Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Opportunity knocks for Town as promotion race reaches thrilling climax

FOOTBALL is all about taking opportunities and for Peter Mulcaster's Northallerton Town side, a great opportunity could be about to present itself.

With fourth-placed Darlington RA facing in-form Jarrow Roofing tonight, Town could cut the gap on the final promotion place to just a single point with victory at bottom-side Horden CW.

It is so tight in the race for that coveted 4th spot that any one of five clubs could still achieve it, and all five are in action tonight. Town's biggest threat appears to come from Morpeth Town, a point better off with a game in hand, and Town's trip there on the final Saturday of the season could prove decisive.

Despite having a busy schedule, Morpeth do appear to have, on paper at least, the easiest run-in. However, in a season of strange results it would be no surprise to see them drop some unexpected points, perhaps tonight when Alnwick Town are the visitors.

North Shields, who have found wins hard to come by lately, begin the night two points above Town in 5th place, having played a game more, and they host in-form Tow Law Town. Elsewhere, Seaham Red Star, level on points with Shields but having played two games more, travel to a West Allotment Celtic side who could still force their way into the top 4 with a strong late run.

So with just four points separating Darlington RA in 4th with Town in 8th, there is still everything to play for as the race for a place in Division One next season really hots up.

With the games coming thick and fast at the moment, Mulcaster is likely to rotate his side for the trip to struggling Horden tonight. With Ian Smurthwaite, Steve Banks and 22-goal Carl Chillingsworth all expected to return to the squad, the Town boss will certainly have more options than in recent games.

Col Anderson, who impressed on the right in Monday's nights win at Chester-le-Street, could be given a more central role, while it would be no surprise to see Smurthwaite back in the heart of the defence, where he performed so well at Birtley last week, especially with Danny Shoulder and Craig Winter both carrying knocks.

If this season has taught us anything it is not to take anyone for granted, but it would be a major shock if Town do not come away from Horden with all three points. The hosts have conceded 17 goals in their last five matches, all of which have ended in defeat, and they have won just twice since September.

The reverse fixture in September saw a comfortable 3-0 win for Town at the RGPS, where Horden left back Paul Johnson was given a torrid time by Anderson, and a repeat tonight could push Town to within a single point of the top 4.

That would be a remarkable turn around in fortunes for the club, who appeared to be out of the promotion race completely following defeat at Washington just over a fortnight ago. But a change of manager has brought a renewed optimism to the RGPS and a win tonight will get the whole place buzzing again.

So opportunity has certainly come knocking for Town and they must be ready to grab it with both hands.


  1. The coveted 4th spot eh.

  2. Yeah 4th not our problem ryhope still haven't sorted ground out

  3. Oh yes, just call us the back door boys. We can do it, we are the inform team.