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.

No comments:

Post a Comment