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.



  1. Listened to Mr Mulcasters audio interview and have to point out to him.That teams defend from the front and if the ball doesnt stick with the forwards and midfielders and continually comes back for the defence to deal with any team will sooner or later concede a goal or goals. Therefore i cannot accept Mr Mulcasters view that defensive wise Town were poor against Stokesley. There were in fact some very good signs defensively last night for instance the back four were working very well as a unit, stepping up and catching the Stokesley forwards offside regularly at times it was Arsenal like (Bould Adams Winterburn Dixon or Keown)these were very encouraging signs indeed and something to work on and indeed give praise to. Also the Keeper was exceptional and his distribution was at times excellent.
    The problem last night was the central midfield area and the strikers continually losing the ball and failing to hold the ball up.
    A coach with Mr Mulcasters experience should realise this, it is somewhat dissappointing that he hasnt.

  2. You make some very interesting points, just a shame you have hidden behind 'anonymous.' However, in Mully's defence, he actually said the DEFENDING was poor, not the DEFENDERS. As you say, defending starts from the front and that was clearly an issue at times last night.
    Although I tend to agree that the back four did okay, they were caught out by the pace of the Stokesley wide-men at times and that was what led to both goals.
    But I feel any criticism of our play does Stokesley an injustice. They played extremely well and the fact we came out it with a point was a good effort from our lads. Not our greatest performance, sure, but perhaps we should give Stokesley some credit and move on. If we continue to pick up points while playing below-par then I'm sure we will not be far away come the end of the season.

  3. Back four been done by pace ! There's a surprise.

  4. Not the same as the other anonymous.

    I think we have been poor/average all season but this has been masked by big scores against very poor sides. I agree with some of the points above and blame cannot be put solely on the defence as we defended and attack as a team and it was not individual errors that cost us. Ultimately our squad is not strong enough, 3 academy players being brought in shows this! No disrespect to the lads but they were brought in because we were short not because they have been doing well.

    The point about the ball coming straight back from the forwards sums up our play. We constantly play back to front and miss out the midfield. Our midfielders do not show for the ball so the defence have to go long... And then when they do its not with quality. Unless these basic areas are addressed then the future is bleak.

    We need to strengthen in quality ball players not big names or battlers.

  5. I disagree to a certain extent on the leading up to Stokesleys two goals if i remember correctly the Town right back was caught out only because an attack broke down badly which he was supporting and yes to a certain degree the subsequent ball over the top into space did see him wanting but the ball was given away needlessly, the second goal was a direct result of the Town Midfield giving the ball away in a bad area.
    Neither goal can directly be attributed to the Town defensive unit.

  6. One poor performance against a very good side and all of a sudden the anonymous negative comments appear.

    It is easy to say 'we have been poor/average all season' after a performance like Wednesday evening. If you really believe that then why not say so after the Esh Winning or RA games?

    I think it is harsh to be too critical after Wednesday. Everyone could see it was not the greatest performance, the players and manager said as much themselves afterwards. But the fact is we did not lose the game. Over the course of the season we cannot play well every week and if that is our worst performance than I'm sure everyone will be fairly happy.

    Lets remember one defeat in the opening 7 league games represents a good start. We should not lose track of that after one below par display. This is not the time for knee-jerk reactions. We need to put this match behind us and move on to Saturday.

    All this analysis is great, very Alan Hansen, but why hide behind 'anonymous.' You clearly understand the game so why not let yourself be known?

  7. Same Anonymous as posting 05/09..19:13.

    I do think we have been poor so far this season but we have managed to get results which is a sign of a good team. Getting results when paying below par is what will get us in the mix come April. However, I do think we need to strengthen.

    As with the Alan Hansen comment... I hope your referring to the other postings rather than mine.

  8. I'm pretty sure Shoulder did a fantastic job at right back, where's he at ?

  9. Shoulder right back? He's by far the best centre half at the club.