Team Northumbria 2-1 Heaton Stannington
Saturday 7 January 2017
It looked like the Stan would break the curse of never getting a point from Team North in the Northern League but the students snatched an undeserved injury time winner. There were 2 changes from the boxing day with new signing Michael Riley from Newton Aycliffe making his debut on the wing. The Stan were still missing injured striker Dan Robinson.
The 1st opportunity was for the home team after 2 minutes when a sliding effort went wide. 2 minutes later Fulcher and Holland combined to set up Jones who from 6 yards shot into the side netting. North’s Mundy then caught a Stan effort followed by a Stan free kick being cleared. Already it could be seen that there was no longer a gap between the 2 teams though the Stan were more skilled while North were very physical. It was the Stan who continued to attack and in 15 minutes a throw-in into the box saw Yates cleverly send the ball back to Imray on the edge of it but his great shot was put out by Mundy for a corner. After more Stan pressure, a great run by Riley in 22 minutes saw him flattened by 2 defenders but no foul was given. North had a rare attack 3 minutes later resulting in Smith catching the ball. There was a crucial wrong decision in 28 minutes when Riley was brought down and no free kick was given. This allowed North to advance down the Stan’s left and to cross for Haywood on the right to shoot just on-side and score against the run of play. The Stan didn’t give up and Jones waisted a chance in 35 minutes when he put the ball wide from distance. A solo run by North’s 10 saw him run across the box and, under pressure, shoot wide. The Stan got their deserved equaliser after 38 minutes when Dixon ran down the left wing and crossed into the box for legend Gary Yates to control the ball then blast it into the net. The cheer could be heard 2 fields away at Blue Flames as the Stan Army out-roared the Allotment and Benfield fans as well as North’s 3 supporters. Riley was then brought down and the subsequent free kick led to Wear’s header being cleared. The Stan continued to dominate the increasingly long 1st half as the ref’s time keeping, and his decision making, seemed impaired.
Early in the 2nd half a Stan corner saw Imray’s effort blocked and cleared. After 50 minutes Holland crossed to Yates in the box who connected well but his shot was blocked. 9 minutes later and Mundy got down to Jones’s speculative long shot before Yates got to it. Smith was then tested for the 1st time in the half as he caught a ball from a free kick. After a quieter 10 minute spell, the last 20 minutes saw North turn on the pressure. In 74 minutes a ball from the left was missed by 2 defenders but Smith brilliantly managed to make himself big and block and catch the North effort. He then caught a free kick. In 79 minutes North headed just wide and Smith then caught a shot from a free kick given the wrong way. In 83 minutes, a North player shot just wide when he should have scored. Holland then had a rare shot for the Stan which was caught. There was then great defending by the Stan, including to stop a North attack. North continued to pressurise but Errington cleared, Smith caught and Stoddart forced a player to shoot wide. The Stan were dealing well with North’s pace and attacks and Fulcher and Dixon were working hard to stop their efforts. An isolated Stan attack by Jones was blocked and after sub Johnson having to be replaced, there was the start of 8 minutes of injury time and another North attack. It was blocked but the ball rebounded to a home player who was 1 on 1 with Smith who got down and caught the ball. North shot over and in 95 minutes they had a free kick blocked but Gunn sent a shot back into the box which was cruelly deflected into the net. The Stan then tried to equalise but the ball was hit across the front of the North goal with no one there to connect. As the defeat was undeserved, the Stan players should hold their heads up high.
Stan: Smith, Stoddart, Dixon; Wear, Errington, Fulcher, Holland, Imray (Y), Yates (Johnson (Doyle)), Jones, Riley (O’Brien).