Darlington Spraire Lads 3, Aycliffe Sports Club 1
By Paul Eales
Newton Aycliffe Sports Club lost their first league game of the season when they took on high-flying Darlington Spraire Lads at the weekend.
With only one defeat this season (against The Huntsman), the Sports Club knew that this would be a tough game to get the points to stay amongst the promotion race. With notable absentees from the squad, Aycliffe set out with what has become a standard 4-4-2 formation, choosing to pair Damien Jose with top scorer Chris Jones.
The first 15 minutes was completely dominated by the home side, particularly in midfield but keeper Chris Palmer had little to do as he watched the home sides effort either go wide or fly over the bar, but the early signs were there for Aycliffe to be wary off. It was on 32 minutes when the deadlock was broken with the home side breaking through the midfield, and as players backed off, a hopeful long shot found its way past Chris Palmer to make it 1-0.
Aycliffe woke up a little after this but the closest effort came from Chris Jones who fired over the bar. A number of corners from the Sports Club failed to cause too many problems at this stage and were caught with long ball over the top and the Spraire lads made it 2-0 on 36 minutes. A head injury to Craig Barrigan did not stop the midfielder from stamping his authority on the game with more tough tackling in midfield and his pass out wide to Jones saw the forward play Anthony Campbell (above) through to fire home his 3rd goal in 2 games to make it 2-1 just before the break.
A quick formation change at half time saw Aycliffe revert to a 3 man central midfield, bringing Paul Cook back in from the right hand side joining Ryan Stonehouse and Craig Barrigan, with Anth Campbell sitting between the defence and midfield to tighten up the centre of the park. This change worked well with Aycliffe seeing more of the ball in key areas and a lot of pressure was put on for the equaliser. However, with 20 minutes to go, some sloppy defending saw another effort from outside of the box creep past Chris Palmer and into the far corner of the goal to make it 3-1 and essentially game over. The Sports Club pushed for a goal to get them back into the game but the Spraire lads managed to block out any efforts and control the game until the final whistle to see NASC FC succumb to their first league defeat of the season and leave them just outside the Promotion chase, albeit with a number of games in hand over most of the pack.
Sports Club now have 3 league games before the Christmas break which they need to make count in order to stay in the chase.
Team: Chris Palmer, Jonathan Clegg, David Hall, Mark Craggs, Matty Alder, Ryan Stonehouse, Craig Barrigan, Paul Cook, Anthony Campbell (1), Damien Jose, Chris Jones.
Subs (Used): Craig Clark, Shaun Grant, Michael Burns.
Next up : Home League Game vs The Green Dragon (Moore Lane Sunday Dec 1st – 10:30 KO).