Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Laing leaves it late as Town stay in promotion hunt


A dramatic last minute winner from Marcus Laing completed another thrilling Town comeback on Monday evening as Peter Mulcaster's side left Whickham with three important points.

Town's fading promotion hopes looked over when a first half effort from Chris Rook put the hosts in control. But, after Ian Smurthwaite had equalised from the penalty spot midway through the second half, the stage was set for Laing to win it.

"It was not a great performance by any means but a win is a win," said Mulcaster at the whistle. "The first half was not good enough but we were much better after the break.

"We don't have a big squad in terms of numbers but they are a great set of lads and they never know when they are beaten. Promotion is out of our hands but we'll keep going and try to win our remaining matches."

As promised, Mulcaster rotated his squad making five changes from Saturday's disappointing defeat against West Allotment Celtic. So in came David Alderson, Craig Winter, Smurthwaite, Alex Caisley and Laing for Steve Banks, Danny Shoulder, Grant Hickman, Gav Parkin and Mickey Dunwell.

After a bright start from Town which saw Adam Emson twice bring saves from home goalkeeper Scott Cresswell, it was Whickham who had the better of the first half.

Former Gateshead striker Ian Robson drilled a shot just wide of James Briggs' left-hand post after a sliced clearance from Smurthwaite in the 22nd minute, while Briggs then came to Town's rescue after Robson had capitalised on a weak back-header from Winter.

But the hosts did go in front six minutes before the break. Rudi Nellas whipped in a dangerous cross from the right and winger Rook nipped in to head home at the near post.

And it was nearly 2-0 moments later. The tricky Abu Salim broke at pace down the right but his effort flew just the wrong side of the far post.

Mulcaster's side had chances to equalise before the break as Steve Butterworth fired over from 8 yards after good work from Col Anderson, while Caisley then headed over at the far post after another cross from Anderson.

That proved to be the youngsters last meaningful contribution as Caisley was replaced at half time by Mickey Dunwell, with Anderson, who had started up front, moving wide.

It led to a much-improved Town performance in the second period, although they were still struggling to break down a hard-working Whickham back line. Butterworth finally tested Cresswell from an Anderson free kick in the 56th minute, while Emson's low cross from the left was scrambled clear by Kris Allen five minutes later.

But Town were literally given a helping hand midway through the second half. Laing's corner from the left was only half cleared by the Whickham defence the ball bounced up and hit Mark Pattison on the arm. Referee Linzi Robinson was perfectly placed to point to the spot and Smurthwaite did the rest with a perfectly executed kick to make it 1-1.

Parkin was then brought on in place of Butterworth and Town suddenly began to create chances. Winter came close with a shot on the turn that flew just wide of the angle of post and crossbar before Dunwell was denied by Cresswell after a long throw from Alderson had caused confusion in the home penalty area.

With time running out, Town threw everything forward in a late bid to turn one point into three. Laing thought he had won it with five minutes left, heading a Parkin corner against the inside of the post, before seeing another effort cleared off the line by Craig Cavanagh.

But it was a case of third time for the former Thornaby midfielder. With the clock ticking down towards the 90 minute mark, Winter's header appeared to be rolling harmlessly out of play when Anderson nipped in, returned the ball into the 6 yard box where Laing arrived to nod beyond Cresswell.

The perfect end to what had been a less than perfect performance.

"Gav (Parkin) made a big difference when he came on," said Mulcaster. "But I thought the back four was outstanding tonight. Whickham looked dangerous on the counter-attack but we coped very well with all they had to offer. Now we have to do it all over again at Ryton on Wednesday."

With Morpeth and Darlington RA both winning again, the gap to 4th place remains 7 points with just six matches remaining. Town now need to rely on others if they to clinch promotion but while it is still mathematically possible, you can guarantee no one at the club will be giving up.

WHICKHAM - Cresswell, Allen, Pattison, Cavanagh, Poppleton, Nelus, Salim, MacIntosh, Swanston, Robson, Rook. Subs - Larkin, Peareth, Holmes, Barlow, O'Donnell.

TOWN - Briggs, Alderson, Bowman, Smurthwaite, Winter, Laing, Caisley, Butterworth, Anderson, Emson, Porritt. Subs - Dunwell, Hickman, Parkin, Cooke.

REFEREE - L. Robinson.



  1. Marcus Laing Marcus Laing. Town fans never doubted you

  2. thought the ref kept controlled the game well. good to see an official have a full head of hair as well

  3. The Back Door is now open, Ryton are much the same as these we beat so another £ points will be just fine to put pressure on others.