Friday, 5 February 2016

2nd February 2016 - Norton and Stockton Ancients (L)

We were certainly excited to be returning to the field of dreams that is Hillheads.
Since losing to Dunston in the FA Vase in the 21st November, there had only been one home game, against Bedlington Terriers, to enjoy. We had been starved of our heroes and the Hillheads posse.
It appeared the best possible game to set back on the road to climbing the table. Home game against the bottom team, who hadn't won away all season and not won since October 10th...doddle. We were optimistic to say the least...stupid buggers.
The crowd was small but considering there hadn't been a game for so long and that this had been arranged at short notice, that wasn't a surprise. Me and The Boy Mark were on our own as we made the trudge back to the Car Park End - surely even the fact that we were kicking towards our traditional second half end wouldn't upset the proverbial apple cart....?
Early pressure brought both optimism and a corner. There was even time for an unnamed member of the bay team to discuss educational shop with The Boy as we eagerly anticipated its delivery...that had to be a first at a Bay match!
Yet the expected first goal didn't arrive as Youlden, Kempster and Shanks were either foiled by post or keeper. However there hadn't been any blistering shots or piledrivers and Norton's packed defence had coped well with the home team's proddings. A brief fright just before half time set the hearts a-flutter when Jennison was called into action with two great saves to keep out the visitors. However at half time, although things hadn't exactly sparkled on the pitch, there seemed nothing to worry about. The exceptions were: the lack of variety at the Seahorse bar and chocolate at Tommy's Tea Emporium!
 not attacking the visiting goal!
Into the second half and when Shanks delicately lobbed the keeper, only to see his effort hacked away, it looked like a Bay goal was imminent.
A goal was imminent but not of the home variety. There seemed no danger when Norton picked up a freekick on the right but the ball ended up at the far post where Matty Lovegreen (a hard footballer's name there) knocked it in.
Which was pretty disappointing.
Surely the Bay would be level in a jiffy? Alas no. After successfully weathering a resurgence in the visiting attack, the lads camped out in the visiting defence. Unfortunately the cocky Thackeray in the Norton goal matched all attempts to beat him. There was a good bit of chat as he chose which blade of grass or divet to take his goalkick from but that didn't bother him either. Only surprise captain Callum's shot threatened to muddy the keeper's gloves and as each of the creative players up front were sacrificed: Youlden, Shanks and Kempster it looked like skill was to be replaced else.
Oooops I did it again! Miss that is.
It was good to see the return of Craig McFarlane but it will take a while for him to return to his former level of masterly after breaking his leg in April. As the final whistle neared it seemed like no-one on the home side actually wanted to score as Sam Norris' testing of the side netting became the best opportunity to score.
Had we been missing this?

Back home, I perused the programme notes by Paddy and was disappointed to see him criticise players. The phrase about washing dirty underwear in public sprang to mind. Always a rubbish way of motivating people, IMHO, the fact still remains that the Bay have now won only one of the last seven games. You can blame the pitch, players going on holiday and players' motivation but at the end of the day a manager lives by his results. Motivating people is his role and it seems like there doesn't seem to be a lot unity or passion on the pitch at the moment. Whose fault is that I wonder...?

Post script - meeting one of the player's dads whilst out for my Friday sandwich treat, he told me that Paddy hadn't been able to make the match and that the substitutions had done by the assistant, read into that what you will...

No comments:

Post a Comment