Hebburn Sports & Social Ground – Ebac Northern League Division 1.
Attendance – 151.
Hebburn Town’s assistant manager Dean Nicholson hailed his side’s “unbelievable effort” that secured their first home league win of the season and brought Whitley Bay’s five match winning run crashing to a halt.
On a foggy evening at the Hebburn Sports Ground, the Hornets adjusted the better of the two teams to the conditions and an inspired tactical decision pre-match by manager Paul Bennett reaped dividends when centre-half Paul Wardle was deployed in a midfield enforcer position that saw the player deliver a man-of-the-match performance and open the scoring after 11 minutes.
With Wardle breaking down Bay’s usually precise passing from the opening whistle, the experienced defender then ventured forward and flicked on a left-wing Adam McGuinness throw-in at the front-post, turning to see the ball loop over visiting ‘keeper Kyle Hayes before rolling into the net off the back-post.
Hebburn had been fortunate three minutes earlier when Paul Chow collected a weak Dan Regan clearance 25-yards from goal and dispatched the ball low into the net. The assistant referee harshly flagged for handball against Chow, a decision that left the Bay forward still stunned after the final whistle.
Chow was then presented with another chance on the half-hour when he nodded a corner towards goal only to see the ball rebound off Callum Charlton’s head, strike the underside of the bar, before the Hebburn full-back gathered his wits and forced the ball away.
Yet even if Bay had taken the lead, it’s difficult to believe that Hebburn would not have gone on to win.
“We allowed Bay possession of the ball in the right areas of the pitch,” said Nicholson afterwards. “And when we got the ball, we went at them”. And the Hornets certainly did that, unsettling the away defence all evening and not allowing players time on the ball when they ventured near the home goal.
A Jonny Davis left-wing corner dropped in the centre of the box on 36 minutes and Dan Kirkup, in the middle of an almighty scramble of players, poked the ball back towards Paul Gardiner. After one touch, Gardiner then confidently fired through a gang of defenders to double Hebburn’s lead.
Hebburn then came charging out for the second-half – something that Bennett had called for before kick-off having watched his side drop points at home this season due to sloppy play after the interval.
Six minutes after the re-start, James Luccock collected the ball and immediately attacked his marker. After cutting inside, the flying winger then displayed great composure to slip the ball under the advancing Hayes to send the home fans into a state of excitement.
Things got even better after 56 minutes when Luccock and Davis moved the ball from left to right where Tony Stephenson was waiting unmarked. The Hebburn forward took one touch, drew Hayes into committing himself to a save before nonchalantly clipping the ball the opposite way to give the scoreline a defining look.
Despite Chow getting on the scoresheet three minutes later, tapping the ball home after Regan had pulled off a smart save low down from a long-range Paul Robinson effort, Wardle and the rest of his teammates soaked up the away side’s attacked and continued to cause danger on the break.
“We need to kick-on after this win,” added Nicholson afterwards. “We could be even better off in the table but we are definitely happy to be in the top half and we need to make sure that we do everything right at Bishop Auckland on Saturday. We know what kind of performances we can deliver – and we thoroughly deserved that win – but we will keep building.”
|1. Dan Regan|
|2. Callum Charlton|
|4. Jonny Davis|
|5. Paul Wardle||Goal|
|5. Dan Kirkup|
|6. Chris Jewels|
|7. Stephen Forster|
|8. Paul Gardiner||Goal|
|11. James Luccock||Goal|
|9. Tony Stephenson||Goal|
|7. Dean Walker|
|8. Scott Robson|
|10. Aaron Croft|