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 Post subject: Darlington RA 1 Billingham Town 3
PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 1:52 pm 
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EBAC NORTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION TWO

DARLINGTON RAILWAY ATHLETIC (1) 1
BILLINGHAM TOWN (1) 3

Town earned a much needed three points to keep onto the curtails of the league leaders. Played in bitterly cold conditions, Town grounded out a confidence boosting victory in front of a strong following support and the players were deservedly clapped off the pitch at the end. It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, but after a run of only one win in seven games, a win was of paramount importance. The home side came into the game off the back of an impressive fightback against Stockton Town, coming from three nil down in mid-week to take the Durham Challenge Cup tie to penalties and were more than a match for large periods of this game. Not for the first time, R.A showed enough here to suggest that their lowly league position could be improved upon while Town were searching for some kind of rhythm in an effort to halt their ailing league form. Manager Barry Oliver decided to go with three recognised central defenders in Stephen Oakley, Kris Summers and the evolving Brandon Kirkbride. This meant that Luke Hogan, returning to the club after a short stint at Crook Town had to play in a more disciplined role on the left while Lee Moore was asked to do the same job on the opposite side. Although Oakley, Summers and Kirkbride were outstanding, the system did put pressure on Hogan and Moore who faced individual battles but both players should be satisfied with their efforts. On paper, Town have the potential to gain back-to-back wins when Brandon United visit Bedford Terrace next Saturday afternoon before a challenging FA Vase tie awaits at West Auckland Town in a fortnights time. The game got off to a blistering start with goals for both sides in the opening six minutes. It was the visitors who were in the ascendancy when Jake FENTON scored his first goal for club on four minutes, benefitting from Elliott Beddow’s low cross to the far post (or was it a cross-shot Elliott??). Town had little time to evaluate the situation because two minutes later, the Railwaymen equalised in bizarre circumstances. Sam England’s low shot appeared to have untroubled Alex Leeds in goal but the keeper lost possession of the ball and Dom Joynes was on hand to tuck home. Despite the flurry of early chances, the game became bogged down in the middle and the only other chances of note in the half came from Joynes who came close with a great strike that went narrowly wide and Osmond did like-wise at the other end.

HT Darlington Railway Athletic 1 Billingham Town 1

The Railwaymen came out of the dressing room with attacking intent and it took some stern shouting from Craig Ruddy in galvanising a reaction. Although the home side put Town under pressure with several crosses into the box, the three central defenders were on hand to clear their lines. The home side were getting closer to the target and England was unlucky to see his shot strike the bottom of Leeds left hand post. Against the run of play, Town regained the lead from the penalty spot after Damon Reakes mistimed challenge on Hogan left the referee with no option but in pointing to the spot. Ashley LAVAN stepped up and placed the ball into the bottom corner leaving Philip Pentony no chance of getting a hand to it. Town secured the win with a third goal that was the best of the lot, created by some sublime skill by Ruddy on the right hand side. With immaculate ease, Ruddy controlled the ball, went past the fullback and produced a pinch perfect cross for Summers to head home. There was still time for Oakley to head clear off his own goal-line to deny Flounders a certain goal, an action that typified the skippers overall performance and the blues successfully saw out the remaining time with clever game management.

FT Darlington Railway Athletic 1 Billingham Town 3


THREE THINGS WE LEARNED TONIGHT:

1) A fit and injury free Matty Osmond in the middle of the park could be one of the keys to unlocking some of the problems in that area of the pitch. His work-rate is phenomenal and if he can return to the same levels of performances he showed towards the end of last season, then Town should see an improvement in results.

2) As mentioned previously, Ashley Lavan has carried the attacking threat, virtually single-handedly but his pairing with Elliott Beddow gave Town more options going forward. Beddow’s pace was frightening and it was this time last year his season took off. Expect the same to happen again this time around.

3) Stephen Oakley evinced a man of the match performance and may have been suited by the support of Kris Summers and Brandon Kirkbride within the current system. Clearly hindered in recent weeks by injury (as has Summers), tonight was the type of display we became accustomed to last season. Always gives 100% effort, tonight was Captain Marvel at his heroic best.

Graham Hutchinson at Darlington Road
Sent from my iPad

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