Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Northallerton Town 0 v South Shields 1 - Northern League Division 2

Wednesday 4th May 2016
Ebac Northern League Division 2
at the Calvert Stadium, Northallerton
Northallerton Town (0) 0
South Shields (0) 1
Stephen Ramsey 78
Admission £5. Programme £1
Attendance 185
Final league table 2015-16: Ebac Northern League Div 2 HERE
More photographs from this game HERE
85 miles, straight up the A1 as the crow flies, separate the Calvert Stadium from my swanky abode in the sprawling metropolis of East Retford upon Idle, which isn't an unreasonable distance for a midweek outing, now that the weather has finally improved after four months of virtually non stop rain, ice and grey skies.
The A1 northbound had everything you could ever wish for tonight; if your wildest dreams are akin to a post watershed screening of Mad Max meets The Hills Have Eyes, co starring a lot of blind drivers and coffin sized pot holes.
Evidently, it would seem that there is a shop somewhere in North Yorkshire where you can buy Christmas Crackers that contain driving licenses.
But, more by luck than anything else, I arrived in the Calvert Stadium's spacious car park around 40 minutes before kick off completely unscathed, physically at least, and paid my five English pounds to enter Northallerton's fine arena, which like many other Northern League grounds is a bit rough around the edges, but all the better for it and oozing with charm and character, in every nook and cranny. 
The Town's recently revamped clubhouse is a spacious and welcoming beer drinkers haven, with a tidy area of tables sectioned off for eating the obviously very popular range of no nonsense food available and a back room that doubles up as a lounge for diners and a hospitality room, for the prawn sandwich element and club officials to enjoy a touch of luxurious separation away from the commoners.
As I entered the clubhouse somebody shouted out "Aston Villa have won on the scratchcard. Tufty, collect your money at the bar!" Finally, a bit of success for Aston Villa, who'd have thought it!?
Northallerton beat tonight's visitors 3-2 in the opening game of the season, in the reverse fixture at Mariners Park, but in the interim South Shields have run away with championship and finished their highly successful campaign on 107 points, a whole 32 points ahead of tonight's hosts, who came in, in a very respectable eighth place in the final reckoning.
Although the visitors enjoyed their eighth win in a row tonight, they were made to work had by Northallerton, who were in high spirits after winning the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup on Monday, when they beat Ryhope Colliery Welfare in the final... and let's be honest, nobody needs any motivation to raise their game when they've got a chance to put one over on the league champions on home turf.
The game kicked off to a backdrop of noise from the Northallerton Ultras, a singing section of youngster who stand behind the visiting goalkeeper 'noising him up' for the duration, letting the world know that their locality was wonderful because it was full of 'tits, fanny and beer', though I suspect that some of them are still to young to have actually sampled any of the above just yet.
Aaron Ramsbottom was chopped down during the opening exchanges as Dan Carson got an early one in to assert his authority, but Andrew Ramsbottom shot wide from the resulting free kick.
At the other end Josh Keogh upended Martyn Coleman,who brushed himself down and was on hand to forced a save out of Matt Calvert, with a stooping header from Rob Briggs dead ball kick.
Calvert saved from Robert Briggs but Leepaul Scroggins latched onto the the rebound and thought he had scored from close range, but an offside flag dictated otherwise.
Michael Turner went in heavily on Jack Dalton and received a yellow card for his actions, although several locals nearby were demanding a red. Dalton couldn't continue and Damon Reaks, sporting a shock of blond hair that Lady Gaga would've nben proud of, came on in his place.
Calvert was keeping the visitors at bay, in particular Coleman, who could've had a first half hat trick on any other given day.
HT: 0-0
From the opposite side of the pitch, the bar sounded to be getting very lively, as the young Northallerton fans turned up en masse to chant songs about the relative merits of Yorkshiremen and Geordies, but it was more of a case of high jinx than anything sinister.
Calvert seemed to have something against Coleman personally, as he continued to deny the visitors striker with a string of saves, while at the other Danny Jones needed to be on his guard when Deaks latched onto his miss hit clearance and almost broke the deadlock.
Trying to stay focused while the lads behind the goal are
singing: "He's having a shit! He's having a shit!"
Darryl Hall, possibly the tallest man in the ground tonight, looked solid at the back as he thwarted several Northallerton attacks as they forced a couple of corners.
And Ben Riding was fortunate not to open the scoring at the wrong end as he deflected Andy Ramsbottom's stinging shot just wide of his own goal.
Keogh cleared as Briggs threatened to open the scoring and it began to look as though, in spite of me having travelled due north to watch a very entertaining game, it was possibly end up being a goalless one nevertheless.
But on 78 minutes, Stephen Ramsey scored what was an outrageously confident goal, if he'd meant it to go in, or a rather fortunate one, from out of 'they all count anyway' annuls if he didn't, when he looped a long throw from Riding into the area and towards the six yard box and it ended up in the back of the net.
Aaron Ramsden had to rush his shot with Danny Carson closing him down and the ball ran wide of the upright.
Warren Byrne looked to have doubled South Shield lead in the closing moments, but his header from Coleman's right wing delivery crashed back off the crossbar.
In stoppage time, Reaks saw off two challenges as he darted across the front of the Mariners area, before slipping a measured pass into the path of Stuart Owens who was caught in two minds, whether to shoot or nudge the ball to Danny McClachlan... he should have gone for goal, because the assistant referee's flag went up as he rolled the ball to McClachlan and the chance was gone, there were to be no further opportunities as the referee blew up for full time.
FT: Northallerton Town 0 v South Shields 1
The A1 and it's usual Kamikaze ensemble, behaved as good as gold on the way home, which was unusual, but it made a nice change.
Both teams couldn't be faulted for effort and application tonight, especially as their was nothing at stake apart from pride... and the locals I met made a good impression on me too.
It's a decent club Northallerton Town. I'd recommend all of you football travellers to get there ASAP if you haven't been before. I've earmarked them for a revisit next season.