Blyth AFC Versus Hebburn Town
Saturday 13TH January Kick Off 3.00PM
Hebburn travelled through the Tyne tunnel on /Saturday to face promotion candidates Blyth AFC, hoping to stretch their 2018 winning run to three games after key victories over Northallerton Town and Thornaby. Both teams took to the field looking to lift their chances of promotion, with Blyth, “The Braves”, lying in 5th position with the Hornets one spot below in 6th.
In the first ten minutes Hebburn had more of the play, although it was obvious that the poor condition of the pitch would challenge the skills of both sides. Like many grounds in the league, the Blyth pitch has suffered badly from the adverse weather and a glut of games. Hebburn’s early pressure paid off in the 12th minute when a cross caused confusion in the home defence and Ross Toward drove the ball past former Hebburn keeper Chris Bannon for his first goal of the season to give the Hornets the lead.
After 15 minutes a break by Blyth almost gave them the equaliser but the shot on goal was deflected just past the upright. Ten minutes later. Hebburn should have increased their lead when Dan Robinson left defenders in his wake to burst through on goal but drove the ball wide of the mark. Shortly after Gary Shaw had a great run but was thwarted in the end by the “bobbly and heavy” pitch.
Blyth were starting to enjoy more of the play and had several attempts on goal before half time which put the Hornets’ defence under pressure. Loose marking from one cross allowed a Blyth forward to fire the ball goal wards but his effort was cleared off the line.
Hebburn striker Dan Robinson showed his speed to break through the home defence, but again could not find the target; Hebburn were battling hard in midfield with skipper Iain Bickerstaff setting an example with some strong tackling but the Hornets were fortunate when a Blyth forward went to the bye line and drove a great ball across the Hornets’ six yard line with no one able to get a touch on the ball-a lucky escape!
One nil at half time but as the players left the field there was little to choose between the two teams and still everything to play for. However, the picture would change in the second period as the “Braves” raised their game and put the Hebburn side under a great deal of pressure throughout the half. To their credit the Hornets defended stoically with last ditch tackles and goal line clearances on a pitch which was not easy to play on. Blyth also missed several opportunities when shots cleared the bar or drifted wide of the upright.
Keeper Steve Hubery figure highly in keeping the Braves at bay with a fine save after 16 minutes of the half the first when he dived to hold the ball at the post. However, the Hornets finally succumbed to the pressure when Craig Malley was adjudged to have tripped Lancaster on the bye line and the referee awarded a penalty to the home side. Michael Chilton, who has scored many Northern League goals and had been on the pitch as substitute for ten minutes or so calmly sent Hubery the wrong way to level the scores.
This was the signal for even more pressure as the Hornets struggled to get out of their own half and only a tremendous save by Steve Hubery prevented Blyth taking the lead. This time Chilton powered a header towards the top corner, only for Hubery to somehow get a fingertip to the ball to turn it over the top-a top drawer save.
Hebburn however did not give in and may have got something out of a good break involving Callum Smith and Gary Shaw, but the Blyth pressure continued right up to the final whistle and the Braves missed a couple of glaring opportunities to win the game in the final five minutes with wayward shots and only the keeper to beat.
A very important point gained by the Hornets in a game that in previous weeks they might have lost. But every player gave their all and never let their heads drop.
Credit to the three match officials who also had to face the poor conditions but managed to keep the game flowing.
|1. Hubery Steven Michael|
|2. Craig Mally||Yellow Card|
|3. Scott Wallace|
|4. Iain Bickerstaff|
|5. Rhys John David Williams|
|6. Jack Donaghy|
|7. Callum Smith|
|12. Gary Shaw|
|17. Samuel Stuart Bramley|
|50. Ross Toward||GoalYellow Card|
|54. Daniel Robinson|
|8. Mechack Bolenge Kaanda||Sub17|
|9. Paul John Chow|
|17. Christopher Feasey||Sub4|
|18. Christopher Douglas|
|44. Jonathen Robin Wightman|