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.

1 comment:

  1. Going up this season I think come on town !