Hebburn Sports & Social Ground – Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup First Round.
Attendance – 25.
Hebburn Town skated into the next round of the Brooks Mileson League Cup after a 4-3 victory over Whitehaven at the Hebburn Sports Ground, extending their winning run to three games in the process.
As second round games commenced, Hebburn, eventually, started their first round game after two previous attempts to play in Cumbria were postponed and then with the tie having been switched to South Tyneside, the visitors arrived 20 minutes before the 8pm start time, which itself had only been arranged late on having originally been scheduled for 7.45pm.
Whitehaven showed that the journey, in freezing fog and temperatures below zero, hadn’t left them cold and took just four minutes to take the lead. Darren Donald caught Callum Charlton dawdling on the ball and after zipping past him, the Whitehaven winger was fouled by Paul Wardle. Donald picked himself up to send over the free-kick and Matt Tymon glanced a header past Dan Regan.
Hebburn were on the attack soon afterwards and after working a great opportunity to get a strike on goal, Az Croft got under the ball and struck high from the edge of the box.
After nine minutes, the prolific Tony Stephenson equalised with a tremendous left-footed drive from 25-yards out. Stu Nicholson attacked the Whitehaven box but with the ball bobbling on the frosty pitch, he and the two chasing centre-backs were wrong-footed. Nicholson reacted quickly to turn back away from goal and towards the ball to slot a pass into Stephenson’s path who fired first time low past Stuart Pettitt in the ‘Haven goal.
Stephenson was denied a second goal moments later when Pettitt hesitated in collecting a bouncing through-ball. The Hebburn forward nipped to the ball quickest and headed it over the ‘keeper to net, only for the referee to wrongly whistle for handball, a decision which he later apologised to Hebburn for after realising he had made an error.
Sublime play by Paul Gardiner after 20 minutes did result in Hebburn gaining the lead, spinning his marker inside-out on the goal line before pulling the ball back for Stuart Nicholson to finish.
Whitehaven equalised on the half hour mark through a Kevin Connelly strike, well worked from a right-wing corner, before Tymon fired his team into the lead just after the interval, drilling a low shot past Regan from the edge of the box after Wardle failed to keep his footing on the pitch.
With the pitch freezing quickly, Hebburn managed to get warmed back up and Stephenson struck his second, and Hebburn’s third of the night after 69 minutes when he collected a forward pass from Jonny Davis to strike right footed past Pettitt from just inside the box.
With the game looking as though it would be heading into extra time, and a finish beyond 10.30pm, Stephenson completed his hat-trick to send the Hornets into the second round with just four minutes remaining. Lee Harrison curled a corner in from the right side and the ball eluded everyone until Stephenson nodded in at the back post to complete a perfect hat-trick.
With seconds left, Whitehaven almost equalised again when Pettitt punted a free-kick just inside his half. The equivalent of a Hail Mary move in American Football, with 21 players inside the Hebburn penalty area, almost came off as Regan failed to get near the ball when coming out to collect and Sam Smith nodded towards goal only for Gardiner to head off the line.
The win sets up an away tie for Hebburn against Northern League Division 2 leaders Ryhope CW before the winners of that game travel to Hillheads to face Whitley Bay.
|1. Dan Regan|
|2. Callum Charlton|
|3. Lee Harrison|
|4. Jonny Davis|
|5. Paul Wardle||Yellow Card|
|6. Chris Jewels|
|7. Stephen Forster|
|8. Paul Gardiner|
|9. Stuart Nicholson||Goal|
|9. Tony Stephenson||GoalGoalGoal|
|10. Aaron Croft|