Huntsman 3, Sports Club 4
Simpasture Park was the host of the most eagerly awaited league game of the DSIL 2nd Division, with the winners knowing that the title would be within grasping distance.
Having played each other just a few weeks ago, and losing their 100% record in the league, The Huntsman were hoping for a reverse result to keep the title race wide open in what has become a three-horse race with the Spraire Lads of Darlington still knocking on the door.
The Home team started the brighter of the two and grabbed the first goal on 8 minutes when Dave Neale picked up the ball on the edge of the box and drove it into the bottom corner with Chris Palmer slow to get down for the shot. Just moments later, with the Sports Club on the back foot, Goalkeeper Palmer redeemed himself by tipping over a powerful volley from Carl Bates.
That was the wakeup call the away side needed as they managed to take a hold of the game from the midfield with Ryan Stonehouse again proving a valuable asset to the Aycliffe side winning the important challenges and driving his team onwards. An injury to David Teder saw an early substitution with Damien Jose slotting in to partner Glenn Hendrix up front. The change had an immediate impact with Jose winning a penalty in the 20th Minute and converting it with ease past Neil Dodds.
Two minutes later, Sports Club doubled their tally with in form striker Hendrix getting his first of the game after holding off the defenders and slotting home into the bottom corner. The home side were now on the back foot and were finding it difficult to cope with the pressure they were being put under and were second to every ball as the Sports Club midfield closed them down quickly to gain possession and kept the ball well with good passing and link up play.
However, the hosts had a stroke of luck when a penalty was awarded when it was deemed that Lee Redpath was fouled when the ball was crossed into the box. Anth Cox stepped up to take it and although Palmer got his body to it, he couldn’t stop the ball crossing the line to make it 2-2 just before the break.
The second half started as brightly as it had finished with both sides desperate for the upper hand and it came on the 55 minute mark when Glenn Hendrix was played through and managed to beat the oncoming goalkeeper to slot home his second and the Sports Club 3rd. This forced the Home side to make a couple of quick changes in personnel and formation, but they were caught off guard with another set piece that Ryan Stonehouse managed to swing his leg at and find the net to make it 2-4 with 20 minutes to go.
The Huntsman rallied and went 3 up top to try and grab something from the game and they did with just 8 minutes left, Adam McDonalds through ball found Jamie Herd who slotted the ball past Chris Palmer to make it 3-4. The final few minutes was end to end, and in the search for the equaliser The Huntsman threw keeper Neil Dodds forward for a corner, which was cleared and Jonathan Clegg ran the length of the pitch, crossed the ball into the middle which was slotted home but disallowed off the referee for offside. One final attack from the Huntsman saw the last shot of the game fly over the bar to the relief of the visitors, who held on to complete the double over their local rivals.
Both Teams have 3rd placed Spraire lads to play and NASC FC know that winning both of their remaining games will win them the league title in their first season together as a club – but the Huntsman, with a game in hand will no doubt push them to the very end and hope for a slip up along the way.
A reminder also that NASC FC is holding a Promotion Party on Friday 4th April. Local Band Live Lounge will be playing hits from bands such as Oasis, Kasabian, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Artic Monkeys, Kings of Leon and many more. Tickets are on sale now either from Paul Eales (07535 591614) or from behind the bar at The Sports Club at just £5 each – it’s going to be a great night – so why not buy a ticket and pop along to support the team.