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.


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