The Anchors showed how far they have come in the last few months in this local derby clash with Billingham Synthonia, by dominating a game and showing control and patience against a side who sat 9 men behind the ball just trying to limit the damage. Sonni Coleman was away but Nathan Mulligan returned and Joe Carter was back on the bench for the first time in a month.
On a heavy pitch Synners made their intentions clear from the first minute, allowing the Anchors to have the ball and leaving the hardworking but very lonely and frustrated Jamie Jewson up front to plough a lone furrow. The Anchors worked the ball around and tried to get their in form wingers into the game as much as possible. The Mulligan brothers both went close with early long range shots, centre half Dale’s coming from at least 35 yards and dipping just too late. Chris Stockton was put through by Woodhouse on 27 minutes he rounded the keeper and pulled the ball back from a wide position, Owens looked to have his legs taken from under him as he tried to sidestep the defender but the chance was cleared. Stockton were pushing and probing from side to side and a good move on 37mins led to the opener, Risbrough moved in from the left and found Nathan Mulligan who worked the ball wide to Hayes, he took the full back on the outside and stood up a right footed cross to the far post for Jamie OWENS to head neatly into the bottom corner. Just 7 minutes later it was OWENS again who met a near post corner from Craggs to glance the ball firmly down and into the net to make it 2-0 at half time.
Second half saw a little more adventure from Synners as they went 2 up front and managed to push the Anchors back into their own box at times. But it wasn’t enough to trouble Tom Coulthard and his defence and it was a story of more missed chances and opportunities for Stockton. Kev Hayes who played on both flanks again today, was especially unlucky with 3 brilliant pieces of wing play, one of them seeing him put the full back and 2 other defenders on their backsides only to see his effort cleared off the line, in another outstanding wide attacking display from him. Nathan Mulligan missed a great chance to score against his former side, Craggs ball split the Synners defence and Woodhouse drew the defender before squaring it to Mulligan who it seemed had taken his eye off it and his side footed effort skimmed the post. The return of the Captain Adam NICHOLSON to the playing squad continued and he replaced injured Dale Mulligan with 25mins left. He showed just what they’d been missing all season when rising highest at the far post to a Max Craggs 79th minute corner and crashing a header home, fittingly (after posing for the camera) he ran straight to Physio Sam Higgins who’s worked so hard helping him to get fit. Final Score 3-0
If ever there was a comfortable game in the Northern League this was as close as you will get. The Anchors now look like a decent outfit, working hard, creating lots of chances and defending well. Manager Michael Dunwell was obviously a very good boy this year as Santa brought him everything he asked for this Xmas, 12 points in 4 games, skipper Adam Nicholson back on the pitch and scoring, and the team looking like they belong in the top 10 of the Northern League Division 1. Man of the Match Kevin Hayes for constantly being a thorn in Synners side despite the poor surface for a technical player.