Sunday, 13 April 2014

No drama this time as Town win at Willington

By Ricky Butler at Hall Lane

Highlights of this match can be viewed here

GOALS either side of the break from Danny McLachlan and Aaron Ramsbottom on Saturday secured a fourth win in five matches for a resurgent Northallerton Town at Willington.

McLachlan, who was sent off on his last visit here in September, headed home a Ramsbottom cross in the final minute of the first half before the two combined again for Ramsbottom to round goalkeeper David Moffatt and double the Town lead soon after the restart.

But a rather low-key encounter lacked any of the drama of their two previous meetings this season, which had seen 13 goals and three red cards, and manager Peter Mulcaster was just relived to come away with the points.

He said: "I think the best part of the game was the final whistle. It was a poor game to watch. The lads weren't happy with the way they played. We hardly strung any passes together but we won and that is the most important thing."

Mulcaster's team plans were ripped apart before kick off when Christian Holliday, who had scored twice in the midweek victory over South Shields, was stuck in traffic and had to replaced in attack by Darren Kokes. With top scorer Colin Anderson also unavailable, it meant a new-look front line as Ramsbottom was recalled, while Martin Butterworth replaced the absent Andrew Porritt in midfield.

After the immaculately observed minutes silence in tribute to the 96 football fans who died at Hillsborough 25 years ago this week, and against a Willington side who came into the match on the back of a five match unbeaten run, Town started well. Twice Grant Hickman came close while Butterworth, Dale Elgie and Gav Parkin all threatened.

But a disjointed first half looked to heading towards a goalless conclusion when Town grabbed a deserved lead with the final kick of the half. Ramsbottom beat the offside trap and his cross from the left was perfect for McLachlan to nod home from close range - his 10th goal of the season.

Missing players of the calibre of Adam Pinkney, Corey Nicholson and Adam Sakr, Willington looked a pale shadow of the side that had thrilled us all earlier in the season, but they did look far more dangerous at the start of the second half. Ryan Hodgson was forced into a fine save to deny Jason White while Liam Whitworth fired high and wide. But it was Town who doubled their lead 11 minutes after the restart.

McLachlan turned provider this time; winning the ball on the edge of the penalty area before feeding Ramsbottom with a clever flick, and the striker rounded Moffatt before slotting home his second goal since re-signing from Darlington RA last month.

Willington enjoyed far more possession after that but another solid defensive performance from Town kept them at bay and it finished 2-0. Mulcaster's side now need four points from their final two matches to secure a sixth place finish.

After a final home match of the season on Friday evening against neighbours Darlington RA, they face a final day showdown at Norton & Stockton Ancients, who currently sit sixth, one point ahead of Town but with just that one match remaining.

WILLINGTON - Moffatt, Goodey, Hillary, Lazonby, Weston, Cairns, Lee, Seymour, White, Cumby, Whitworth. SUBS - Patton, Clarey, Price, Milner.

TOWN - Hodgson - Did not have a great deal to do but was solid throughout. Made good saves in each half which proved crucial in the end. 8/10

Ramsbottom (An) - Limped off in the second half but had another steady game at the back. 7/10

Howlett - Has settled smoothly back into the side since returning from injury last week. 7/10

Hickman - Has been outstanding in recent weeks and was faultless once again. Won everything in the air and was unlucky not to add a goal of two to his tally. Man of the match. 9/10

Butterworth - Back from illness and worked hard in the middle of the park. 7/10

Elgie - In a midfield lacking its usual fluency, he failed to have his usual influence of proceedings. 7/10

McLachlan - One goal and one assist. Should be pleased with his day's work. 9/10

Parkin - Not his greatest game but did not stop working. Led by example. 7/10

Ramsbottom - Lively throughout. Played an important part in the opener and then took the second really well. 8/10

Kokes - A last minute replacement for Holliday and worked hard up front. 7/10

Gunnell - Another impressive display down the left. 8/10

SUBS - Hemingway - Replaced Gunnell and settled in quickly at left back. 7/10

Perry - Came on for Ramsbottom in an unfamiliar right back role and was cool and calm on the ball. 7/10

Holliday - Would have started had he not been stuck in traffic and found it hard to get into the match after replacing Elgie in the closing stages. 7/10

REFEREE - M. Hedley


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