Hebburn Town Versus Northallerton Town
Saturday 6th January Kick Off 3.00PM
Hebburn Town faced the stiffest of challenges with their first game of 2018 when they faced the Northern League’s Second Division leaders Northallerton Town at Hebburn Sports Ground. With adverse weather conditions causing the postponement of many local football games, Groundsman Tony Robinson and volunteers from the football club committee had worked almost until the kick off to make sure the game would be played. Nevertheless. Parts of the pitch were very wet and would certainly cut up as the game progressed.
With players leaving the club and injuries, Scott Oliver had a reduced playing squad to pick from, however, there were welcome returns from Scott Wallace, Callum Smith, and Rhys Williams and Dan Robinson, recently signed from Heaton Stannington, was making his full home debut.
Hebburn Town had ended 2017 with a run of poor performances which had seen them drop from second place at one stage to seventh and although facing stern competition were eager to turn this around.
The Hornets certainly started in fine fashion and in the early stages, fine linking play between Wallace and Shaw and long throw-ins from Stuart Bramley were putting the away side under pressure. After 11 minutes a tremendous throw by Bramley was not cleared by the Northallerton defence and Gary Shaw was on hand to despatch a firm drive past the keeper to open the scoring.
Shortly after, Craig Malley, playing wide right in the midfield four, met a cross but his firm header cleared the bar; in the 18th minute Gary Shaw almost scored a second when he broke clear of the Northallerton defence but was thwarted by a last ditch save as he tried to round Tom Dawson in the Northallerton goal.
Although in the lead and playing well throughout the team, it was certainly not one-way traffic, and the Hornets were facing a stiff challenge in a very competitive game against a good Northallerton side. The Yorshiremen were very quick on the break as they released their speedy striker Nicky Martin. After 25 minutes only a tremendous save from Steve Hubery prevented Northallerton from levelling the scores, as he arched his body to tip a powerful header from eight yards by Chris Dickinson, over the cross bar.
Northallerton were winning a number of corners and from one of these a shot was fired through a crowded box but was grasped on the line by Hubery.
In an end-to-end game the final quarter of an hour of the half saw chances at both ends; a fine through ball by Craig Malley found Dan Robinson who drove the ball narrowly over the top and immediately the away team struck back and another excellent save by Hubery kept the Hornets in front as he flung himself to his left to turn a solid shot round the upright.
Two minutes later, the Hornets almost doubled their score when Craig Malley planted a firm header against the post from eight yards with the keeper stranded. After 42 minutes it was Northallerton striker Martin’s turn to be unlucky; the ball looked to be heading over the bye line when he cleverly struck an overhead kick against the post.
In the final minute of the first period only excellent covering work by Peter Jones prevented a goal scoring opportunity and then Ross Toward, who had just replaced the injured skipper Iain Bickerstaff, headed a goal bound effort over his own goal to ensure the Hornets left the field in the lead.
An end-to-end very competitive first half with the Hornets holding a narrow advantage over the league leaders, with a solid performance throughout the team, with Hebburn’s back four of Bramley, Williams. Donaghy and Wallace particularly impressive.
This performance would continue in the second half and the Hornets became stronger as the game progressed. In the first move of the half a fine run and cross by Robinson found Shaw in the clear but the wingers shot was saved by the keeper diving to his right.
On the hour Callum Smith, having a fine game in midfield, fired over the bar from the edge of the box but the Hornets would not be denied for much longer. The pass of the game, a driven 35 yard ball was collected superbly by Gary Shaw in the box and his drive from 12 yards beat the keeper to double his tally and give the Hornets a 2-0 advantage.
Northallerton were still very much in the game, as they brought on their substitutes, but Hebburn’s back four and midfield stood up to any pressure and in the final minutes could have extended their lead. Paul Chow, who had come on as substitute from Dan Robinson brought a great save from the keeper with a strong header at the near post and this was followed by another effort from Shaw which was well saved.
A great start to the New Year by the Hornets, doing the double over the league leaders. Both teams deserve great credit for providing good entertaining football on a very heavy pitch. The Referee and his Assistants also deserve a lot of credit for letting the game flow in difficult conditions.
|1. Hubery Steven Michael|
|2. Craig Mally|
|3. Scott Wallace|
|4. Iain Bickerstaff|
|5. Rhys John David Williams|
|6. Jack Donaghy|
|7. Callum Smith|
|12. Gary Shaw||GoalGoal|
|17. Samuel Stuart Bramley|
|45. Peter Jones|
|9. Paul John Chow|
|17. Christopher Feasey|
|18. Christopher Douglas||Sub2|
|44. Jonathen Robin Wightman|
|50. Ross Toward||Sub4|