Thursday, 31 October 2013

Town pay the penalty for missed chances

By Ricky Butler at Whitley Park

NORTHALLERTON TOWN were on the wrong end of more refereeing controversy at promotion rivals West Allotment Celtic on Wednesday evening as they lost back-to-back league games for the first time this season.

Having been the better side for much of the first half, Peter Mulcaster's troops were rocked by a very harsh penalty awarded against them by local referee Ray Cushing within three minutes of the restart and things quickly went from downhill from there.

In a very tight game between sides who both began the night in the top four, the opening goal was always going to be crucial and to lose it in such a manner left a bitter taste for Town. Celtic forward Liam Hudson appeared to slip as he tried to turn defender James Howlett in the penalty area but Cushing, from down the road in Newcastle, pointed to the spot and Sean Reid made no mistake.

It was harsh on a Northallerton side who had looked every bit promotion contenders for much of the evening. But as they chased the game in the closing stages, the hosts were able to pick them off with further goals from Hudson and substitute Lawrence McKenna to give the final score a rather flattering look.

"I thought the referee was poor tonight," said Mulcaster at the whistle. "We were the better side in the first half, we played as well as we have done since we beat Seaham Red Star a few weeks ago. But they got what we would call a dubious penalty to give them the edge and then we should have had a stonewall penalty which wasn't given. But I was very, very pleased with our performance tonight."

Defender Grant Hickman, who was booked for his protests at the penalty award, went even further. He said: "I thought it was a dreadful decision. It always seems to be the case when you come to places like this. You get a local referee and every little decision goes against you. It's disappointing but it happens."

Mulcaster was forced into several changes to his starting XI following Saturday's disappointing defeat at Stokesley. With Dale Elgie and Danny Shoulder both missing, Andrew Porritt was switched to left back, James Howlett to centre back while Freddie Huscroft came in for his first start for the club alonside Danny McLachlan up front.

Elsewhere Colin Anderson returned from injury on the right side of midfield with Darren Kokes dropping back to partner skipper Gav Parkin in the engine room.

But despite all the changes it was Town that started strongly. They almost grabbed the lead after just 11 minutes when the front two combined well only for Huscroft's shot from the inside left position to roll agonisingly wide of the far post.

Anderson then came even closer ten minutes later. Having rounded Celtic goalkeeper Rob Rogerson, the winger was only able to fire against the foot of the post from a tight angle.

Town were playing some great football at this point and they continued to create the better chances. Kokes and Christian Holliday, impressive once again down the left, both saw efforts deflected narrowly wide with Rogerson beaten, while Huscroft headed over the top following a right-wing corner from Parkin.

It was only as half time approached that the hosts, who began the night with just 2 league defeats all season, finally began to threaten and Town goalkeeper Alex Kell had to be alert to deny Liam Hudson and David Dormand.

But just as they had done in the Ernest Armstrong Cup final in May, Celtic were awarded a very soft penalty early in the second period to edge ahead. Hudson was already on his way down after appearing to lose his footing before Howlett could challenge him but referee Cushing decided it was a penalty and Reid, as he had done in the cup final, fired home from the spot.

Town were thrown out of their stride by that injustice and it was nearly all over three minutes later as Kallum McGlen fired against the post, but slowly Mulcaster's battlers regained their composure and should have been level within ten minutes.

Only a fine save from Rogerson denied McLachlan after Holliday had pulled the back from the left, while moments later Anderson somehow failed to head home another superb delivery from Holliday at the far post - the slightest of touches from Rogerson perhaps putting off the Town man at the crucial moment.

And Town paid the ultimate price for that profligacy as Celtic broke out to double their advantage just three minutes later. There appeared to be a communication breakdown at the back between Kell and Howlett which allowed Hudson the opportunity to lob the ball into the net via the left-hand upright.

But rather than feel sorry for themselves, Town set about trying to right the wrongs. They felt they should have had a penalty of their own in the 71st minute when a shot from Kokes appeared to strike the arm of defender Ian Dunn but Cushing continued his Halloween horror show by waving away their appeals.

However, Town should have been given a lifeline fifteen minutes from time. Another ball in from the left by Holliday fell kindly to McLachlan 12 yards out but with only Rogerson to beat he somehow headed over the top and that was that.

With a little under three minutes left on the clock the hosts grabbed a third to really give the score-line a flattering look. David Henderson did well down the left and substitute McKenna was left with the simple task of beating Kell from 6 yards.

"We have been beaten by a very good side," said Mulcaster. "But they will never have another 3-0 like that again. When you look at what happened in the game I have got to be pleased with my players tonight."

Although still second in the table, Town have now completed almost half their fixtures and you have to feel that they cannot afford too many more results like this in the coming weeks if they are to remain in the promotion race.

WEST ALLOTMENT CELTIC -  Rogerson, Pendlebury, Douglas, Dunn, Stoneman, Little, McGlen, Henderson, Dormand, Reid, Hudson. SUBS - McKenna, Dummitt, Gordon, Lee, Graham.

TOWN - Kell, Banks, Porritt, Hickman, Howlett, Parkin, Anderson, Kokes, McLachlan, Huscroft, Holliday. SUBS - Stevens, Caygill, Colman.

REFEREE - R. Cushing.


West Allotment Celtic 3 Northallerton Town 0

New signing Freddie Huscroft speaks exclusively about his first start for the club at West Allotment Celtic

Peter Muclaster and Grant Hickman assess the defeat at West Allotment Celtic

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Town's Holliday over as they are knocked off their perch by Richardson double

By Ricky Butler at Broughton Road

NORTHALLERTON'S brief reign at the top of the Ebac Northern League Division Two table was brought to an abrupt end on Saturday as North Yorkshire rivals Stokesley SC withheld a strong late rally.

After Gerard Richardson had capitalised on a poor back pass from Grant Hickman midway through the first half to put the hosts in front, a fine header from Christian Holliday brought Town level. But more defensive naivety allowed Richardson a second just before the break and despite plenty of late Town pressure, that was the way it finished.

So disappointed was manager Peter Mulcaster at the whistle that he refused to do any press interviews, and his mood was not helped by other promotion rivals also dropping points: "A wasted opportunity," as he put it.

However, goal-scorer Holliday was happy to speak and he said: "We played some good football in the first half, I thought but we went in 2-1 down.

"Then in the second half we just could not get the goal. Stokesley seemed to just park the bus but to be fair we should be winning these type of games if we want to stay up there."

Mulcaster's side made the short trip to Broughton Road having been knocked off the top by Heaton Stannington's morning victory over Birtley and the Town boss was forced into two changes from the side that had reached the summit the previous Wednesday.

With Col Anderson missing with an abductor injury, Andrew Porritt was switched to the right side of midfield with James Howlett coming in at left back and Danny Shoulder recalled at centre half.

Town started brightly in the autumn sunshine and could have grabbed a 6th minute lead. Holliday whipped in a great cross from the left and Danny McLachlan's powerful header was only kept out by  a fine save from Stokesley goalkeeper Ryan Hodgson - the first of many he was to make throughout the afternoon.

It was all Town at this stage as Gav Parkin fired wide before then being denied by the outstanding Hodgson, but it was the hosts that were gifted the lead midway through the first half. Hickman's attempted back pass was far too short and Richardson was left with only goalkeeper Alex Kell to beat -  a task he completed with the minimum of fuss.

But Town responded like league leaders with an equaliser just six minutes later. Porritt produced a superb cross from the right and Holliday rose to head past Hodgson from 10 yards - a first goal of the season for the speedy winger known as Bisto.

"It was a great ball in from Poz and I gambled, headed it down and luckily enough it went in," said Holliday.

Mulcaster's side now looked set to go on and take control as McLachlan sent a header just the wrong side of the post while Steve Banks fired over the top following a lovely one-touch passing move on the edge of the area.

However, with half time approaching, Town momentarily switched off at the back to allow Stokesley the opportunity to go back in front. Andrew Lambert stood the ball up from the right to the far post where Richardson was left completely unmarked to turn and fire past Kell from 8 yards.

Mulcaster was forced into a change at the break as groin-injury victim Dale Elgie was unable to continue, so Graham Caygill was brought on up front with in-form Darren Kokes, 5 goals in the previous 4 matches, dropping back into midfield.

Again Town made a bright start to the second period but the nearest they came to an equaliser was a shot from the lively Holliday which brought another fine stop from Hodgson.

Although it was all one-way traffic at this stage, the visitors were grateful to Kell for keeping them in it moments later when he saved well with his legs to deny former Northallerton player Alex Caisley flowing a quick Stokesley counter-attack.

But it was Hogdson who was the busier of the two goalkeepers and he performed more heroics to keep out a shot from Caygill midway through the second half, before the young Town striker, who scored a last-gasp equaliser when the clubs last met in September, then saw an effort deflected narrowly wide.

However, Stokesley could have sealed the points with eighteen minutes remaining. Richardson was denied a hat-trick by the crossbar while Lambert's follow up effort incredibly came back off virtually the same spot of woodwork.

Having been given such a let off Town really went for it in the final stages. Mulcaster brought on striker Freddie Huscroft for defender Banks and switched to a 3-4-3 formation which led to a series of late chances.

Kokes looked as through he had levelled it up ten minutes from time after a powerful forward burst but once again Hodgson would not be beaten, saving well down to his left, while Holliday almost headed a second from another Porritt cross.

With time running out, Mulcaster's men threw everything forward in a thrilling finale but a mixture of good Stokesley defending and a poor final ball ensured that Town's reign at the top would be an all-too brief one.

"Sometimes it is better to just say nothing," said an unusually quiet Mulcaster at the whistle.

Town now face a promotion six-pointer at West Allotment Celtic on Wednesday evening where Mulcaster will hope his players can do their talking on the pitch.

STOKESLEY SC - Hodgson, Evens, Taylor, Browne, Woodall, Lambert, Redmond, Caisley, Richardson, Upton, Kelly. Subs - Lee, Makin, Foley, Ward.

TOWN - Kell, Banks, Howlett, Hickman, Shoulder, Parkin, Porritt, Elgie, McLachlan, Kokes, Holliday. Subs - Huscroft, Caygill, Colman.

REFEREE - C. Chatton

ATTENDANCE: 74 (as counted by Emerson Butler)

Stokesley SC 2 Northallerton Town 1

Exclusive Christian Holliday interview

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Town high on Kokes

By Ricky Butler at the Calvert Stadium

A DARREN Kokes-inspired Northallerton Town went to the top of the league with this victory over ten-man Whitehaven at the Calvert Stadium last night but this was hardly a performance worthy of potential champions.

Kokes was in superb form throughout and struck twice in the first half, bringing his tally to 5 in the last 4 matches, while Dale Elgie and Danny MacLachlan were also on target before the break, although it was a far from convincing performance from Peter Mulcaster's side.

But just as they had done on Saturday, Town managed to do enough to get the result they required to take over at the top despite rarely getting out of second gear.

Whitehaven, who had won 4-2 here in the FA Cup back in August, arrived with a depleted squad and were reduced to ten men before the break following the dismissal of James Parker, but Mulcaster's men were not really able to press home that advantage and in the end they were relived to hear the final whistle.

"It wasn't a very good performance, I've got to be honest," said the Town boss. "You have to give Whitehaven credit. They came with just 11 men and when we went 2-0 up after 15 minutes I thought we'd go on and get a boat load, but we took our foot off the peddle.

"They got better after they had the man sent off and we got sadly worse. In the second half I thought we were poor and they wanted it more than us. We have come out winning the game but it feels like we've been beaten because it was such a bad performance."

Mulcaster made two changes to his starting XI in a bid to freshen up the side in search of the win they needed to take over at the top. James Howlett came in for his debut at the back in place of Danny Shoulder while Christian Holliday replaced Mikey Stevens down the left.

The big news, however, saw the inclusion in the squad for the first time of new signing Freddie Huscroft following his move from Darlington RA this week, and he was joined on the bench by Shoulder, Stevens, Graham Caygill and Mike Colman.

Town started well and Kokes had the ball in the net inside 3 minutes, heading home a cross from Holliday at the far post, but the assistants flag had already been raised for offside.

However, that only delayed the inevitable. Just ten minutes later Kokes created the opener with a lovely ball in from the left and Elgie, who had made a great third man run into the penalty area, arrived at pace to stab the ball past goalkeeper Stuart Pettit from 10 yards -  his first Town goal.

When Kokes then turned home a right wing corner from Gav Parkin just 2 minutes later it looked like Whitehaven could be on the end of a similar result to the 10-0 hammering they had suffered at North Shields earlier in the season.

But Town failed to capitalise and it was visitors who got back into the match midway through the first half. Craig Robson sent Lee Woolf clear down the left and his low cross somehow ended up in the net at the near post.

At first it appeared to have come off either Howlett or goalkeeper Alex Kell but Whitehaven skipper Malcolm Holliday. the only Whitehaven player in the vicinity, was happy to accept the congratulations of his team-mates and it was 2-1.

The Cumbrians then enjoyed a good spell of pressure which saw them win a series of corners but Town weathered the storm and broke out to add a third, ten minutes before the break. The goal was almost a carbon copy of the second as once again a corner from the right by Parkin found Kokes at the far post and he had the simple task of firing past Pettit from close range.

Town looked home and hosed moments later when Parker was shown a straight red card after an altercation with McLachlan in the centre circle and Mulcaster's side added a fourth just before the break.

Stevens, who had only just replaced the injured Colin Anderson down the right, received the ball from Kokes and his first time cross found McLachlan in the area who did not panic before coolly slotting past Pettit - the third match in a row in which he had found the target.

But rather than go on and kill the game off, Town were very flat in the second period and rarely threatened to add to their tally. Kokes did came close to completing his hat-trick on two occasions but in truth it was visitors that created the better chances.

Indeed they pulled a goal back midway through the half when Robson sent Nathan Dryden clear down the right and he beat Kell with a neat, first-time finish from 15 yards.

The whole complexion of the match might have changed moments later had a thunderous effort from Jonathan Roseby been a fraction lower, but as it was it came back off the crossbar and with it went the Cumbrians hopes of a shock late comeback.

Town could have scored one or two more in the closing stages - Caygill only being denied by a great last-ditch tackle from the impressive Fraser Kennedy and Kokes firing wide - but the chants at the end of 'we are top of the league' from the Town faithful behind the goal were slightly muted.

"Sometimes it works out like that against ten men," said Mulcaster. "But we won and that is the most important thing."

"People have been singing and shouting that we are top of the league but we have played six or seven games more than the others. Let's not get carried away. We'll enjoy being top tonight and then get back to reality on Saturday."

That reality for Town means a trip to North Yorkshire rivals Stokesley SC before a potential promotion six-pointer at West Alltoment Celtic next Wednesday. You have to feel, however, that they will require a better performance than this if they are to remain top.

TOWN - Kell, Banks, Porritt, Hickman, Howlett, Parkin, Anderson, Elgie, McLachlan, Kokes, Holliday. Subs - Caygill, Huscroft, Stevens, Shoulder, Colman.

WHITEHAVEN - Pettit, Hunter, Johnson, Kennedy, Tubman, Parker, Dryden, Holliday, Woolf, Roseby, Robson.

REFEREE - C. Keightly


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Northallerton Town 4 Whitehaven 2

Exclusive Dale Elgie interview

Peter Mulcaster on the win voer Whitehaven

HALF TIME - Northallerton 4 Whitehaven 1

Whitehaven team news

Saturday, 19 October 2013

A Big Mac and Kokes send Town up to second

By Ricky Butler at the Calvert Stadium

Highlights of this match can be viewed here

FIRST half goals from Darren Kokes and a wonder-strike from Danny McLachlan were just enough to send a below-par Northallerton Town up to second place in the league after a far from convincing victory over Washington on Saturday.

But despite failing to reach the heights of recent performances, Peter Mulcaster's side did the job that was required from a match that will not live long in the memory.

"It was a game where we didn't pass the ball or play much football," said Mulcaster at the whistle. "But we had to work very hard. They are a good side and played very well, I thought. Sometimes you have to grind results out and that's what it was today from start to finish."

The Town starting XI showed just one change from the midweek victory over Birtley. With skipper Gav Parkin back in midfield, Kokes was pushed forward to partner McLachlan in attack meaning Graham Caygill dropped down to the bench.

Both sides began the day on the back of three wins from their previous four matches but neither found any fluency in the early stages with passes regularly going astray.

The first chance of any note did not arrive until the 14th minute when Washington's Richard Paxton headed a cross from Michael Coughlan over the top from 8 yards. But Town were in front just two minutes later with their first meaningful attack.

Steve Banks, who has been in fine recent goal-scoring form himself, sent Kokes away down the right and with the visitors defence nowhere to be seen, the former Esh Winning man coolly slotted past goalkeeper Martin Jackson - the third match in a row in which he has found the target.

Driven on by the dangerous James Fairley, Washington looked for a response and they would have been level in the 27th minute had it not been for a fine save from Town goalkeeper Alex Kell. Fairley sent Stephen Bogie clear of a square Town defence but Kell was out smartly to save with his legs.

That proved crucial too as Town doubled their advantage less than three minutes later with a goal of the season contender from McLachlan.

Jackson came charging out of area to deny the 24-year old initially but when Kokes played the ball back to him 40 yards out, McLachlan, who has only just got back in the side following his recent suspension, looked up and sent a superb first-time lob over the stranded 'keeper into the net. It was a truly wonderful goal and one that was completely out of context with all that had gone before it.

"Yes, it did seem to take ages to go in," said McLachlan. "But I knew it was going to go in so everyone just needed to stop panicking!"

Speaking of his recent spell out of side McLachlan said: "It's never nice being on the bench but the team were winning and playing well. I got my chance in midweek and took a goal, got my chance today and took another goal so I can't do any more to be honest."

That wonder-strike put Town in complete control and it was nearly all over six minutes before half time. Col Anderson got in behind the Washington defence and rounded Jackson but his effort was cleared off the line by defender Nathan Johnson.

Washington looked far more dangerous in the early part of the second period and Kell did well to keep out a free kick from Fairley, while Grant Hickman then blocked a shot from Bogie on the line with his chest.

But as the visitors pushed on in the closing stages, Town had opportunities on the break to kill the game off. Anderson headed a Parkin free kick just over the top, Dale Elgie - still looking for his first Town goal - placed a header just wide of the left-hand upright, while Anderson was then denied by Jackson after a lovely through ball from Caygill.

The game ended in slightly unsavoury fashion however, as Anderson appeared to be struck off the ball by Washington substitute David Southern. But the crowd favourite gained his revenge in the best possible way with a lovely piece of skill down by the right corner flag which completely bamboozled the Washington man.

So while far from pleased with the performance of his team, Mulcaster was happy with the result and the consistency of his players. He said: "It's a game where there was nothing good really but we stuck at it and ground it out.

"Washington are a good side and if that team had been together at the start of the season they would now be in a much better position.

"We've had games this season where we've come in and said 'we battered them, how did we get beat' and today it was the opposite.

"We had two bad results here last month but you are going to get that. We are not the best team in the league and we are no where the worst but what we are at the moment is very consistent. The team picks itself more or less but I am still on the look out to bring a couple of players in.

"We have lost a couple of good players in Jamie Clarke and Biscuit but others have stepped in and have made us a better team. We are getting goals from everywhere now; Kokesy has 6, Macca 6 and Col 8.

"We face another tough game here on Wednesday against Whitehaven. It all depends which side they put out but it is what we do that matters.

"We can go away and enjoy the weekend now we are up to second in the league, although the people below us have a lot of games to play. But we will take it as it is."

TOWN - Kell, Banks, Porritt, Hickman, Shoulder, Parkin, Anderson, Elgie, McLachlan, Kokes, Stevens. Subs - Caygill, Howlett, Baxter, Colman.

WASHINGTON - Jackson, Croft, McGuiness, Paxton, Johnson, Oliver, Fairley, Coughlan, Noble, Bogie, Catchside. Subs - Wardle, Atkinson, Ward, Southern, McCann.

REFEREE - A. Charters


Northallerton Town 2 Washington 0

Exclusive Danny McLachlan interview

Perter Mulcaster interview post Washington victory

HALF TIME Northallerton 2 Washington 0

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Town back in top 3 after Birtley thriller

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

Dale Elgie (8), congratulates Col Anderson on his goal against Birtley last night
SECOND half goals from Colin Anderson, Danny McLachlan and Darren Kokes saw Town move back into the top three on Wednesday evening after a thrilling encounter against Birtley at the Calvert Stadium.

After a tight first half, the game really came to life with three goals in five minutes early in the second period. Anderson gave Town a 51st minute lead but Leon Watson equalised almost immediately. McLachlan then restored the Town advantage just past the hour-mark while Kokes sealed the points before a late Birtley consolation from substitute Daniel Taggart.

"It was another good win tonight that puts us back up to third in the league," said manager Peter Mulcaster at the whistle. "Birtley are a very young but talented side.

"We scored three good goals to give us our third win in four games. They came out of the blocks flying and for the first 15 minutes they played some lovely stuff and were the better side but slowly we got back in to the game."

Mulcaster's starting XI showed just one change from Saturday's defeat at Jarrow Roofing - McLachlan replacing absent skipper Gav Parkin with Kokes dropping back into midfield. Meanwhile new signing James Howlett took his place on the bench for the first time since his move this week from Darlington RA.

The absence of Parkin due to work commitments was the only change Mulcaster has had to make to his side in the last 4 matches and it is that stability that has led to an improvement in performances. And it was needed against a young and energetic Birtley side, who began the night just one place and one point below Town in the top 5.

Heavy rain throughout the afternoon had put the match at risk but the new drainage system, fitted over the summer, did its job perfectly and the pitch was in very good condition at kick off.

Birtley started well and forced Alex Kell into a fine early save, although when the rebound was lashed home from close range by Callum Hope, the goal was ruled out for offside - much to the relief of Town.

The visitors were on top at this stage and had another chance to take the lead when a weak back pass by Grant Hickman let in Mechack Kanda but the teenager's shot was weak and went straight into the grateful arms of Kell.

But slowly Town settled and had half chances from McLachlan, whose header went just wide, and a volley from Anderson which flashed just over the bar.

The first half was very even with not many clear cut chances at either end but the best of all came in stoppage time when the Birtley goalkeeper Jordan Harkess pulled off a couple of outstanding saves to deny Kokes and Graham Caygill.

The second period started at a frantic pace with three goals in four minutes. Town took the lead after 51 minutes when Kokes whipped in a free-kick and Anderson scrambled the ball in from close range. But the advantage lasted barely two minutes as Birtley were level after great skill in the box by Watson, who had tapped home.

However, Town were back in front moments later after great work down the left by Mikey Stevens who crossed for McLachlan to slot home his 5th goal of the season but first since August.

It could have been four goals in five minutes if it hadn't been for one of the saves of the season by Kell who was at full stretch to tip a shot from Kanda around the post - reminiscent of Gordon Banks' famous save from Pele in 1970.

But Town had chances to increase their lead. Dale Elgie's long range pile-driver was deflected just over the bar while Anderson's mis-kick nearly fell to Stevens at the far post but he just couldn't quite get his head to the ball.

However, it was 3-1 eighteen minutes from time. Anderson was in the thick of the action again when his neat through ball found Kokes in acres of space and he confidently fired home -  his second goal in 4 days.

McLachlan was then close to one of the greatest goals ever seen at the Calvert when his exquisite chip from just inside the area beat Harkess but come back off the post.

Birtley, who had played good football throughout, reduced the arrears in the final minute when Kell misjudged the ball and it was squared for a tap in for leading scorer Taggart - his 12th goal of the season - leaving the visitors with a glimmer of hope.

But it was Town who could have scored a 4th in stoppage time when the impressive Anderson was only denied by a fine save from Harkess at point-blank range and it finished 3-2.

"The second half was slow for us, AGAIN," said Mulcaster. "However as the game went on we once again showed how well we can play. Birtley still looked dangerous on the break but Kokesy scored the third which really should have been enough, but we conceded a sloppy goal at the end. However, we held on to record a fine win."

Town now face in-form Washington at the Calvert Stadium on Saturday where a win could send them to the top of the table. Kick off is 3pm.

TOWN - Kell, Banks, Porritt, Hickman, Shoulder, Kokes, Anderson, Elgie, Caygill, McLachlan, Stevens. Subs - Holliday, Colman, Howlett.

BIRTLEY - Harkess, Gunn, Laverty, Morse, Coppen, Halliday, Breckton, Nichol, Kanda, Hope, Watson. Subs - Taggart, Lee, Davis, Reaks, Innes.

REFEREE - M. Bunting


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Birtley Town stat attack

NORTHALLERTON Town face Birtley Town at the Calvert Stadium tonight and ahead of the game we bring you all the stats you need.

Last season;

Birtley Town finished 17th in Ebac Northern League Division Two last season - winning 10, drawing 8 and losing 24. They scored 47 goals in their 42 league matches and conceded 83.

Town, on the other hand, finished 6th with 23 wins, 8 draws and 11 defeats, scoring 101 goals and conceding 63.

Town completed the league double over Birtley, winning 4-0 at the Calvert in September and 2-0 at Birtley in April. Steve Butterworth scored a brace in the corresponding fixture here last season, with Adam Emson and Carl Chillingsworth also on target. Colin Anderson and Jon Burton scored in the reverse fixture.

Previous meetings;

The two sides have met just 8 times in the league, the first as recently as 2009. Town have won 4 of the 8 games, with 1 draw and 3 wins for Birtley. The biggest win for either side was the 4-0 by Town last season, while Birtley's biggest win was 2-0 in 2010-11 season. Their only success at the Calvert was a 3-2 win in January 2012, achieved courtesy of 2 goals in the final 2 minutes.

Current form;

Birtley arrive just one place and one point behind Town in 5th spot. However, they have not won away from home since the opening day of the season at Darlington RA - a run of 4 defeats and 2 draws. However, they are unbeaten in all 9 home matches this season. Birtley have suffered back-to-back defeats at West Allotment Celtic in the last week - 2-1 last Saturday in the league and 3-1 the previous midweek in the League Cup.

Town have won their previous 2 home matches, scoring 7 times and conceding none, although they had only won one of the previous 6 at the Calvert. Town were beaten 4-2 at Jarrow Roofing last time out.

Players to watch;

Birtley's main goal-scoring threat comes from Daniel Taggart, who was scored 11 times so far this season, while Callum Hope has 6 and Matthew Fisher 5. Birtley also have Damon Reaks in their side, a young lad who played a game or 2 for Town in pre-season 2012.

Town's goals have been shared around the team this season with Anderson leading the way on 7 and defender Grant Hickman just one behind. Darren Kokes will be looking to add his goal at the weekend while Graham Caygill and Danny McLachlan also offer pace and energy up front.


On paper there looks to be very little between the sides, although Birtley's lofty league position seems to be build on their solid home form with 20 of their 24 points being picked up at home. They are a good young side but perhaps lack the necessary experience to get a result on a cold midweek game away at one of the promotion favourites.

Town look to have got their own home form back on track after a poor run and apart from a twenty minute spell at Jarrow on Saturday, have been playing well in recent weeks. They now have a settled side and have finally started to gel. However, they are still likely to concede goals and that is something that could prove costly.


Town should be too strong for a young Birtley side, although the first goal will be crucial. If Town start as they did on Saturday and get in front, a good win could be on the cards. But give Birtley a sniff and it could be difficult night.

However, I expect Town to come out on top after what is sure to be a tight encounter. 3-1 Town, with a late breakaway goal to seal it.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Jarrow Roofing 4 Town 2

Town's roof collapses in mad twenty minutes

By Ricky Butler at Boldon CA Sports Ground

NORTHALLERTON TOWN'S great week came to a disappointing conclusion as a mad twenty minute spell midway through the first half cost them the chance of a third straight victory.

After a strong start which had seen Colin Anderson give Town an early lead, Peter Mulcaster's side fell apart as goals from Andy Appleby, James Marshall and a Paul Gardner brace ended the match as a contest before half time.

Town rallied in the second period and pulled a goal back with a late header from Darren Kokes - his 4th of the season - but the match had already been lost in that costly first half collapse.

"We were absolutely woeful for the second half of the first half and that has cost us the game," said Mulcaster at the whistle. "After such a bright start we were dreadful for twenty minutes. Bad defending, bad work rate, bad everything.

"We had words at half time, asked them to do one or two things, and we were far better in the second half but we couldn't pull it back.

"Yes, the second goal did come far too late to give us a chance. We said at half time 'lets get one early' but that didn't happen, although lets remember they are a quality side."

But Town have done quite well against quality sides this season, drawing at North Shields last month and beating Seaham Red Star in midweek. Indeed, the only change to the side from that midweek victory saw Kokes come in for the now departed Chris Dickinson up front, and the new found confidence was clear from the off.

In one of the great Northern League grounds - although oddly for a club named after and sponsored by a roofing company, one where all the stand roofs leak in the rain - Town could have gone ahead as early as the 6th minute. Graham Caygill turned smartly on the edge of the Roofing penalty area and beat goalkeeper Dan Regan but the ball came back off the left-hand upright.

That just delayed the inevitable however, as the visitors fast start was rewarded just three minutes later. Anderson, who was already having some joy down the right-hand side, cut into the penalty area before firing past Regan from 15 yards.

But the turning point arrived soon after. Gav Parkin was initially denied by a fine save from Regan although the rebound fell to kindly for Kokes, 8 yards out. It looked for all the world as though he would score but the former Esh Winning man somehow fired over the top and what should have 2-0 quickly became 1-1.

A poor clearance from goalkeeper Alex Kell fell to Dean Nicholson on the left and his cross was headed home by former Hartlepool striker Appleby from the edge of the 6 yard box. Town again punished for a momentary lapse of concentration.

Mulcaster's side responded well to conceding, however, and could have regained the lead within five minutes. Again Anderson was causing all the problems down the right and when he slipped in Kokes, only another fine save from Regan kept the scores level.

But Town's hopes of a third win in week were shattered as the Roofers rattled in three goals in 15 minutes to seal the points before the break. Marshall made it 2-1 in the 22nd minute with a strong run and good finish from 20 yards, before Gardner followed up to score after Kell had pushed out a shot from Appleby, 12 minutes later.

Town were stunned and perhaps that explains the static defending which allowed Gardner to fire home his second from 8 yards via the underside of the crossbar within 30 seconds. But while 4-1 at half time may not have been a fair reflection of the game as a whole up to that point, it was harsh lesson for Town. The fact is the better sides in this league will punish mistakes and Jarrow had done that in emphatic fashion.

The second half was always going to be difficult for the hosts. Should they stick or twist. Well in the end the decision was made for them by a very determined Town performance. Right from the start, Mulcaster's men carried the game to the Roofers but for all their territorial dominance, clear cut opportunities were few and far between.

Roofing defender and captain Dan Kirkup is a big unit and with centre back partner Anthony Myers also in impressive form, it is easy to see why they have been so hard to beat this season.

Kokes, who was having no luck whatsoever in front of goal, saw a 71st minute effort cleared off the line by Ian Dixon. Meanwhile Anderson headed a Parkin free kick just over the top and in-form Stephen Banks failed to repeat his 30 yard wonder goal from Wednesday night.

But Town deserved to make the final score closer and they did so with six minutes remaining. Again it was a set-piece delivery from Parkin that created the opportunity and Kokes finally got the better of Regan with a neat, close-range header.

It was, however, too little too late.

"We had 12 corners in the second half and they didn't have any" said Mulcaster. "70 per cent of the play was in their half. But it was too late. We had already thrown it away.

"It's disappointing but it happens sometimes. We had words at half time and they went out and did exactly what they were asked to do."

Town have no time to lick their wounds as they face high-flying Birtley Town at the Calvert Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Mulcaster, who temporarily forgot the name of his sides next opponents, said: "That will be another tough game. I have watched them already this season and they are a good, young side with several lads from the Gateshead Academy so it will another test for us."

Kick off at the Calvert Stadium, for what is sure to be another exciting game, is 7.30pm.

JARROW ROOFING - Regan, Carson, Davison, Dixon, Myers, Kirkup, Marshall, Gardner, McBryde, Appleby, Nicholson. Subs - Young, Reay, Chapin, McDonald, Robson.

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

REFEREE - P. Osgood


Peter Mulcaster speaks after Jarrow defeat

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Town into top 3 with a Star performance

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

Gav Parkin and Dale Elgie celebrate Town's second goal against Seaham Red Star last night
NORTHALLERTON Town jumped into the top 3 with a superb performance against promotion favourites Seaham Red Star at the Calvert Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Peter Mulcaster's side were on top from the start as a first half header from Grant Hickman and late goals from Gav Parkin and Steve Banks - his second in four days - sealed a comprehensive victory.

"What I will say is that since I joined the club in March that is by far the best performance by a million miles," said Mulcaster at the whistle. "Against a howling wind in the first half we played brilliant football and looked by far the better side.

"Another Gav free kick gave Grant his 6th goal of the season to take us into half time 1-0 up. The second half for the first 20 minutes or so was even, but then we upped the anti and played some great stuff again, with Gav scoring, and then Banksy putting a twenty yard screamer in the bag.

"There are many reasons why this happened but the main one is the togetherness of the players and the new found spirit in the dressing room. Saturday is another toughie, but with two good performances under our belt, who knows."

The Town starting XI was the same which had beaten Brandon United 4-0 at the weekend, so there was another start for young Mikey Stevens down the left, while York City loanee Chris Dickinson was playing the last match of his loan spell.

Meanwhile, former Town striker Jamie Clarke, who only left a fortnight ago, was in the Seaham side, who began the day in the top 3.

But it was Town that started brightly and they could have been ahead as early as the fourth minute when Dale Elgie's shot was finely tipped over the bar by Seaham goalkeeper Shaun Newbrook. From the resulting corner, Dickinson's shot was cleared off the line. Dickinson then had a free-kick that went well over the bar a couple of minutes later.

The next chance fell to Graham Caygill in the 8th minute after good work from Mikey Stevens down the left, but his shot curled into the grateful arms of Newbrook.

Seaham's first attempt at goal came midway through the first half, when Alex Francis shot just wide, while a flick from Josh Allan was well held by goalkeeper Alex Kell, three minutes later.

In the 26th minute the Seaham keeper produced a fine double save firstly from Caygill and then Dickinson's follow up shot as he was single-handedly keeping the visitors in the game.

Town really stepped up the pressure as half time approached. Col Anderson's 35th minute cross from the right was headed over the top by Dickinson but the breakthrough arrived just four minutes later.

In a combination that has brought them many goals already this season, a trademark Parkin free-kick found the head Hickman who powerfully beat Newbrook from 8 yards.

Town could have doubled their lead before half-time too, but the Seaham goalkeeper was again at his best to save from both Caygill and Anderson.

The second half followed a similar pattern. Just seconds after the kick off, Elgie's dipping shot was well held by Newbrook, who was brought into action again when a Dickinson chip went straight into his arms.

Clarke, who had been quite on his return to the Calvert Stadium, finally had a shot at goal just after the hour-mark but Kell did well to save his effort.

That was a rare foray forward from the visitors however, as Town continued their earlier dominance. Caygill came close to doubling their advantage after a great change of pace sent him clear of the Seaham defence, but Newbrook again denied him.

The best chance for the visitors arrived in the 68th minute when Clarke was put through, but he was unable to mark his return with a goal as his shot was high and wide of the goal.

However, Newbrook was by far the busier goalkeeper and he produced another stunning save by denying Anderson at point blank range on 73 minutes.

But it looked as though Mulcaster's side would be made to pay for their profligacy three minutes later. Seaham defender Daniel Gray found himself in acres of space in the penalty area, but with only Kell to beat he scuffed his shot well wide and that proved to be the turning point.

With five minutes remaining, captain fantastic Parkin made it 2-0 with a wonder goal when his curling volley flew into the bottom left corner giving Newbrook no chance.

Banks then signed, sealed and delivered the victory in stoppage time with a buccaneering 20-yard run before unleashing a 30-yard thunderbolt into the top right-hand corner -  his second goal in four days after going over 2 years without one.

With confidence well and truly restored, Town can now travel to Jarrow Roofing on Saturday looking to continue this great run of form. After the doom and gloom that surrounded the club a couple of weeks ago the turn around has been quite remarkable.

Of course it is still early days but Mulcaster's side have shown they have the quality and, more importantly, the character to be serious promotion contenders this season.

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

SEAHAM RED STAR- Newbrook, Donaldson, Gray, Allan, McCabe, Thorp, Reay, Francis, Clarke, North, Malley. Subs - Laidler, Short, McKeown.

REFEREE: M. Andrews 


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Seaham Red Star stat attack

NORTHALLERTON Town meet promotion favourites Seaham Red Star at the Calvert Stadium tomorrow evening and here we bring you all the stats you need.

Last season;

Seaham Red Star finished 10th in Division Two, winning 19 matches, drawing 8 and losing 15. They scored  86 goals and conceded 85.

Town finished 6th with 23 wins, 8 draws and 11 defeats. Town scored 101 goals and conceded 63.

Town won both league meetings between the sides last season with a goal difference of 9-4. The match at the Calvert Stadium in September ended in a 5-2 Town success. Alan Pegram gave the visitors an early lead but goals from Carl Chillingsworth(2), Steve Butterworth, Adam Emson and Gav Parkin sealed the points before Pegram grabbed a late consolation.

The match at Stockton Road in February brought a 4-2 Town win. Again it was Seaham that scored first early on, this time through Sean Sweeney, but a brace from Emson and 2 penalties from Danny Shoulder gave Town the points. Pegram then grabbed a second for Seaham.

Previous meetings;

Town and Seaham have met 42 times in the league since the first meeting in the 1982-83 season with Town winning 15, Seaham 19 and 8 draws.

The fixture has generally tended to favour the away side over the years as Seaham has won 12 of their 21 visits to the Calvert Stadium and lost only 5. On the other hand, Town has won 10 of their 21 visits to Stockton Road and lost just 7.

In recent years the fixture has produced a lot of goals. Seaham's last 3 visits to the Calvert have seen 19 goals, 12 in Town's favour, while the match at Seaham in the 2010-11 season finished in a 4-4 draw.

Current form;

Seaham arrive at the Calvert in third place, but was surprisingly beaten 2-1 at home by Whickham last weekend - their second defeat in a row, having lost 2-0 at Darlington RA in the Ernest Armstrong Cup the previous mid-week. Prior to that Seaham had won their previous three league matches, including an impressive 1-0 victory at the previously unbeaten leaders North Shields.

Seaham have lost only twice away from home in the league this season, at Jarrow Roofing in August and West Allotment Celtic in September.

Town, who currently sit in 5th place, ended a poor run with a 4-0 win over Brandon United on Saturday, although this was this their first home win in five, since a 6-0 victory over Esh Winning in late August.

Town have lost twice at home in the league this season, against Heaton Stannington and Chester-Le-Street on consecutive Saturday's in September. Town have not a mid-week home game since a 4-0 defeat by Jarrow Roofing in March.

Players to watch;

Seaham has one of the most potent attacking forces in the league, with Adam Johnson and Sean Reay now joined by former Town striker Jamie Clarke. Johnson has scored 17 times already this season, while Reay has 5 and Clarke 10, although 9 of these were scored for Town. Meanwhile, Channon North is another player to watch.

Town may have lost their leading scorer to Seaham and winger Jason Brazauskas to Tow Law Town, but they are still amongst the leading scorers in the league. Col Anderson has scored 6 so far, while Danny McLachlan has 4 and Graham Caygill 3. Chris Dickinson, on loan from York City, has only scored once so far but he did create all 4 goals on Saturday and will be determined to end his current loan spell in style. Young Mikey Stevens scored twice on Saturday in only his second start so will be looking to continue that fine form, while Town's threat also comes from central defender Grant Hickman who has scored 5 times this season.


Seaham will be looking to end a run of two defeats and get their promotion push back on track, while Town come into the game with confidence restored following victory last Saturday.

While it is too early in the season to call it a promotion decider, there is no doubt it is a vital match for both sides and neither will want to lose ground with defeat to a rival.

There are several sub-plots too. Jamie Clarke returns to the Calvert just 2 weeks after leaving Town for Seaham, while it also marks the last game of Chris Dickinson's loan spell at Town from York City.


This one is a very tough one to call. Seaham's good record at the Calvert may go in their favour, but Town will  have a point to prove and are desperate for a home win against one of the 'big boys.'

Seaham have the fire power and experience to cause Town problems while Town will be dangerous on the break and have youth on their side, so I can see it being a real humdinger of a match.

Ever the optimist, I will go for a 3-2 Town victory, although I would not be surprised if it finished with honours even. Either way it is definitely a game not to be missed.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Dickinson is four-midable as Town bounce back in style

By Town Crier at the Calvert Stadium

NORTHALLERTON TOWN ended their poor recent run in fine style as an early brace from Mikey Stevens and further goals from Graham Caygill and Steve Banks gave them a comfortable victory over Brandon United on Saturday.

Without a win in three matches, and only one from their previous seven, Town was desperately in need of a good performance in front of their home fans ahead of a big week for the club, and thanks to a master class from York City loanee Chris Dickinson, they were able to do just that.

Although not on the score-sheet himself, Dickinson created all four goals to show exactly why he has an exciting future in the game. It is just a shame for Peter Mulcaster's side that it will lay away from the Calvert Stadium.

The first-year pro will return to York following Wednesday's game against Seaham Red Star, although Mulcaster is hoping to get the teenager back for another loan spell later in the season. And after this performance it is easy to see why.

"I am very pleased," said the Town boss at the whistle. "Especially the first half. It is always good to get a goal in 25 seconds and that set the tone for the game.

"I was very, very pleased with young Mikey (Stevens) who came in and Chris Dickinson. We won 4-0 and he made all 4 goals. Those two were very good but I thought Dale Elgie and Gavin (Parkin) played very well today. Moving Danny Shoulder back into the heart of the defence was another good thing for us."

But this was all about Dickinson, who was simply unstoppable. He created the opening goal for Stevens after just 25 seconds, possibly the quickest goal in the Northern League this season. Banks fed the York loanee down the right and when Brandon goalkeeper Carl Morris was unable to hold his shot, Stevens arrived at the far post for a simple tap-in.

It was a great start for an under-pressure Town and it led to a dominate display. Stevens, who was making only his second start for the first team in place of the suspended Jason Brazauskas, could not have dreamt of a better home debut.

Not content with one goal, the young winger scored again just 19 minutes later with an almost carbon copy strike. Dickinson this time drilled the ball across the six yard box and Stevens arrived at the far post to fire home again.

Any lingering nerves were now gone as Town began to knock the ball around with a renewed confidence. And they added a third, seven minutes before the break. Caygill, relishing his latest opportunity up front, released strike-partner Dickinson through the centre and after Morris had denied him again, Caygill followed up to slot home.

Ironically in a week when many Town fans had been calling for more local players to be included in the team, it was the goals of Academy graduates Stevens and Caygill that had sent Town in at half time with a comfortable advantage.

Inevitably Town's intensity dropped in the second period but they were still in complete control and added a fourth just before the hour. Banks, who of the current squad had played the most games without finding the target, finally broke his duck.

He started the move on the halfway line before playing a lovely 1-2 with Dickinson on the edge of the area. Suddenly the right back found himself one-on-one with Morris and he showed all the finishing instincts of a striker to place the ball into the corner of the net. 4-0 and 4 assists for the outstanding Dickinson.

Brandon, who were unfortunate to be on the wrong end of the Town backlash, kept their heads up and almost scored a consolation in the closing stages. Luke Wilson was denied by goalkeeper Alex Kell before Andrew Blackburn fired wide from close range after a right wing cross from substitute Ben Watson.

But this was to be Town's, and Dickinson's, day.

"I am a bit disappointed I could not get one myself," said the York loanee at the whistle. "But as long as the team won and have improved from last week then that is the best thing.

All the lads were pumped from the start. I got a new warm up from York for the lads and it seemed to work tremendously today.

"Being at Northallerton has improved me. My strength and all round game has improved a lot, I just need to get a couple more goals.

"But I'll take the 4 assists back to York and hopefully get a bit of praise. I'll save the goals for Wednesday night."

Meanwhile, Mulcaster was slightly disappointed his side were not more ruthless in the second half. He said: "We did take our foot off the pedal in the second half and sometimes I get quite annoyed.

No disrespect to whoever we are playing but you want to go and score more goals. We didn't and we were sloppy, and they had one or two good chances at the end."

Looking ahead to a big week where Town face fellow-promotion candidates Seaham and Jarrow Roofing, Mulcaster added: "We are now playing two of the teams who I think will be promoted at the end of the season but we can go into it with confidence.

Everybody was on a downer but we had a good training session in the week, we spoke about one or two things and I could feel there was a willingness in the lads today that had been missing in the last two games."

 NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Kell, Banks, Porritt, Hickman, Shoulder, Parkin, Anderson, Elgie, Caygill, Dickinson, Stevens. Subs - Colman, Holliday, Kokes.

BRANDON UNITED - Morris, Guy, Clarey, Oakley, Wilson(A), Jackson, Harrison, Hamilton, Bischuk, Blackburn, Wilson(L). Subs - Spence, Watson, Soulsby, Soppitt, Peterkin.



Northallerton Town 4 Brandon United 0

Exclusive Chris Dickinson interview

Exclusive Stephen Banks interview

Peter Mulcaster on the win over Brandon United

Northallerton Town vs. Brandon United half time

Northallerton Town vs. Brandon United - Team News

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Brandon United stat attack

NORTHALLERTON TOWN face Brandon United at the Calvert Stadium this weekend and here we bring you all the essential stats.

Last season;

Brandon United finished 18th in Division Two with 10 wins, 11 draws and 21 defeats. They scored 55 goals and conceded 93. They also had 3 points deducted so finished on 38 points from their 42 games.

Town finished 6th with 23 wins, 8 draws and 11 defeats, scoring 101 goals and conceding 63.

Both league between the sides last season ended in home victories. Northallerton won the game at the Calvert Stadium in September 4-2 thanks to goals from Marcus Laing, a Carl Chillingsworth brace and a strike from Adam Emson. Ryan Readman and Stephen Moody replied for Brandon.

The match at Welfare Ground in January finished in a 2-1 victory for the hosts during a poor run for Town. Chillingsworth was again on target, giving Town a 47th minute lead, but Brandon hit back with strikes from Glen Hendrix and Andrew Blackburn to grab the points.

Previous meetings;

Northallerton Town have met Brandon United 26 times in the league with Town winning 13, Brandon 8 and 5 draws.

Brandon's win last January was the first time they had beaten Town in the league since the 1999-2000 season when they did the double, winning both games 1-0.

Probably the most memorable meeting between the sides was on the opening day of the 2011-12 season when the match ended in a 5-5 draw!

Town's biggest win over Brandon is 6-1 in the 1991-92 season, while Brandon's biggest victory in this fixture is 2-0 in 1993-94.

Current form;

Brandon arrive at the Calvert Stadium in 15th place but have won their last 2 away games. They beat Whitehaven 2-1 in the league on September 21 before winning by the same score at Norton & Stockton in the League Cup three days later. They also won away from home at Tow Law Town in August and Esh Winning in September. Brandon's home form is not so good with only one win so far, 7-0 against Washington. Brandon were beaten 5-1 at home by Whitehaven last Saturday.

Town are not enjoying the best of form at the moment with only one in 6 games and none from the last 4 at home. In fact you have to go back to August 24 for the last time Town won at home, 6-0 against Esh Winning. Last weekend, Town lost 4-2 against Chester-Le-Street, and in fact since beating the same opponents in October of last year, Town have won just 4 times at home on a Saturday.

Players to watch;

Brandon's goals have been spread around this season with Matthew Harrison and Steve Wilson both on 6, Andrew Blackburn on 5 and Mark Brischuk on 3.

Having lost leading scorer Jamie Clarke to Seaham Red Star, Town's main threat up front now looks to be Col Anderson with 6 goals so far, while Danny McLachlan has 4. York loanee Chris Dickinson got off the mark last Saturday so more goals are expected from him, while Darren Kokes is back from suspension.


Town's home form has been a cause for concern in recent weeks but there is no doubt they have the quality to get back to winning ways. However, this game has now taken on massive importance as the pressure starts to build.

Brandon have been perennial strugglers in recent years but have shown positive signs away from home over the last few weeks.


Nothing less than a victory will be good enough for Town so it is going to be how well they respond to the pressure. Brandon can play with freedom and will be looking to exploit the lack of confidence in the home ranks.

This is a game where the first goal is going to be so important. If Town get it and go in front I can see them winning comfortably but if they go behind, as they have done in each of the last 3 home matches, it could be another long afternoon for the home faithful.

However, with a point to prove, I think Town will get back on track with a good performance and a 4-1 victory, but then I am biased...