Sun Mar 31, 2019 7:12 pm
WILLINGTON (0) 0
BILLINGHAM TOWN (0) 1 Lavan 68
Sometimes as supporters, we can get too enamoured with the final scoreline. Terminology such as ‘the result was flattering’ or ‘it was never a 4-1 game’ etc. Sometimes, it’s just all about the result and yesterday was such a fixture. Town probably deserved to win by a more convincing scoreline but as the season reaches the closing stages, a scrappy 1-0 was all that was required. Town had to dig deep against a side that approached the game with caution, a sign of respect and also a sign of Willington’s loss in form when it comes to wins on the board. Surprisingly, Willington hadn’t won since the 12th January so to expect them to attack Town was a tad unrealistic. So it was up to Billingham to grind out a win when circumstances and decisions didn't exactly go their own way. There was a sense of deja vu here. Rewind to three weeks ago against Crook Town when a stalemate was a possibility and up popped Ash Lavan with a scruffy winner. To be fair to Ash, his goal that secured another vital win was more refined and accomplished and a hint of redemption for his added on time penalty miss against Thornaby. Strikers are defined by chances missed and taken. Craig Hutchinson went through a spell of penalty aberrations then bounced back and Lavan has done exactly the same. Another story to this match was the steady, calming influence of Matty Garbutt’s debut in central midfield alongside Jack Connor. In his previous spell with Town, Garbutt was an inexperienced, raw winger of potential. At Stockton Town, he often performed with distinction in a right-back role. Here, he began the game in confident fashion before excelling in the second half - his dead ball productivity certainly caught the eye and his signing is certainly no April’s fool! And defensively, Dan Flounders, Stephen Oakley and Kris Summers were in imperious form and also a constant threat at the other end from Garbutt’s/Lee Moore’s dead ball situations. With four fixtures remaining, the title decider appears to be heading towards a final day climax on the 20th April. Of course, plenty can still happen before then. Billingham entertain Chester Le Street Town on Tuesday night while Thornaby host Durham City. Surely both clubs deserve promotion??
Joint managers Barry Oliver & Paul Edwards retained the 3-5-2 formation that had served them so well last week against Easington. There were changes in personnel: Lee Moore replaced Matty Robinson on the left while Elliott Beddow filled in for Moore on the right side. Garbutt, as previously mentioned slotted into a holding central midfield role. Willington selected two forwards in Connor Winter and Dean Thexton although Winter was asked to perform a more industrious role in front of the midfield. Right from the off, Willington were content in playing within their own half, similar to how Washington approached the game back in September. As a result, large periods of play got bogged down in central positions and neither side mustered a shot on target during the first half. Billingham did have the better chances though. Beddow fired wide after neat play by Lavan and Beddow had another effort from the edge of the box which was also off target.
HT WILLINGTON 0 BILLINGHAM TOWN 0
The second period saw an improved performance from Town as they predominantly spent the next forty five minutes inside Willington’s half. Lavan fired wide from an acute angle and at the other end, a rare chance for Winter deflected behind for a corner. Then on the hour mark came a highly contentious moment. Hutchinson back to goal, engineered a magnificent twenty yard strike on the turn which sailed over Craig Hannant and into the net - much to the delight of the Town travelling contingent behind the goal. However, the linesman’s flag did go up early for an offside decision but there was much debate afterwards whether the decision was the correct one. The setback didn’t deter the visitors. Hannant bravely came out to close down Beddow and then Lavan’s side volley arched over the crossbar. The goal was coming and Town finally took a deserved lead after sixty eight frustrating minutes. Garbutt’s floated free kick was headed down by Kris Summers towards an unmarked LAVAN who chested the ball down and rifled home from close range. Further chances came and went - Lavan volleyed wide from the edge of the box and Oakley saw his downward header bounce behind for a goal kick. The single goal proved to be enough as the players went over to applaud the numerous Town supporters who had travelled up by coach. In time, the Town faithful may look back in fondness at a commensurate 1-0 victory that contributed towards promotion. Here’s hoping!
FT WILLINGTON 0 BILLINGHAM TOWN 1
Town: McDonald, Flounders, Moore, Connor, Oakley, Summers, Garbutt, Lavan, Hutchinson (Hassan), Davis, Beddow (Hogan). Unused: Hillerby, Kirkbride, Carter.
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