Newton Aycliffe Sports Club 2, Huntsman 1
By Paul Eales
Newton Aycliffe Sports Club’s first league game of 2014 saw them end local rivals Huntsman’s unbeaten league record on Sunday.
With league games few and far between due to poor weather and pitch conditions, this tie had been eagerly awaited for some time with The Huntsman having won 12 out of 12 of their league games so far.
With the pitch heavy but in good condition, it was the wind that was going to play a major part in this game with severe gusts evident from the start. Kicking against the wind for the first half the home team found it difficult to cope with the conditions and more often than not gave the ball away to easily. The Huntsman side looked to take advantage of this with more precise direct football and threatened the Sports Club goal with a few early efforts but goalkeeper Chris Palmer remained focused and helped keep the opposition at bay.
However, it was on the half hour mark that the deadlock was broken. The home side failed to close down quickly enough and a long range effort from Davey Neale rocketed past the keeper to make it 1-0. Huntsman maintained the pressure and went for the kill, sensing a second would soon follow – but just before the break were caught on the counter as centre half Mark Craggs broke forward only to see his fierce shot parried by keeper Neil Dodds with the mis-firing Chris Jones failing to knock in the rebound. Half time : NASC FC 0-1 The Huntsman.
With the wind now in their favour, The Sports Club started the 2nd half with a lot more confidence spending more time in the oppositions half but failing to convert any early pressure. However, it was the introduction of Anthony Campbell for the ineffective Chase McMullen that changed the game. Campbell’s composure helped to settle the home side who started to knock the ball round well and maintained the pressure on The Huntsman with a lot of possession. It was on the hour mark, that Campbell saw the opening, taking the ball in his stride and striking with his trusty left foot across the goalkeeper and into the back of the net to make it 1-1.
The home side saw the opportunity to make the pressure count and looked for the all-important second goal which came from an extra-ordinary effort from Captain Mark Craggs. With the defender deep inside his own half, a quick glance up saw the keeper off the line and his long clearance-come-shot was lofted high, took one bounce and caught the keeper out who could only watch haplessly as the ball dropped into the net…a goal worth of winning any game.
It proved all important as with less than 10 minutes left The Huntsman could not find a way through a now very confident Sports Club side.
The Sports Club now have 7 league games to play, more than most sides in the league and this result has not only helped keep them in the automatic promotion places, but still half a chance of winning the league if they can go the rest of the season unbeaten – a tall ask, but still very possible with confidence high after this result.
Next up is another local derby against The Royal British Legion at home on Sunday March 2nd.
Team:- Chris Palmer, Jonathan Clegg, Gareth Boyes, Mark Craggs (1), Darren Bossomworth, David Teder, Tom Watson, Craig Barrigan, Ryan Stonehouse, Chase McMullen, Chris Jones.
Subs (Used): Anthony Campbell (1), Paul Cook