Sunderland West End FC v Stockton Town FC
Stockton overcame both the conditions and some tough opponents in recording a 1 0 victory over Sunderland West End.
There was a start for Macaulay Langstaff up front for Stockton and Ben Priestley also made the bench, both stepping up from the U18's squad. Stockton found themselves kicking with the gale force wind in the first half and the first chance fell to Macaulay Langstaff in the 5th minute but the West End keeper was out quickly to make a great blocking save to keep the scores level. Stockton were doing most of the pressing but finding Sunderland West Ends 4-5-1 formation extremely tough to breakdown, while West End carried the occasional threat on the break. Any set piece was proving to be a danger, with Max Craggs pinpoint delivery causing West End's defence problems. A Max Craggs delivery from the left was met by the on rushing Adam Nicholson but the ball hit a West End defender and was cleared. It was the West End crossbar that came to their rescue next when a Max Craggs corner from the left was met by Kallum Hannah but his header hit the bar and went over the top. Stockton's next chance came on 40 minutes when good interplay down the right between Kallum Hannah and Stav Roberts got Kallam Hannah free on the edge of the box but his shot was saved at his near post by West End's keeper. Then on the stroke of half time following a Jimmy Ward corner, a Stav Roberts pile-driver from the edge of the box was flying into the corner but struck West End's right back on the line, Stockton claimed hand ball but the Referee Dave Watson waved away Stockton's appeals.
The second half was set up to be interesting affair with West End now kicking with the wind. Stockton changed their shape at half time and and it wasn't long before they took the lead. Max Craggs picked up a loose ball on the half way line, powered forward beating two men on the way, Craggs shaped to play the ball wide to Matty Garbutt, but checked back into space 20 yards out before unleashing an unstoppable drive across the keeper into the far corner. A magnificent goal worthy of winning any football match.
Before the restart Chris Stockton came on for Macaulay Langstaff and it wasn't long before Stocko was terrorising West End's defence with his pace. As the half wore on Sunderland started to gamble and throw men forward which was leaving gaps that Stockton were now exploiting. Chris Stockton then burst past the last defender but flashed his shot right across the face of the goal. A number of silly free kicks given away by Stockton gave West End the opportunity to put pressure on the Stockton goal but the towering presence of Adam Nicholson, Tom Coulthard and Stav Roberts dealt with everything West End could throw at us. In the final minutes Chris Stockton again left the West End defence for dead, burst into the area, he rode a challenge and was then clattered by the keeper but once again the Referee waved away Stockton's penalty claims as the ball ran free in the box.
The result keeps Stockton on course for their 3rd successive Wearside League title but with another tough away trip this coming Saturday to Whitehaven AFC.