FULL TIME: WASHINGTON 4 – 2 SHILDON
League newcomers Washington swept an abject Shildon aside in a one sided affair at the Nissan Sports & Leisure Complex. Shildon were out-thought, out-manoeuvred out-fought and out of sorts as a physical and pacy Washington took no notice of the title-favourites tag of their visitors.
It didn’t help Shildon’s cause that their third choice keeper, Jake Johnson, who was the only one available to them on the night, was forced to play while injured, but while injury may have prevented him from leaving his line at times, there was no excuse for the back four to leave two Washington players unmarked for their third and fourth goals.
Indeed, it’s doubtful that any of the countless vehicles manufactured at the sprawling Nissan complex could have come out of the blocks any quicker than the home side, who were one up within two minutes after Mark Davison rammed the ball past the injured keeper.
Jonathan Davis equalised within ten minutes, but the goal proved a false dawn for the Railwaymen who were easily bullied and harassed off the ball throughout this game.
If there was room for a gripe it wasn’t at the Washington players, but rather at the fact that their club appeared to have given ballboys the night off. Perhaps it was past their bed time, or perhaps it was a tactic to disrupt the flowing play that Shildon are renowned for. Whichever it was, it took an age to retrieve every ball from the open spaces around the pitch and even then, the home side’s players ensured they further delayed returning the dead ball back into play.
One feels there should be fines for this kind of behaviour. Are there no rules about having a requisite number of ballboys, particularly when you play at as wide open a field as Washington do?
A stronger referee would have dealt with the issue both in the moment and by adding on the requisite time at the end of each half. Instead this one found only two minutes in the first and three in the second when, after just one goal, a Washington player fell to the ground – another popular tactic – and remained there for more than 90 seconds.
Washington may have spoiled, but Shildon fell for it and were soundly beaten. There can be no excuses for the wasted balls, the dispossession, the lack of energy and the porous defence.
Washington started the second half as they did the first, Mick Coghlan scoring their second in the 49th minute to retake the lead.
On 69 it was three-one when Ross Preston was given all the time and space in the world in the centre of the Shildon box to power home a header.
Bobby Moore pulled one back in the 75th minute, but it would have been a travesty had Shildon rescued anything from this game. The reality, however, is that they never looked likely to.
Washington sealed the win when John Butler nodded home a fourth after the type of defending that schoolboys would have blushed at.
If these Shildon players have any pretensions to win the league, they will need to learn quick and harsh lessons from this defeat, and the one to Morpeth, if they are to remain favourites for a first title in 75 years. Both are sides that must be regarded as title challengers and Shildon have twice failed the test.
Around fifty hardy Shildonians made the trip to Washington. They will have felt they should have done what their team did and stayed at home.
APPROX ATT: 140
SHILDON: Johnson, Groves, Hodgson, Moore, Jones, Brown, Doninger, Davis (Greulich-Smith), Connor, Wing (Hudson), Fryatt (Wood). SUBS NOT USED: Rae, Ellison.
GOALS: Davis (10), Moore (75).
WASHINGTON: Carmichael, Stewart, McGuinness, Preston, Swansbury, Fisher, Cassidy, Coghlan, Butler, Davison, Callaghan. SUBS: Croft, Jackson, Burton, Hennis, Shields.
GOALS: Davison (2), Coghlan (49), Preston (69), Butler (79).