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.


No comments:

Post a Comment