Sunday, 29 September 2013

Northallerton Town 2 Chester-le-Street 4

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Home woes continue as Chester win by a Street

By Ricky Butler at the Calvert Stadium

View highlights of the match here

A TESTING week for Northallerton Town ended with another disappointing home defeat against a hard-working but limited Chester-le-Street side on Saturday.

After Chris Dickinson had opened his account for the season to equalise an early Jake Stafford strike for the Cestrians midway through the first half, Town conceded soft goals either side of the break to Michael Graver and Anthony Lee to face an uphill battle.

Sean Davies set up a grandstand finale with a close range effort nine minutes from time, but any hopes of a Town comeback were ended moments later when Adam Smith curled home a superb fourth for the visitors.

"The first half we were diabolical," said manager Peter Mulcaster at the whistle. "The second half we improved a bit but gave a soft goal away and then having got it back to 3-2, we concede a fourth and it's game over.

"The biggest concern I have is with the quality that we have, we are not gelling together. It is not happening at the back and its not happening in middle of the park or up front.

"They scored a great goal and then Chris Dickinson scored a great goal, but we gifted them 2 soft goals after that. It was poor, poor all round."

With the departure of leading scorer Jamie Clarke, Mulcaster made three changes to the side that had scraped a draw with Whickham in midweek. Danny Shoulder switched to left back in place of Andrew Porritt to allow Davies to return at centre half, while Mike Atkinson was on the right side of midfield with Col Anderson pushed up to partner Chris Dickinson in attack.

In the bright autumn sunshine, Town started well but they were hit by a Chester counter-attack after just 16 minutes. John Honour broke clear down the left and his cross was cleverly chested into the path of Stafford by Michael Hepplewhite who drilled a magnificent first time effort in the bottom right-hand corner of Alex Kell's net.

But Mulcaster's side responded with a fine equaliser of their own just six minutes later. Dickinson combined well with fellow-York loanee Atkinson down the right before smashing the ball past goalkeeper Kyle Barlow from 20 yards - the first goal of his loan spell from the League Two club.

However, instead of pushing on and taking control, Town eased off and it was the visitors who regained the lead six minutes before the break. Shoulder was penalised for a foul on Hepplewhite on the edge of the penalty area and Graver's free kick somehow squirmed under the body of Kell.

Town responded again and could have been level right on half time when Dickinson stood up a cross from the right but Anderson's header was tipped over the bar at full stretch by Barlow - a save which perfectly summed up the way Town's luck is going at the moment.

But any momentum was lost within three minutes of the restart. Lee appeared to be in an offside position as he broke clear down the Town left but the flag stayed down and he managed to squeeze a shot past Kell from a tight angle.

Town huffed and puffed after that but they rarely looked like getting the goals they needed to get back into the match. Some may point to the departure of Clarke but the fact is the players on the pitch have enough quality to see off the likes of Chester, regardless. But for one reason or another it is just not happening at the moment.

Danny 'The Flame' McLachlan almost became an instant hero with his first touch after coming off the bench midway through the second half, but he flashed his shot wide of the target, although the best opportunities both fell to full-back Steve Banks.

First, he headed over at the far post after a teasing left wing cross from Anderson on the hour before being denied a first Town goal by a fine save from Barlow nine minutes from time. However, it was the resulting corner, taken with quality as always by Gav Parkin, that led to Town halving the deficit.

After a spot of goalmouth pin-ball the ball finally fell to Davies at the far post and he smashed it into the roof of the net from close range.

With the home crowd now sensing a second thrilling late comeback in four days, Town added more urgency to their play but the optimism lasted barely three minutes.

Banks, who has probably been Town's most consistent player this season, was robbed by young winger Smith but no one could have accounted for the finish of the teenager which was as good as any you will see all season. Another mistake punished in emphatic fashion.

"With no midweek game I was going to give the lads the week off if they did well today and won, but they will be in for training now," said Mulcaster. "We face another tough match next week against Brandon and we need to be ready.

"When you are not winning and not playing well every game is tough. You look at it and think where can we go, what can we do. But we'll put it right," he added.

It is now just one win in six matches for Town as all the early season optimism is quickly evaporating. Yes, Town have had very little luck in recent weeks but the salient fact is the performances have not been good enough. One point from 3 home matches in the last week tells its own story.

TOWN - Kell, Banks, Shoulder, Hickman, Davies, Parkin, Atkinson, Elgie, Dickinson, Anderson, Brazauskas. Subs - Caygill, McLachlan, Porritt, Colman, Stevens.

CHESTER-LE-STREET - Barlow, Dixon, Hepplewhite(D), Surrey, Grant-Soulsby, Graver, Honour, Stafford, Lee, Hepplewhite(M), Smith. Subs - Marron, Roberts, Witherspoon, Thompson, Telford.



Exclusive Gav Parkin interview

Peter Mulcaster post-Chester-le-Street interview

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Can Clarke's departure give others the chance to shine

SO just 8 weeks after joining Northallerton, the man with more clubs with than Jack Nicklaus has moved on. Again.

Many eyebrows were raised when Jamie Clarke arrived at Town in the summer but he certainly made an impression in his short stay at the Calvert Stadium. With 9 goals in just 10 appearances, Clarke quickly became the fulcrum of the Town attack although it was not just his goals that were important. Young players like Graham 'Boy Band' Caygill and Danny 'The Flame' McLachlan have spoken of the positive impact he had on their development.

Perhaps not renowned for his work-rate, Clarke was nevertheless an important member of the side and Town certainly lacked that extra little bit of guile in the final third when he was missing. His goals against Stokesley, North Shields and Whickham, for example, where absolutely vital and without them Town would now be well off the pace.

In fact it was that stoppage time equaliser against Whickham on Wednesday evening that proved to be his parting gift to the club as he signed for Seaham Red Star the following day. The announcement did not really come as a huge shock as it was known that Seaham had put in 7 days for him and Clarke never seems to stay anywhere for very long. Lets not forget he played for 8 different clubs last season alone.

It was hoped this time would be different given Clarke's personal friendship with manager Peter Mulcaster, but even that was not enough to prevent the much-travelled striker moving on again to ambitious Seaham, who now look to be hot favourites for promotion. Already boasting one of the league's leading scorers in Adam Johnson, the addition of Clarke will give them a formidable front line.

Mulcaster has since spoken of his desire to recruit a proven goal-scorer at this level to replace Clarke, although proven goal-scorers are hard to find. So in the meantime, it may well give an opportunity for others already at the club to show exactly what they can do.

Although he was helping with their development, being in Clarke's shadow was perhaps not always a good thing for Caygill and McLachlan, who will now both be desperate for an opportunity up front. Meanwhile, Colin Anderson, with 6 goals from 7 starts this season, and Darren Kokes are the more experienced options to partner York City loanee Chris Dickinson. Elsewhere the Academy side boast the Teesside League's leading goal-scorer in Dan Baxter, so maybe now is the time for him to be let loose on Northern League defences. And of course there is Mike Colman who we have only seen fleetingly over the last couple of seasons.

However, the fact remains that a team is only as good as its strikers and unless you have a 30-40 goal forward in your ranks, your chances of success are greatly reduced. Whatever your thoughts on Clarke, he was that man.

So this looks set to be a difficult period for the team. Already struggling to find their best form, the departure of the leading scorer has come at just the wrong time. With tough games to come in the next few weeks against the likes of Brandon United, Seaham and Jarrow Roofing, Town certainly need someone to step up to the plate and deliver the goals that are required.

But for now the focus is on Saturday's meeting with Chester-Le-Street. Having picked up just one point from two home games in the last week, it is vital Town get back to winning ways against the struggling visitors.

With Kokes serving the final game of his 3-match ban, the goal-scoring responsibilities will rest with Dickinson, Caygill, Anderson, McLachlan and Colman. Although given his record so far this season, perhaps the time is right to throw Grant Hickman up front. After all, he does score from anywhere.

Late Clarke strike rescues a point for below-par Town but Kell is the real hero

By Noel Russell at the Calvert Stadium (additional reporting from Ricky Butler)

A LAST-GASP equaliser from Jamie Clarke coupled with a man of the match performance from goalkeeper Alex Kell prevented Whickham claiming a deserved victory at The Calvert Stadium on Wednesday evening.

The visitors, who had been kept at bay by the heroics of Kell all night, appeared to have sent Town to a second home defeat in the space of four days when full-back David Fitzpartick put them ahead four minutes from time. But Clarke, as he has done so often in the past, rescued a point with a dramatic stoppage time equaliser.

"It was not the greatest of games," said manager Peter Mulcaster at the whistle. "We gave the ball to them and they gave the ball back to us. But once again we have shown character and spirit to come back so late."

The Town starting XI showed two changes from Saturday's unfortunate defeat at the hands of Heaton Stannington, both in the back four. Danny Shoulder replaced Sean Davies alongside Grant Hickman for his first start of the season while Andrew Porritt was in for the absent Ian Smurthwaite at left back.

In a largely uneventful first half, Kell was kept the busier of the two goalkeepers in the opening stages and he did well to save well from Steve Aiston, Mark Fitzpatrick and Ross Peareth.

Kell then acrobatically tipped another shot from Aiston over the bar before saving well from the same player in the latter stages of the first half by tipping over another good strike.

Town's best chance of the opening period came from a Hickman header that was cleared off the line by Mike Hedley, while Clarke saw a free-kick go sailing over the bar and another effort land comfortably in the arms of Whickham 'keeper John Mordey.

Town did almost grab the lead against the run of play at the start of the second period when York City loanee Chris Dickinson was put clean through, but his shot went just wide of the right-hand upright from 15 yards.

Aiston, with 8 goals to his credit this season, wasn't having much luck in front goal on this occasion as he fired another effort just over Kell's bar ten minutes after the restart.

Mulcaster's side responded, and after a good cross from the left by Jason Brazauskas had found Clarke, his left footed shot fizzed just wide of Mordey's left-hand post.

Whickham had further chances to take the lead in the final twenty minutes - Aiston's scuffed shot tipped wide by Kell while Craig Rook had a header cleared off the line by Shoulder.

Town continued to look dangerous from set pieces and Hickman, with 5 goals already, was close to another 15 minutes from time, but his header from Gav Parkin's free kick went just over the top.

However, a game that had failed to really ignite finally came to life in the closing stages. With just four minutes left it was Whickham who finally grabbed the goal they had deserved when good hold up play and a neat pass by Aiston created the opportunity for right back David Fitzpatrick to stroke the ball into the right corner of the net. 

But Town are often at their best when up against it and they fought back to grab a point. Clarke had seen a free-kick tipped wide by Mordey in the final minute of the game but he would not be denied deep into stoppage time
 - showing customary calmness to slot past the Whickham 'keeper despite appeals for offside.

So once again it was Town's spirit rather than the quality of the performance that brought them reward. They have played better and lost (on Saturday for example) so to take a point from the game has to be viewed as encouraging after a below par performance.

However, Town's home form is now starting to become a cause for concern. The last three matches at the Calvert have brought just two points, both secured by very late goals, and only one of the last five home matches has been won.

A better performance will be required on Saturday if Mulcaster's side are to improve on that record when Chester-Le-Street are the visitors.

*NB - In the wake of this match it has been announced that Jamie Clarke has left Northallerton and signed for Seaham Red Star.

TOWN - Kell, Banks, Porritt, Hickman, Shoulder, Parkin, Anderson, Elgie, Clarke, Dickinson, Brazauskas. Subs - Caygill, Davies, McLachlan, Stevens, Colman.

WHICKHAM - Mordey, Fitzpatrick(D), Pattison, Johnstone, Hedley, McIntosh, Falcon, Peareth, Aiston, Fitzpatrick(M), Rook. Subs - Cavanagh, Collins, Farrey, Barnett, Moulding.

REFEREE - K. Beckett.


Northallerton Town 1 Whickham 1

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Whickham - Stat attack

NORTHALLERTON TOWN face Whickham at the Calvert Stadium tomorrow night and here we look at all the stats ahead of the match.

Last season;

Whickham finished 16th in Division Two last season, winning 11 games, drawing 8 and losing 23. They scored 47 goals and conceded  86.

Oddly, Town's record in finishing 6th was almost the mirror image, winning 23, drawing 8 and losing 11. Town scored 101 goals and conceded 63.

Both league meetings between the sides were settled by the odd goal. Adam Emson got the only goal here at the Calvert almost exactly a year ago, while an Ian Smurthwaite penalty and a last minute Marcus Laing header saw us come from behind to win 2-1 at the Glebe in April. Craig Rook had earlier given Whickham the lead.

The sides also met in the Brooks Mileson League Cup at the Calvert in February and again it was a tight game. Jordan Lartey gave Whickham a first half lead and that was the way it stayed until the final 10 minutes when first Colin Anderson equalised and then Chris Dickinson won it from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

Previous meetings;

The two sides have met 28 times in the league with Town winning 19 and Whickham just 4. The first meeting was in the 1988-89 season and finished in a 1-1 draw.

Whickham's only victory at the Calvert Stadium came in the 2010-11 season when they won 3-2. In fact that is their only success over Town in the last 14 meetings going back over 10 years.

Current form;

Whickham come into the match on the back of 2 very good cup wins - 4-0 at Esh Winning in the Durham Challenge cup last midweek and 5-3 over Birtley in the FA Vase last Saturday. In fact Whickham have won 4 of their last 5 matches, which has also seen them beat Division One side Hebburn 3-0 in the Vase. Whickham's only defeat in that run came at league leaders Heaton Stannington.

Town have not been in the best form with only one win from the last 5 matches, 3-0 away at struggling Ryton & Crawcrook. Last time out they were beaten 2-1 by Heaton Stannington after the early dismissal of Jason Brazuaskas. However, 2-2 draws against good North Shields and Stokesley sides were decent results and the last 3 defeats have all only occurred after Town had been reduced to 10 men.

Players to watch;

Whickham's goal threat will come from Tony Thirkill and Steve Aiston who have scored 8 goals each this season. Meanwhile, winger Craig Rook has scored 5 times.

Town's main man up front has been Jamie Clarke with 8 goals so far while Colin Anderson has scored 6 in 6 starts this season, including a perfect hat-trick in the win at Ryton 10 days ago.


Whickham arrive in good form and are scoring plenty of goals so they will be confident of getting a result against an inconsistent Town side. However, they have a poor record on this ground and that could prove decisive on the night.


Town will be looking to bounce straight back from defeat on Saturday and while Whickham will provide a tough test, I predict a 3-2 Town victory with Anderson amongst the goals.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Unlucky Town undone by another harsh red card

By Ricky Butler at the Calvert Stadium

TEN-MAN Town slipped to a second league defeat of the season as a battling performance against new league leaders Heaton Stannington on Saturday was not quite enough to bring them any reward.

After being reduced to ten men inside 15 minutes when Jason Brazauskas was harshly adjudged to have handled on the line - a fourth Town red card of the season -  Peter Mulcaster's side produced a terrific display that deserved far more than it got.

Despite falling behind to that early penalty converted by the league's leading goalscorer Jonathan Wright, Town drew level midway through the first half with another towering header from defender Grant Hickman. But that man Wright scored again before the break to send the visitors to the top of the table.

"I was proud of the lads to be honest," said Mulcaster at the whistle. "I thought we did very, very well. After 12 minutes we were a man down but we were the better side all the way through.

"We did not think it was a red card but it was given and we had to get on with the job. To be fair we played the better football and were the better side. It's not sour grapes; I am disappointed obviously, but apart from the lad Wright up front they were a very average side."

The Town starting XI showed just one change from last weekend's 3-0 victory at Ryton & Crawcrook as Brazauskas was back on the left side of midfield in place of the suspended Danny 'The Flame' McLachlan -  although his day would not last very long.

After a bright start from Mulcaster's side, the game turned on the controversial 12th minute award of a penalty and red card against Brasauskas. A header from Heaton defender Joseph Wear would have crept into the far corner of the net had it not been for the intervention of the Town winger with what appeared to be a perfectly legitimate goal-line clearance, claims later backed up by TV replays.

Penalty and red card? You decide

But referee Jeff Marr was the only man in the stadium who saw it as a handball and not only pointed to the spot but produced a red card for the stunned Town man. Wright, with 16 goals to his credit already this season, was not about to look a gift-horse in the mouth and he smashed the spot kick into the roof of Alex Kell's net.

But it was difficult to tell which was the side that had 10 players for the remainder of the first half as Town looked far more dangerous. They were rewarded in the 27th minute when Hickman, as he has done so often this season, rose highest to send a powerful header into the net following a perfectly flighted free kick from Gav Parkin -  a 5th goal of the season for the big defender.

However, Wright showed exactly why he is the leading scorer in the league with a coolly taken second, 10 minutes before the break. After breaking through a square home defence, the former Hibernian man rounded Kell and somehow squeezed the ball in from a tight angle despite the best efforts of Ian Smurthwaite on the line.

But Town were the better side in the lead up to half time. Col Anderson, who had scored a hat-trick last time out, twice came close to a second equaliser while Jamie Clarke fired narrowly wide from distance as Mulcaster's side continued to dominate.

The game inevitably became more stretched in the second half and the Stan always looked a threat on the break, most notably through Wright - one of the finest forwards to have visited the Calvert Stadium in recent years.

Firing wide from 20 yards 10 minutes after the restart, Wright could then only find the side-netting  after rounding Kell again 15 minutes from time as a hat-trick eluded him.

But Town had their moments too. York loanee Chris Dickinson was denied by the alert Richie Hoggins after good work from Clarke, while Anderson then curled an effort narrowly over the top after cutting in from the right.

The fact that the visitors were playing for time as early as the 80th minute showed just how well Town were playing and they twice came close to earning their just rewards in the dying seconds. Firstly, Dale Elgie saw an effort blocked from inside the 6-yard box before the former Darlington RA man tested Stan goalkeeper Shaun Backhouse from 25 yards.

But it was the visitors who left with the spoils to leap-frog North Shields at the top.

"We can take a lot of heart from how we played with ten men," said goal-scorer Hickman. "We passed the ball really well. After we went down to ten men we were class up until half time. That probably came at the right time for them as we were on top and playing some good stuff, but we lost the game in the end which is disappointing.

Speaking about his hot streak in front of goal, Hickman added: "I am just attacking the ball from corners and free kicks and they seem to be going in. There has been some great balls in from Gav (Parkin) to be fair but I am a big lad and I'm just attacking the ball. I would swap all my goals for victories though."

Highlights of the match are available here

Town do not have to wait long to put this defeat behind them as Whickham visit the Calvert Stadium on Wednesday evening. Kick off is at 7.30pm and entrance is £5 for adults and £1 for children.

TOWN - Kell, Banks, Smurthwaite, Hickman, Davies, Parkin, Anderson, Elgie, Clarke, Dickinson, Brazauskas. Subs - Shoulder, Porritt, Atkinson, Caygill, Colman.

HEATON STANNINGTON - Backhouse, Telford, James, Chapman, Hoggins, Wear, Blakey, Johnson(L), Wright, Leach, Deagle. Subs - Johnson(A), Smith, Mann.

REFEREE - J. Marr.


Northallerton Town 1 Heaton Stannington 2

Peter Mulcaster speaks in the wake of the Heaton Stannington defeat

Exclusive Grant Hickman interview post-Heaton Stannington

Team news from today's meeting with Heaton Stannington

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Anderson treble too much for stuggling Albion

By Ricky Butler at Kingsley Park

A SUPERB hat-trick from the retuning Colin Anderson was enough to give Northallerton Town a comfortable victory from a rather scrappy encounter at struggling Ryton & Crawcrook on Saturday.

Having missed the last three matches due to suspension, three matches in which Peter Mulcaster's side had failed to win, Anderson announced his return in the best possible way with the perfect hat-trick - a left-footed opener, a headed second and a right-footed third.

"I am very pleased," said Anderson at the whistle. "I was surprised to get straight back in the squad but we have one or two missing next week so I was in and I scored three. I am happy.

"We could have scored a few more and we missed some chances, but luckily I was there to pop three in for us."

Mulcaster's starting XI showed four changes from the midweek draw at North Shields. Ian Smurthwaite returned at left back in place of David Cooke, captain Gav Parkin was back in midfield following a hamstring injury, while Anderson slotted straight back in on the right side of midfield.

The big news, however, saw York City loanee Chris Dickinson partner Jamie Clarke in attack following his arrival from the League One outfit this week.

Elsewhere, Danny McLachlan switched to the left wing with Jason Brazausakas, who has been complaining of tiredness, dropping to the bench alongside Darren Kokes and Mike Colman.

On an awful pitch, Town started well and with Dickinson and Anderson linking well it was no real surprise when Mulcaster's side went in front after just eight minutes.

Dickinson, who appeared for Town on a couple of occasions at the back end of last season, had already been denied by Albion goalkeeper Fraser Nairn when he sent Anderson clear down the right, and the winger cut inside full back Leigh Shickle before curling home with his left foot.

The lead almost lasted just six minutes when only a fine, full-length save from Town stopper Alex Kell denied Paul Clarke an equaliser, but the remainder of the half saw a succession of missed Town opportunities.

Grant Hickman sent a header crashing back off the underside of the crossbar before a Dickinson effort also came back of the square-shaped woodwork. There was more than a hint that both had gone over the line, but with no goal-line technology in the Northern League it remained 1-0.

Jamie Clarke then headed wide after an inviting right-wing cross from Steve Banks before the veteran striker, with 8 goals to his name already this season, rounded Nairn but could only find the side-netting from a tight angle.

But Mulcaster's men did double their lead ten minutes before the break. Dickinson sent Anderson clear again with a carbon copy of the move that had led to the opening goal, but this time Nairn was able to tip over the top.

However, the resulting corner, whipped in from the right by Parkin, was met with a powerful header from 12 yards by Anderson that gave the Albion 'keeper no chance.

Most of Town's good attacking play in the opening period was coming down the right-hand side and it was from there that Dickinson almost the goal his performance had deserved as his near post shot was blocked by defender Adam Chrostowski.

Mulcaster made a change at the break, replacing McLachlan with Brazauskas down the left, but the game degenerated into a scrappy midfield battle in the second half.

Ryton, who began the day with just one point to their name, had brought in five new players this week in a bid to arrest the slide, and the introduction of one - the shaggy-haired Reece Darwent - finally gave them some attacking impetus.

Twice the former South Shields man was denied by Kell before seeing another effort scrambled clear by Banks, but it was Town who added a third in the 64th minute.

Dickinson was again at the heart of it with another superb pass inside Shickle, and Anderson was on to it like a flash to fire past Nairn with his right foot.

But a match that not seen a bad tackle of note, and had been superbly refereed by the gorgeous Rebecca Welsh, ended in untidy fashion.

A 50-50 clash on halfway between Kokes and Ryton substitute Andrew Peacock left the Albion man with a suspected broken rib and in the aftermath, home midfielder Osiama Davidson was shown a straight red card for a push on Smurthwaite. Meanwhile Smurthwaite and Jamie Clarke were both shown yellow for their part in the melee.

Having used all their substitutes, Albion were forced to play out the closing stages with 9 men as Peacock was taken to hospital, and for the second Saturday in a row a Town match finished as 10 vs. 9 when Smurthwaite hobbled off with a back injury soon after.

A rather inauspicious finale to what had been an uninspiring afternoon.

"It was an awful game on an awful pitch," said Mulcaster. "It was good for Colin to come back and score 3 and we could have had a few more, but lets just leave it at that.

"We know what we get from Jamie Clarke, which is brilliant, but sometimes it doesn't work and other people take the stage which happened today with Colin.

"It was a very mediocre performance but a comfortable victory in the end. There is an old saying in football that if you play badly and win you have a chance, and we have done that.

"We had a superb performance in midweek but this is now three mediocre performances out of the last four games. However, we have won today so we are happy.

"We've now got five homes in a row so hopefully we can get some good results, but I am still looking at bringing 1 or 2 more players in. We have Darren Kokes and Danny Mac suspended from next Saturday."

On the performance of York-loanee Dickinson, Mulcaster said: "Chris did okay today. He maybe tried a little too hard at times but he is a very good player and linked well with Colin at times."

With no midweek game, Mulcaster is hoping to arrange a friendly before the visit to the Calvert Stadium next weekend of Heaton Stannington.

RYTON & CRAWCROOK - Nairn, Judd, Shickle, Davidson, Chrostowski, Pooley, Holland, Danquah, Edwards, Clarke, Watson. Subs - Peacock, Below, Johnson, Wilson, Darwent.

TOWN - Kell, Banks, Smurthwaite, Hickman, Davies, Parkin, Andeson, Elgie, Clarke, Dickinson, McLachlan. Subs - Brazauskas, Kokes, Colman.

REFEREE - R. Welsh.


Colin Anderson interview

Thursday, 12 September 2013

North Shields 2 Northallerton Town 2

Magnificent Clarke at the double as Town hold the leaders

By Mr Grumpy at Daren Persson Stadium

A SECOND HALF brace from leading scorer Jamie Clarke earned Northallerton Town a fully deserved point at Division Two leaders North Shields on Wednesday evening.

Despite travelling with a depleted squad, Peter Mulcaster's side once again showed character and commitment to twice come from behind against a classy Shields outfit.

After first Adam Scope and then Daniel Smart had given the hosts a second half lead, Clarke showed both sides of his game with a close range effort and a quite magnificent 25-yarder to earn Town a point.

"Jamie is Jamie," said a delighted Mulcaster at the whistle. "He does what he does; scores goals. The second goal was typical of him. A full goal mouth, he closes his eyes and hopes for the best, and tonight it's worked!

"I am over the moon with the performance. We've had two bad performances, two bad results, but tonight was the best performance and best result of the season without a doubt.

"They are a very good side but we came back into the game twice, and when you add in the fact that we didn't have a full squad out there, I could not be more delighted."

With several players missing for one reason or another, Mulcaster called up Academy lads David Cooke - who started at left back - and Mikey Stevens, who made his debut on the right side of midfield.

Elsewhere, Dale Elgie returned in the centre of the park alongside Darren Kokes, while Danny McLachlan partnered Clarke up front.

But despite the problems, Town started well. Shields were happy to let them knock the ball around at the back and they did so with confidence, although most of the first half chances fell to the hosts.

Scope and Smart, who would both find the target later, fired wide of Alex Kell's left-hand post, before Gareth Bainbridge came close with a 26th minute volley.

Clarke always looked the most likely for Town, and his header from a Jason Brazauskas free kick midway through the first half almost caused Shields goalkeeper Michael Robinson some embarrassment, while Stevens then shot over the top after cutting in from the right.

But the half ended with the league leaders on top as Kell was forced to deny both Smart and Bainbridge just before the break.

However, the hosts did go in front six minutes after the restart. Scope's initial effort was blocked by Grant Hickman but when the ball fell back into his path he showed no charity with a shot that slipped under the body of Kell and into the net.

And it could have been 2-0 moments later. Scope ran through the centre unchallenged but he was far more charitable with his finish this time as his attempted chip landed comfortably into the arms of the grateful Kell.

That looked like being a crucial miss as Mulcaster's side equalised just four minutes later. Brazauskas' corner from the left found the head of McLachlan 6 yards out, and when the ball came back off the crossbar, Clarke was on hand to stab home from close range.

The game, which had been tight and cagey until then, really opened up now as both sides went looking for a winner. Elgie tested Robinson from fully 35 yards, while at the other end the impressive Adam Forester came close for the hosts.

But it was Shields who regained the lead seventeen minutes from time. Town were slow to react on the left-side of their defence and Scope was able to stand the ball up to the far post where Smart planted a powerful header beyond the stranded Kell from 6 yards.

Having played 120 minutes on Saturday and with only one substitute available to call on it looked like a bridge too far for Mulcaster's battlers, but once again they struck back within four minutes - and what a goal it was.

Elgie played the ball out to Clarke on the right and he cut inside before a curling a delicious shot beyond Robinson into the top left-hand corner of the net from 25 yards. It was a strike of real beauty and it was just a shame that the cameraman was not there to capture it.

With his night's work complete, Clarke gave his weary limbs a rest as Town looked to close the game out, and thanks to a superb save from Kell to deny Smart four minutes from time, they were able to do just that.

Mulcaster said: "I knew we had to be at our best to get anything from the game tonight, and we were. We not only battled but we played well too. A couple of weeks ago we said we had set our standard and we shouldn't go below that, but we did. However, tonight we have set that standard again.

"It is nice to win of course, but sometimes you have to look at the game and say you have done really well to come away with a draw. I am now hoping to have 3 new signings in place before Saturday which will enhance the squad."

With Col Anderson back from suspension and other such as Ian Smurthwaite and Andrew Porritt likely to be available, it should be a stronger group travelling to struggling Ryton & Crawcrook this weekend.

NORTH SHIELDS - Robinson, Donnison, Grey, Richardson, Parkin, Elliott, Scope, Forester, Bainbridge, Smart, Wrightson. Subs - Mbiauanga, Crowther, Parkinson, Douglas.

NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Kell, Banks, Cooke, Hickman, Davies, Kokes, Stevens, Elgie, Clarke, McLachlan, Brazauskas. Subs - Colman.

REFEREE - M. Green


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Mikey Stevens interview

Peter Mulcaster post-North Shields interview

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Willington 4 Northallerton Town 3 (aet)

Nine-man Town crash out of Vase in controversial Willington tie

By Ricky Butler at Hall Lane

NINE-MAN Town were dumped out of the FA Vase on Saturday after an extraordinary and controversial tie at Ebac Northern League new-boys Willington.

Peter Mulcaster's side appeared to be coasting through as goals from Grant Hickman, Jason Brazauskas and Jamie Clarke saw them lead 3-0 inside 25 minutes, but then everything that could go wrong went wrong.

Firstly, Darren Kokes received a straight red card before the break for a two-footed tackle inside the centre circle before influential skipper Gav Parkin was forced off with a hamstring injury just six minutes later.

Willington, who had pulled a goal back through David Pinkney on the hour, then scored twice in the last three minutes through Corey Nicholson to send the tie into extra time, where Pinkney proceeded to win it.

That was not quite the end of the drama however, as Danny McClachlan was shown two yellow cards in the space of two minutes to join Kokes on the side-lines, before Willington striker Liam Whitworth also saw red late on as the tie ended in farcical fashion.

"That was probably one of the worst games I have ever seen," said Mulcaster at the whistle. "It was awful to watch. I'm just devastated with the way it went.

"We were coasting at 3-0 and tried to kill the game off in the second half. We were down to ten men and they had nothing to lose but even so, we should still have seen it out."

With injuries affecting the squad, Mulcaster's option were severely restricted, so in came Mike Colman to partner Clarke up top while Ian Smurthwaite replaced groin-injury victim Andrew Porritt at left back. That left Christian Holliday as the only fit player on the bench.

Kicking down the hill in the first half, it was Town who looked in complete control as they scored three times in the opening 22 minutes. Hickman headed the first after just three minutes following a superb right-wing cross from McClachlan - his 4th goal of the season - while Brazauskas made it 2-0, ten minutes later, with a fine finish from another McLachlan delivery.

When Willington goalkeeper Ryan Mundell then completely mis-judged a ball in from the right by Colman presenting Clarke with number 3, it looked all over. But Town were dealt a double blow in the minutes leading up to half time.

Kokes was shown a straight red card after a two-footed tackle on Jason White inside the centre circle - harsh, perhaps, but probably the only decision the referee got right all afternoon - while Parkin was then forced off soon after.

But despite everything conspiring against them, Town appeared comfortable for much of the second half, even after Pinkney had capitalised on a poor clearance from Holliday to make it 3-1 on the hour with an assured finish from 20 yards.

However, the real drama was still to come. Clarke came close to sealing it for Town with a free kick that came back off the post eight minutes from time, and that proved to be decisive. There were just three minutes of normal remaining when Nicholson got clear down the right and drilled the ball beyond goalkeeper Alex Kell to set up a grandstand finale.

Despite looking tired, Town appeared to have hung on when, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Nicholson repeated the trick with a shot from a tight angle that went in off both posts to force the tie into extra time.

In the circumstances this was the last thing Mulcaster's side needed and it got a whole lot worse when just two minutes into the first extra period. A speculative effort by Pinkney from 20 yards somehow slipped from Kell's grasp and dropped over the line before the Town stopper could recover.

But a scrappy, ill-tempered encounter ended in more controversy as McLachlan was booked twice in the space of two minutes deep into the second extra period. After initially being booked for dissent, the Town man then needlessly got involved with Mundell after appearing to be head-butted by the Willington goalkeeper and a second yellow inevitably followed.

Then, moments later, home forward Whitworth clashed with Sean Davies on the halfway line to become the third player dismissed on a day that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Despite the manner of the defeat, however Mulcaster tried to remain upbeat. He said: "Even in extra time with ten men, we still felt we could get something out of the game.

"But unfortunately Alex, who has been superb for us, mis-handles one over the line and then we lose another man. But even in the end we were still forcing the game when it was 9 against 11.

"We now have to regroup for a big game on Wednesday at North Shields. We have one or two injuries so I may have to look at getting some new faces in."

WILLINGTON - Mundell, Brown, Nicholson, Lazonby, Howe, Cairns, Lee, White, Whitworth, Pinkney, Sakr. Subs - Goodey, Weston, Marshall, Fairish, Hardy.

TOWN - Kell, Banks, Smurthwaite, Hickman, Davies, Parkin, McLachlan, Kokes, Clarke, Colman, Brazauskas. Subs - Holliday, Porritt.

REFEREE -  S. Kyle


Peter Mulcaster Willington interview

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Kell's the hero as Caygill rescues Town a point

By Ricky Butler at the Calvert Stadium

A LATE equaliser from substitute Graham Caygill rescued a point for a below-par Town on Wednesday evening as a thrilling North Yorkshire derby ended with honours even.

Arriving on the back of three straight victories, Peter Mulcaster's side struggled to get out of second gear for much of the contest and were grateful to a fine performance from goalkeeper Alex Kell, who denied an impressive Stokesley side almost single-handedly at times.

Despite breaking out to grab the lead against the run of play on the hour with a typical poachers goal from Jamie Clarke, Town appeared to be heading for a second league defeat of the season thanks to a late a brace from Stokesley winger Reece Kelly, the stand-out player on the night. But Caygill popped up four minutes from time to grab a point for Mulcaster's men.

"I thought we were poor," said the Town boss at the whistle. "But I thought Stokesley was the best team we have played this season.

"Our lads were not at the races tonight. In the first half we were totally outplayed. We did a little bit better in the second half and went 1-0 up, but they were always dangerous on the break.

"Our defending tonight was very poor, our midfield play was not good enough and to get a 2-2, I thought we were fortunate."

The Town starting XI showed two changes from Saturday's 5-1 victory at Esh Winning. Clarke returned up front in place of the suspended Col Anderson, while Christian Holliday came in on the left side of midfield for the absent Dale Elgie. Elsewhere, Jason Brazauskas switched to the right with Danny McLachlan partnering Clarke in attack and Darren Kokes dropping back into midfield.

The big news, however, saw three Academy lads - Dan Baxter, Wayne Thompson and Mikey Stevens - brought into the squad and they all started on the bench alongside Caygill and Michael Colman. Meanwhile, the Stokesley side included a familiar face, former Town midfielder Alex Caisley.

Town had averaged nearly five goals a game in their previous five home matches but you would never have known it from the first half performance as Mulcaster's side rarely threatened Ryan Hodgson in the visitors goal.

Stokesley, on the other hand, were lively from the start - with Kelly and Gary Redman looking particularly sharp in wide areas - and at times it was only Kell standing between the visitors and a comfortable victory.

Nathan Graham was the first to be left frustrated by the Town stopped before Kell than saved well from Daniel Jones and Gerard Richardson. However, he saved his best work to deny the outstanding Kelly - three times denying the winger with fingertip saves as good as any you will see in the league all season.

Town's only real opportunity of the opening period was an ambitious 30-yard effort from Clarke which flew harmlessly wide of Hodgson's left-hand post five minutes before the break.

Inevitably Mulcaster's side came out looking brighter at the start of the second half but again Kell came to their rescue with two further stops to deny Kelly and another to keep out an effort from full back Matthew Robinson.

In fact Town's first shot on target did not arrive until ten minutes after the break when McClachlan's near post header was kept out by Hodgson, but it was the hosts who broke out to grab the lead just four minutes later.

Stephen Banks' long ball out of defence was not dealt with by substitute Kris Kamara and Clarke showed all his natural goal-scoring instincts to nip in and coolly slot past Hodgson from 12 yards.

It was nearly 2-0 four minutes later when McClachlan's shot was cleared off the line by Andrew Lambert, while Clarke then headed wide following a superb left-wing delivery from former Stokesley man Andrew Porritt.

But that would have been harsh on the visitors and they deservedly drew level nine minutes from time. Kelly cut in from left before finally beating Kell with a low, right-footed strike from 18 yards.

And Stokesley looked set for a second impressive away win in four days when Kelly scored again three minutes later. This time he was aided by a wicked deflection off Sean Davies which wrong-footed Kell as the ball looped up and into the net.

But Town at least showed resilience to grab a dramatic equaliser four minutes from time. Gav Parkin's corner from the left was met at the near post by Davies but Hodgson somehow kept his effort out.

However, following an almighty goal-mouth scramble, the ball fell to Caygill at the far post and the substitute, who had been on the field less than ten minutes, was able to divert it over the line from 2 yards.

That was not quite the end of the drama as Stokesley could have won it in stoppage time. Kelly did well down the left again and his cross to the far post was perfect for substitute Connor Hood, but the forward placed his header wide of the target and it finished 2-2.

"To come back and grab a point as we did shows the character of the players," said Mulcaster. "But sometimes you need more than character. You need to do the right things at the right time but we didn't do that tonight and I am very disappointed.

"We have probably had three games, especially the two against Esh Winning, which we won very easily and whether that transformed into the minds of the players, I don't know. But we haven't got beaten when we were second best so we can take that as a positive."

Town now have a break from league action as they begin their FA Vase campaign with a trip to Willington on Saturday, where Mulcaster will be looking for a much-improved performance.

He said: "I watched Willington this week and I didn't think they played particularly well. However, if we play like we did tonight then we will give them a chance."

NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Kell, Banks, Porritt, Hickman, Davies, Parkin, Brazauskas, Kokes, Clarke, McClachlan, Holliday. Subs- Caygill, Colman, Baxter, Thompson, Stevens.

STOKESLEY SC -  Hodgson, Lambert, Robinson, Jones, Browne, Graham, Redman, Caisley, Richardson, Foley, Kelly. Subs - Kamara, Thompson, Upton, Doherty, Hood.

REFEREE - M. Andrews.


Town 2 Stokesley SC 2

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Exclusive Graham Caygill interview

Peter Mucaster post-Stokesley interview

Jamie Clarke interview after Stokesley match

Half time - Northallerton 0 Stokesley SC 0

Team news from our match against Stokesley SC

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Stokesley stat attack

NORTHALLERTON TOWN face Stokesley SC at the Calvert Stadium tomorrow evening and here we look at all the stats ahead of the match.

Last season -

Having been relegated from Division One without a single league victory the previous season, 2012-13 was a season of consolidation for Stokesley and they finished 15th in Division Two - winning 12, drawing 8 and losing 22.

Town, meanwhile, finished 6th in Division Two with 23 wins, 8 draws and 11 defeats.

Previous meetings -

Town have only met Stokesley on 4 previous occasions in the league.

In 2009-10 season, Stokesley won the Division Two title and along the way beat Town twice - 4-0 at the Calvert Stadium and 5-1 at Broughton Road.

Last season, it was Town's turn to complete the double, winning 2-0 away and 4-1 at home.

The two clubs have also met twice in the cup in recent years.

In 2010-11, Stokesley won 4-3 an the Calvert Stadium in the 1st round of the FA Vase, while in 2011-12, Town gained revenge with a 2-1 victory at Broughton Road in the Brooks Mileson League Cup.

Current form -

Stokesley arrive at the Calvert Stadium on the back of 2 good wins - 3-1 over Thornaby on Bank Holiday Monday and a 1-0 success at Heaton Stannington last Saturday - the hosts first defeat of the season. They currently sit 10th in the league with 3 wins, 1 draw and 3 defeats so far.

Town, meanwhile, have won their last 3 matches - beating Esh Winning twice (6-0 at home and 5-1 away) and winning 2-1 at Darlington RA. Town sit 5th in the league with 4 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat.

Players to watch -

Stokesley top scorers this season are Gary Redman and Connor Hood who have both scored 3 times so far. The match will also see the return to the Calvert stadium of former Town midfield man Alex Caisley, who will no doubt have a point to prove.

Town's top scorers are Jamie Clarke and Danny McClachlan with 4 each, while Darren Kokes and Grant Hickman have both scored 3. However, the star performer so far has probably been Jason Brazauskas.

Summary -

With both teams arriving in good form it looks set to be a very tight match. Stokesley have a good young side who appear to be improving all the time and will be expecting to push up the table.

Meanwhile, Town's new-look side have began to gel and will be amongst the favourites for promotion.

Prediction -

History suggests there will be goals but I can see this being a very close match with Town just coming out on top 2-1.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Esh Winning 1 Northallerton Town 5