Thursday, 15 August 2013

Cooke - ing on gas as Town continue unbeaten start

By Ricky Butler at the Calvert Stadium
Jamie Clarke, second left, celebrates his first goal for the club with Jason Brazauskas, Gav Parkin and Graham Parkin
NORTHALLERTON Town withstood a strong second half Tow Law rally to seal their first win of the season at the Calvert Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Goals before the break from Jamie Clarke, Grant Hickman and an own goal from Lawyers defender Gary Anderson looked to have sealed a comfortable Town victory, but the visitors were a different proposition in the second half and it needed a late Colin Anderson strike to finally secure all three points.

With manager Peter Mulcaster still away, assistant Steve Cooke once again picked the side and it showed three changes from Saturday's draw at South Shields - and all three would find the target. Hickman, back from suspension, replaced Lee Newby at centre half, Anderson came in for Christian Holliday in midfield, while Clarke partnered Graham Caygill up front in place of the unfortunate Danny McLachlan.

Despite a strong start from Town, it was the Lawyers who nearly grabbed a fifth minute lead when Daniel Wilson thumped a 20-yard drive against Dean Hudson's right-hand upright. But it was Cooke's side who did make the breakthrough just three minutes later.

Jason Brazauskas burst past two challenges down the left and his low cross was perfect for Clarke to divert the ball past goalkeeper Stephen Robinson at the near post from 8 yards - a first Town goal for the much travelled striker.

And it was 2-0 in the 12th minute. Anderson whipped in a dangerous cross from the right and Tow Law defender William Kelly nodded the ball onto the back of teammate Gary Anderson's head to leave Robinson stranded.

Town were now flying and they could have been out of sight by the break. Clarke headed narrowly over the top following another Anderson delivery before Caygill came close to a goal of the season contender after a superb turn inside the penalty area. However, his shot from 10 yards flew just the wrong side of the post.

Andrew Porritt then came even closer ten minutes before the break - smashing a 25-yard drive against the base of the post after cutting in from the left. But it was 3-0 moments later. Gav Parkin whipped in a corner from the right and Hickman arrived to bundle the ball home from close range.

"It went in off my belly," said Hickman at the whistle. "It has grown a bit over the summer which has helped me out. But it's all about being in the right place at the right time."

Having been restricted to mainly long range efforts in the opening period, Tow Law were revitalised after the break. They took the game to Town from the off and gave themselves a lifeline eight minutes into the second half. Scott Thompson cut in from the left and gave Hudson no chance with a delicious right-footed shot that flew into the top left-hand corner of the net.

After looking like potential Champions in the first half, Town were now a little nervy and those nerves became shredded just past the hour-mark when the Lawyers scored again. 18-year old midfielder Lewis Wing may have a strange hair style but he was the outstanding player on the pitch on the night and he was rewarded with a fine finish from 25 yards to make it 3-2.

But with the game apparently slipping away, Town dug deep and finished the game as they had started it. The introduction of McLachlan for the tiring Caygill injected some freshness in attack and Town were able to breath easily again when Anderson grabbed the fourth, eight minutes from time.

Bursting through the Lawyers defence, the mercurial Anderson had only one thing on his mind and gave Robinson the eyes before drilling the ball in at the near post.

The visitors misery was then complete four minutes later when Kelly was shown a second yellow card for holding back Clarke on the edge of the area and as he trooped solemnly from the pitch, Tow Law's fading chances went with him.

In the end it could have been even worse for them too as Robinson was called into action to deny both Clarke and Parkin in the closing stages as Town sealed a first league victory of the season.

"I was disappointed with the goals we conceded," said assistant manager Cooke. "But overall I am pleased with the three points and with the start we have made to the season."

Town now take a break from league action when Whitehaven visit on Saturday in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup with Budweiser.

NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Hudson, Banks, Porritt, Hickman, Johnson, Parkin, Anderson, Kokes, Clarke, Caygill, Brazauskas. Subs - Newby, McLachlan, Davies, Smurthwaite, Holliday.

TOW LAW TOWN - Robinson, Wilson(A), Hall, Wing, Anderson, Kelly, Thompson, Ord, Thexton, Wilson(D), Harrison. Subs - Hurton, Backhouse, McVickers, Killeen.

REFEREE - C. Gilbraith


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