for Bowman just past the hour-mark and the substitute almost made an immediate impression. Shrugging off the attention of York full back Ben Weir, Emson ran on before smashing the ball past experienced goalkeeper Paul Mussellwhite, but referee Iain Turner had already blown for a foul against the Town man.

And the brave stand was over five minutes later. Kelly, who had been lively down the left all evening, whipped in another dangerous cross and Laure Oyebanjo turned the ball into the path of McGready who stabbed home his second from close range.

Jon Challinor then brought the best out of Briggs after a thrilling solo run, before the same man then struck the inside of the post with a fierce drive from 20 yards, but 4-0 would have been harsh on a Town side who should take great pride from their performance.

"We were outstanding for the opening half an hour," said Fanning. "We knew that the longer we kept it at 0-0 the more frustrated they would get.

"It was disappointing to concede the opening goal in the manner in which we did, but I was delighted with how we responded.

"We worked hard and kept our shape against a very good side. The important thing now is to take this performance into Saturday."

Veteran striker Chillingsworth said: "It was a tough match, but you do not get the opportunity to play in a stadium like this very often so we were determined to enjoy it.

Carl Chillingsworth, left, battles for possession at Bootham Crescent last night
"Overall we gave a good account of ourselves but they were a very good side and deserved to win."

Town will come back down to Earth with a trip to the rather more modest setting of Esh Winning on Saturday before entertaining Whickham in the Brooks Mileson League Cup next Wednesday evening.

YORK CITY - Mussellwhite, Oyebanjo, Outerbridge, Bullock, Platt, Allan, McGready, Banks, Challinor, Reed, Kelly. Subs - Middleton(D), Archer, Weir, Moncur, Middleton(B).

TOWN - Briggs, Alderson, Banks, Shoulder, Hickman, Parkin, Smurthwaite, Laing, Bowman, Chillinsworth, Bulmer. Subs - Dunn, Hudson, Caisley, Burton, Emson.

REFEREE: I. Turner.


*pictures courtesy of Paul Gaythorpe at Pik4images. No unauthorised use allowed.

Monday, 7 January 2013

New Year but same old problems as Town slump again


TOWN began 2013 as they ended 2012, with a disappointing away defeat, this time against a hard working Brandon United side on Saturday.

The starting XI showed two chances from the previous weekend's 2-0 defeat at Crook Town. Steve Banks replaced Stu Dunn at left back while James Bowman replaced the suspended Wayne Gredziak.

Meanwhile Alex Caisley was recalled to the squad and took his place on the bench alongside Dunn, Marcus Laing and Chris Dickinson.

Town dominated the early possession but the home sides work-rate meant that they were restricted to very few chances.

On 20 minutes Ian Smurthwaite's cross shot found Carl Chillingsworth 8 yards out, but the keeper produced a fine save to deny him.

The best chance of the first half came when Peter Bulmer's cross was not cleared and Jon Burton fired against the post from 12 yards.

But Town were rewarded just two minutes into the second period. There looked to be no danger when the ball reached Chillingsworth who was running away from goal, but he expertly hooked the ball over his shoulder and into the far corner of the net - his 16th goal of the season.

But the lead lasted barely ten minutes. A cross was not cleared by the usually reliable Danny Shoulder and Glen Hendrix seized on the loose ball to fired across goalkeeper Steve Craggs to make it 1-1.

Worse was to follow on 70 minutes. A Town corner was cleared to the half way line but Burton was caught in possession and Andrew Blackburn raced clear before firing an unstoppable shot past Craggs to give his side the lead.

Laing and Dickinson were introduced in the closing stages but the hosts defended well and despite the ball spending much of the last 20 minutes in the Brandon half, Town created few clear cut chances and it finished 2-1.

"It was a totally unacceptable performance and attitude," said manager Mark Fanning. "Too many players were either not prepared to treat this game with the desire and passion required or think they are better than they are. I have spent enough time defending them but that stops now.”

Town will look to respond with a midweek trip to York City in the North Riding Senior Cup before travelling to Esh Winning in the league next Saturday. After five matches without a win, anything other than three points is not an option.

TOWN - Craggs, Alderson, Banks, Hickman, Shoulder, Burton, Parkin, Smurthwaite, Chillingsworth, Bowman, Bulmer. Subs - Dunn, Caisley, Laing, Dickinson.

REFEREE: S. Morgan.