Mon May 06, 2019 3:18 pm
2019 brought the visit of Brandon united who we had struggled to defeat away from home. The game ended in a bizarre 4-4 with two goals from Hutchinson, an own goal and a Robinson strike in front of 169. It was eventually a point gained having come from 2-4 behind. For a single game, Simpson returned in goal to replace McDonald who was on the bench. The following game was a difficult trip to Bedlington Terriers and on a glue pot of a pitch, a single Hutchinson goal gave us the points with McPhillips adding strength to the midfield for the second period as a half time substitution In front of 165 fans. The following game was at home to Esh Winning who we had drawn 4-4 at Waterhouses but any chance of an upset was quickly extinguished with goals from defender Lee Moore his first for the club, skipper Oakley and a Hutchinson strike 3-0. Joe Carter made his debut after signing from Stockton Town and had a hand in one of the goals. The unbeaten run continued at Northallerton Town on another Friday night with their largest crowd of the season 320. An excellent solo strike which must be goal of the season contender from distance Craig Hutchinson saw a 1-0 win.
The beginning of February saw keeper Naylor return from Sweden and was transferred to Easington Colliery without making another appearance due to having existing cover in Simpson and Cranston. The next game was a visit to Newcastle to play on astro turf against West Allotment Celtic who had been narrowly defeated 2 -1 at Bedford Twrrace and in an incident packed game with strong winds, Town fell behind 1-0 to Baxter, however our second double sending off of the season for professional fouls involved Brandon Kirkbride and Beddow, the latter that lead to a penalty and saw the Town 2-0 down. Hogan made it 2-1 but they were not able to prevent the first defeat and the long run sadly came to an end after 28 games with 9 players on the field.
The next game was at home to bottom of the table Durham City whose last win was in October at neighbours Synthonia with Beddow and Kirkbride suspended, a crowd of 184 saw McPhillips and Jackson make their full debuts. Ryan Lam who had transferred from Durham City in January and regular defenders Flounders and Summers were on the bench. The visitors showed they were not overawed and took the lead but a goal from McPhillips made the scores level then a missed penalty from Hutchinson would have given us the lead, however Durham City scored in the closing minutes to make it 2-1 and inflict a second defeat in two games. The lead at the top over Thornaby was decreasing rapidly. Another home game against tricky opponents Tow Law Town who we drew away 0-0 saw defender Flounders grab a hat trick and a Robinson goal saw Town bounce back 4-1.
An injury to skipper Oakley kept him out for a couple of games at this stage. The next game on Saturday 2nd March was a crucial top two encounter at Thornaby in front of a bumper 470 crowd. Thornaby took an early lead and Beddow replied in the first half but a penalty for a trip saw Kurtis Howes put Thornaby ahead 2-1. However, another trip by Jordan Wilson on Flounders in time added on lead to a penalty for Town by sub Lavan whose shot was saved and gave Thornaby the win to home celebrations and a third defeat for Town .
The following Saturday saw the visit of in form Crook Town who had been unbeaten for several games. Striker Callum Hassan started up front after signing from Tow Law Town, the game was tight but a late goal from sub Lavan gave Town a narrow 1-0 win in front of 203. Town bounced back with another home win against Easington Colliery 6-1 in front of 216. Hutchinson scoring four goals an own goal and skipper Oakley completed the rout. Next up, the visit to Heaton Stannington was postponed due to flooding, and rescheduled for Saturday 20th April. The next away game was a tricky visit to Willington, a single late Lavan goal saw the Town taking all three point, a crowd of 136 with many travelling fans. Hassan made his second appearance as a late sub and Matthew Garbutt impressed in midfield after signing from Stockton Town.
The run in for the second division title was tight with Thornaby also continuing to match us win for win. In early April a midweek visit of Chester Le Street saw Town play their game in hand in front of 183, another brace from Hutchinson and a Connor goal saw a 3-0 win in convincing style. An away visit to the seaside to Redcar Athletic followed, an early goal from Beddow and a Hutchinson penalty saw a 2-0 win in front of 260. Our nearest rivals Thornaby were now two points behind us but we had the superior goal difference by 9 goals. However, Thornaby played a midweek game at Tow law Town and won to go top of the league by one point with one game to play. Our final two games we needed two wins to seal the title which was in our own hands . Our final home game saw Birtley Town visit on Saturday 13th April, a 247 crowd witnessed another brace from Hutchinson (I seem to have said that loads) and Moores second of the season together with Davis 9th saw a 4-1 win, most of the goals coming late in the game which was another pattern this season showing the fitness and patience within the squad.
Our final game at Heaton Stannington meant if we won or drew we would win the league and backed by two coach loads of supporters we took over Groundsell Park and a crowd of 401 saw a tense game. we took the lead through an own goal by their keeper from a Dixon corner before Heaton Stannington equalised quickly, but as has been the case all season Hutchinson was on hand to score his 43rd goal of the season for us to lift the second division trophy, an incredible achievement bearing in mind the issues in the first part of 2018 .
We finished the 2nd division season 14th out of 20 teams for Fair play 4th out of 20 teams for the Respect awards which is good. In the league we got 93 points from 38 games which is 7 points more than the now defunct Blyth AFC who won the league last season having played 2 more games and the same as Stockton Town in season 2016/17 but they also played 2 more games. We scored 56 goals at home and 50 away conceding 19 at home and 18 away. Hutchinson scored in 25 games including 5 v Durham City, 4 v Easington colliery and hat tricks v Ryton and Crawcrook and Synthonia
Lavan scored 4 v Washington and Flounders 3 v Tow law Town. To go through a season of 38 games with 3 defeats is excellent, the squad has remained fairly stable throughout. Seven players were signed and five were transferred out. By far the most impressive signings were keeper McDonald from Marske united in October and Garbutt from Stockton Town in March. Jackson from Northallerton Town, Mcphillips from Guisborough Town and Carter from Stockton Town in supporting roles.