Thursday, 12 September 2013

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



  1. Much better Butch.Worthy of a column in the Northern Echo.Onwards and sidewards.

  2. Nice that Jamie Clarke is doing well could play in Championship he is that good.