Wednesday, 20 November 2013

South Shields - post-match analysis and player ratings

TOWN'S love affair with the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup shows no sign of losing its spark as last night's superb 6-2 win at South Shields illustrated.

Having reached the final of this competition in each of the last two seasons, Town are clearly determined to make it a hat-trick judging by the commitment shown by what was a much-changed side.

With big players like skipper Gav Parkin, Danny Shoulder, Stephen Banks and Freddie Huscroft all missing, it looked like being a long night for the small army of Town followers who had braved the freezing conditions.

But the side, with six Academy lads in the squad, showed exactly what they are all about with a performance of great character to come away with a thrilling victory and a place in the quarter finals.

Three of the starting XI were making their debuts. Goalkeeper Jordan Aspinall and defender Mark Hemingway both stepped up from the Academy while striker Richie Playforth was playing for the first time following his switch from Redcar Athletic last week.

But while all three produced exciting performances, it was the debut of substitute Dan Baxter that really caught the eye. The 25-year old striker, who has struck over 20 times this season for the Academy, scored with his first touch after coming off the bench and then added a second with his next. The stuff of dreams.

In fact he could have had a hat-trick with possibly the least amount of touches ever recorded in a game had he converted a late Colin Anderson cross, but after missing the easiest of the 3 chances, redemption was afforded by Playforth who followed up to complete the scoring.

With the side perhaps feeling the pressure of challenging at the top of the league in recent weeks, it was refreshing to see them play with a freedom that has been missing lately.

South Shields offered a stern test. Colin White must have the longest throw in the Northern League and he used it to great effect. But Town defended well, with young Hemingway impressive alongside stand-in skipper Grant Hickman against the giants in the Shields team.

Aspinall also shone on his debut. An early save to deny Kyle Houshby settled any pre-match nerves and it led to a dominate display from the Welshman. He may have been slightly disappointed to have conceded two goals from set-pieces but when you take into account the height difference between the sides and the fact that the Mariners had around 25 corners and throw ins throughout the match, it was a good effort.

Manager Peter Mulcaster had complained of a lack of cutting edge after Saturday's 3-3 draw with Willington, but he could have no such worries here. Playforth not only scored one and helped create three others, he was a constant threat and linked the play extremely well.

He had been impressive in Redcar Athletic's 3-2 victory at the Calvert Stadium 10 days ago and he appears to have settled in to life at Northallerton very smoothly.

But the most pleasing aspect of the performance was that once again the goals came from all over the pitch. Anderson moved clear of Darren Kokes as the club's leading goal-scorer with his 11th of the season while Hickman scored for the 7th time.

It has been a criticism that not enough goals have come from midfield, but after Parkin scored at the weekend, Dale Elgie did likewise here to show an improvement in that area. But with the likes of Graham Caygill and now Baxter coming off the bench, goals are certainly not a problem for this side; 68 in just 26 games emphasises that point.

So all-in-all a very good night's work. While promotion clearly remains the priority there is little doubt that another good cup run will keep the season ticking over nicely. And who knows, another cup final appearance could well be on the cards come May. Judging by the performance last night, you certainly would not bet against it.


1. Jordan Aspinall - A solid debut. A good early save settled him down and he made very few mistakes. Communicated well with his defence even if they probably did not understand a word he was saying. 8/10

2. Andrew Porritt - Looks far more comfortable at right back. Put in a good shift, made some important tackles and used the ball well. Last game for a while before flying to America at the weekend. He will be missed. 7/10

3. Christian Holliday - Not able to utilise his pace going forward as much from the left back position but worked hard throughout. 7/10

4. Grant Hickman - Is there a better centre half in the league? The stand-in skipper led by example, winning more than his fair share of headers and popping up with a trademark headed goal. Standard. 9/10

5. Mark Hemingway - Brought in from the Academy in an unfamiliar centre back role and was outstanding. Despite his height disadvantage against the big Shields attack, he was impressive in the air and showed great tenacity in the tackle. Impressive debut. 9/10

6. Dale Elgie - Doesn't always get the credit he deserves. Worked extremely hard in the middle of the park, breaking up the play, but also passed the ball well at times. Scored the all-important opening goal. Should be happy with his night's work. 8/10

7. Colin Anderson - The most naturally gifted player in the league can be frustrating at times but when on song he is simply unplayable. Not his best game perhaps but still a constant threat, scoring one and created numerous other opportunities. Picked up a silly booking early on but has clearly learned from the sending off at Alnwick and did not react after that. 7/10

8. Darren Kokes - Not as effective in midfield as he is in attack, although he stuck at the task well and worked extremely hard, as always. Took over set-piece duties in the absence of Gav Parkin and helped to create two of the goals. Took a knock early on and was substituted in the second half. 7/10

9. Richie Playforth - A very impressive debut. Scored, helped create three of the other goals and looked a threat throughout. Held the ball up well to relive the pressure and added that little bit of quality in the final third. Looks a great addition to the squad. 9/10

10. Danny McLachlan - Seems to be suffering from a lack of confidence in front of goal at the moment but put in another hard working display. Unlucky not to score with a fine curling effort in the first half and was instrumental in many of the best attacking moves. 7/10

11.Mikey Stevens - Lively in the first half but got very little change from the right back all night. Faded slightly after the break and was substituted. 7/10

Subs -

14. Graham Caygill - A difficult night to come off the bench but once again made a positive impression. Always looked a threat and worked hard to create opportunities for himself, although he will perhaps be disappointed not to score in the move that led to the 4th goal. 7/10

13. Dan Baxter - What can you say? Pure Roy of the Rovers stuff. Scored with his first touch after coming on and then scored again with his second. A natural goal-scorer, Dan showed no nerves when the chances presented themselves and could even have had a hat-trick before the end. But as debuts go, they do not come much better than this. 10/10

12. Mike Colman - Was once again unused. N/A

No comments:

Post a Comment