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 Post subject: Billingham Town 1 Stockton Town 4
PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:18 pm 
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NORTHERN LEAGUE CUP SECOND ROUND

BILLINGHAM TOWN (1) 1
STOCKTON TOWN (1) 4

For seventy five minutes, there was little in this fascinating cup-tie. The League cup invariably suffers from a lack of interest, akin to the professional version but a fair crowd witnessed an entertaining encounter between two sides who try to keep the ball on the ground. Ultimately though, class told in the end as Stockton followed up an impressive win in the vase against promotion hopefuls Bootle with another victory tonight at Bedford Terrace. As for Billingham, this was Town’s fourth straight cup defeat this season albeit against higher opposition in the pyramid but they should be satisfied with their performance. A rudimentary line-up competed for large periods in a game where both sides struck the woodwork and had goals rightly chalked off for offside. Although supporters may disagree, next Tuesday nights EA Memorial Cup tie at Ryton & Crawcrook could be an important fixture for Billingham. Town are still in contention for a promotion place and are only one point behind their points total at the same stage as last season, but the second division cup competition is a realistic opportunity of winning some silverware. And in all honesty, the League Cup was never going to be a priority for Billingham Town but Stockton should consider themselves as potential winners of this competition. The turning point in this game surrounded the penalty decision which in all fairness, appeared to be the correct decision. Once Nathan Mulligan tucked the spot-kick into the net, the home side lost their way and Stockton duly punished them with two further goals to give the score-line a deceiving look to it. In Barry Oliver’s absence, Graham Popple handed rare starts to Danny Lambert, Joe Kerridge and Brandon Kirkbride reverted back to a central defensive role while Luke Hogan and Elliott Beddow played as unorthodox full-backs. Stockton’s line-up consisted several ‘old’ Town heads in Chris Dunwell and Alan Cossavella while former left-back, Michael Arthur played in goal. And it was interesting to see an ultra lean Jamie Owens upfront, looking fitter than during his spells at Town and Norton & Stockton Ancients. Initially, The Anchormen looked the brightest of the two sides but it was the home eleven who had the best opportunities. Lambert saw his low drive saved by Arthur and Ashley Lavan skewed wide from the edge of the box. The best move of the whole match came on sixteen minutes via a Billingham counterattack. Jack Connor found Lavan in a central position and the forward played an exquisite pass to Hogan on the left hand side; Hogan crossed first time and Lambert thought he had scored with a powerful header but the ball somehow struck the inside of the post and rolled agonisingly across the goal-mouth. Even then the ball rebounded off Arthur; the keeper having to react quickly in retrieving the ball off his own goal-line. As is often the case in tight affairs, the miss proved costly as Stockton took the lead four minutes later and what a great goal it was too! (Unfortunately!!) OWENS picked up the ball, twenty yards out, shifted onto his left foot and curled his shot into the top corner. Despite the setback, Billingham still looked the better side with Lavan causing problems with his pace and strength; Lavan sprayed a superb cross-field ball to Lambert on the right side and Arthur did well to narrow down the angles. Stockton, sensing they needed a second goal came close to achieving that aim when Owens rattled the crossbar with a fierce strike but it was Billingham who got the next goal on forty one minutes of entertaining football. Kerridge gave LAMBERT the chance of getting his shot away and the ball appeared to take a wicked deflection off a defender leaving Arthur flat-footed (cue the worst delayed goal celebration of said writer, thinking the ball had struck the side netting!! Luckily nobody seemed to notice!).

HT Billingham Town 1-1 Stockton Town

Billingham had a couple of half chances as the second half became more of a tactical affair. The ever dangerous Lavan drove over from eighteen yards out and Lambert saw his effort deflected wide from a similar distance. However, Stockton, cleverly changed their approach, content in retaining possession, suffocating the blues midfield in the process. And the tie turned in Stockton’s favour when Micky Dunwell made two attacking substitutions in an attempt to avoid a penalty shootout. The breakthrough came on seventy four minutes when Mulligan skipped away from Beddow inside the box, and the right back needlessly brought down the ex Whitby Town man; MULLIGAN dusted himself down and scored from the spot. The goal affected the blues badly and like witnessing a wounded animal, The Anchormen went in for the kill. Matty GARBUTT, one of the said substitutions and another ex Townie, followed up after Mark Hodgson could only palm Owens strike into his pathway. And OWENS capped a fine individual performance with his second goal, a shot that cannoned off Kris Summers heels, leaving Hodgson no chance of making a save.

FT Billingham Town 1-4 Stockton Town


THREE THINGS WE LEARNED TODAY:

1) It was good to see Danny Lambert looking sharper after the odd substitute appearance this season. Unlucky to see his header strike the post and then for the ball to roll along the goal-line, he followed that up with his first goal of the season. Supporters have been waiting for some time for Lambert to make an impact this season and the signs were there tonight that he is heading in the right direction.

2) It’s fair to say Jack Connor’s return to the club has been an eventful one for various reasons! His debut came in the 3-0 defeat at Heaton Stannington where his partnership with Craig Ruddy didn’t work out. He missed the Spennymoor and Darlington R.A games due to work commitments and then had to limp off at half-time against Brandon United. Connor was then controversially selected for the FA Vase game at West Auckland and selected here, to play in front of Clayton Macdonald and Matty Osmond.The first half, mainly passed him by in midfield but he impressed in the second period, filling in for the injured Kirkbride. Connor had previously shown his ability as a ball playing central defender during his first spell at the club (similar to Mattie Crossen) and looked far more comfortable with the game played in front of him rather than wondering where he should be positionally. Around this time, two years ago, he gave the impression that central defence could be his long term position and tonight, his second half performance cemented that view.

3) For seventy five minutes, Elliott Beddow was outstanding at right back. He was up against the young and speedy Kenny Hayes who caused damage here last January in the EA Cup tie. The first half was an even battle but Hayes seemed reluctant to attack Beddow in the second half, leaving Beddow the winner of that duel. However, the salient moment came when the inexperienced right back brought down the experienced Mulligan inside the box. It was still a positive display by Beddow but he will need to curb his urge of diving in if he is to play in that position as cover for Lee Moore.

Graham Hutchinson at Bedford Terrace.

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