Thursday, 3 April 2014

'Unacceptable' Town hang on for scrappy Ryton victory

By Ricky Butler at the Calvert Stadium

TWO first half goals from Colin Anderson, his 16th and 17th of the season, were just enough to give Northallerton Town a first home victory of 2014. But the performance against bottom side Ryton & Crawcrook Albion will not live long in the memory.

In fact so poor were Town in the second half that manager Peter Mulcaster described the performance as 'unacceptable' and 'the worst since I returned to the club.'

Yet things had started so well. Twice in the opening 25 minutes, Anderson was the beneficiary of quality deliveries into the box; first from Chris Burton and then Gav Parkin. But after having to reorganise following a nasty head injury to Craig Perry, Town never got going in the second half and they were forced to hang on at the end after David Backhouse's fine 65th minute strike.

Despite a second successive victory, however, Mulcaster could not hide his disappointment. He said: "To be honest we were garbage. That is the worst second half performance since I came to the club. There was no quality there, there was no willingness to win anything, and all round it was not acceptable.

"It was the lack of willingness to work hard that was the first and foremost thing. I am just thankful we were able to hold on."

Mulcaster was without Saturday's two-goal hero Dale Elgie, while Martin Butterworth and Mark Hemingway were also both unavailable. So Andrew Porritt, Darren Kokes and Mikey Stevens all returned to the side, while Ryan Hodgson was back in goal having missed the weekend victory at Thornaby. Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsbottom returned from illness to take his place on the bench alongside Mike Colman.

After a bright start from bottom side Ryton, Town soon took control and they were unfortunate not to go ahead inside 10 minutes. Stevens did well down the left and Danny McLachlan saw his effort from close range come back off the underside of the crossbar.

But the opening goal was not long in arriving. Just four minutes later, Parkin sent Burton clear down the left, he beat full-back Alex Robinson before crossing for Anderson to score with a spectacular diving header.

And it looked set to be a comfortable evening when Town doubled their advantage 10 minutes later. Parkin whipped in one of his customary corners from the right and Anderson, who had scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, arrived to flick home a header at the near post.

But that was about as good as it got for Mulcaster's men. An injury to Craig Perry, who was left with a nasty lump on his head that required hospital treatment following a clash with Ryton's Josh Holland, led to a re-organisation and a switch back to 4-4-2 for the second half. However, Town just never got going after the restart.
It has been a difficult season for Ryton but they are a young side with bags of pace and energy, and they finally began to enjoy themselves. A comeback that had appeared so unlikely in the first half suddenly looked possible midway through the second period.
Following a sustained spell of Albion pressure, Backhouse drilled home a fine effort from 25 yards and for the second time in four days Town were forced to hang on for a win they really ought to have seen out far more comfortably.

In the closing stages Albion enjoyed a lot of possession and a succession of corners but they were unable to create many clear-cut opportunities and it finished 2-1.

Mulcaster said: "Give credit to [Ryton}.They are just local footballers, no disrespect to them, but they stuck at it and they were the better side in the second half, there is no two ways about it.

"Yes, we won and every now and again you say we played well and lost, and I've felt happier than I do tonight because it's the performance that matters."

Next up Town is a tough trip on Saturday to promotion-chasing Heaton Stannington, where the performance will need to be much better that this if they are to come away with a third consecutive victory.

TOWN - Hodgson - One of the few to come out of the night with any credit. His handling was generally sound and made one or two decent saves. 8/10

Ramsbottom (An) - Another solid game at the back for Ramma. 7/10

Stevens - Started well down the left but faded in the second half along with many of his team-mates. 6/10

Perry - Looked solid at the back again until a nasty head injury forced him off just before the break. 7/10

Hickman - Two wins since he returned to the side says a lot about his influence. Rarely put a foot wrong throughout. 8/10

Kokes - Back in the side in midfield but failed to find any rhythm. Hobbled off in the second half and that really summed up his night. 6/10

Anderson - Still not 100% fit but once again got the goals that mattered. Man of the match. 8/10

Parkin - Started well but like many others he hardly got a kick in the second half. 6/10

Burton - Played well in the first half, and his part in the first goal was crucial, but was largely anonymous after the break. 7/10

McLachlan - Did not get any kind of service up front and seemed more effective in a wider role in the second half. 7/10

Porritt - Outstanding in midfield in the first half and was solid and strong at right back in the second. Ran Anderson and Hodgson close for man of the match. 8/10

SUBS - Ramsbottom (Aa) - Replaced Perry at half time but struggled to make any impact. 6/10

Colman - Came on for Kokes late on, and on a difficult night for the forwards, never got into the game. 6/10

RYTON & CRAWCROOK - Gillespie, Robinson, Shickle, Backhouse, Christowski, Turnbull, Holland, Shanks, Sinclair, Gunn, Hodges (P). SUBS - McGill, Peacock, Phillips, Brown, Hodges (J).

REFEREE - K. Beckett


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