Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dormand at the double as Town surrender cup to 10-man Celtic

At Billingham Synthonia

TOWN'S bid to become the first club to retain the Ernest Armstrong Cup ended in disappointment on Monday afternoon as 10-man West Allotment Celtic left the Gamal Stadium with the trophy.

Peter Mulcaster's side failed to play with their usual verve and vigour, even after the dismissal of Stephen Little nine minutes from time, and they were punished by a strong and well organised Celtic side.

Town fans in good spirits before kick off
A penalty from Sean Reid at the start of the second half was followed by a late brace from David Dormand as Paul Stoneman's side sealed a fully deserved victory.

Town, who briefly drew level with James Bowman's 68th minute looping header, were off the pace all afternoon and they surrendered their trophy in rather tame fashion.

"We never really got going," said a disappointed Mulcaster at the whistle. "It was a flat performance but we'll draw a line under it and move on.

"I'm disappointed for the fans as much as anything as they have once again travelled and given us great support as always."

After much speculation in the build up to the final, the starting XI did not offer too many surprises. Carl Chillingsworth, with 5 goals in his last two appearances, was given the nod ahead of Mickey Dunwell to partner Adam Emson up front, while Marcus Laing was preferred to Steve Butterworth in the centre of midfield.

Elsewhere, Grant Hickman returned to the squad after missing the last two matches and he was joined on the bench by Dunwell, Jon Burton, Ian Smurthwaite and Butterworth.

Emerson Butler, centre in orange, leads Town out with skipper Danny Shoulder
Led onto the pitch in the warm spring sunshine by mascot Emerson Butler, Town were confident of retaining the trophy they had won so impressively last season. But it was Celtic who started the stronger and they could have scored twice in the opening ten minutes.

David Henderson was denied by a goal-line clearance from Craig Winter inside five minutes, while the impressive Reid saw a header come back off the crossbar before Danny Shoulder was able to scramble the ball to safety.

Town rarely seemed able to get out of second gear in the first half and the only real opportunity they created in a poor performance was a header from Andrew Porritt which flew harmlessly over the crossbar.

And Town's day got a whole lot worse when 38-goal leading scorer Emson was forced off with a groin injury after just 33 minutes, with Dunwell coming on to replace him.
The Town faithful trying to inspire their heroes to cup glory
Having made a habit of performing better in the second half of matches this season, Town's large contingent of fans were hoping for a repeat this time but it never really materialised. In fact only a superb save from James Briggs prevented Dormand giving Celtic the lead two minutes after the restart.

But that merely delayed the inevitable. Just a minute later, Steve Banks fouled Reid inside the penalty area and referee John Matthews had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Reid, who was the best player on the pitch, got up and confidently drilled the kick beyond Briggs.
Sean Reid gives Celtic the lead from the penalty spot
Having come from behind in the previous three rounds, Town were not out of it yet and they finally began to exert some pressure on the Celtic back line. However, their best chance of getting back into the final was always likely to come from a set-piece, and indeed it was the delivery of Gav Parkin which created the equaliser twenty-two minutes from time.

Laing was fouled 25 yards from goal and Parkin's free kick was met with a looping header by Bowman from 15 yards. The ball initially appeared to be going over the crossbar but it dipped at the last minute, deceived goalkeeper Ryan Beal and landed in the roof of the net.

Suddenly Town had the momentum but parity lasted barely five minutes. A corner from the right by Marc Dummett caused confusion in the Town defence and Dormand arrived unmarked to score with simple header from 6 yards.
James Bowman, number 3, heads Town level
And it was nearly all over moments later when only another terrific stop from Briggs denied Dormand a second after a lovely through ball from Michael Bell. But with their grip on the cup slowly slipping away, Mulcaster's side were given a boost nine minutes from time.

Chillingsworth was brought down right on the edge of the penalty area by Little and Matthews produced a second yellow for the unfortunate Celtic defender. Had the challenge been a yard or so further forward it may well have put a whole different complexion on the tie, but as it was Dunwell's free kick clipped the top of the crossbar and that proved to be Town's last chance of saving their cup dream.

Even against ten men, Mulcaster's side never really looked like getting back into the final and it was Celtic who sealed the cup four minutes from time. Substitute Kallum McGlen, who had only just replaced Chris Douglas, whipped in a great ball from the left and Dormand was on hand to fire past Briggs from 15 yards.

Town players collect their runners-up medals
"They seemed to want it more than us," said skipper Shoulder at the whistle. "It is difficult to explain but we were second to every ball. We cannot really blame tiredness as they have played as many games as us recently. It is just very frustrating."

Parkin was equally downbeat. "We only looked dangerous from set pieces and that is not like us," he said. "I don't think their goalkeeper has had a save to make. It was such a disappointing performance."

So not the finale everyone was hoping for. However, it should not overshadow what has been a great season for the club and Mulcaster can now set about the task of rebuilding his squad for a promotion push next year.

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

WEST ALLOTMENT CELTIC - Beal, Pendlebury, Dummett, Allen, Stoneman, Little, Bell, Henderson, Dormand, Reid, Douglas. Subs - McGlen, Findlay, Ford, Hudson, Johnstone.

REFEREE - J. Matthews.


1 comment:

  1. 24k 6/7th in div to, not to great for me.