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 Post subject: Billingham Town 0 Heaton Stannington 1
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:55 pm 
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BILLINGHAM TOWN (0) 0 HEATON STANNINGTON (1) 1
Wright 7

A month ago, Town were in contention to become division two champions having gone undefeated since the beginning of October. Four defeats in the last six games has scuppered any thoughts of promotion, never mind silverware. The frustrating part is trying to identify or pinpoint a specific problem that has caused this unexpected loss of form! For whatever reason, Town haven't looked like the fluid passing side we became accustomed to pre Christmas time. One clean sheet in twelve matches tells its own story; Skipper Stephen Oakley suffered badly with his knee injury and the departure of Thomas Dawson coincided with the downturn of form. However, the squad was still strong enough to overcome those setbacks so the players do have to shoulder some of the blame if there is any to be had. Tonight, Heaton Stannington won ugly, but deservedly so and it's of great credit to them that they were resolute throughout the ninety minutes even if it did feel like a smash and grab performance. They still harbour hopes of promotion and it will take a good side to halt the progress made but you feel their magnificent run of form has come too late in the day, unless Billingham Synthonia collapse like they did last season. Where as Stockton, Synthonia and Heaton Stannington can grind out results in the face of adversity, Town haven't always fared too well in that department. Until recently, Town didn't need to because their attacking prowess destroyed teams but at this stage of the season, clubs are fighting for survival, promotion or a place in next season's FA Cup and it all comes down to belief, confidence and mental strength. Unfortunately, it appears Town have come up short but the club is evolving, and this season's expeditions won't be forgotten, particularly the phenomenal run in the FA Vase.

Manager Barry Oliver, again made changes to the starting eleven with Matty Osmond and Jamie Davis coming in for Luke Hogan and Elliott Beddow. Gary Redman switched from right back to centre back in Mattie Crossen's absence due to injury and Mark Dixon returned to the side after completing a three match suspension. The early exchanges were fairly even but the away side got their noses in front after only seven minutes of play; Town lost possession on the left side and by the time Jonathan Wright received the ball he was left one on one with Gary Redman. He still had it all to do but the in form striker shifted to his left and curled the ball into the far corner. It was a moment of brilliance in a game that became a battle of wits. Town saw plenty of the ball but they were guilty of losing possession in dangerous areas; Once again Wright was given an opportunity to unleash a strike but his fierce drive went high and wide. Billingham pressed for an equaliser and it wasn't until the half hour mark before the keeper was seriously tested; Neat play from Davis found Osmond in space and Hutchinson did well with an unorthodox strike via the cross. Chris Dickinson saw his free kick spilled by Matthew Smith but the nervy keeper managed to collect before the inrushing Osmond could get on the end of the rebound. An excellent forward move from a Redman ended in a comfortable save by Smith, denying Hutchinson his fifty third goal of the season and then just before half time, Hutchinson was off target when his drilled shot across goal went wide.

HT Billingham Town 0 Heaton Stannington 1

It was the away side who looked the livelier on resumption of play; Indecision in Town's defence allowed Jordan Ray to shoot over the bar and then a quick fire counter attack ended with Dean Deagle shooting straight at Proctor. Hutchinson had found it hard going up to this point, often left isolated amongst Heaton Stannington's mammoth sized centre backs. On fifty six minutes, he did manage to lose the shackles and released Osmond on the left but the ex Synner was always stretching and his shot sailed over the crossbar. Town dominated possession while Heaton Stannington defended in numbers, seemingly content with their slender one-nil lead and as time ebbed away, Town looked disjointed, lacking a cutting edge in the final third. With ten minutes remaining, Town finally managed to get in behind the away sides stoic defence. A superb flick on by Davis allowed Hutchinson a free shot on goal but Smith spread himself and closed down the angle and then Dickinson wasn't too far away with a free kick from twenty five yards. Into injury time and Davis should have equalised when he tried to side foot home rather than putting his foot through the ball, allowing a defender to clear off the line and then Oakley saw his header palmed away by Smith. Even a draw may not have been enough for either side; Heaton Stannington continue to progress while Town are left hoping rather than confident of playing division one football next season.

FT Billingham Town 0 Heaton Stannington 1

Graham Hutchinson
Press Officer


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