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


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