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 Post subject: Billingham Town 0 Billingham Synthonia 0
PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:40 pm 
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BILLINGHAM TOWN (0) 0 BILLINGHAM SYNTHONIA (0) 0

Groundhog Boxing Day! Similar tactics, similar number of scoring opportunities, similar attendance, but ultimately the same result, the only difference being the warmer weather and Town having to play with ten men for over fifty minutes. With the matter of promotion already resolved over the weekend, the pressure was off for both sides but neither Town or Synners performed to their full potential on the day. The problem with this fixture is that both managers know exactly how to nullify each other on the pitch and with little riding on the outcome, the game suffered from a lack of intensity. For Town though, it felt like a moral victory because of the sending off and they actually looked more composed on the ball, playing with ten men! Over the weekend, i commented on a possible weakness in dealing with aerial balls; no such qualms from me today as Mattie Crossen, Jamie Davis and Matty Osmond won virtually everything in the air or mopping up loose ends to thwart Synners numerical advantage. Of course the game changed in terms of a spectacle when referee, Paul Cooper decided to give Stephen Oakley his marching orders for a dangerous challenge on Chay Liddle. In isolation, I can understand the decision but referees are too inconsistent on this matter; I have seen similar challenges this season where no cards have been issued and several Synners players thought that Oakley only deserved a yellow card. On a more positive note, despite the setback, Town showed great strength, reminiscent of the fighting display at Bishop Auckland in the F.A Vase but without the fairytale outcome, although Crossen went mightily close in the final seconds of the game. Oh, and the other similarity to Boxing Day, both clubs deserved to share the spoils!!

There were two changes to the side that drew at Esh Winning over the weekend; Mattie Crossen partnered Stephen Oakley in central defense which meant Lee Moore reverted to right back. Ashley Lavan was selected to play in front of Moore, possibly for extra insurance in dealing with either Macaulay Langstaff or Jordan Wilson. The opening twenty minutes were uneventful with both sides rather tentative in possession. Town's best moments came from corners or free kicks and the ongoing battle between Wilson and Lee Moore was the only real entertainment on offer. With Wilson and Langstaff getting little change out of Moore and Mark Dixon, the wingers swapped sides in an attempt to freshen things up. Thirty five minutes gone and no shots on target from either side, the game bacame disjointed; John Seaton saw yellow for an incongruous neck tackle on Luke Hogan while Chay Liddle was left winded in a very unfortunate position! Five minutes before half time, Synthonia came close to taking the lead; Wilson robbed Davis in the centre circle allowing Liddle to play a cute through ball for Conor Winter who struck the left hand post with a low shot from the edge of the box. Then the moment that had a lasting influence on the rest of the game; Oakley, sensing an opportunity to drive into Synners territory, overran the ball and in a desperate attempt to retrieve it, lunged into Liddle giving Paul Cooper a crucial decision to make. I feared the worst and my fears were well founded as Cooper issued Oakley with his fourth red card of the season. Town were happy to see out the remaining time and a chance to reorganise inside the dressing room.

HT Billingham Town 0 Billingham Synthonia 0

Manager Barry Oliver made the smart move by dropping Davis to centre back meaning Chris Dickinson would have to play a more disciplined position in central midfield. Despite playing with the advantage of an extra man, Synthonia seemed unable to inject any real pace into the game in an attempt to wear down the home side. The first shot on target arrived on fifty minutes but even then, Liddle's effort came from all of forty yards and Langstaff's thirty yard free kick lacked power to trouble Alex Leeds. Town had looked comfortable and were now trying to catch Synthonia on the counter attack, especially after Elliot Beddow's introduction. On seventy two minutes, Beddow's free kick was only half cleared and Lavan was only inches away from the top right hand corner with a fierce drive. The game opened up inside the final ten minutes in attempt to end successive derby stalemates! Joshua Rowbotham had two flicked headers that went wide and deep into added time, Mattie Crossen attempted an overhead kick that looked destined for the back of the net but a Synners defender managed to get his body in the way.

FT Billingham Town 0 Billingham Synthonia 0

Graham Hutchinson
Press Officer

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