Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:45 am
BILLINGHAM TOWN (2) 6 og 11, Oakley 22, Hutchinson 70, 86, 89, 90
EASINGTON COLLIERY (0) 1 Pounder 63
The old football adage states form is temporary - class is permanent. Town striker Craig Hutchinson will know that better than anybody else! In the process of scoring four goals against a team he invariably excels against, Hutchinson allayed any fears that the forward had looked a little jaded in recent weeks. In all probability, he just needed a goal after going five games without getting his name on the scoresheet. Speaking of fear, you could smell the scent of it amongst Easington’s rearguard every time he touched the ball. Poor central defenders Niall McGoldrick and Michael Robson didn’t know whether to be pulled out of position or to allow Hutchinson the time and space to do as he liked. Hutchinson wasn’t the only one to be back to his sparkling best - so too was his partner in crime Jamie Davis who earned several assists on the day. Skipper, Stephen Oakley returned to the side after injury and capped off a fine display with a headed goal while the team benefited from the 3-5-2 formation against a side who are geared up for attacking football themselves. Although the visitors did manage to reduce the deficit midway through the second half, one felt Town always had the quality to up their level a gear or two and that’s what happened. In fact, it’s a trait that has served them so well throughout the season. Billingham more or less did the damage in the first half where they produced some incisive football down the flanks as they dominated possession in central midfield. Easington had their moments too, especially in the twenty minute period after half time but ultimately, they couldn’t contain Hutchinson amongst others over the ninety minutes. Potentially, this could have been a banana skin fixture, as was Thornaby’s match at Crook Town and both teams have passed another test with five games remaining. Town travel to Willington next week while Thornaby face a tricky fixture at Heaton Stannington.
As stated earlier, Billingham went with a 3-5-2 formation against Easington’s more conventional 4-4-2 and it was the home side who looked the more comfortable in the early exchanges. Davis saw his header saved by Keith Finch after good work from Hutchinson on the right side and it was Hutchinson who initiated an error from Niall McGoldrick in defence that led to the opening goal. The central defender dwelt while in possession allowing the forward to square the ball across towards Elliott Beddow but it was fellow centre half Robson who steered it home with a trailing leg. The visitors had an excellent opportunity to respond moments later when they had a three versus two situation. Jack Pounder had time to pick out Josh Home-Jackson outside the box but the striker tried to shift the ball onto his other foot and his low effort failed to trouble Lewis Macdonald. Town were dominating the central midfield areas as Hutchinson was wreaking havoc inside the final third. And it came as no surprise when Town extended their lead on twenty two minutes; Lee Moore’s pin point corner was powerfully headed home by Stephen OAKLEY. Hutchinson then nearly pulled off a wonder goal by attempting to chest, turn and volley but his strike went over the crossbar. At the other end, Liam Adamson should have done better when he blazed over and the final real chance of the half fell to Ash Lavan who flashed wide from twenty yards out.
HT BILLINGHAM TOWN 2 EASINGTON COLLIERY 0
Easington came out the second half with a bit more commitment and aggression as both sides were going into meaty challenges but fairly. The approach seemed to be working for the visitors. Home-Jackson dragged a shot wide while substitute Kyle Middleton was making an impression in midfield. In fact, it was Middleton who engineered a response that led to their goal. The midfielder found Home-Jackson on the left and the striker managed to shake off the attention from Kris Summers and then passed the ball across to Pounder for a simple tap in. A corner from Lewis Green fell to Chris Pearson at the back post but his shot on the rise was at a good height for Macdonald. As is often the case, Town soon found their momentum again. Despite facing the attention of three surrounding players, Davis managed to find HUTCHINSON who rounded Finch and fired into an empty goal. Then the game became the Craig Hutchinson show as Easington began to lose their defensive discipline. One effort hit the bar, another, a free kick was saved by Finch and then he added a second after Davis played him in on goal; Finch came racing out of his box but he could only make connection with the striker which earned him a yellow card - no matter as HUTCHINSON shrugged off the challenge and waltzed in the fourth. Goal five, and HUTCHINSON’S hat trick came via a low strike that squirmed underneath Finch and goal six and HUTCHINSON’s fourth came via the spot. Finch was extremely lucky not to receive a second yellow and a red card for bringing down the striker but HUTCHINSON had the final say by placing the ball into the bottom corner. In the end, an emphatic and deserved win. Hutchinson’s return to form, a timely reminder that Billingham are still wanting this title.
FT BILLINGHAM TOWN 6 EASINGTON COLLIERY 1
Town: McDonald, Moore, Flounders, Connor, Oakley, Summers, Lavan, Davis, Hutchinson, Beddow, Robinson (Hogan). Unused: Hillerby, McPhillips, Kirkbride, Carter.
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