Saturday, 30 March 2013

It's a Chilli Winter for Alnwick as Mully makes it two out of two


Goals from Carl Chillingsworth, Craig Winter and Adam Emson were just enough to give Town the points against battling Alnwick at the RGPS on Easter Saturday, as new manager Peter Mulcaster marked his return to the RGPS with a victory.

But this was far from a classic Town performance. They laboured for long periods against their hard-working visitors and the only positive to come out of a disappointing 90 minutes was the three points that keeps their fading promotion hope alive.

"For 80% of the match we were poor," said a disappointed Mulcaster at the whistle. "We never got going until the final fifteen minutes but a win is a win and we'll take that."

So while the performance lacked (Easter) egg-citement on Mully's homecoming, the result certainly made up for that as Town moved to within seven points of 4th place, which will be enough for promotion should Ryhope's ground fail to meet the required standards.

Mulcaster's first home selection showed just one change from the extra time success at Chester-le-Street in midweek - Winter replacing Grant Hickman at the back. Meanwhile, new signing David Cooke was included in the squad for the first time and he took his place on the bench alongside Hickman, Marcus Laing, Ian Smurthwaite and Mickey Dunwell.

Town had actually started quite brightly with James Bowman's left-wing cross having to be tipped over the crossbar by Alnwick goalkeeper Brian Brookes inside five minutes, while Emson's shot from the resulting corner was deflected away to safety.

But Mulcaster's men did go in front midway through the first half. Alnwick substitute George Convery, who had only just replaced the injured Neil Catlow, under-hit a back-pass to Brookes and Chillingsworth nipped in lift the ball over the stranded goalkeeper from 18 yards - his 22nd goal of the season.

The lead, however, lasted barely three minutes. On a rare foray forward from the Northumbrians, Dale Kennedy was initially denied by a fine save from James Briggs but Tony Brown followed up drill the ball home from a tight angle via a slight deflection.

The remainder of the first half was fairly uneventful, although Chillingsworth came close to restoring Town's lead after Alex Caisley stood the ball up to the far post, but his header was too close to Brookes.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Steve Banks was forced to clear an effort from Brian Murray off his own goal-line after good work down the right from Brown.

But Town have had a habit of performing better in the second half this season and they did so again, although it took them a while to get any rhythm to their play. Chillingsworth headed narrowly over the top from a Bowman cross on the hour, while Emson failed to test Brookes after good work from Caisley down the right.

Mulcaster made changes in a bid to inject some fresh impetus - replacing Chillingsworth with Dunwell, Jonathan Burton with Hickman and Butterworth with Smurthwaite - and Town finally regained the lead twenty minutes from time.

Gav Parkin, whose set piece deliveries have created so many goals this season, whipped in a corner from the left and Winter rose above the Alnwick defence to power home a header from 8 yards.

The visitors, who arrived in Yorkshire having lost just two of their previous eight matches, kept battling away, although the nearest they came to a second equaliser was an under-hit back-pass from Danny Shoulder that was almost seized upon by Kennedy, but Winter came across to clear the danger.

And it was Town who sealed the points three minutes from time. Bowman beat two defenders on a thrilling run to the bye-line and his low, driven cross was bundled home at the near post by Emson from virtually right on the goalline.

"That was probably the only way I was going to score today," said Emson. "It wasn't the greatest goal but I managed to run across the defender to get the final touch."

Parkin, who was pleased not to be the smallest player on the pitch thanks to the inclusion of vertically-challenged Alnwick full-back Alex Makin, was a little more forthright. "We were poor, no question about it," he said. "We knew it would be tough and it was a battle out there but on days like this you are just happy to take the points and move on to the next one."

The next one for Town is a trip to Birtley Town on Tuesday evening followed by a crunch meeting at Ryhope CW next Saturday.

TOWN - Briggs, Banks, Bowman, Shoulder, Winter, Parkin, Caisley, Butterworth, Chillingsworth, Emson, Burton. Subs - Hickman, Dunwell, Smurthwaite, Cooke, Laing.

ALNWICK TOWN - Brookes, Makin, Catlow, Murray, Patterson, Lowes, Brown, Colley, Kennedy, Jackson, Hogg. Subs - Hall, Kidd, Hutchinson, Convery.



Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Emson strike sends Town into last four as Mulcaster marks return with comeback success


A GOAL in extra time from leading goal-scorer Adam Emson completed a terrific Town comeback at Moor Park on Tuesday evening as the new era for the club got off to the perfect start.

After all the upheaval over the weekend it was good to get back to the action on the pitch with Town bidding to become the first side to retain the Ernest Armstrong Trophy. But Peter Mulcaster's return as manager did not look to be going to plan as goals from Matthew Morris and Nick Gibson either side of the break put Chester-le-Street in control.

However, Town showed all their battling qualities and some really good football to turn the tie around thanks to two goals in three minutes from Jonathon Burton, his first for the club, and a spectacular strike from Carl Chillingsworth, before Emson's extra time winner.

Mulcaster's first team selection since returning to the club on Sunday saw just two changes from the weekend's disappointing defeat at Washington. Emson was back in place of Michael Dunwell in attack, while Alex Caisley replaced the absent Ian Smurthwaite in midfield. Meanwhile, Marcus Laing returned to take his place on the bench alongside Dunwell and Craig Winter.

Looking determined from the start, Town were almost given the boost of an early goal when Emson's snap-shot from the left was beaten away by Chester goalkeeper Matthew Crook inside the opening minute.

But as the snow began to fall, Town started to feel a little Chilli as the veteran striker missed a golden opportunity twenty minutes later.

Gav Parkin whipped in a dangerous corner from the left, and after Emson had flicked it on at the near post, Chillingsworth somehow placed his header over the top of an open goal from 6 yards. And the significance of that miss became clear moments later as the hosts went in front from the very next attack.

A free kick from out on the left by Anthony Burnell was not cleared by the Town defence and the ball fell to Morris 10 yards out. His shot may not have posed too many problems for goalkeeper James Briggs until it took a wicked deflection and looped up into the roof of the net.

But Town refused to panic and Grant Hickman twice headed narrowly over the top from Parkin set-piece deliveries as Mulcaster's men finished the first half on top.

The second period began as had the first, with Emson going close again, while Parkin then struck the post with a free kick. But it was the hosts who doubled their advantage nine minutes after the resumption.

Lewis Lynch did well down the right and his well-flighted cross was directed past Briggs by Gibson with a fine looping header from 10 yards.

With their grip on the trophy loosening, Town dug deep and pulled themselves level with two goals in quick succession. Burton grabbed the first on the hour, firing home from 12 yards after the Chester defence failed to clear another set-piece from Parkin - Town's first goal in over 330 minutes of football - before Chillingsworth equalised with a strike of the highest quality.

Receiving the ball 25 yards out with his back to goal, the 36 year-old controlled it instantly on his chest before spinning and hitting a first-time volley that flew in to the top left-hand corner of the net.

There only looked like being one winner now and Emson almost made it 3-2 seconds later after a lovely move down the left, but he shot straight at the Chester goalkeeper. Crook then denied the Town leading scorer again while Chillingsworth fired the loose ball narrowly over the top.

The final chance of the 90 minutes fell to Steve Butterworth two minutes from time, but he headed straight into the grateful arms of Crook following great work from Emson down the left.

However, Town completed the fight-back in the second minute of extra time. Parkin again created the opportunity with a dangerous free kick into the heart of the home penalty area and Emson was in the right place to fire home at the second attempt.

Mulcaster's side looked comfortable after that and should have sealed their place in the last four as substitute Dunwell twice fired over the top before Emson was again denied by Crook at the death.

"It was a great second half performance," said a delighted Mulcaster after his first game back in charge since 2003. "The first half was a little disjointed even if we did look the most likely team to score.

"The second half was totally different. We played some neat football in all areas of the pitch and were much the better team.

"The players showed great spirit to comeback and it was our talisman, Emson, who once again scored the decisive goal.

"Overall it was good night with some very good performances. I am now looking forward to returning 'home' on Saturday."

Town will now face Jarrow Roofing at the RGPS in next month's semi final, after they overcame Brandon United 6-4 also in extra time, but before that is a vital league meeting with Alnwick on Saturday. Kick off at the RGPS is 3pm with entrance £5 for adults and £2.50 concessions.

CHESTER-LE-STREET - Crook, Smith, Short, Morris, Summers, Graver, Burnell, Surrey, Hepplewhite, Gibson, Lynch. Subs - Smith, Alderson, Brown, Arnott.

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

REFEREE: M. Bunting


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Can Town lift the gloom and bring some much needed cup cheer

SOMEONE once said that football is a funny old game but there has not been much laughter around the RGPS in recent weeks.

A dip in form has seen Northallerton Town slip away from the promotion places and this has been coupled with a cut in a budget which saw the resignation of manager Mark Fanning and assistant Martin Collins over the weekend. Troubled times indeed.
But out of adversity often comes a sense of togetherness and the squad will be looking to utilise that when they travel to Chester-le-Street in tonight’s Ernest Armstrong Cup quarter final tie.

Having lifted the trophy is such thrilling fashion last season, Town will be going all out for a repeat and with former boss Peter Mulcaster back at the helm, maybe the smiles will be back on Town faces come May.

After a rallying call from club captain Danny Shoulder this week, the team look more determined than ever to bring the trophy back to Northallerton, and there would be no more fitting tribute to Fanning and Collins if they were to do just that.

Of course promotion was the main objective at the start of the season, and while there is still a remote possibility this can still be achieved, the success of the club now rests on the trip north to Chester.

No club has ever retained the Ernest Armstrong Cup so as well as lifting more silverware, Town would be also be creating their own little piece of history.
The run to the quarter finals has been far from straight forward. The weather meant the defence of the trophy did not get under way until early February, where Alnwick were swept aside 3-0 on a bitterly cold night at the RGPS in front of just 44 fans.

The tie in the last 16 was an absolute classic, but there is little doubt Town were slightly fortunate to beat Ryhope CW 5-3 after extra time at the RGPS. In one of the games of the season, the visitors were reduced to 10 men after only half an hour but were still the better side for long periods and even went 3-2 in front in the first extra period.

Town then only scrapped through with the help of 2 own goals, although with one of their main rivals out the way the draw has really opened up.
Should Town overcome Chester tonight they will be at home to the winners of the Jarrow Roofing vs. Brandon United tie next month. I’m sure most at the RGPS will be hoping Brandon can cause a surprise, but the likelihood is it will Roofing returning to Northallerton just a few weeks after they enjoyed a resounding 4-0 success in the league.

But all that is for the future. For now the focus is on what will be a very difficult match at Chester. With all the upheaval at the club this week it will be a relief for the players to get out on the pitch and I fully expect a positive response to Saturday’s disappointing defeat at Washington.
A near-full strength squad are making the trip, with the exception of Col Anderson, who is attending a funeral, and Marcus Laing who is in Las Vegas, so it will be interesting to see which XI Mulcaster goes with.

I am not expecting wholesale changes, although Adam Emson is expected to start, while Steve Butterworth could be given a more central role after failing to make an impact on the right on Saturday.
But whatever XI take the field tonight they will be cheered on by the amazing support of the travelling Town army and hopefully everyone connected with Northallerton will be smiling by 10pm.

Sunday, 24 March 2013


Following a board meeting on Sunday 24 March, Northallerton Town Football Club has released the following statement.

Team manager Mark Fanning and assistant Martin Collins have resigned from their positions at the club with immediate effect. Both felt that due to changes being implemented at the club their positions had become untenable.

Fanning released this statement on behalf of himself and Mr Collins: “Firstly we would like to thank the board and committee at the club for giving us this opportunity. We appreciate the help and support they have always given us. We would also like to thank the players for their commitment and hard work and to the supporters who have always been first class.

“This is a decision we have not taken lightly and we are both disappointed things have come to this. We would like to wish everyone at the club all the best for the future.”

Former Town boss Peter Mulcaster has taken temporary charge until the end of the season at which point the situation will be reviewed.

“I am absolutely delighted to be back at the club,” said Mulcaster. “I cannot wait to get started and I am looking forward to the challenge ahead.”

Club captain Danny Shoulder will be working closely with Mulcaster to ensure as little disruption as possible to team affairs. Shoulder said: “I am hopeful the players will stick together and see this season through as we have been together a long time and are like a family.

“We have a massive cup game this week and we want to focus on that now.

“All the players would like to wish Mark and Martin all the best for the future and thank them for the work they have done at the club over the years. They put this side together which did not happen overnight, and of course they brought us that great night in Ernest Armstrong cup final last season.”

The club has nothing further to add at this time.

Town splutter to defeat in Arctic conditions


TOWN'S fading promotion hopes were all but blown away completely on Saturday as Washington completed the league double over Mark Fanning's side at a freezing Nissan Sports Complex.

In conditions not conducive to good football, goals in either half from Graham Carter and Lee Hamilton ensured Town came home empty handed from a disappointing afternoon in Sunderland.

Fanning was forced to reshuffle his pack as several key players were missing. Leading scorer Adam Emson was stranded by snow in Leeds, while Dave Alderson and Marcus Laing were both absent.

Fanning's hands were further tied by the inclusion of Col Anderson in the Academy side while skipper Danny Shoulder was only fit enough for the bench. The Town boss was boosted, however, by the return of Dan Clayton, who made his second debut for the club on the left-hand side of midfield.

Playing into the biting easterly wind in the first half, Fanning's side were slow out of the blocks and twice the hosts came close to grabbing an early lead as Dean Walker and Alan Oliver both failed to beat James Briggs.

But the Mechanics did engineer the opening goal after nine minutes. Walker released Carter with a lovely flick on the edge of the penalty area and he squeezed the ball past the on-rushing Briggs before tapping home from close range.

And it should have been 2-0 moments later when Walker ran through, rounded Briggs but could only fire into the side netting with the goal gaping.

However, Town slowly began to come terms with the conditions and they dominated the rest of the half. Mickey Dunwell was close to an equaliser with a 25 yard drive which was pushed around the post by goalkeeper Chris Bonner, before James Bowman was denied by the home stopper at point blank range.

But the best chance of an equaliser fell to Carl Chillingsworth midway through the half. The veteran striker's low shot from 18 yards was somehow pushed on to the inside the post by Bonner, who was relieved to see the ball roll along the goal line before being cleared away to safety.

Town were still vulnerable to the ball over the top and Briggs had to be alert deny Walker and Hamilton, but in truth the visitors were unlucky to be behind at the interval.

Clayton was a constant threat down the left and he twice created opportunities for Dunwell, while Ian Smurthwaite fired narrowly wide from 25 yards.

With the wind in their favour in the second period, Town were expected to push on and get back in to the match, but it was Washington who adapted better to the conditions and Fanning's men were unable to really trouble Bonner.

In fact it was the Mechanics who had the better chances after the restart. Dan Young got clear down the right on the hour and his cross only just evaded Hamilton and Walker in the centre, while Walker should then have done better after another great delivery from Young soon after.

But it was 2-0, sixteen minutes from time. Substitute Chris Tate released Hamilton through the centre and he took his time to compose himself before lifting the ball coolly over Briggs from the edge of the penalty area.

It was nearly 3-0, five minutes later when Young rounded Briggs and was only denied the goal he deserved by a superb goal-line clearance from Stephen Banks.

Fanning made changes to add some fresh impetus to Town's play in the closing stages but the nearest they came to a consolation was in stoppage time when a close range effort from Chillingsworth was blocked by Bonner.

Although a disappointing result for Town which all but ends any lingering hopes of promotion, credit should go to both teams who produced an entertaining encounter despite the dreadful conditions.

Town can now turn their attention to the Ernest Armstrong Cup quarter final tie at Chester-Le-Street on Tuesday evening, a competition which is now the clubs only chance of success this season.

WASHINGTON - Bonner, Leighton, Locke, Evans, Donnelly, Oliver, Young, Wade, Hamilton, Walker, Carter. Subs - Tate, White, Hyde, Shaw, Covell.

TOWN - Briggs, Banks, Bowman, Hickman, Winter, Parkin, Butterworth, Smurthwaite, Dunwell, Chillingsworth, Clayton. Subs - Shoulder, Burton, Caisley.

REFEREE: T. Chambers.


Monday, 18 March 2013

Town promotion hopes in the balance as Roofing finish on top


TOWN'S promotion hopes were left hanging by a thread as third-placed Jarrow Roofing left the RGPS with all three points on Wednesday evening.

In a match that Town could ill-afford to lose, Mark Fanning's side never recovered from the loss of an early goal by Mike Carson as Jarrow ran out comfortable winners in the end.

Starting the night nine points behind their visitors, Town knew a win here and in the return at Jarrow next month would put them right in the mix for a top-three finish and automatic promotion, but it was the Roofers who took a giant step closer an instant return to Division One.

Fanning's side showed two changes to the side that had lost to Billingham Synthonia in the League Cup a week earlier - Craig Winter and Michael Dunwell coming in for Grant Hickman and Colin Anderson.

But despite a bright start from Town, it was Roofing who went in front after 17 minutes when Carson scored directly from a corner, aided by a slip at the near post Marcus Laing which deceived goalkeeper James Briggs.

Town responded and could have been level by the break as Carl Chillingsworth headed wide before Dunwell fired into the side netting.

But the second half could not have got off to a worse start for Fanning's side as Anth Myers doubled the Roofing advantage within five minutes of the restart.

Town needed something quickly and Winter almost provided it with a header that landed on the roof of the net, but it was the visitors who sealed the points when Liam McBryde finished off a sweeping move twelve minutes from time.

And Town's misery was completed in the 87th minute when Darren Reay headed home a corner to make the final score 4-0.

"After good performances against Ryhope and Billingham in recent weeks, this was disappointing," said assistant manager Martin Collins. "But credit must go to Jarrow who are one of the best teams to have visited Ainderby Road this season."

After Saturday's home match against Whitehaven was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, Town are next in action on Tuesday evening with the first of two trips in a week to Chester-Le-Street, sandwiched between a trip to Washington next Saturday.

TOWN - Briggs, Alderson, Smurthwaite, Winter, Banks, Parkin, Laing, Butterworth, Bowman, Chillingsworth, Dunwell. Subs - Hickman, Caisley, Anderson, Dickinson.

REFEREE: S. Moran.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Town drop precious promotion ponts as Ryton leave with a draw


TOWN saw their promotion hopes suffer a setback as Ryton left the RGPS with a point on Saturday.

A goal from Carl Chillingsworth early in the second half, his 20th of the season, looked to have given an uninspired Town a much-needed three points, but Paul King stunned the hosts with an equaliser

Manager Mark Fanning shuffled his pack following the extra time victory over Ryhope three days earlier but the decision to rest several players backfired as Town dropped down to fifth.

After the excitement of the midweek cup tie, this could not have been a bigger contrast. Passes all too often went astray as Town failed to find their usual rhythm.

But Fanning's side finally made the breakthrough thanks to Chillingsworth's fine finish early in the second half. However, Town were unable to build on it as King forced an equaliser soon after and it finished all square.

"We never really got going today," said Fanning. "The tempo and will to win were missing. Our passing was terrible and our decision making even worse. We made changes after Wednesday's tough game but this now looks like a bad decision."

TOWN - Briggs, Dunn, Smurthwaite, Winters, Shoulder, Bowman, Laing, Parkin, Burton
Chillingsworth, Emson. Subs - Dunwell, Anderson.

REFEREE: M. Hedley


Town's League Cup run over as Synners triumph in extra time


Gav Parkin, right, battles for possession against Billingham Synthonia at the RGPS last night
Town crashed out of the Brooks Mileson League Challenge Cup on Wednesday evening, but there was certainly no disgrace in the performance as they took Division One side Billingham Synthonia all the way to extra time.

After a hard fought 90 minutes, Town finally ran out steam in the extra period as an unfortunate own goal from Stu Dunn along with further efforts from Dan Newby and Chay Liddle sent the Synners through.

Manager Mark Fanning again rotated his squad with Stephen Banks, David Alderson, Steve Butterworth, Col Anderson and Grant Hickman all returning to the side after being rested for the weekend draw with Ryton.

Another change was in formation as Fanning switched to a 4-5-1 with Carl Chillingsworth the lone striker, supported from midfield by Butterworth and Anderson.

The RGPS Stadium looking great on a cold, misty night
The tie got off to an explosive start with early chances at both ends. Aiden Cattermole was denied by Town goalkeeper James Briggs, while at the other end Anderson and Chillingsworth combined well for the latter to hit a half-volley narrowly over the top.

The remainder of the first half however, become a dour midfield battle with chances at a premium. Town had to reorganise inside half an hour when Anderson limped off with a groin injury giving young Callum Fletcher, who had starred in the previous round against Whickham, another opportunity to impress.

But it was the Division One visitors who should have been in front just before the break. Robbie Bettison was brought down by Alderson right on the edge of the area but referee Gary Liddle ruled it was just inside and pointed to the spot. However, Kieran Edwards blasted the kick off the top of the crossbar and into the car park.

Billingham began to get on top in the second period but they could find no way past an inspired Briggs. The Town 'keeper did well to keep out a header from Daniel McWilliams ten minutes after the resumption before producing an incredible double save to deny both Bettison and Cattermole.

Man of the match James 'Safe Hands' Briggs
Town were working extremely hard to keep the Synners at bay but offered very little of an attacking threat, with Chillingsworth often cutting a isolated figure. But while it remained 0-0, Town always had a chance and Fanning brought on Adam Emson twelve minutes from time in a late bid to snatch victory.

And it almost paid off with five minutes of normal remaining. Emson got clear down the left after a lovely ball from Gav Parkin, but his low cross was gathered by Synners 'keeper Tim Griffiths with Fletcher waiting to pounce.

However, the visitors could have spared the freezing crowd extra time when substitute Joel Callendar finally beat Briggs only to see his stoppage time effort come back off the left-hand upright.

But the Synners did make the breakthrough just three minutes into the first extra period, although it took the intervention of Town substitute Dunn to finally beat Briggs. Callendar's shot from the edge of the penalty area was heading towards to the corner flag until Dunn, who had only just replaced Alderson, stuck out a leg and diverted the ball into his own net.

Town were almost level within a minute when the ball fell kindly to Emson on the edge of the area but he did not get a good contact and Griffiths saved with ease.

Billingham celebrate their second goal
That proved to be the turning point as Billingham doubled their lead three minutes into the second extra period. Edwards played Matthew Crossen in down the right and he raced past Ian Smurthwaite before drilling the ball across the 6 yard box for Newby to turn home.

Town rallied as Hickman saw a header tipped onto the crossbar Griffiths while Butterworth then chipped narrowly over the top from 25 yards.

But it was the visitors who completed the scoring in the final minute. James Dowson lifted the ball over the top of the Town defence and the impressive Liddle, who had been the best player on the pitch, rounded Briggs to roll in the goal he deserved.

"You could not question our work-rate or commitment," said Fanning. "But the better side won in the end.

"I do not like losing any game but in the circumstances this is not a disaster for us. We have once again matched a side from Division One over 90 minutes and that will hold us in good stead.

"At 0-0 we felt we had a chance of nicking it but it was not to be. However, I will take defeat here if we can now go on and win our next 14 games."

The management team with much to ponder at the final whistle
There was some good news for Town with a league defeat for promotion rivals North Shields at home to Thornaby, and Fanning's side will look to take advantage when they visit Chester-le-Street on Saturday.

TOWN - Briggs, Alderson, Smurthwaite, Banks, Hickman, Parkin, Butterworth, Laing, Chillingsworth, Anderson, Bowman. Subs - Dunn, Emson, Fletcher, Winter.

BILLINGHAM SYNTHONIA - Griffiths, Crossen, McWilliams, Robinson, Abel, Liddle, Edwards, Newby, Bettison, Jameson, Cattermole. Subs - Callendar, Dowson, Lavan, Turton, Forster.

REFEREE: G. Liddle.


*Pictures copyright of Paul Gaythorpe at Pk4 Images. No unauthorised uses allowed.