Team Northumbria v Stockton Town FC
Michael Dunwell rotated his squad with a busy week coming up. Jamie Owens was rested with the nasty head wound he received on Good Friday not fully healed. Nathan and Dale Mulligan were also rested and Alan Cossavella made a rare start as did Sonni Coleman.
A miserable afternoons weather seemed to have an effect on the players and the fayre on offer wasn't very appetising as neither side got anything going, Dibb-Fuller brought a great save out of Arthur after 6 minutes and on 9 minutes Kev Hayes wriggled his way into the box only to be brought down by full back Read and Max CRAGGS despatched the penalty via the keepers hand to make it 1-0. After that you just expected the Anchors to score again and close the game out. Craggs came closest on 19 minutes when he got on the end of a super move involving Ward and Risbrough who's near post cross was touched just wide. Team North had a couple of moments, usually caused by an error from the Anchors and the equaliser came after the ball was given away on the halfway line leaving the back 4 exposed, Nicholas GREEN shot from 20 yards flicked off Nicholson's attempt to block and nestled in the bottom corner of Arthurs goal
Second half saw the Anchors frustrated generally, Hayes was busy and his lovely weighted pass inside the full back was perfect for the energetic Fred Woodhouse who pulled a great ball back to Craggs 12 yards out but he hit his attempt straight at the keeper Murphy. Another sloppy mistake on 56 minutes by the Anchors allowed Team North the chance to get at Stockton again and Arthur had to rush off his line to deny them and could only bring Spence down and Ben DIBB-FULLER dispatched the pen to give TN the lead. The Anchors should have gone further behind just 2 minutes later when skipper McNamara found himself in space 6 yards out from a free kick but his effort was weak and straight at Arthur. The Anchors did rally after that and the introduction of Nathan Mulligan and Chris Stockton gave them a new impetus. Fred Woodhouse latched onto a poor clearance from the Keeper Charlie Murphy and with him stranded out of his goal the Anchors striker couldn't find the target from 18 yards. With 70 minutes gone Kev Hayes who was getting a lot of 'attention' from TN full back Read, jinked inside and in his trademark way looked to shoot then dummied and shifted the ball again to deliver a curling powerful effort destined for the bottom corner only for Murphy to pull off a fabulous save low down to his right and when Woodhouse's shot 5 minutes later was touched onto the inside of the post and rebounded back out to find the lone TN defender to clear, it was starting to look like Stocktons afternoon was going to match the weather. The Anchors were pushing hard and the home side were hanging on a bit, they had one more decent effort when Joe Carter was played in and his near post cross was met by N Mulligan with a diving header only for it to be smothered by the TN keeper.
Disappointing result caused by an under par performance in some areas, just goes to show how tough this league is and you have to give it everything in every game to be successful. The atmosphere afterwards was in huge contrast to the feeling around the club in the last two weeks. The team needs to not let itself be distracted as there are still lots of games left and it would be better to get on the bus to Wembley on the back of some positive performances.
Man of match Fred Woodhouse who seemed to be everywhere and involved in everything.