Saturday, 24 August 2013

The joy of six as Town show bouncebackability

By Ricky Butler at The Calvert Stadium

Highlights of this match are available here

TOWN lifted the storm clouds that had been gathering over the Calvert Stadium with this comprehensive victory over struggling Esh Winning in the rain on Saturday.

Arriving on the back of two straight defeats which had seen some locals calling for changes, Town knew they had to produce a winning performance against Esh and they did so in fine style.

Two goals apiece from Jamie Clarke and Danny McLachlan, plus further efforts from Darren Kokes and Grant Hickman - the big defender's 3rd goal in 4 matches this season, was the perfect response to the critics.

"Yes we had a point to prove," said manager Peter Mulcaster at the whistle. "You could see that from the lads in the changing room. We lost in the FA Cup and we lost to a wonder goal the other night (at Alnwick) so we had a point to prove and we proved it today."

There was drama in the warm up when Colin Anderson, who had been sent off at Alnwick in midweek, was injured in the warm up, so his place on the right wing went to McLachlan. Elsewhere, the only other changes saw Clarke return up front in place of Graham Caygill, who dropped down to the bench, while Dale Elgie came into midfield alongside Gav Parkin, meaning Kokes was pushed into attack against his former club.

Mulcaster's side were slow out of the blocks and the visitors briefly threatened through George McLain and Anthony Rogerson in the opening exchanges, but once they settled, Town produced a devastating attacking display.

It took them until midway through the half to make the breakthrough, although when they did, they did so with a goal of real quality. Steve Banks whipped in a great ball from the right, Kokes nodded it back at the far post and Clarke arrived to smash an unstoppable volley into the roof of the net.

The match was then as good as over as a contest as Town scored three times in the seven minutes leading up to half time. McLachlan made it 2-0 in the 38th minute with a cool finish after Kokes had sent him clear with a clever flick inside the penalty area.

It was another former Esh man, Jason Brazauskas, who created the third for Kokes less than a minute later with a driven ball across the 6 yard box which left the 29 year old with a simple tap-in. And it was 4-0 at the break. Clarke played a lovely 1-2 with Kokes on halfway before charging through the centre and slotting beyond the exposed Esh goalkeeper Ryan Graham from 20 yards.

Inevitably Town's intensity dropped at the start of the second half as McLain and Graham Stephenson both tested Alex Kell in the home goal, but it was Mulcaster's men who added a fifth just prior to the hour mark.

In a move that has worked well so many times already this season, Parkin whipped in a corner from the left and Hickman rose above the Esh defence to grab his third goal of the season.

But the visitors had the chance to gain some consolation two minutes later. Stephenson went down in the area under a challenge from Sean Davies and referee Alan Charters pointed to the spot. Stephenson stepped up himself but his kick lacked power and was too close to Kell, who was able to get down to his right and smother the ball.

It was clearly not going to be Esh's day now and this was confirmed moments later when Town hit them for six. Brazauskas' cross from the left was flicked on by Clarke and misjudged by defender Ben Riding and McLachlan showed great composure to slot the ball past the advancing Graham from 8 yards.

The final twenty-five minutes saw Clarke twice come close to completing his hat-trick. Riding made up for his earlier error with a fine goal-line clearance to deny the Town front man before the veteran striker, who turns 40 this week, fired narrowly wide with a powerful shot on the turn from 25 yards.

"We did not take our chances up at Alnwick," said Mulcaster. "But we did today. The two lads who played up front in midweek, Macca and Graham (Caygill), are young and still learning their trade but when you have people like Jamie Clarke and Darren Kokes up there you stand a chance of scoring goals.

"Col (Anderson) was injured in the warm up so Macca has come in wide right, scored two goals and had a tremendous game. I am really pleased for him."

Full interview available here

McLachlan himself was delighted to be back on the score-sheet. "It feels brilliant," he said. "It was really good to get a starting place after Col was unfortunately injured but I took my chance. I was down last week as I didn't really play that well but this week I wanted two goals and I got two goals."

Former Esh winger Brazauskas, meanwhile, felt for his former club. "It's not nice for them. I know a lot of the lads and they have been struggling a little bit. I hope they do well but obviously I want us to do even better."

Full interview available here

Town face Esh again next Saturday in the reverse fixture but before that is the small matter of a local derby at Darlington RA on Monday.

"They have some of our players from last tear and we have some of their players from last year, so it is going to be all hands to the pump," said Mulcaster. "The performance today will have given us a lot of confidence. You could see it in the changing room. The lads were buzzing."

Kick off at Brinkburn Road is 1pm.

TOWN - Kell, Banks, Porritt, Hickman, Davies, Parkin, McLachlan, Elgie, Clarke, Kokes, Brazauskas. Subs - Caygill, Smurthwaite, Anderson, Holliday, Newby.

ESH WINNING - Graham, Knight, Grifton, Swindle, Riding, Hawthorn, Phillipson, Guthrie, McLain, Rogerson, Stephenson. Subs - Kay, Jopling, Farquhar, Howell, Thompson.

REFEREE - A. Charters.



  1. macca was fantastic, amazing pace and work rate

  2. That's a great comment macca!