Shildon AFC v Stockton Town FC
The Anchors made it 6 League wins in a row in this top of the table clash, Shildon will be ruing a missed penalty at the start of the second half but Stockton's keeper Callum Roberts was in imperious form and including the spot kick made other crucial saves. Two second half goals from Woodhouse and debutant Franks sealed the deal in a good all round performance on a sticky pitch, in front of Shildons biggest crowd of the season padded out by hundreds of noisy colourful Stockton fans.
Stockton fielded the same line up that got the win at South Shields on Tuesday.
As you would expect the game was a little cagey in the early stages and there was little of note save for a Thexton shot in the first minute from the edge of the box which flew over the bar.
Both teams were cancelling each other out and it was 17 minutes into the game before the usually busy Hayes could get into it he picked up the ball and went on a mazy run into the box, his right foot cross shot was saved well by Newbrooke. The game got a little feisty and Shildon picked up 3 yellow cards in a short space of time for poor challenges.
Both teams have quality throughout and Kurt Matthews got on the end of a good move but from a dangerous position he shot over the bar. The best chance of the half fell to Danny Craggs, running in behind he was found by Chay Liddle but Callum Roberts came out to meet him and made a superb save with his feet as the midfielder tried to slide it into the bottom corner. HT 0-0
The game changed after just three minutes of the second half when Matthews was first to a ball in the box and was brought down by the unfortunate McWilliams. Billy Greulich-Smith spotted it up and fired it to the keepers right, Roberts guessing correctly made a super save and then managed to block the follow up too from Thexton and that seemed to take the steam out of the Railwaymen's engine.
The anchors were now in the ascendancy and created several opportunities. Owens fired just wide after good work form Risbrough and the winger was in the game again when a Lewis King cross just evaded him. Kevin Hayes was getting on the ball too and he jinked inside Robson but as he pulled he trigger the ball popped up and he couldnt keep it down
But the Anchors wouldnt be denied and Shildon were struggling now to get the ball out of their half. On 62 mins King linked with Hayes and he passed it inside to WOODHOUSE who was now finding lots of room, he wriggled his way along the 18 yard line past Vaulks and fired in a low shot along the floor with his left foot, Newbrooke getting a slight touch but could only push it onto the foot of the post and into the net.
The Anchors fans were in full voice now and the team with Portas and Craggs controlling the midfield looked like they would see it out comfortably. Shildon had to go all out for a goal and the Anchors looked likely to take advantage on the break.
Dan McWilliams long ball on 81 minutes fell perfectly into the path of sub Mikey Roberts who was away and clear, he raced into the box and drew the goalkeeper before unselfishly squaring to the debutant FRANKS to finish easily from 8 yards into an empty net, for what was probably his first touch in the yellow shirt.
The Anchors sat in and tried to see the game out, to their credit Shildon continued to press hard for an opening and Thexton hit the outside of the post with a left foot effort on 88 and in the very last minute of injury time Callum Roberts kept his deserved clean sheet by somehow one handed, collecting an effort from Greulich-Smith after he looked stranded on the floor when it clipped the bar FT 0-2
Fantastic result for the Anchors cementing their place at the top of the League, was a tough physical game and after the Penalty save you would have bet on a goalless draw, but Stockton keep coming up with the answers and seem able to adjust their game to find whats required to take the 3 points, it was no different today, they came up with the goods and Shildon had no answer.
Fine performances all over the pitch King and McWilliams were top drawer as usual, Tom Portas was excellent and any other day would have walked of with MoM but Callum Roberts who spends some weeks with little to do, showed his class today and when called upon pulled off a couple of wonderful saves. A nice break now with no midweek match to prepare for Ashington at home next weekend.
Shildon FC: Newbrook, Heywood, Robson, Moore, Vaulks, Liddle, Trotter(c), Craggs, Greulich-Smith, Thexton, Matthews.
Subs: Mulligan, Curl, Lavery, Palmer, Atkinson.
Words: Lee Nicholson
Photos: Harry Cook/Ray Sharpe
Highlights: James Cartwright