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PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:23 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:23 pm
Posts: 69

The possibility of an all Billingham final ended tonight and on the balance of play, Stockton Town deserved their place in the semifinal. Town had their chances, especially in the first half and they battled away looking for a way through what proved to be a brick wall of mammoth proportions. Stockton's game is based on defense and then attack in numbers at pace. It is so effective that it must drive opposition managers into madness but Barry Oliver took the defeat on the chin, shaking hands with all the Stockton players at the end. Oliver wanted silverware but he also knew what the bigger picture is. Town had eight players missing for various reasons and both Luke Hogan and Elliott Beddow were again rested with Saturdays league game with Blyth Town in mind. Promotion is still entirely in Billingham Town's own hands which is the reason why there wasn't much disappointment amongst the fans. It will take a good side to defeat Stockton and on paper, only Synthonia or Durham City look capable of doing so.

Billingham began the game in a confident manner with Connor Dunlavey looking particularly dangerous on the left wing. It was Stockton though with the early chances; Max Craggs picked up a loose ball to lead a breakaway giving Kallum Hannah the chance to get an early shot away and was only inches off target. A minute later, Hannah avoided a sea of blue shirts but hooked his shot wide from the edge of the box. James Ward waltzed through midfield and played a neat one-two with Hannah but blazed over when clean through. Stockton took a deserved lead on seventeen minutes and winger Kevin Yates was the architect. There didn't seem to be much on for him but he showed great skill to go past Gary Redman and Joe Carter peeled away from the defence to put away the cross. Billingham reacted straight away; Dunlavey had a volley blocked inside the box and Chris Dickinson swept over the crossbar. Town should of equalised when a poor back pass from Alan Cossavella fell short but Craig Hutchinson shot straight at Michael Arthur. Town continued to push for an equaliser before half time; Arthur denied Hutchinson with a finger tipped save and the striker had another shot blocked after good play from Ashley Lavan .

HT Billingham Town 0 Stockton Town 1

Town had a lucky escape on resumption of play when Clayton McDonald's back pass was picked up by Hannah. Stockton's leading goalscorer's shot took a deflection and struck the corner of the crossbar. Thomas Dawson saved superbly from Cossavella's low volley and at the other end, Hutchinson had a snap shot that just went wide. As the half wore on, Stockton seemed content in protecting their slender lead and chances were few and far between for Billingham. Hutchinson continued to be Town's best outlet and was unfortunate not to score on sixty six minutes but he was in the process of falling backwards when he hooked his effort wide. Oliver brought on Luke Hogan and Elliott Beddow with his last throw of the dice and the change did give Town some impetus. Town's final chance came after some neat play out on the right; Jack Connor ghosted into the box but opted not to shoot and by the time Arthur fumbled McDonald's low shot, momentum had been lost. The impressive Yates finished the cup tie with some great footwork and Dawson got down well to save the youngster's stinging drive.

FT Billingham Town 0 Stockton Town 1

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