Saturday 16th November 2019
Bet Victor Northern Premier League, Premier Division
at the Northolme/Martin & Co. Arena
Gainsborough Trinity (0) 0
Morpeth Town (1) 1
Joe Walton 34
John Rudkin's excellent match photos: click HERE
My point & hope mobile phone pictures: click HERE
Based on what I've seen myself, first hand on the two occasions that I've watched Gainsborough in action this month, I'd be very surprised if they're not climbing the table any time soon.
That said, there is still a lot of work to be done, to kick-start this as of yet, very disappointing campaign for Gainsborough. But the signs are there, that the malaise and decline have started to be addressed and that the work rate and effort have begun to improve on the pitch too... and that progress, in a nutshell, was the main reason that Trinity were applauded from the pitch at the end of the game.
Mr Woodhouse thought that his side were 'bang average' and didn't warrant having the fans clap them off, but regardless of the fact that his side aren't the finish article and firing on all cylinders, as of yet, there was a marked improvement on many levels, from what has been served up thus far this season, and the fans responded accordingly.
I didn't bother blogging about, or even listing the previous game that I saw at the Northolme, because it was so poor I actually left at half time. Figuring that there was little scope, or hope, that it was going to get any better after the interval... and I'd already wasted forty five minutes of my life, watching two seemingly disinterested teams, haplessly going through the motions.
Unsurprisingly, that particular game (against Buxton) finished 0-0 and all but convinced me that I'd just seen two sides who were destined for relegation, gingerly tip-toeing on a creaky trapdoor, leading to oblivion.
So although Trinity are obviously going to have to let their own performances and results do their talking, at least the incoming news from the three clubs directly above them in the table, was all good. While their manager is demanding higher standards as the 'Holy Blues' begin to demonstrate signs of an imminent recovery.
In my humble estimation, this was a very evenly balanced game, that could've gone either way... and Morpeth certainly didn't look like a bottom-half of the table team on today's showing.
They set up with a midfield that acted as a first wave of defence and for long spells of the game, that is exactly where two hard working sides met head on, looking to unlock each other's well organised defences.
Kingsley James in particular, stood out from the early exchanges onward, sweeping up and organising his back line to good effect, and proving to be a real stubborn cuss for any 'Dandy Highwayman' showing any inclination to stand and deliver in or around Trinity's goal area.
Both sides had chances around the quarter of a hour mark, but Gav Allot, the home side's captain, and Joe Walton of Morpeth put their respective chances wide, on a rain-drenched pitch, that got wetter as the afternoon wore on.
Shane Clarke must've wished the visitors goal was two yards wider, when his rushed effort flew wide of the mark, while James Williams couldn't keeper his header on target as Trinity went close again.
The visitors conducted a dress rehearsal, when Stephen Forster got forward on the right and crossed to Walton who headed against the right hand upright.
Two minutes later the same Forster down the right, followed by a cross to Walton, beyond the Gainsborough keeper Lloyd Allinson, saw the prolific marksman net his ninth goal of the season, when he directed a header back across the face of the goal and just inside that very same right stick. Practice makes perfect!
Dan Lowson denied Allot and Clarke nodded the ball narrowly wide from Curtis Morrison's cross from the dead ball line... while Michael Turner saw a speculative long range shot fly narrowly wide of the hosts goal, right on the stroke of half time.
HT: Holy Blues 0 v The Highwaymen 1
Billy Chadwick put in a great shift for Gainsborough and probably ran James close for the man of the match award, with his link up play, while Simon Russell adapted well, filling in to protect his defence in whatever the modern day name is for the role that used to be known as a 'Libero', when football was still played in black and white and people took wooden rattles with them to the match and wore silky rosettes in club colours.
Trinity rode their luck... and probably several other people's sahre of good fortune too, ten minutes after the interval, when Liam Noble rolled a slide-rule pass forward, right in front of Jack Foalle, that saw the former Whitley Bay striker, take the ball around Allinson, before a last ditch intervention from the over-exposed keeper, saw him haul the visitors number nine down, just outside his penalty area. The match referee: Reece Davies, decided that the offence only warranted a yellow card, much to the disbelief of the Morpeth players, whose annoyance was further compounded, when Noble sent the resulting free kick over the bar.
Allinson struggled to hold onto a Michael McKeown strike from outside the area, and doubtless would have been mightily relieved to see the ball spin wide of his post.
Gainsborough pushed for an equaliser late on and were almost on level terms when Morrison's shot, as he cut in from the right, was deflected over the bar.
Clarke went close again and Allot was thwarted by a last ditch block as he cut into the Morpeth area from the left, while Dowson, the visitors goalkeeper, seemed to be involved in the thick of the action every few moments as the clock ticked down to full time, when the visitors celebrated hanging on for a hard won three points.
FT: Gainsborough Trinity 0 v Morpeth Town 1
Gainsborough have an away game in Third Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy, against Darlington, to look forward to next weekend, before Stalybridge Celtic arrive at the Northolme seven days later for an FA Cup tie. Trinity's next league fixture isn't until Saturday 7th December, when they face Scarborough Athletic at home.
While Morpeth travel across to Bamber Bridge next Saturday for a NPL fixture, where they could do today's host a big favour, if they could win on the road again, for the second week running.