Thursday, 26 September 2013

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.



  1. Maybe Colman should get a chance now Clarke has left

  2. are you serious?