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.

1 comment:

  1. Very professional article Ricky.