Thursday, 28 February 2013

Holders Town scrape through after cup thriller

NORTHALLERTON TOWN 5 RYHOPE CW 3 (after extra time)

TOWN remain on course to become the first club to retain the Ernest Armstrong Cup as they came from behind to see off the brave challenge of ten-man Ryhope on Wednesday evening.

In one of the best matches ever seen at the RGPS Stadium, Town set up a quarter final trip to Chester-le-Street as a brace from Mickey Dunwell and further efforts from Adam Emson, Carl Chillingsworth and an own goal, saw off Ryhope, who had defender Greg Swansbury sent off in the first half.

Manager Mark Fanning made several changes to the side that had squeezed past Whickham in the League Cup a week ago. In fact it was a virtually full-strength Town side with the exception of leading scorer Adam Emson, who started on the bench.

There was very little to choose between the sides in the opening exchanges but it was the visitors who grabbed a 16th minute lead when captain Phil Hall nodded home following a spell of head tennis in the Town penalty area.

However, Fanning's side were level less than five minutes later. There did not appear to be too much danger when the ball fell to Dunwell 25 yards out, but he manufactured a stunning first-time, dipping volley which gave goalkeeper Neal Bussey no chance.

Town nearly went in front almost immediately when Steve Butterworth crashed a shot against the top of the crossbar, but Ryhope were the better side at this stage.

They looked to get ball forward quickly to utilise the power of front two Chris Winn and John Butler, while the pace of wide men Clayton Davis and Lee McMahon was a constant threat.

It was therefore no surprise when the visitors regained the lead soon after. Butler turned neatly on the edge of the penalty area before slotting past James Briggs with the confidence of a man who has scored nearly 40 goals this season.

But the whole complexion of the tie turned on an incident less than two minutes later. Col Anderson went down after apparently being struck by a stray elbow from Swansbury and referee Steve Moran issued a straight red card for the Ryhope man.

Despite their one man advantage however, Town were unable to create a clear cut opening before the break against a strong, well organised Ryhope defence.

In fact it took until just past the hour mark for Town to finally penetrate the visitors back line. Butterworth, who was starting to have more and more influence, found Dunwell in the inside left channel but his first time effort was comfortably saved by Bussey.

The introduction of Emson soon after gave Town more forward thrust and he almost equalised with a stinging drive which only just cleared Bussesy's crossbar three minutes later.

Fanning's side came even closer fifteen minutes from time. Butterworth waltzed past several challenges on a magical solo run before bringing a smart save from Bussey, while Anderson was only just unable to turn home the rebound.

However, Town's grip on the trophy was very nearly loosened moments later when only a full-length stop from Briggs prevented McMahon making it 3-1.

That proved to be crucial as Town kept their cup hopes alive nine minutes from time. Butterworth was again at the heart of it with another fine effort which was parried by Bussey and Dunwell arrived to smash the loose ball into the roof of the net from the tightest of angles.

There only looked like being one winner now as Gav Parkin volleyed narrowly over the top before a late Anderson effort was deflected wide as it finished 2-2 after 90 minutes, just as it had in the league meeting here in November.

But the opening period of extra time got off to an explosive start. Winn, who although failing to score on this occasion, produced one of the best all-round displays seen from a visiting player at the RGPS this season, slipped over in the area under pressure from Danny Shoulder and Moran pointed to the spot.

Town were unhappy with the decision as any contact did seem minimal but substitute Craig Marron was not about to complain as he smashed the penalty past Briggs.

But the lead lasted less than a minute. A quick Town break saw Emson initially denied by Bussey but the former Stokesley man made no mistake at the second time of asking.

And incredibly it was 4-3 just seconds later. Parkin released Marcus Laing down the right and his low, driven cross was turned into his own net by Ross Stead under pressure from Emson. It appeared the goal may be disallowed as the linesmans flag had been raised for offside, but after consulting with Moran the goal was given and Town led for the first time.

Ryhope may have felt everything was going against them but they they continued to press in the second extra period and it was difficult to tell which side had ten men. Town were hanging on at times but the brave Ryhope stand was finally over with the last kick of an absorbing cup tie - substitute Chillingsworth chipping the ball over Bussey from 20 yards to make it 5-3.

"It was a great end-to-end game that flowed one way and then the other," said a delighted Fanning at the whistle.

"Credit to Ryhope who dug in after they were reduced to ten men, but I thought we just about deserved the win in the end.

"I didn't see the red card incident but if he did use the elbow then he deserved to go. But it did appear a harsh decision from where I was."

It proved to be a good night for Town as promotion rivals Crook Town and Jarrow Roofing both dropped points in the promotion race.

It was also confirmed by league chairman Mike Amos that should Ryhope's ground not reach the required standard by the Easter deadline they will face relegation back to the Wearside League.

Should that be the case, and should they finish in one of the three promotion spots, their place in Division One would go to the side finishing fourth, which of course is currently Town.

TOWN - Briggs, Banks, Alderson, Shoulder, Hickman, Parkin, Butterworth, Laing, Anderson, Dunwell, Bowman. Subs - Dunn, Chillingsworth, Emson, Burton, Winter.

RYHOPE CW - Bussey, Stead, Metcalfe, Hall, Swansbury, Trewick, Davis, Johnson, Butler, Winn, McMahon. Subs - Charlton, Arkley, Cook, Dunn, Marron.



Thursday, 21 February 2013

Dickinson's the real deal as Town stage cup smash and grab


Chris Dickinson slots home the stoppage time penalty winner
AN injury time penalty from substitute Chris Dickinson, his first goal for the club, completed a late Town comeback in the 1st round of the Brooks Mileson League Challenge Cup on Wednesday night.

Having been uninspired for the best part of seventy-five minutes, Town finally clicked into gear in the closing stages to see off the brave challenge of struggling Whickham on a freezing cold night at the RGPS.

Manager Mark Fanning utilised his squad in a competition which is third in his list priorities for the rest of the season. In fact only four players who had started Saturday's win over Stokesley SC retained their places here - Danny Shoulder and Ian Smurthwaite at the back along with Gav Parkin and David Alderson in midfield.

So in came Steve Craggs, Stu Dunn, Craig Winter, Alex Caisley, Carl Chillingsworth and Col Anderson, who were all in need of game time, while Academy graduate Callum Fletcher was given his first team debut on the left wing.

Coming in to the tie on the back of four match winning run, Town failed to find any rhythm in the first half and they were fortunate to only be one goal behind at the break. Whickham, who had failed to win any of their previous ten matches, set their stall out to frustrate Fanning's side but they grabbed the lead inside twenty minutes.

Dunn brought down speedy winger Aberbaker Salim just outside the penalty area and Jordan Lartey's free kick somehow found its way past Craggs in to the far corner of the net.

Jordan Lee then tested Craggs from 25 yards while at the other end the only chink of light for Town was a lively performance of Fletcher down the left.

Callum Fletcher, right, impressed on his Town debut
The second half did not immediately improve for Fanning's side, in fact the problems merely increased when Shoulder limped off with a groin injury eight minutes after the restart.

The introduction of Adam Emson however led to a reshuffle, with Smurthwaite switching to centre half, Alderson to right back and Anderson to the right side of midfield.

Emson thought he had brought Town level less than nine minutes after his arrival when he turned home a low cross from Chillingsworth, but the Town celebrations were cut short by an offside flag.

Marcus Laing replaced Caisley moments later and Town finally began to gain control of the midfield. Alderson was close to an equaliser fifteen minuets from time when he met Parkin's corner with a towering header, but Whickham goalkeeper Scott Cresswell did well to claw the ball away from right on the line.

However, Town saved themselves from an early exit with just seven minutes remaining. Parkin's superb through ball sent Anderson clear in the inside right channel and he held off defender Mark Pattison before lifting the ball over the advancing Cresswell from 10 yards.

Col Anderson chips home the equaliser
The last thing anyone wanted was extra time, and with the visitors now looking tired, Town pressed on for the winner. York City Academy graduate Dickinson, who had only just replaced Fletcher, cut in from the left before being denied by Cresswell, while Emson also brought the best out of the Whickham stopper.

But Cresswell was slightly fortunate to stay on the pitch three minutes from time. Emson raced onto a ball from Parkin and was caught by the 'keeper as he attempted to round him.

Referee Matthew Doherty initially waved play on and Emson fired in to the side netting from a tight angle, but he called Cresswell back to show him a yellow card as Town's leading scorer received treatment for an ankle injury.

However, the winner finally arrived in the third minute of stoppage time. Anderson, who really came to life in the closing stages having looked off the pace earlier, was tripped in the area by Craig Rook and Dickinson stepped up to fire a confident penalty past Cresswell with virtually the last kick of the match.
Dickinson celebrates his late winner with the fans behind the goal
"We only played for ten minutes but it was enough to win the game," said Fanning at the whistle.

"I made several changes as we have a big squad and I wanted to give some of them a rest. I picked a side that I thought could win the game, but apart from Callum (Fletcher) the others did not come out of it with too much credit.

"Whickham came with a game plan to break up the play and frustrate us and credit to them as they stuck to it. We know we will need to improve on Saturday.

"Dickinson looked sharp when he came on. He is a big lad with a good touch and he was confident enough to take on the responsibility for the penalty. It is just a shame that he is not available to play for us more often."

Town will now face Division One side Billingham Synthonia in the next round a week on Wednesday, but before that they will need to focus on a tough trip to Whickham in the league on Saturday.

TOWN - Craggs, Dunn, Smurthwaite, Shoulder, Winter, Parkin, Alderson, Caisley, Anderson, Chillingsworth, Fletcher. Subs - Emson, Dickinson, Laing, Hickman, Tasker.

WHICKHAM - Cresswell, Goldsmith-Scott, Pattison, Cavanagh, Poppleton, Lee, Lartey, Striebelt, Robson, Swanston, Salim. Subs - Rook, Farrey, Holmes, Falcus.

REFEREE: M. Doherty


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Emson treble sees off Stokesley to keep Town in promotion hunt


A MAGNIFICENT hat-trick from Adam Emson,  his 28th, 29th and 30th goals of the season, ensured the Town revival continued with this comfortable victory over Stokesley SC on Saturday.

Town began the day on the back of a 3 match winning run and they dominated from start to finish without ever having to get out of second gear, although Emson's finishing was in a different class. His third goal in particular was a thing of real beauty, chipping the ball nonchalantly over Stokesley goalkeeper Thomas Laverick after leaving a trail of defenders in his wake.

Manager Mark Fanning made just one change to the side that had won 4-2 at Seaham last weekend - Steve Butterworth replacing the now departed Pete Bulmer on the right side of midfield.

The game had been in doubt right up until Saturday morning due to standing water on the pitch, but thanks to hard work of the ground staff it was deemed playable by referee Steven Watson, although it remained very heavy.

Town were on the front foot from the start and twice Butterworth came close to breaking the deadlock in the opening seven minutes. Firstly he fired over at the far post after a lovely cross-field ball from the impressive Ian Smurthwaite, before seeing a close range effort blocked by defender Phillip King.

But it should have been 1-0 in the 19th minute. Gav Parkin's corner from the left hit the top of the crossbar and fell invitingly to Emson at the far post, but with the goal gapping he somehow blasted over the top.

However, the leading scorer would more than make amends ten minutes later. A long ball from the back by Danny Shoulder found Emson on the halfway line and he easily beat his man before racing towards goal with the air of a man who was not going to miss. And as Laverick came out to narrow the angle, he coolly slotted the ball home from 18 yards.

The only danger going into half time was that Town had not managed to find a second goal. Grant Hickman saw an effort pushed onto the roof of the net by Laverick before Butterworth and Dunwell both came close.

Fanning had expressed on his troops during the interval just how vital it was to kill the game off and they came out for the second half looking determined to do just that. Emson was denied by Laverick at full stretch within four minutes of the restart, but it was 2-0 seven minutes later.

James Bowman, who was having another fine game down the left, burst into the penalty area, and when the ball broke to Mickey Dunwell, he showed great awareness to square for Emson to tap home.

Town could now relax and began to knock the ball round as well as was possible on the difficult surface. Dave Alderson nearly made it 3-0 after getting on the end of Emson's left-wing cross two minutes later, while Butterworth beat Laverick with a 20 yards chip only to see the ball land on top of the net.

But Emson completed his hat-trick twenty minutes from time to finally put the game to bed. Parkin's long ball sent him clear again and this time the former Stokesley man chipped the ball over the advancing Laverick from 12 yards - a great way to bring up 30 goals for the season.

The visitors did grab a consolation almost immediately with a fine strike from Greg Upton, much to the delight of his grandfather who was watching from the stands, but it was Town who had the final word soon after.

Parkin was again the creator with a lovely free kick to the far post where Bowman rose highest to nod his third goal in the last four matches.

"It was a very good three points," said Fanning at the whistle. "We controlled the game but I was a little concerned at half time that we had not got the second goal.

"It was comfortable in the end and with others around us dropping points it was a vital win."

Town now face Whickham twice in three days, first in the League Challenge Cup at the RGPS on Wednesday evening, before a trip north in the league next Saturday.

TOWN - Briggs, Alderson, Smurthwaite, Shoulder, Hickman, Parkin, Butterworth, Laing, Emson, Dunwell, Bowman. Subs - Dunn, Banks, Winter, Caisley, Anderson.

STOKESLEY SC - Laverick, Jones, Bivens, McManmus, King, Upton, Redman, Bradley, Hodgson, Bonner, Asanjo-Bravo. Subs - Porritt, Doherty, Kamara, Butterworth, Ballantyne.

REFEREE: S. Watson.


Monday, 11 February 2013

Three wins in a week lift the gloom for Town


TOWN ended a great week in fine style with this superb victory at third-placed Seaham Red Star on Saturday.

After a win over fellow-promotion rivals North Shields seven days earlier, Mark Fanning's side produced another performance of the highest quality to move within one point of the top three.

The Town manager again shuffled his pack, making seven changes to the side that had beaten Alnwick in the Ernest Armstrong Cup in midweek. The only players to retain their place in the starting XI were Ian Smurthwaite in defence along with Marcus Laing, Peter Bulmer and James Bowman in midfield.

But Seaham, who have been occupying the third promotion place since the turn of the year, started well and they were given the boost of an early goal. James Briggs did well to deny Sean Sweeney initially, but the Washington-born striker reacted quickly to force home the rebound with the match just nine minutes old.

And they very nearly doubled their lead two minutes later. A rare mistake at the back from Grant Hickman let in Peter Bryson but Briggs came to his rescue with a fine save.

That proved to be the turning point as Town scored twice in eight minutes to gain control. Adam Emson latched on to a weak back-pass from Carl Thorp in the 12th minute, and as he rounded Shaun Newbrook, the Seaham goalkeeper brought him down in the area. Danny Shoulder, who had scored from the spot against North Shields, made no mistake again to make it 1-1.

With Town now in the ascendancy, they grabbed the lead soon after. Mickey Dunwell did well to hold off two defenders before squaring the ball for Emson to finish from close range - his 27th goal of the season.

Fanning was forced to reshuffle when Bowman, who had scored in previous two matches, was forced off with a calf injury just prior to the half-hour mark so Steve Butterworth was brought in to the midfield.

But it was 3-1, two minutes before the break, and what a goal it was. The move actually started with a Seaham corner and when the ball was cleared to half way, Emson beat his man before running through to slot past Newbrook from 18 yards.

Emson was then inches away from grabbing a first half hat-trick when he beat Newbrook again but fired into the side-netting and that looked like being a crucial miss when the hosts pulled a goal back in controversial circumstances in first half stoppage time.

Alan Pegram appeared to be at least five yards offside when he ran through a static Town defence, but the linesmans flag stayed down and the former Hebburn Reyrolle midfielder rounded Briggs to slot home.

But Town did not let the apparent injustice affect them and they should have regained their two-goal cushion seven minutes after the resumption. Emson's cross from the left found Dunwell, and after his close range effort was somehow kept out by Newbrook, the former Billingham man fired over the top of a gaping goal.

It did not prove too costly however, as Emson was sent sprawling in the penalty area by Richard Stubbs five minutes later and Shoulder once again made no mistake from the spot.

Seaham were not out of it yet and Briggs needed to be at his best to deny substitute Channon North before Sweeney flashed a shot wide of the far post, but Town had chances to put the seal on the victory in the closing stages.

Newbrook denied Emson a hat-trick with a full-length save before making an even better stop to tip an effort from Butterworth over the top. Then, five minutes from time, Emson chipped the Seaham goalkeeper only to see the ball land agonisingly on top of the net.

"There was a real sense of injustice about the Seaham second goal on the stroke of half time," said Town assistant manager Martin Collins.

"The players attitude was great in the second half as they didn't allow this to affect them. The work rate all over the field was outstanding.

"It was one of those days where you looked round the whole team and could say that everybody had a good game."
Town return to action with a League Challenge Cup tie at home to Whickham on Wednesday evening, a match in which Dunwell, Bulmer and Jon Burton are all cup-tied, before Stokesely SC are the visitors next Saturday.
TOWN - Briggs, Alderson, Smurthwaite, Hickman, Shoulder, Parkin, Laing, Bowman, Bulmer, Dunwell, Emson. Subs - Butterworth, Chillingsworth, Dunn, Winter, Anderson.
SEAHAM RED STAR - Newbrook, Stubbs, Stoyanov, Thorp, Scott, Goss, Pegram, Gordon, Catcheside, Bryson, Sweeney. Subs - North, Goodman, Kane.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Town back on the cup trail as Alnwick are sent packing


TOWN'S defence of the Ernest Armsrong Trophy began with this comfortable victory over struggling Alnwick at the RGPS on Wednesday evening.

In a tie that had been postponed three times due to the bad weather, Town eased into the second round of the competition they won last season without ever having to find the form that had swept aside North Shields at the weekend.

As promisied, manager Mark Fanning made several changes to the side that had been so impressive three days earlier. Steve Craggs started in goal, while the back four showed three changes. Stu Dunn switched to right back, Jon Burton came in at left back, with Craig Winter and Ian Smurthwaite in the centre.

In midfield, Alex Caisley, Marcus Laing and James Bowman all retained their places, while Pete Bulmer replaced the rested Gav Parkin. The big news however, was in attack where Col Anderson returned after recently re-signing from Richmond to partner Carl Chillingsworth. That left Steve Butterworth, Mickey Dunwell and Grant Hickman on the bench.

On a heavy pitch, Town tried to get the ball down and play but it proved to be a tricky task and the game rarely sparked to life.

Of course in the cup the result is the only thing that matters and Fanning's side were given the boost of an early goal thanks to a fine header from Anderson - a great way to mark his return to the side. That settled any nerves and Bowman grabbed his second goal in three days, and third of season, just past the hour-hour mark.

With Alnwick struggling at the bottom of the league and missing several players, they rarely looked like finding a way back in to the tie and Caisley, Bulmer and Chillingsworth all had chances to increase the Town advantage.

There was one more goal to cheer the freezing crowd however, and it was a significant one. Having replaced Anderson fifteen minutes from time, Dunwell grabbed his first goal for the club eight minutes later to seal a second round meeting with Ryhope CW later this month.

Programme for this match is available here

TOWN - Craggs, Dunn, Burton, Winter, Burton, Bulmer, Laing, Caisley, Bowman, Anderson, Chillinsgworth. Subs - Butterworth, Dunwell, Hickman.



Saturday, 2 February 2013

The boys Dun-Well as Shields are hit for five


TOWN returned to winning ways with this magnificent five-goal salvo against in-form North Shields at the RGPS on Saturday.

The visitors arrived in North Yorkshire on the back of a 13 match unbeaten run, but it was blown away by a fired up Town as a brace from Adam Emson and further goals from James Bowman, Danny Shoulder and Steve Butterworth gave Mark Fanning's side a first win in eight.

"The break for bad weather has probably done us some good," said a delighted Fanning at the whistle. "We have spent time in the gym, played some five-a-side and even spent an hour in the boxing ring on Thursday.

"I felt we were not fit enough as a group but the lads have worked really hard and you could see the benefits today."

The Town starting XI showed four chances from the defeat at Esh Winning last time out, some enforced, others not. Carl Chillingsworth and Jon Burton were both unavailable so new signing Mickey Dunwell was brought in for his club debut up front while James Bowman was recalled to the left side of midfield.

Elsewhere Stu Dunn replaced Steve Banks at left back, while Alex Caisley was given a start in midfield in place of the transfer-listed Wayne Gredziak. Meanwhile, Steve Butterworth returned from injury to take his place on the bench alongside Ian Smurthwaite, Craig Winter Steve Craggs and Banks.

The extra fitness work looked to have paid off from the start as Town closed down their visitors quickly and worked hard to regain possession of the ball at every opportunity.

Dunwell nearly got off to a dream start in Town colours when he capitalised on a poor clearance from Sean McCafferty after just seven minutes, but the Shields goalkeeper made amends with a fine save down to his right.

The former Billingham striker then came even closer, eight minutes later. A lovely Town move saw Marcus Laing drill the ball across the six-yard box, but when Emson was denied by McCafferty, Dunwell was unable to force the ball home from close range.

But the goal the hosts had been threatening finally arrived mid-way through the first half. McCafferty mis-judged a corner from the right by Gav Parkin and Emson rose above a crowded six-yard box to nod into the empty net.

That lifted any tension and Town went on to produce the best football they have played all season in the remainder of the first half. They doubled their advantage just past the half-hour when Parkin played in Bowman down the left and he drilled a first-time shot beyond McCafferty from 12 yards.

It was a similar move which saw Town grab a third six minutes later. This time Parkin and Dunwell combined to give Bowman space through the centre and his perfectly weighted ball was dispatched by Emson for his 25th goal of the season.

Shields had rarely shown the form which had seem them fail to taste defeat since October, but they nearly gave themselves a lifeline when Paul Watson struck the underside of the crossbar with a 25-yard thunderbolt with the half time whistle just seconds away.

But Town continued their earlier dominance at the start of the second period. Twice Emson came close to completing his hat-trick within three minutes of the resumption - bringing a fine save from McCafferty in the 46th minute before firing narrowly over the top moments later.

Dave Alderson then had the opportunity to open his Town account when another set-piece delivery from Parkin found him at the far post, but with the angle tight, the former Norton defender blasted high, wide and anything but handsome.

However, Shields pulled a goal back on the hour with their first piece of real attacking quality. The impressive Dean Holmes beat the Town offside trap and rounded goalkeeper James Briggs before pulling the ball back for substitute Adam Rowntree to knock home via the left-hand upright.

It looked like being game on again when Caisley was dismissed twenty minutes from time for a desperate two-footed lunge on Dan Patterson, leaving Town down to ten-men, but Fanning's side dug deep and sealed the points seven minutes later.

Emson unselfishly squared the ball to Dunwell inside the area but as he rounded McCafferty, the Shields goalkeeper cynically brought him down and referee Jeff Marr had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. The Town fans behind the goal were baying for him to produce a second red card too, but Shoulder extracted the ultimate revenge by sending McCafferty the wrong way from the spot.

All that was left now was for substitute Butterworth, who only just replaced Bowman, to celebrate his return from injury with a composed finish over McCafferty after a neat run into the area four minutes from time.

"Hopefully this result will get us up and running again," said Fanning. "We played some great stuff at times and the third goal, in particular, was a lovely move.

"I have no complaints about the red card. Ironically I was going to take Alex off a few minutes earlier as I felt he had given absolutely everything, and you could see that was the challenge of a tired player.

"But even with ten men we didn't panic and continued to play our football. Of course I am delighted but this is just the start. We need to produce performances like this consistently from now until the end of the season.

"I will make changes on Wednesday night to give some of these guys a rest and then we will go again."

With Gredziak now likely to leave the club, Fanning's forward options have been boosted by the return of Col Anderson, who has re-joined the club after a spell at Richmond, and he is expected to be in the squad for the Ernest Armstrong cup tie against Alnwick Town on Wednesday evening.

Programme from this match is here

TOWN - Briggs, Alderson, Dunn, Hickman, Shoulder, Caisley, Parkin, Laing, Bowman, Dunwell, Emson. Subs - Butterworth, Banks, Smurthwaite, Winter, Craggs.

NORTH SHIELDS - McCafferty, Elliott, Patterson, Richardson, Harmison, Atkinson, Wrightson, Watson, Nolan, Forster, Holmes. Subs - Hook, McKeown, Rowntree, Douglas, Robinson.