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 Post subject: Billingham Town 0 Durham City 1
PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:30 pm 
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BILLINGHAM TOWN (0) 0 DURHAM CITY (1) 1
O'Reilly

Durham City became the first club to do the double over Town this season and in the process, inflicted a fifth defeat in seven games on the beleaguered blues. It was also the third 0-1 reversal out of the last four home games and Town will go head to head with Willington on Tuesday night, needing a win just for confidence more than anything else. Both Billingham and Durham came into the game with indifferent form and in all fairness it showed; Town played the majority of the game with ten men but dominated possession while Durham looked cagey, even with the numerical advantage and were happy to soak up the pressure. In many ways, this game was a mirrors image of Tuesday nights defeat to Heaton Stannington and although Town showed plenty of endeavour, the spark and creativity wasn't quite there. Ryton, Heaton Stannington and Durham all celebrated after their respective 1-0 victories and Manager Barry Oliver made a valid point afterwards by saying "that's because we are a major scalp these days". With Heaton Stannington winning comfortably at Crook and Synthonia being held to a draw by lowly Esh Winning, there is still the possibility that neither Billingham clubs will be promoted come the end of April! Whatever the outcome, the Northern League continues to fascinate and frustrate in equal measure but enjoyable all the same!

The Town management opted to go with Connor Dunlavey and Elliott Beddow on the wings while Jamie Davis played at centre back for the third time this season. Matty Osmond and Jack Connor were the midfield marauders but Clayton Macdonald and Gary Redman had to be satisfied with a place on the bench. Despite recent results, Town began the game in an effervescent manner, taking the game to a young looking Durham side; In the opening ten minutes, Craig Hutchinson shot straight at Dean Caris and Dunlavey saw his shot deflected wide for a corner. When the cross came over, Stephen Oakley rose the highest and his downward header looked goalbound but a defender cleared off the line. The Citizens defence looked nervous and they were rather fortunate when Beddow picked up a loose pass from Damien Potts and Caris came to the rescue, making the save with his legs. After twenty minutes of one way action, Durham found their feet, looking to punish Town on the counter attack and it was one such foray forward that caused consternation at the back. The nimble Dan O'Reilly skipped past Davis and in desperation, the stand in defender brought him down and pulled his shirt for good measure leaving referee, Matthew Cain with no option but to send Davis off. Down to ten men, Town needed time to regroup but Durham took full advantage of Billingham's vulnerability and took the lead on thirty eight minutes. O'Reilly was proving to be a thorn in Town's side and when Proctor needlessly came off his goal-line, the frontman nipped in between Oakley and Mark Dixon to stroke the ball into an empty net. Town were all at sea and needed half time to reorganise but before that, Kieren McWaters sauntered through midfield to find O'Reilly unmarked but this time, Proctor made an excellent reactionary save with his right foot.

HT Billingham Town 0 Durham City 1

Considering Town were down to ten men, the second half belonged to the home side. Dunlavey saw his bobbled effort role agonisingly wide of the far post and moments later, Osmond sent a rocket of a shot wide of the other post. Town were encamped inside Durham's half but either the final ball fell to a yellow shirt or shots were blocked by a stubborn rearguard action. Durham still looked dangerous on the counter attack although the away sides top scorer, Bradley Hird hadn't been involved in the game until his half volley flew over the crossbar. With twenty minutes to go, Durham's defence still looked unconvincing but at the same time, Town were unable to take full advantage. For the majority of the season, the Chris Dickinson/Oakley set piece routine had been deadly and Town's current predicament could be highlighted when Oakley was left unmarked but his powerful header had too much purchase on it. A couple of months ago, the ball would have nestled into the top corner and good fortune is certainly not with Town right now! With time running out, the game became open and Durham had claims for a penalty when Steve Malloy went down but contact from Proctor appeared to be minimal. Proctor had to be alert to keep out O'Reilly after Dixon under hit his pass back and in the dying moments, Caris denied Dickinson with a superb save to earn Durham all three points. Just a footnote to understand how far Town have developed; This was the first time since September 2015 that Town had lost three games in a row!

FT Billingham Town 0 Durham City 1

Graham Hutchinson
Press Officer

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