Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Biscuit and Koke(s) for Mully as Town show their heritage

By Ricky Butler at Heritage Park

GOALS from new signings Jason Brazauskas and Darren Kokes either side of the break were enough to give Town a fully deserved victory in their latest pre-season friendly at Heritage Park on Monday evening.

Having fallen behind to a sucker punch from Bishop Auckland's Robert Moncur midway through the first half, Peter Mulcaster's team fought back to draw level before the break with a superb free kick from Brazauskas - affectionately known as Biscuit - before Kokes won it on the hour.

But it was not just the goals or the victory over a side that had finished 6th in the Ebac Northern League Division One last season that pleased Mulcaster the most. "Our work rate was outstanding tonight," said the Town boss. "From front to back we closed them down early, pressed them high up the pitch and that was the most pleasing aspect for me.

"Everything is coming together nicely. Again we were missing a few big players but we were still able to produce a performance of this quality. It shows how strong the squad is."

Town, in burgundy shirts, on the attack at Heritage Park
The starting XI showed four changes from Saturday's victory at Nunthorpe. Paul Johnson was back in the heart of defence alongside Grant Hickman, while Brazauskas and Col Anderson returned in the wide positions. Meanwhile, with Jamie Clarke unavailable, Danny McLachlan partnered in-form Graham Caygill in attack.

On a lovely surface perfectly conducive to good football, it was Mulcaster's side who started the brighter and Anderson almost gave them the lead inside the opening minute - flashing a shot across the face of the goal - but a superb Town move should have broken the deadlock seven minutes later.

Caygill played a lovely one-two with McLachlan on the edge of the Bishop penalty area and only the outstretched leg of goalkeeper Jake Johnson denied the young striker his 4th pre-season goal in four matches.
A beautiful night for a pre-season friendly
With Anderson and Brazauskas causing the home defence all sorts of problems, it seemed only a matter of time before Town did grab the lead, but it was Bishop who went in front against the run of play after half an hour. Craig Hodgson sent Moncur clear with a through ball that cut the Town defence wide open, and he coolly slotted past the on-rushing Dean Hudson from 18 yards.

However, Town were deservedly level in the closing moments of the first half. Anderson burst past three defenders on a thrilling solo run before being brought down by a late, desperate challenge from former Town man Luke Bythyway.

At first it appeared the offence had occurred just inside the penalty area but referee Dave Watson ruled it outside, although Brazauskas ensured it made no difference with a stunning free kick that arrowed into the top left-hand corner of Johnson's net.

Bishop started the second half on the front foot and almost went back in front within a minute of the restart. Hudson did well to deny Moncur initially but he was grateful to Brazauskas who got back to clear the follow up effort off the line.

More action from Heritage Park
Mulcaster utilised his squad, replacing Anderson with Scott McNichol just before the hour, and Town grabbed the lead just three minutes later. Kokes began the move by winning the ball in the centre circle, and after a neat one-two with McLachlan, he finished it too with a neat strike past Johnson from 12 yards.

More changes followed as Mike Colman and Craig Toman came on for Caygill and Dale Elgie, and it was Colman who should have sealed the win fourteen minutes from time. Kokes, now operating in a more advanced position, drilled the ball across the 6 yard box but Colman could only side-foot it just the wrong side of the left-hand upright.

That would have proved costly had the hosts managed to force an equaliser in the closing stages, and they came close on a couple of occasions. Substitute Danny Shoulder (no, not our club captain!) and Christian Taylor were both denied by Town bodies inside their own penalty area before Hudson was then down sharply to his left to keep out a low drive from that man Shoulder again.

The night ended on a slightly sour note for Town when Andrew Porritt was carried off with a knee injury, but thankfully the damage is not as bad as first feared and the versatile defender should be fit for Saturday's trip to Billingham Town.

"It was just a clash of knees," said Porritt. "It is a bit sore but I am sure I will be fine for the weekend."

The sun sets on Bishop's hopes of victory
Meanwhile Mulcaster was full of praise for his young side. "The front two were outstanding," he said. "Kokesy in midfield showed what he can give us and the wide men were a constant threat.

"We ran out of steam a little towards the end, but that was understandable after the work we put in. To come here and produce a performance like that really bodes well for the future and I am now just looking forward to the start of the season."

Town confirmed that former Crook Town defender Sean Davies has signed for the club and could make his debut at Billingham on Saturday.

BISHOP AUCKLAND -  Johnson, Storey, Swankie, Lawson, Bythyway, Douglas, Hodgson, Raitt, Moncur, Williamson, Smith. Subs - Burton, Shoulder, Webster, Taylor, Arnell.

TOWN - Hudson, Banks, Porritt, Johnson, Hickman, Elgie, Anderson, Kokes, McLachlan, Caygill, Brazauskas. Subs - Toman, Colman, Cooke, McNichol.

REFEREE - D. Watson.


Monday, 29 July 2013

Bishop full time boo

Bishop half time boo

Bishop team boo

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Town squad taking shape with kick off approaching

TOWN manager Peter Mulcaster is pleased with how his squad is shaping up with the big kick off less than 2 weeks away. 

Speaking in the wake yesterday's 2-0 win at Nunthorpe in the latest pre-season friendly, he said: "The squad is taking shape now. We had 9 players missing at Nunthorpe, and 9 players who would be in line for a starting place too, so this win shows how strong the squad is.

"In fact I would go as far as to say that when everyone is fit and available we will have a stronger side than we did last season. I am still hoping to complete another couple of signings before the season starts and then we will be ready."

A goalkeeper, as back up for the impressive Dean Hudson, and more strength in depth at the back are the priorities ahead of the opening league match at South Shields on Saturday 10 August.

"Yes, I am looking a goalkeeper as back up for Dean and feel we need more options at the back," said Mulcaster. "I am confident we can announce more new arrivals this week."

While the performance at Nunthorpe was a little disjointed at times, Mulcaster realised the importance of victory.

"When you play a side from a lower league you are on a hiding to nothing," he said. "If you win 6-0 it was only what was expected, but these games are never easy. Nunthorpe worked extremely hard and made it difficult for us. But I was delighted with how we went about our business, even if our final ball was at times, not good enough."

Of course the build up to the game was dominated by the arrival of much-travelled striker Jamie Clarke. With 21 previous clubs to his name, including 3 last season alone, 39 year old Clarke has finally arrived at his hometown club.

"I have known Jamie for a long time," said Mulcaster. "He is a personal friend of mine and I am delighted he has agreed to join us. His family are actually from Northallerton and still live just around the corner to the ground.

"I felt the one thing we were lacking was a striker who could score 25-30 goals after the departures of Adam Emson and Carl Chillingsworth, and Jamie fulfils that role perfectly.

"He has never played in Division Two before but he is relishing the challenge. He hopes to pass on his vast experience to the younger members of the squad and players like Graham Caygill and Danny McLaughlan will only benefit from playing alongside him."

Town now face a further three friendlies before the season starts on Saturday 10 August. Tomorrow evening sees a trip to Heritage Park to face Bishop Auckland before travelling to Billingham Town next Saturday. Then, to complete the preparations, Mulcaster's side visit FA Vase winners Spennymoor on Tuesday 6 August.

"These games will be a good test for us," said the Town boss. "We should have a few players back for the match at Bishop on Monday while others will be unavailable, so again we will see the strength in depth of the squad."

Kick off at Heritage Park tomorrow is 7.30pm.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Caygill on the mark again as Town record first pre-season success

By Michael White

GOALS in either half from in-form Graham Caygill and Andrew Porritt saw Town ease to their first pre-season victory away at Teesside League opponents Nunthorpe FC on Saturday.

But in truth it was a scrappy game which saw Town forced make a number of changes to the team after last week’s defeat at Newton Aycliffe FC due the unavailability of several first team players 

"Overall, it was a good performance by the lads" said assistant manager Steve Cooke, who took his place in the Town dugout for the first time.

"We had about 8 or 9 players missing for one reason or another, and a number of lads playing out of position, so it was a good win." he added. 

From the first whistle Town dominated the play, pressing forward and forcing their lower league opposition to play much of their football around their own 18 yard box.

New Town signing Jamie Clarke was particularly impressive during the opening 10 minutes creating a number of opportunities which his teammates were unable to capitalise on.

The visitors came closest to opening the scoring in the 12th minute when Ian Smurthwaite had a strike cleared off the line. Town continued pushing forward throughout the half, but were unable to find that key ball to unlock the home defence. 

Despite on-going pressure, the visitor’s next opportunity ironically fell at the feet of the hosts centre back whose lackadaisical clearance from a cross skewed just over his own cross bar.

With 15 minutes of the half remaining, Peter Mulcaster's side certainly looked like the opening goal was on the horizon and their hard work was rewarded in the 32nd minute - young striker Caygill slotting home from close range following a free kick from the left by Mark Hemingway.

That made it 3 goals in 3 games for local boy Caygill as he continues to prove to the Town faithful that he is ready to make the transition from the Academy side to the first team.

In the remaining minutes of the half, Nunthorpe's first real sight of goal came from 25 yards when the hosts sent in a strike which flew just over goalkeeper Dean Hudson's crossbar.

Just prior to the half time whistle, strikes from Clarke and Darren Kokes were close to seeing Town extend their lead before the break. 

The second half picked up where the first left off; with Mulcaster's side dominating play. Almost immediately after the kick off the visitors were unfortunate not to extend their lead when a low ball across the 6 yard area by Caygill was just out of reach of the out stretched leg of winger Danny McLachlan and bobbled narrowly wide of the upright. 

As the half progressed the game became increasingly disjointed, allowing the hosts to create a number of half chances on Hudson's goal.

In the 54th minute Town made two changes with David Cooke and Craig Toman replacing Mike Coleman and Kokes respectively. These changes injected a little life in to the game and a miss hit cross from Porritt in the 66th minute saw the visitors extend their lead to 2-0.

Following the goal, the game again slumped into a scrappy affair with very little opportunities being created by either side. A sensational save from Hudson, who was otherwise rarely called upon, was the only shining moment of the remainder of the match.

A succession of substitutions saw Hemingway and Smurthwaite make way for Kokes and Coleman as Town held on to secure a scrappy, but vital first pre-season victory.

With Caygill making it 3 goals in 3 appearances, debutant striker Jamie Clarke putting in an impressive performance, and a number of key players returning over the course of the next week, Town fans are certainly beginning to speculate as to what is the best front pairing for the upcoming season. 

"Clarke is a great signing for us," said Mulcaster. "I have known him for a number of years and he is a good friend of mine.

"He has never played in Division Two before but he is relishing the challenge. Not only will he be able to add 25 goals to the team he can also help the younger lads develop.

"Young Caygill in particular, who has a lot of potential, can only benefit from playing alongside such an experienced striker.

"Not many people are aware that his family are actually from Northallerton and still live just around the corner to the ground so it great that he has finally joined his hometown club," concluded Mulcaster.

Town return to action on Monday evening where a tougher test surely awaits them away at Ebac Northern League Division One side Bishop Auckland. 

TOWN - Hudson, Porritt, Hemingway, Smurthwaite, Banks, Elgie, Kokes, Caygill, Clarke, Coleman, McLachlan Subs: Cooke, Toman.

Nunthorpe report boo

Nunthorpe preview boo

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

One to watch - Graham Caygill, a young man with a bright future

FOLLOWING two goals in two pre-season appearances, young striker Graham Caygill is hoping to establish himself in the Northern League over the coming months.

However, the 22 year old, who scored 23 times for the Academy side last season, is not getting carried away by his good start to life in the first team squad.
“I am pleased with my start but I am not going to get carried away by a couple of goals in pre-season,” he said.

“I have always scored goals and I hope I can now do that for Northallerton Town when the season gets underway in August.”
Caygill looked particularly lively from the bench at Newton Aycliffe on Saturday, linking well with fellow substitute Danny McLachlan, and he was in the right place at the right time to grab his second pre-season goal after McLachlan had twice been denied by the Aycliffe goalkeeper.

With many at the club desperate for a local hero to cheer, Caygill appears to tick all the right boxes. With his boyband good looks and all-action style on the pitch, he looks set to become a firm favourite with the Town faithful this season.
“I don’t feel any extra pressure from being a local lad,” said Caygill.

“The manager and the other players have made me feel welcome in the dressing room and I am really enjoying it.”
Local lad Graham Caygill has made a big impression in pre-season
With Northallerton Juniors Chairman/Secretary Steve Cooke now appointed as Peter Mulcaster’s assistant manager, more local players are expected to be given an opportunity in the side in the remaining friendlies.
And Caygill has certainly done his chances no harm at all. After coming off the bench to great affect at Billingham Synthonia the previous weekend, scoring to put Town 2-1 ahead, he followed it up with another impressive cameo, and another goal, at Moore Park.

With last season’s 38-goal leading scorer Adam Emson set to leave the club this summer, an opportunity has arisen for someone to fill his boots.

And with new strikers McLachlan and Darren Kokes yet to find the target, Caygill has already stolen a march in the race for a starting place in attack.
But to make it in the Northern League requires more than just ability on the pitch. It also takes the right attitude and a level of commitment off the pitch which many in the past have found difficult.

Caygill, however, appears ready to make the step up.

“I am just delighted to be getting an opportunity with Northallerton Town,” he said. "I have played there as a junior from U8 - U16, then with the Academy last season.

“My aim now is to work hard to establish myself in the squad and learn from the experienced Northern League players around me."
With his feet firmly on the ground it appears the future for this young man is very bright indeed.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

No walk in the park for Town as Aycliffe lift trophy


TOWN slipped to a second successive pre-season defeat on Saturday at Moore Park, although there was no disgrace as Ebac Northern League Division One outfit Newton Aycliffe eased to victory in the Frank Swinbourne Memorial match.

With fans of both sides walking the 25 miles from Ainderby Road to Moore Lane before the game as part of the events to celebrate the life of Aycliffe legend Frank Swinbourne, it was the hosts who lifted the trophy in his memory with what was a much closer match than the score-line suggests.

After first half goals from Danny Mellanby, Christian Selby and Freddie Woodhouse had put the hosts in control, Danny Earl struck a second half hat-trick to seal an impressive Aycliffe performance. But Town deserved to have something to cheer and two goals in less than a minute from heartthrobs Graham Caygill and Col Anderson gave Peter Mulcaster's side some consolation.

"Aycliffe are a very good side," said the Town boss at the whistle. "But there are far more positives than negatives for us.

"There were some very good performances out there. Dale Elgie once again showed what a player he is while others like Darren Kokes, Christian Holliday and Jason Brazuaskas all played well. However, special mention should go to goalkeeper Dean Hudson who was outstanding again.

"We were made to pay for some mistakes at the back but these friendlies are all about fitness and working on one or two things so it was another good test for us."

Town welcomed back in defence Grant Hickman, Ian Smurthwaite and Andrew Porritt for their first pre-season run-out, while new signing Holliday and Anderson also made the starting XI having been absent for last week's trip to Billingham Synthonia.

But Aycliffe, with strikers Mellanby and Earl looking lively, started well and it was former Darlington man Mellanby who gave the hosts an 8th minute lead with a typically cool finish following a lovely through ball from Earl.

The Division One side then doubled their advantage midway through the half when the Town defence afforded Selby too much time and space on the edge of the penalty area and he curled a delightful shot into the top left hand corner of the net from 20 yards.

Mulcaster's side worked hard to get back in the match with Anderson and Kokes both going close, but had it not been for the outstanding form of Hudson, Aycliffe would have been out of sight by the break. Twice he denied Melanby while also performing heroics to keep out efforts from Earl and Tom Hutchinson.

But Aycliffe did add a third in the final minute of the first half. Stuart Owen got clear down the Town right and his low cross was turned home by Woodhouse from close range.

Town came out with more tempo to their play at the start of the second half with Anderson and Kokes both threatening but any hope of a comeback appeared over just prior to the hour-mark. Stephen Gibson pulled the back from the right and Earl was on hand to make it 4-0 with a goal his all round performance had deserved.

What followed was a plethora of substitutions from both sides which disrupted the flow of the game but it was the hosts who added a fifth, fifteen minutes from time. Hudson did well to save at the feet at Mellanby but the referee inexplicably pointed to the spot and Earl confidently stroked the kick past the unfortunate Town goalkeeper.

But Mulcaster's side refused to let their heads drop and scored twice in 45 seconds. Substitute Caygill, who had only just replaced Kokes, fired home from 6 yards after fellow replacement Danny McLachlan had twice been denied by Aycliffe goalkeeper Ryan Farley.

Then, straight from the restart, Gav Parkin whipped in a free kick from out on the right and Anderson arrived to glance a header into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

An incredible comeback suddenly looked on the cards but the hosts weathered the storm and broke out to add a sixth, five minutes from time - Earl the quickest to react to a loose ball in midfield before chipping Hudson from 25 yards to claim his hat-trick.

Manager Mulcaster announced his assistant for the forthcoming season will be Steve Cooke. Cooke, who is Northallerton Town Juniors' secretary and chairman and who has Northern League experience with Guisborough Town and Willington, will take up the role with immediate effect.

The first match for the new regime will be the friendly at Nunthorpe next Saturday afternoon.

NEWTON AYCLIFFE- Molyneux, Gibson, Owen, Mitten, Close, Selby, Woodhouse, Young, Earl, Mellanby, Hutchinson. Subs - Swinbourne, Oldfield, Lambert, Broom, Farley.

TOWN - Hudson, Banks, Porritt, Smurthwaite, Hickman, Holliday, Brazauskas, Parkin, Kokes, Anderson, Elgie. Subs -  Caygill, McLachlan, Kelly.


Friday, 19 July 2013

Aycliffe preview boo

Saturday, 13 July 2013

New-look Town side shows signs of promise from first pre-season encounter

By Michael White

GOALS from debutants Dale Elgie and Graham Caygill were not quite enough as Peter Mulcaster's new-look Town side opened their pre-season campaign with a narrow defeat at the Glamal Stadium on Saturday.
On a lovely summer's afternoon, Town boss Mulcaster fielded a team almost unrecognisable from that of last season as he looked to evaluate potential new signings ahead of the upcoming season. Only Goalkeeper Dean Hudson, defender Stephen Banks and midfielder Gav Parkin, who captained the team, featured for Town last season.

The home side began as the aggressors and applied some early pressure to the Town midfield and defence. However, Synthonia rarely threatened Hudson's goal in the opening 10 minutes. After absorbing the early pressure Town began to settle and the first chance for the visitors fell to winger Mark Hemingway, whose shot from just inside the area ran wide of the far post.

With midfield duo Gav Parkin and new signing Elgie beginning to take control in the middle of the park, a scrappy ball broke free to Elgie whose lob from just inside the half way line caught Synthonia 'keeper Tim Griffiths napping and saw Town take a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.

As the half progressed, Synthonia began to push on looking for that elusive equaliser. However, after committing too many men forward, the hosts were almost caught out at the back again when Jason Brazaukas put in a lovely cross that former Darlington Cleveland Bridge striker Danny McLachlan was unlucky not to convert; firing just over the top.

With the wind now firmly in their sails, Town were certainly holding their own against upper league opposition but as the half approached its conclusion, Synthonia upped the pressure again. A swift counter attack saw Hudson make an excellent close range save from James McGowan to keep the visitors in front, while a volley from home defender Danny Newby flew narrowly over the upright.

As is expected in pre-season friendlies, Town made 3 changes at half time; bringing on Caygill, Ross Gardner and Liam Woodhouse for Darren Kokes, McLachlan and Hemingway. Half time also saw the Synners make a number of changes, most notably former Town 'keeper James Briggs replacing Griffiths.

The second half began much the same as the first ended, with Synthonia pushing for the equaliser, but a resilient defence lead by the impressive Andy Kelly showed no signs of conceding in the opening minutes of the half. However, in the 53rd minute Synthonia's pressure finally paid off when striker Matthew Osmand slotted home from 10 yards despite Kelly's last-ditch attempts to clear the ball.

From the restart, Synthonia, who were beginning to show signs as to why they are a Division One outfit, very nearly snatched a second when a volley by Steve Huggins from just inside the area fizzed over Hudson's goal to keep the scores at 1-1.

Despite the ongoing pressure from the home side, Town still had a firm grip of the game. Captain Parkin was unfortunate not to score with a lovely low, driven free kick from just outside the area which fizzed narrowly wide of the goal. But Town's increased pressure going forward was finally rewarded when, in the 58th minute, Caygill was able to to hold off defensive pressure and calmly finish a left-wing cross from fellow substitute Woodhouse to make the score 2-1 - much to the delight of the travelling fans who playfully reminded Briggs of his former allegiances.
Captain Gav Parkin in the thick of the midfield battle
Town's lead was unfortunately short lived as on the stroke of the 60th minute, James Cronesberry found himself in space just outside the penalty area to slot home and make the scores 2-2. Then, just three minutes later, the hosts had the lead for the first time when a Synthonia shot rebounded to McGowan who netted at the second attempt.

With the heat now beginning to take it's toll on the players, the pace of the game began to slow. The last 20 minutes saw Town become the aggressors looking for that elusive equaliser. They came close in the 71 minute when Gav Parkin crossed for Gardner whose header flew over the bar. A tantalising though ball from Gardner then almost heralded another opportunity in the 72nd minute, but the pace of the ball narrowly evaded Caygill and it ran out for a goal kick.

With 15 minutes to go Elgie made way for Hemingway as Mulcaster's side pushed on in the hope of salvaging something from their trip North. As the game raced towards the full time whistle a long range shot from impressive winger Brazaukas in the 88th minute was the closest Town came to an equaliser, as shortly after the referee blew for full time.

Overall it was a decent display from Town who showed some promising signs going in to the new season and were unfortunate not to get at least a draw from the match. Pre-season continues with a trip to Northern League Division One outfit Newton Aycliffe next Saturday 20 July. Kick off at Moore Park is at 3pm.

BILLINGHAM SYNTHONIA - Griffiths, Burton, Newby, Alderson, Dowson, Clarke, Huggins, Osmand, McGowan, Cattermole, Cronesberry. Subs - Callendar, Gardner, Jamieson.

NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Hudson, Banks, Newby, Johnson, Kelly, Parkin, Brazaukas, Elgie, Kokes, McLachlan, Hemingway. Subs - Gardner, Caygill, Woodhouse.





Friday, 12 July 2013

First pre-season boo