Stockton Town FC v Billingham Synthonia FC
A good crowd came to watch this Good Friday game hopefully on the back of the Vase exploits and this is the start of another regular increase in crowds at BRW. Michael Dunwell rotated his squad understandably and in came Matty Garbutt, Chris Stockton and Sonni Coleman with Joe Carter James Risbrough on the bench and Fred Woodhouse unavailable.
It was always going to be a tough ask for a young Synners team to contain the FA Vase finalists however hungover they appeared at times, in their defence with no real pace in the game it was difficult to get any momentum and after 12 minutes Jamie Owens came off second best in a clash of heads and was replaced by Risbrough and the team took even more time to settle into a rythym. As usual it was from the wide positions that the success came from and a Chris Stockton cross was headed just over by Coleman. A Craggs corner on 23 minutes saw Dale Mulligan get up at the far post and crash a header goal wards only for Synners keeper Dawson to make a fine tip over save. Kev Hayes and Chris Stockton swapped sides and Hayes gave the Synners right back Verrity a torrid time he skipped past him down the left and as he cut in along the line the full back got sucked into the challenge and a blatant penalty was the result. Vase penalty hero Nathan MULLIGAN converted it sending Dawson the wrong way on 27 minutes.
Then Hayes sent a lovely ball across the box which Coleman and Nicholson both lunged at but couldn't get the vital touch. Another cross this time by Garbutt saw James Risbrough get up well but again head it just over.
Second half saw much the same pattern, Synners finding it hard to string anything together and the Anchors just a little bit off the pace but creating opportunities if not the final ball. Chances came for Risbrough and Coleman but Dawson produced good saves to deny them. The best move came when Nicholson came forward into Synners half and played a lovely weighted pass in between Synners defenders for Risbrough to run onto perfectly and cross first time for Kev Hayes running in at the far post but Dawson made a terrific save with his legs. The one bright spark in a otherwise mundane game was Max CRAGGS flexing his free kick muscles for the first time in a few weeks by brilliantly converting from 20 yards into the corner powerfully giving the keeper no chance on 66 minutes. Craggs actually had a couple of half chances late on as he stole into the box and was picked out but he couldn't convert.
Routine 3 points, Manager will be pleased he got some match time into a few players as the next few weeks brings a busy schedule and the full squad will have to be utilised. No one stood out particularly today, Nicholson continues to show he's back to his best again playing two great balls to set up opportunities, which isn't what he's renown for, Sonni Coleman worked his socks off and Matty Garbutt who spent most of his time in Synners half got the nod from the match sponsor Shining Monkeys for MoM for his usual technical excellence and providing the link to lots of moves.