Anchors show fighting spirit to earn a point…..
Michael Dunwell had a full squad to pick from for the first time this season and he gave fit again Jordan Robinson his first start for the club at the back.
6 goals a bagful of chances and some brilliant saves by both keepers all added up to a thoroughly entertaining game this afternoon at The Coverall Stadium for the large crowd.
A hectic start saw the stars of West Auckland moving the ball quickly and Michael Arthur had to save sharply at his near post from Cobain who was put in from a quick free kick by Mitchell in the first minute
The Anchors then produced a great move which ended with a Roberts shot tipped over by Bland in the West goal. The resulting corner from Craggs was headed home by Jordan ROBINSON from 10 yards out to give Stockton the lead on 3 minutes.
West Auckland were rocked onto their heels by this and the Anchors produced 2 more good chances with Bland saving well low down from a Coleman flicked header and Fred Woodhouse chipped one just over after turning nicely in the box in a breathless opening 5 minutes.
West were a constant threat though with the quality in their side and they equalised in the 13th minute when Adam Mitchell was allowed to run along the 18 yard line and rolled the ball to PRICE who crashed a shot in that Arthur couldn’t keep out but probably should have.
The game was fast paced and both teams were moving the ball quickly and half chances and opportunities appeared at both ends. The Referee made what was the first of several strange decisions when he disallowed a ‘goal’ for a foul on West keeper Bland after he palmed a Risbrough cross against the back of Coleman and the ball trickled into the net, any contact made being after the ball crossed the line.
Mikey Roberts chased a lost cause and pulled a ball back from the line to Coleman 8 yards out who hesitated and was closed down and the chance was gone. A corner from the left found Dale Mulligan unmarked but his header was wide and the half finished with Nathan Fisher turning a ball past the post when well placed.
Second half was even more exciting and the Anchors almost took the lead after good work from Garbutt who cut in in from the right and had his shot deflected wide. Adam Nicholson met the resulting Craggs corner with a spectacular volley but couldn’t keep it below the bar.
But on 50 minutes Adam MITCHELL gave West the lead with a terrific strike from 25 yards following good work from Mckeown after Stocktons midfield gave the ball away sloppily.
West were now in the ascendancy and Stockton’s defence were being stretched by the movement of Fisher Purewal and Mitchell.
Stockton made changes which gave them a boost but a challenge by Coulthard on the 18 yard line was penalised despite him seemingly getting the ball first and when FISHER crashed the ball home from the free kick on 66 mins the game looked over for the Anchors.
But as we found out last season on the way to Wembley this set of lads are made from sterner stuff and the skipper NICHOLSON started the comeback on 78 minutes grabbing his 3rd goal in 2 games when he bravely dived in to get his head on the end of Craggs free kick from the left as Purewal tried to boot it clear.
Then 4 minutes later a great run inside by the willing Garbutt saw him feed Sub Chris STOCKTON running in behind and he finished well past Bland to make it 3-3
Both sides had chances to win it late on and Fisher skied his shot from 12 yards out with the goal at his mercy and Arthur made two great saves in injury time in a late flurry, one low down from a Mitchell shot sticks in the mind
Last season at around this time we lost 3-1 to West, today shows how far we’ve come by reeling in a talented experienced side.The Anchors have held their own today and maybe could have nicked it. Great point after looking dead and buried with 20 minutes to go.
Excellent performance on his first start of the season from Jordan Robinson bodes well for the rest of the season and he seamlessly moved from centre half into a holding midfield role and added to that by notching with his first touch today. Matthew Garbutt got sponsors man of the match for his attacking play and he looked rejuvenated which is another plus for the squad.
Full time at The Coverall Stadium Stockton Town 3 v 3 West Auckland.
Stockton Town: (3-5-2) Arthur, Garbutt, D Mulligan(Coulthard), Robinson Risbrough, Nicholson; N Mulligan(Stockton), Woodhouse, Craggs, Roberts, Coleman(Carter).
Subs not used: Mohamed, Ward.
Goals: Robinson 3′, Nicholson, 78’, Stockton 82’.
Video – James Cartwright