Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:58 pm
BILLINGHAM TOWN (0) 3 CHESTER-LE-STREET TOWN (1) 1
Kirkbride 48 Greaves 30
How many clubs in the Northern League, never mind in division two, would you witness such jubilation at the full time whistle after a barren run of results, especially when the victorious club sit in mid-table? Town had lost their way of late, maybe an element of self doubt too but today they showed grit, determination and desire giving the supporters a reason to celebrate. They had to work hard for the points though, the Moors seemingly content to frustrate and hit Town on the counter attack. The concern beforehand was the away sides ability to dominate in the air, but their goal apart, collectively Town adapted and nullified that threat. With the return of Jack Connor, the height of Brandon Kirkbride & Stephen Oakley aided by the superb Kris Summers, and of course the towering goalkeeper, Liam Gibbs, the away side couldn’t find an option b when option a had limited success. Manager James Hunter and Assistant Harry Taylor had done their homework and were duly rewarded for it. Today, was the day when plans and decisions went the managements way. No disrespect to Clayton Macdonald, but the introduction of Glen Hargrave, enabling Ashley Lavan to drop deeper where he could cause havoc and allowing Elliott Beddow to ruffle a few feathers, ultimately won Town the game. There were moments when Town showed neat, possession based football, keeping it simple; In recent weeks, Billingham had a tendency to force the play, rushing ball distribution which is understandable when you’re desperate to turn things around. Today, a collective composure was in evidence although Beddow will look back and wonder why he sent one chance into orbit rather than finding space between the goalposts. Four minutes into added time, Beddow learned his lesson to seal the points and that moment put town’s run into perspective. If at first you don’t succeed, try & try again until you find the solutions.
Town begin the game, as they often do, in a positive fashion - benefitting from the return of Connor - playing in a more attacking role behind Lavan. Gary Redman and Luke Hogan saw plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges and Town’s first attempt on goal came inside the first sixty seconds. Connor fed Hogan out on the left side - the winger finding Beddow at the back post but the in form striker hooked his effort over the bar. Next chance came via a Macdonald corner - Oakley nodded it down to Lavan who saw his strike blocked inside the box. Town were unlucky not to be ahead on the quarter hour mark - Beddow used his blistering speed on the right wing and found Kenney unmarked but the Kevin De Bruyen lookalike struck the outside of the far post. The Moors gradually found their feet and tested Gibbs with a couple of low efforts from outside the box. Town had looked comfortable in the main and yet found themselves a goal behind after thirty minutes. A looping cross from the left was met by an unmarked Calum GREAVES who managed to head the ball through Gibbs legs to score. With the Moors growing in confidence, Town found it difficult to find an equaliser before half time.
HT BILLINGHAM TOWN 0 CHESTER-LE-STREET TOWN 1
Town didn’t deserve to be behind and supporters didn’t wait long to see their team back on level terms. KIRKBRIDE, playing as an attacking unorthodox right back and probably man of the match scored with a screamer on forty eight minutes. The languid centre forward/centre back cut inside into a central position and fired home from 18 yards. He will be pleased to hear that two different sets of cameramen and one professional photographer should have caught that image in motion. The away side almost regained the lead two minutes later when Kieran Megran should have done better than to skew his effort wide. On the hour mark the game began to open up as both sides had opportunities during a frantic fifteen minute period. Quick in thought, Kenney & Hogan took an early free kick which caught the Moors by surprise; Hogans delicate cross was met by a goal bound header from Beddow but the ball struck the back of Lavan and the away side managed to clear their lines. The move of the match was created by Connor who played an exquisitely waited pass for Beddow who then skilfully chested the ball down inside the box but in a moment of reckless abandon, the striker sent a rocket of a shot into the stratosphere. He could be forgiven if he’d thought it wouldn’t be his day but he still had time to make amends. At the other end Gibbs managed to make a crucial save to deny Lee Mole and Michael Hepplewhite fired wide from outside the box. One sensed the game was there for the taking and both subsequent Town goals came in the style Chester would be proud of. With four minutes remaining plus added on time, Billingham made the breakthrough. A long throw in caused panic inside the box and the ball fell kindly for LAVAN who earned his twentieth league goal of the season with a fine strike. Imbued with a touch of confidence, Town struck again with a killer third goal. A long punt upfield was headed on by Hogan leaving BEDDOW the chance to pick his spot with an impudent finish. It was clear what the goal meant to the players as a sea of blue swept Beddow along the edge of the pitch. The full time whistle was met with a seismic response in the stands. This victory meant a lot to a lot people! And the players came off knowing, that they had the full support of the Town faithful.
FT BILLINGHAM TOWN 3 CHESTER-LE-STREET TOWN 1
PS: just to prove my point that we all make mistakes. It took yours truly at least a dozen proof checks before I noticed I’d put......Scholsey took a corner, nodded down by Oakley. It happens to us all!!!
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