Have the extra crowd restrictions lowered some Northern League clubs’ attendances?

There seems to have been a general consensus that many Northern League clubs have seen their attendances fall since Durham FA and Northumberland FA brought in extra restrictions. These restrictions include everyone having to wear a face covering and a maximum crowd of 150 in the Northern League.

Quite a few people seem to think that attendance figures for Northern League clubs have gone down since these restrictions have been put in place, with many arguing that people simply aren’t bothering trying to attend a game as they think they’ll be turned away on the gate when they arrive.

It’s obvious that some clubs always get more than 150 in normal times and so their crowds are lower with these restrictions, but a lot of clubs seem to be even struggling to attract 150 now after getting crowds of around 200 prior to the extra restrictions.

To be honest, I think that could well be the case too.

So, I’m going to see if the crowds have changed. In this article, I’m going to go through every Northern League club affiliated to either Durham FA or Northumberland FA and I’m going to compare what their average crowd is now compared to when crowds of 300 were allowed.

Obviously, a lot of clubs are reaching the maximum of 150, so their crowds are going to be lower than they were before, but I think it’s going to be more interesting looking at clubs who don’t normally get crowds of 150.

So, here goes.

Northern League Division One

ClubAverage attendance before and including 23rd SeptemberAverage attendance after 23rd SeptemberPercentage differenceAdded notes
Ashington300150-50%Ashington have reached capacity in all home games regardless of capacity this season
Bishop Auckland258.25145.33-43.72%
Billingham TownN/A140N/ABillingham Town didn’t play any home games before 23rd September
Consett293.8150-48.94%
Hebburn Town266.8147.4-44.75%
Newcastle Benfield209.5129.8-38.04%
Newton Aycliffe149146.4-1.74%
North Shields279.33150-46.3%
Ryhope CWN/A99.16N/ARyhope CW didn’t play any home games before 23rd September
Sunderland RCA187130.4-30.26%
West Auckland Town156.5135-13.73%
Whitley Bay253.5150-40.82%
Whickham136143+5.14%
Seaham Red Star158.25127.33-19.53%
Stockton Town300150-50%Stockton Town have reached capacity in all home games regardless of capacity this season
Shildon227.33150-34.01%

Northern League Division Two

ClubAverage attendance before and including 23rd SeptemberAverage attendance after 23rd SeptemberPercentage differenceAdded notes
Bedlington Terriers10775.4-29.53%
Billingham Synthonia77.6675-3.42%
Birtley Town191.5119.5-37.59%Birtley Town had to play three games behind-closed-doors. These have not been included in these stats
Brandon United9181.5-10.43%
Chester-le-Street TownN/A132N/AChester-le-Street didn’t play any games at home before 23rd September, and they’ve only played at home once since
Crook Town222.83150-32.68%
Durham City100.3379.25-21.01%
Easington Colliery189.33112.5-40.57%
Esh Winning13088.16-32.18%
Heaton Stannington226140.66-37.76%
Jarrow 116.33115.5-0.71%
Newcastle University6373.8+17.14%
Ryton & Crawcrook Albion138.33102.33-26.02%
Sunderland West EndN/A111.5N/ASunderland West End didn’t play any home games before 23rd September
Tow Law Town112.33103.33-8.01%
WashingtonN/A76N/AWashington didn’t play any home games before 23rd September
West Allotment Celtic115.576.75-33.54%
Willington123.66104.33-15.63%

As the stats show, all bar two clubs have seen their average crowd decrease since the extra restrictions have been put in place, and some of these decreases have been quite drastic.

Whickham have seen a slight rise in their crowds, as have Newcastle University. Even so though, Newcastle University have still only been averaging a crowd of 73.8 since the new restrictions were put in place.

We at Easington have actually seen the biggest decrease of Division Two clubs and we’re not 100% sure why. Our Thursday night home game against Redcar Athletic was our first after the restrictions, and we fully expected to sell out. That’s why I was selling tickets in advance! In the end, we had very few people pay on the night, and the crowd was only 105 (less than half it was for our previous two Thursday night games)!

Like I said, a lot of the reductions in crowd are simply because they can’t have more than 150, but for many clubs (especially in Division Two), they haven’t reached the capacity at any point this season, and their crowds are still going down.

Take Easington for example (easiest one for me to know about!). We averaged 189.33 before the restrictions and never reached the 300 limit, but since the 150 limit, we’ve averaged 112.5 and we haven’t reached the 150 limit.

Something is obviously making people decide against attending Northern League games in Durham and Northumberland since the new restrictions.

I’m now going to do exactly the same for the clubs outside of Durham FA and Northumberland FA in the Northern League. Have people been going to watch those clubs as they know they’re definitely going to be able to get in?

ClubAverage attendance before and including 23rd SeptemberAverage attendance after 23rd SeptemberPercentage differenceAdded notes
Thornaby252.5185.25-26.63%
Northallerton Town159.5167+4.70%
Penrith140.75114-19.00%
Guisborough Town237.2219-7.67%
Redcar Athletic220168.6-23.36%
Carlisle City105.7582-22.45%

As is evident on this chart, with the exception of Northallerton who have seen a slight increase, all the clubs have seen a drop in attendance figures despite not being part of the extra restrictions as they’re affiliated to either North Riding FA or Cumberland FA.

The decreases in attendances with these clubs suggests that it is more than the 150 limit which is putting some people off.

On average, since the 150 maximum capacity restriction was put in place, Northern League Division One clubs have seen a 25.13% decrease in attendances, and Northern League Division Two clubs have seen an average decrease of 20.79%.

Obviously, as the season goes on, the weather gets worse, and that will put some people off.

I also think that there was somewhat of a novelty of going to a football game at the start of the season. People hadn’t been to a game for months, so they just wanted to go to any game. After the 23rd of September, that novelty may have now worn off.

Another reason I can possibly think of is that some people may not want to risk going to games since the middle of September with coronavirus cases rising since then.

There are bound to be many reasons why most clubs have seen their crowds go down since the start of the season, but I do think many people don’t attend in the fear that they will get to the ground and be turned away as there are already 150 spectators in the ground.

I’ll probably be looking to publish another stats based article next week, but if you’ve any suggestions as to what you think I should write about/look at, drop me a message and I’ll do it.

Hopefully, after next week, we’ll be back playing and watching football the weekend after.

In the meantime, look after yourself and others, and we’ll hopefully all be back watching football in a fortnight!

A look at my season so far – the rest of the games

It’s fair to say it’s been a very strange season so far. Pre-season didn’t start until August, and competitive football didn’t start until September. We had two months of competitive football, and now we’re having another month off before hopefully resuming on the first Saturday of December.

When I was having to isolate, I gave my opinions on all the Northern League and Wearside League teams I had watched, and in this article, I’m going to have a look at the teams I’ve watched from outside of the Northern League. I haven’t watched much of most of these teams, so I can’t have much of an opinion, but I’ll give my thoughts on the game and the ground/day out.

I’ll be going through every game and I’ll start back in August and make my way through the season so far.

1/8/20 Durham United 3-0 Shotton Colliery Pre-Season Friendly

The first game back after about four and a half months off was always going to be an enjoyable day. It was even better watching the first game of my home village club. I don’t remember a huge amount about the actual game, but I remember thinking that both sides looked quite good for the first game of pre-season and that I thought they would probably both do quite well in their respective leagues this season. That has proved to be quite true so far. Durham United are doing quite well in division one of the Wearside League, while Shotton are doing well in division two.

4/8/20 Durham FC 3-6 Darlington Town Pre-Season Friendly

Until I saw that Durham FC were playing there, I didn’t know this venue existed. With it not being too far away, and on a night where there wasn’t a huge deal of other games, it seemed a good option for me. The game was quite entertaining, and that was reflected in the 3-6 scoreline. The venue is an attractive venue for the level. It’s mainly tree-lined and is in somewhat of a dip with hills to three sides, and this makes it feel as though you’re quite far from any sort of urban area. That’s not the case though as it’s in a very reachable area. In summary, it was a good game, and the venue is a nice place.

8/8/20 Ferryhill Town 4-2 Bishop Auckland Pavillion Pre-Season Friendly

I’ve looked at watching games in the Crook League a few times in the past, mainly right at the end of the season when they’re still playing and no other teams are. The main thing I remember from this game is thinking that the referee seemed to be there for a laugh rather than to referee a football match. The venue is simply just in a pitch, but it’s in a nice sports complex. The game was an average low level game, and I can’t remember a great deal about the goals etc. I just remember the referee dishing out a few jokes!

23/8/20 Hartlepool United Women 15-0 Gateshead Leam Rangers Women Pre-Season Friendly

I will remember this game for quite a while, mainly because of the scoreline and the fact that it was a new record for me. I had seen 14 goals in a game prior to this day, but I had never seen 15. Hartlepool were vastly superior, but I remember Leam Rangers playing a very high line in the first half to somewhat limit the damage. I’ll say it later on too, but when I’ve watched teams from the Durham County Women’s League Division One, they have been much better teams than in the development division. Mind, teams in the North East Regional League are miles apart from Durham County League teams. Basically, the gaps in standard between leagues in women’s football are still quite big!

29/8/20 Horden CW 1-0 Yarm & Eaglescliffe Pre-Season Friendly (At East Durham College)

This was a rather average pre-season friendly played on the plastic pitch at East Durham College. It was quite a tight game, but it wasn’t a game which will live long in the memory. I seem to remember very little happening in parts of the game. Other than that, all I can really remember was going to Greggs beforehand!

6/9/20 East Durham Blue Belles 2-4 Hebburn Involve Ladies Durham County FA Women’s League Development Division

This was another game which I can’t remember a great deal about. I remember thinking Hebburn’s forward could have scored about 10 in the first half, and that she was very quick and was constantly easily getting past the East Durham defence. Attacks for the visitors weren’t quite as frequent in the second half, and East Durham got back into the game, but it never really looked as though they were going to get anything from the game.

13/9/20 Hartlepool Pools Youth Ladies 2-2 Tow Law Town Ladies Durham County FA Women’s League Division One

This was the first game (and the only so far) I’ve seen in Division One of the Durham County Women’s League, and it was clear that the standard was better than the development division. The main reason I went to this game was because it was at a venue I had never been to in Hartlepool. Again, it’s not really a game I can remember too much about, and the ground was just a pitch, but it was a new ground for me as I approach the 200 ground mark.

19/9/20 Wakefield 0-2 Jubilee Sports Sheffield and Hallamshire County Senior League Premier Division

Trips out with Katie Wallace and Lee Stewart are always enjoyable as they’re always to places I wouldn’t normally go to. If you had asked me in August if I expected to get to Wakefield vs Jubilee Sports in September, I definitely would have said no. It’s no wonder many groundhoppers have been travelling to watch Wakefield from all over the country. The stadium at Featherstone Rovers is a very rare tick for football, and it is a very nice stadium. If I hadn’t gone with Katie and Lee, I doubt I would have ever seen a game at this ground. The game was an average one, with a goal in each half sealing it for Jubilee. I do remember thinking Wakefield will need to develop a lot on the pitch if they want to be promoted a few times.

27/9/20 Hartlepool United Women 4-1 South Shields Ladies North East Regional Women’s Football League Premier Division

There isn’t too much to be said about this game. Apart from the goals, not a great deal happened to be fair and it was at a venue I’ve visited plenty of times in the past. I do enjoy visiting Hartlepool United Women on a Sunday afternoon, but with them being only a couple of miles away at a venue I visit regularly, the games need to be very good for them to be memorable!

3/10/20 Chadderton 2-2 St Helens Town North West Counties League First Division North

This was another trip out with Lee and Katie, and to another ground I would never normally visit. It was a nice enough ground and an entertaining game, but I couldn’t help but think it was two poor sides. Based off the performances that day, I wouldn’t expect either side to be up there come the end of the season. Mind, the most memorable bit of the day was maybe how wet it was. The goalmouth had puddles before kick-off which some referees wouldn’t have been happy with. The rain was the only reason I was at this game as Easington’s game at Brandon had been called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

11/10/20 Durham Women 2-0 Crystal Palace Women Women’s Championship

I watched this game from outside the ground with it being behind-closed-doors, and to be honest, I didn’t really enjoy it. You’re far too far from the pitch for my liking when watching from the little hill at Maiden Castle. I remember thinking that the ground needed a hell of a lot of work still to get it up to Women’s Championship standard for when fans are allowed back in. On the pitch, it was Beth Hepple who won the game for Durham, but I didn’t think either side played particularly well.

25/10/20 Hartlepool United Women 2-2 York City Ladies North East Women’s Regional Football League Premier Division

This was the last game I went to be I had to self isolate. Arriving at this game, I was slightly surprised to see it being played on the pitch closer to the town centre in Peterlee. It was a good competitive game between two sides who I think will be up their come the end of the season, but I wasn’t to know that it was to be my last game for a while because I had to self isolate!

I couldn’t really think of anything to write about today, so I opted just to go through the rest of the games I’ve seen this season after doing an article about Northern League and Wearside League while in isolation. To be honest, I don’t think this is the best of articles but hopefully I’ll be able to think of something more interesting to write about for next weekend.

If you’ve got any suggestions as to what you want me to write about, let me know and I’ll do it.

In the meantime, look after yourself and others, and we’ll hopefully all be back watching football in three weeks!

Washington vs Brandon United

With tonight being the last chance to watch football for a few weeks, and having missed Easington’s visit to Sunderland West End on Saturday, tonight was the perfect opportunity to go into the break on the back of a new ground. I visited Ford Quarry numerous times before it was redeveloped, but the main pitch is now totally different and in a different position, so this definitely counts as a new ground. I’m now just five grounds away from 200. The new ‘hub’ at Ford Quarry is definitely a superb facility for the community. I imagine it serves youth football very well, and it is very functional with everything everyone needs. The car park is massive and probably the best in the Northern League, and the building which used to be there is still there, even if it looks totally different on the inside.

You enter the facility through the building, and next to the reception are those indoor electronic turnstiles where you scan your QR code from the website you have to sign up to. That in itself is a problem for some of the older generation. Once you’ve gone through those, you pass the toilets and then come out of the building. From there, you go to the turnstile to get into the ground rather than going to any of the other pitches. The ground is a three sided ground (can’t go on the dugout side) with a plastic pitch. There are two typical pre-fab seated stands and then hard standing. One thing I noticed was that the fencing surrounding the ground is totally transparent. It’s the sort of fencing some would describe as a cage. So, if you’re in the car park, you can see straight into the ground. I might be wrong, but surely that goes against ground grading. There is a smart café with a few tables, and the changing rooms are on the other side. These are all part of the drastically refurbished existing building. Mind, these facilities are outside of the turnstile meaning there is always people on the gate where you leave to go to the café. Players also enter the pitch through this gate. The old pitch used to be east to west, but now it’s north to south. The pitches which used to be behind the main pitch are still pitches, but they’re now also plastic pitches with floodlights making it a great facility for youth football.

I don’t normally go this far in depth when I’m describing a new ground! In summary, it’s a very good facility for local football of all ages, but it’s not exactly a ground which I’d recommend if someone asked me for a Northern League ground full of character.

Match report:

Brandon hit Washington for five

Brandon United are to go into the enforced break on the back of an impressive 0-5 win at Washington on Wednesday night.

Kieran Alderson put Brandon ahead inside the opening 10 minutes, and the same man doubled the visitors’ lead in the 43rd minute.

Robert White scored Brandon’s third 40 seconds later, and then second half goals from Wayne Whitfield and Kai Hewitson made sure of the win for the visitors.

Upon kick-off, Brandon created their first chance in just the third minute. White went for goal from quite a distance out, and his shot was only slightly too high.

At the other end, Washington’s Joe Hassanin had an effort crucially blocked for a corner, and Alex Dobinson’s resulting corner almost went directly in. Decklan Greenwood in the Brandon goal was forced into a decent save to keep it out.

In the ninth minute, Brandon broke the deadlock. Kieran Gohery’s crossfield ball created a big chance, and an original effort bounced back off the post, but Alderson was there to convert the rebound.

As Washington looked for a response, a deep free-kick found Brad Chisholm, but he could only poke an effort wide.

Brandon were looking the brighter and in control, and in the 19th minute, a big decision from the referee denied them of a big chance. A long ball over the top played Chris Tarn in, and he charged down on goal before being brought down by a very clumsy challenge from the last man. It was most a certainly a foul and probably a red card, but unbelievably, referee Alex Ferriday didn’t even see it as a foul.

As the first half wore on, Washington were seeing more of the ball, but they weren’t creating much with it. Brandon were content with their lead.

Only five minutes of the first half remained by the time of the next note worthy chance. Jak Hanson found room on the edge of the penalty area to shoot for Washington, but his effort could only force a comfortable save from Greenwood.

In the 43rd minute, Brandon doubled their lead. A cross was cleared as far as Alderson 20 yards from goal, and spotting Washington goalkeeper Harry Archer out of position and off his line, Alderson cushioned a first time effort over the ‘keeper and into the top corner.

Forty seconds later, Brandon scored their third. Reece Brown and Tarn linked up resulting with a low ball across goal, and that ball found the unmarked White who converted a simple finish.

Washington had a few corners as the first half came to a close, but they couldn’t create any chances, and they went into the break with plenty of work to do.

Less than four minutes into the second half, the crossbar denied Washington of a possible route back into the game. Hanson took aim from about 22 yards, and his effort crashed back off the crossbar with the ‘keeper beaten.

However, that would prove to be as close as Washington went to scoring.

In the 52nd minute, Tarn’s perfectly weighted ball for Brandon played Brown in, but a defender slid in and did enough to deflect Brown’s shot behind for a corner.

Ten minutes into the second half, a ball across goal looked to give Chisholm a good chance for the hosts, but he couldn’t control the ball six yards from goal and the chance went.

Just before the hour mark, Brandon scored their fourth. Brown whipped a dangerous free-kick into the penalty area, and it was cleared as far as Whitfield in the D. His low shot took a wicked deflection to wrong foot the goalkeeper before nestling into the net.

Following a couple of substitutions and eight minutes after their fourth, Brandon scored a fifth. A rather simple cross was totally missed by a Washington defender, and it fell to Hewitson on the edge of the penalty area. He took the ball under his control before drilling an effort high into the net.

The result was now beyond any doubt.

Washington did have a couple of scuffed shots dart wide with around quarter of an hour to play, but they never looked like scoring.

In the 80th minute, good football from Brandon worked the ball out to Scott Johnson. He cut in before drilling a high effort which was tipped behind for a corner, but the referee awarded a goalkick. To be honest, it summed up a poor performance from the man in the middle.

From the resulting goal kick, Washington went straight up the other end and a similar effort darted not far over the crossbar.

Hanson then shot wide for Washington, before numerous dangerous Brandon attacks all came to nothing.

Deep into injury time, a Washington effort was fired straight at Greenwood, but much like Brandon’s night, it was comfortable.

Full-time: Washington 0-5 Brandon United

Who knows what is next up for me. Hopefully it will only be four weeks before we’re all back at games. In the meantime, I will keep this blog going with a few feature articles like I did in April and May. I’ll probably do one a week and publish them on a Saturday.

Washington: Archer, Gibbon, Hutchinson, Moan (c), Haley, Bennett, Chisholm (Smith, 74′), Dobinson, McGeoch (Martindale, 35′), Hanson, Hassanin (Broomfield, 58′)

Unused subs: Barella, Warriner

Brandon United: Greenwood, Gohery, Grant, Thompson, Caygill (c), Alderson (Johnson, 72′), White, Whitfield (Mitchell, 66′), Tarn, Plews (Hewitson, 53′), Brown

Unused subs: Gregory, Mohamad

Admission: £5 adults, £3 concessions

Programme: Don’t think so

Attendance: 84

Cup of tea: £1

Sausage roll: £1.40

Referee: Alex Ferriday

Ryhope CW vs Stockton Town

After a week and a bit of nothing, I’m back at games! Well, until tomorrow night that is. Having been put in isolation last Sunday night due to a close contact’s positive COVID-19 test, today was the first day I was allowed out of the house. Mind, I’ve been allowed out today, and then all of these nationwide restrictions come in on Thursday meaning there’ll be no football for a month. I definitely need to make the most of tonight and tomorrow! Being in isolation and not being allowed to leave the house at all is no good. I’m pleased just to be allowed to stand outside for two hours on a chilly night in Ryhope. On Saturday, I was sat at home waiting for updates from Easington’s game at Sunderland West End, and I absolutely hate not being at the game and having to wait for updates. Thankfully though, that isolation is over and I’m fine. It’s a bonus that Easington went top of the league on Saturday! Missing Saturday’s game at Sunderland West End also meant I missed my first chance to visit the new ground at the Ford Quarry Hub, so I think I’m going to go there tomorrow night when Washington host Brandon United. As for this game, before tonight, I had seen these two sides play each other at Ryhope Recreation Ground before. On the 19th of March last year, I watched the two sides play out a 1-1 draw. That was a rare Saturday game at Ryhope for me, mainly because everywhere else was rained off. Until Sunday, I had tonight’s game down as Ryhope CW vs Consett. I’m not sure when it was changed to Stockton rather than Consett.

Match report:

Stockton climb to second with Ryhope victory

Stockton Town climbed to second in Northern League Division One with a 0-1 win at Ryhope CW on Tuesday night.

Max Craggs’ goal in the ninth minute proved the difference between the sides, but in truth, Stockton should have won by a lot more.

Nathan Mulligan missed a 16th minute penalty for the visitors, and they failed to convert numerous very good chances in the first half.

Despite those misses, Ryhope CW never really looked like scoring, and the win lifts Stockton to within six points of leaders Hebburn Town.

Upon kick-off, Stockton created their first chance in the fifth minute, and they should have taken the lead with it. Kevin Hayes’ through ball picked out Craggs, and his little pass played Mikey Roberts in. A superb challenge prevented Roberts, but the loose ball dropped to Mulligan. Al Mulligan had to do was hit the target, but he blazed it over from eight yards.

However, in the 10th minute, with their next chance, Stockton broke the deadlock. Good build up play down the left found Jamie Owens, and his low cross found Craggs totally unmarked 12 yards from goal. The former Billingham Synthonia man had plenty of time to take a touch before his simple finish put the visitors ahead.

Tom Portas then went close for Stockton, before another chance for the visitors resulted with a crucial block saving Ryhope.

With just over quarter of an hour played, Stockton were awarded a penalty. It was definitely a foul, but Ryhope were claiming it was outside the penalty area. The referee pointed to the spot though, and Mulligan took responsibility. He went straight down the middle, but he blasted it well over the crossbar and into a garden behind the goal.

By this point, Stockton should have been at least three goals to the good, but they weren’t.

Clear cut chances somewhat dried up as the first half wore on. Ryhope CW were coming into the game and seeing more of the ball, but they weren’t creating anything.

In the 33rd minute, a Stockton corner was headed towards goal by Owens. It was blocked as it approached the line, and then a scramble eventually saw the ball cleared.

Owens then went close again for Stockton, before Ryhope created their first half chance. Good football worked the ball to the edge of the Stockton penalty area, but the first effort was charged down and blocked. The rebound fell to Tom Price on the edge of the area, but he sliced an effort well wide.

Ryhope finished the half with more possession, but they couldn’t create any chances as Stockton went into the break ahead.

Following the break, Ryhope upped their game to create a few chances. An early Brad Hird shot was deflected just wide, before the post came to Stockton’s rescue. Hird released Bailey Judson down the left, and he was brought down by Tom Coulthard. Ryhope were claiming it was last man and in the penalty area, but the referee awarded a free-kick and booked Coulthard. Judson dusted himself down to take responsibility of the free-kick, and his curling effort forced Callum Roberts to tip it onto the post.

Ryhope had started the second half well, but then it seemed to go a bit flat.

Just after the hour mark, Owens had an effort saved by the legs of James Winter at the near post, before the same man had a dangerous free-kick saved by Winter.

At the other end, with 20 minutes to play, Roberts was saved into a save to deny James Ellis’ 16 yard effort.

A few substitutions and good management from Stockton meant little happened late on.

Substitute Ellis had a couple of further chances for Ryhope, but he failed to find the target with both of them.

Ryhope CW kept trying to create an opportunity for an equaliser, but in truth, they never looked like scoring at any point of the game.

After four minutes of added time, the referee blew his final whistle, and Stockton climbed to second in the league.

Full-time: Ryhope CW 0-1 Stockton Town

Next up for me is Washington vs Brandon United tomorrow.

Ryhope CW: Winter, Morris, Walker, Riding (c), Price, Braithwaite, Judson (Ellis, 59′), Vincent (Wallace, 22′), Hird, Davis, Scothern (Spalding, 73′)

Unused sub: Harkess

Stockton Town: Callum Roberts, King, McWilliams, Portas, Nicholson (c) (Dale Mulligan, 87′), Coulthard, Hayes, Craggs, Nathan Mulligan (Franks, 73′), Owens, Mikey Roberts (Bulmer, 81′)

Unused subs: Wright, Steel

Admission: £6 adults, £4 concessions

Programme: No

Attendance: 128

Referee: Darren Williams

Northern League and Wearside League – this season so far

You may have noticed I haven’t been to any games in the last couple of days. The plan was to do Sunderland RCA vs Guisborough Town on Tuesday and then Farringdon Detached vs Horden CW on Wednesday, but on Sunday night, I learned that I had to self-isolate due to a close contact’s positive COVID-19 test. I’ve got to isolate until Tuesday (3rd November) so all being well, I’ll be back at a game on Tuesday night. With no games for over a week, I’ve decided to go through every Northern League and Wearside League team I’ve seen this season so far, and give my opinions on what I thought of them and how I think they’ll do as the season goes on.

In Northern League Division One, I’ve watched 11 of the 20 teams at some point this season (a couple of them were only in pre-season mind). North Shields, Newcastle Benfield, Shildon, Consett, Whickham, Ashington, Northallerton Town, Guisborough Town and Seaham Red Star are the Division One sides I haven’t watched so far this season, and so I won’t include any of those in this piece.

I’ll go in order of how they appear in the current league table.

Hebburn Town:

Hebburn have been quite a force for a few years now and my trip to Hebburn Sports Ground for their game against Bishop Auckland was my first trip for a few years. As you’d probably expect, they have a very good squad and played very well when I watched them. They played good football and that was helped by a pitch which looked to be in very good condition. I’ve only watched them once this season, but they were everything I expected them to be and they should be right up there come the end of the season.

Newton Aycliffe:

I’ve only watched Newton Aycliffe once this season and that was when they played Easington in pre-season. To be honest, I didn’t think they played that well that day. They ran out comfortable winners in the end, but it took them a long time to get to that position. Mind, they seem to have started the season very well. As everyone knows, you can’t read too much into pre-season so I can’t really comment on how they’ve played in their league games. They’ve got a good solid squad and are in a very good position at the minute, and although they may drop a couple of spots in the league position come April, I still think they’ll be top six or seven.

Thornaby:

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind few years at Thornaby. A few years ago, they were a struggling Division Two team with relatively low crowds. Two or three years ago, things improved, and they improved both on and off the pitch. They now attract good crowds and it’s probably made them a bigger club as a whole. At the start of this season, they brought quite a few of the lads in from Billingham Town, and expectations – at least I think – were high. Bringing in Dimi Konstantopoulos was another move which gave the club some publicity and possibly brought more fans through the door. I’ve only watched them once this season (at home to Penrith), and to be honest, I wasn’t impressed by them. They were second best that night and they never really seriously troubled Penrith. Mind, apart from that game, they’ve done well this season. They’re currently in the top seven and they’ve won more than half of their games, but they don’t seem to be the most consistent. Just in recent weeks, they’ve had good wins against the likes of Sunderland RCA, Guisborough Town and Whitley Bay, but on the other hand, they lost 4-1 at Newcastle University and 6-0 at home to Newton Aycliffe. More consistency and maybe one or two new signings and they could do well, but to be honest, I think Thornaby will drop off to be a mid-table side come April.

Stockton Town:

Stockton Town are another club I’ve only watched once so far this season, and on that night, they just seemed to struggle. They were away to Sunderland RCA and Stockton just couldn’t seem to get the football into the goal. They’re always a side I expect to be right up there competing for the league title, and that could well be the case this season too. However, it seems to be slightly harder work for them this season. Last season, they played 30, won 24, drew 5 and lost 1. This season, after 9 games, they’ve won 5, drew 3 and lost 1. Obviously, that’s still a good record, but it doesn’t seem as though this season will be quite as impressive as last. I do still think they’ll be title contenders come April, and maybe it’s just taking them some time to get going this season. Maybe that’s why they struggled when I watched them at Sunderland RCA.

Whitley Bay:

Whitley Bay are one of the sides I only watched in pre-season, so I can’t really have much of an opinion on how their season has gone so far. The league table at the minute shows Whitley Bay probably about where you’d expect them, but they did have a good run in the FA Cup. When they played Easington in pre-season, I wasn’t that impressed by them, but again, as everyone knows, pre-season doesn’t mean a great deal.

West Auckland Town:

When I noticed West Auckland’s squad, I thought they’d be right up there this season. I thought it very strong squad with a good mix of players who have Northern League experience and a few younger players who had been released from professional clubs not so long back. I watched them in pre-season against Easington and they were quite impressive, but I watched them last Tuesday at Ryhope CW and the two sides were evenly matched. Based on that performance, their current league position of 12th is probably about right, but I do think they have a good enough squad to climb into the top eight or so.

Sunderland RCA:

Two seasons ago was a very good season for RCA, and maybe some people have expected a bit much from them since that fifth placed finish. Sunderland RCA are one of my regular midweek clubs and I like to see them do well, but they seem to be a bit inconsistent. Based off their start to this season, I wouldn’t expect them to be right up there come the end of the season, but they should improve their league position. Defensively, I thought they were very impressive when I watched them beat Stockton Town, and they easily beat Penrith a few weeks ago. A lot of the squad were with them when they finished fifth two seasons ago, and they do still have some very good players. I expect them to climb a few spots in the league table.

Ryhope CW:

Ryhope CW are another of the clubs I tend to visit a few times midweek, and I thought they were fairly impressive when Easington played them in pre-season at Houghall College. Their current league position of 15th is probably around where most people would expect Ryhope CW to finish, but based off when I watched them beat West Auckland Town last midweek, I think they can climb a few spots. I doubt they’ll be right up there, but they could be pushing for top 10 if they put together a string of good results.

Penrith:

To be honest, Penrith normally struggle, and I don’t normally watch them very often. However, I’ve watched them twice away from home this season. The first time I watched them was at Thornaby and Penrith won 1-2. To be honest, I was quite impressed by Penrith that day, and I told a few people that I thought they’d do better than they have for the past few seasons. Even on a Wednesday night at Thornaby, they looked well organised, well disciplined and a decent side who will win plenty of games. I expected something similar when I watched them a few weeks ago at Sunderland RCA. However, at Sunderland RCA, they were poor. It finished 4-0 to Sunderland RCA, and they could have had a lot more. Penrith are towards the bottom of the table, but they have picked up a couple of wins. Even though they were poor when I watched them at RCA, I don’t think they’ll finish bottom this season, but it looks as though it’s going to be a tough season for the Cumbrians.

Billingham Town:

It’s fair to say it’s been a struggle for Billingham Town this season. They’ve only claimed one league win (5-4 at home to Sunderland RCA), and they’ve lost the remainder of their league games. The squad is quite different to last season with quite a few players going between Billingham Town and Thornaby. I only watched them once in pre-season when they beat Easington, so I can’t have much of an opinion on them, but I think they’re in for a long hard season.

Bishop Auckland:

Bishop Auckland are another side who have struggled so far. I watched them a few weeks ago at Hebburn Town and to be honest, they were better than I was expecting. And now they’ve appointed a manager, their results and performances seem to have slightly picked up. They claimed a solid win against Horden CW in the Durham Challenge Cup last midweek, and then they claimed a good point against North Shields. Their new management seems to have helped them pick up, and I expect them to win a few games and get out of the bottom three.

Overall prediction for the rest of the season: The league table suggests Hebburn will be very difficult to topple, and I agree with that. Although I haven’t watched them, I’ve heard a few people say Shildon have been playing very well, and Newton Aycliffe have been playing very well too. I’d expect Consett and Stockton Town both to climb the table too, but I just can’t really see any side overtaking Hebburn Town at the top.

Now it’s time to move onto Division Two. I’ve watched 13 of the 20 sides in Division Two so far this season. The sides I haven’t watched so far are Crook Town, West Allotment Celtic, Bedlington Terriers, Newcastle University, Birtley Town, Willington and Washington. Again, I’ll look at all the clubs who I have seen so far this season in order of how they appear in the league table.

Carlisle City:

Since they came into the Northern League, Carlisle City have always been very competitive. When Easington played them at the Welfare Park, they blew Easington apart in the first half, but they were then blown apart themselves in the second half and were quite lucky to get a narrow 3-4 win in the end. They are a good side, and as you’d probably expect, they’re even stronger at home. I think they will be right up there all season, but are they good enough to win the league, I’m not quite sure. Mind, you can’t knock their current form, especially their win at Crook Town last weekend.

Easington Colliery:

I’m not going to say much as I’m part of the club, watch the team every week and I am biased, but I really do believe there is no reason why we can’t be right up there come the end of the season. We’ve started better than we ever have since I’ve been involved, and we seem to be conceded less goals while still scoring plenty. I honestly think it’s going to be a very exciting season at the Welfare Park.

Tow Law Town:

To be honest, I thought they were very poor when I watched them. I’ve only watched them once when Easington made the trip to Ironworks Road, but they created very little that night and it was a comfortable win for Easington. Mind, since that game, somewhat to my surprise, they’ve been picking up results, so maybe the game I watched was just a bad day on the pitch for Crook. They’ve a decent squad, probably one you’d expect to be mid-table, but winning their last four have put them up to sixth in the league. Honestly though, based off what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t expect them to stay that high. On a side note, they are one of very few Northern League clubs whose women’s team I have also watched this season!

Billingham Synthonia:

I’ve been quite impressed by Synners when I’ve watched them this season. We were very lucky to beat them at Easington on the first day of the season, and they easily beat Esh Winning when I watched them at Norton just over a month ago. I still think they’re improving as a squad, and I fully expect them to climb higher than their current league position. There aren’t many teams who I’ve seen twice this season and been quite impressed them with on both occasions, but I have with Billingham Synthonia. Away from the team on the pitch, there are two things: 1) trying to see black numbers on the back of their shirts when they’re on both green and white is sometimes difficult, and 2) I just wish, for their sake, they were playing back in Billingham (and that Central Avenue was still their home, but that isn’t going to happen).

Heaton Stannington:

The Stan are a very good club and are normally quite high in the league table, but I wasn’t overly impressed on the one occasion I watched them at home to Easington a couple of weeks ago. They probably will be top eight come the end of the season, but based off what I saw, they won’t be challenging for the title. I’m not sure what it is, but based off what I watched, they just don’t seem to be quite as strong as they were last season. Mind, they have had a few very impressive results.

Redcar Athletic:

Redcar are another side who don’t appear to be as strong as they were last season, and when they visited Easington, a few of their supporters seemed to echo that belief. They do still have a good side, but I can’t see them matching their league position of last season. In many ways, I think they’re quite similar to Heaton Stannington this season, and I’d expect them to finish alongside Heaton Stannington somewhere between eighth and tenth. In their four games since they played Easington though, they’ve only conceded one goal, so maybe it has just taken them a while to get their season going.

Esh Winning:

Esh have picked up a few decent results this season, but one the two occasions I’ve watched them, they’ve been very poor. In those two games, they’ve conceded 12 and scored 0. They’ve brought a new coach/assistant manager (something like that in) and Tom Goodey (our physio at Easington), was speaking very highly of him. I don’t know his name mind. But, when we played them at Easington, he did seem very proactive with the team, and they’ve had a few decent results mixed in with their poor results. Based on what I’ve seen, they’ll struggle this season, but I do hope they pick up and I do think they could be capable of it. The two games I’ve watched them would put them below where they are in the league table, so maybe just it was just two bad days for them.

Chester-le-Street Town:

One thing I’ve noticed just in the last couple of days is that Chester haven’t played a home game yet this season. I don’t know if it’s because they’ve been getting some work done on the ground or something, but it must be at least almost complete because they’re at home to Durham tomorrow (Saturday). I’ve watched Chester-le-Street once during the season, and once in pre-season. The pre-season game was hard to judge with them away to Coxhoe Athletic and winning comfortably, and in the league game, they beat Easington at the Welfare Park. In that game, I thought they looked okay, but not much more. With a massive run of home games coming up, maybe they can kick on and get into the top seven or eight. Their last few results, especially the win against West Allotment, suggests they could be starting to climb the table.

Sunderland West End:

Knowing a few of the Sunderland West End lads, I want them to do well, but it’s fair to say this season has been a struggle for them at their new home at Ford Quarry. They started the season reasonably well with three wins from five, but now they haven’t picked up a win in their last seven. The only time I’ve watched them so far this season was away to Brandon in early September, and surprisingly, they were comfortably beaten 3-0. I really do hope they pick up, but their next few fixtures look tough. I think they’re capable of climbing up the league table to probably finish mid-table, but it’s by no means certain to happen.

Jarrow:

Whenever I notice Jarrow’s results this season, they just seem to be leaking soooo many goals. We beat them 5-2 at Easington earlier in the season and it could have been more. Before that game, they seemed to be fairly solid having only conceded two goals in three games, but since the game at Easington, they’ve been conceding a few goals on a few occasions. They’ve had a couple of good wins against Birtley and are having a decent run in the FA Vase, but there’s not much else which really stands out to suggest they’re going to be climbing the league. They’ve recently brought in Scott Oliver and they’ve signed a couple of players, but their league results need to change if they’re wanting to climb the table.

Ryton & Crawcrook Albion:

Ryton are another side who I’ve only watched against Easington, but in truth, they looked nowhere near the side they were last season. Their manager and a few players from last season went to Whitley Bay, and it seems to have told with the results so far this season. They did get a draw when Easington were there, but we were poor that night and we just couldn’t get the ball in the net. Ryton are another club I like, but I’d be amazed if this season proves to be as successful as last season for them.

Brandon United:

Brandon seem to have improved from last season. Their win last night at Bedlington Terriers was a very impressive one, and I thought they played some decent stuff when I watched them beat Sunderland West End at the start of the season. They have had a couple of hammerings, but they’ve won three league games from 10 and that is an improvement on last season. I don’t think they’ll suddenly do well this season, but they’ve taken a step in the right direction, and I think they’ll be safely clear of the bottom spot come April.

Durham City:

There’s always something going on at Durham! Their squad at the start of the season raised a few eyebrows among followers of the Northern League. The first time I watched their new look squad was away to Sunderland RCA in the FA Cup. That night, I was reasonably impressed with them. A fair few of those players were talented, and they were dangerous going forward. A few of our lads at Easington still regard our game against Durham early in the season at the Welfare Park as potentially the toughest game of the season so far. Although I thought their squad was a reasonable one (especially going forward), they weren’t picking up the results they wanted. That squad could have succeeded with a bit of time, but then, as many know, they were promised things which didn’t materialise, and they all left leaving the club with very little. They brought a few players in to make sure they could play games, but in truth, the vast majority of those players just weren’t good enough. That was shown in the Durham Challenge Cup game against Easington. It finished 0-9, but it could well have been 0-20. I believe they could have climbed the table with the squad they had at the start of the season. In recent days, they’ve brought in a very popular Northern League manager in Peter Mulcaster. I know Peter well from his time at Horden when I was there too, and I hope for his sake he can turn the club around. Peter is a top man, and he will give it his all, and for Durham, he’s a sensible appointment. He has a hell of a lot of work to do, but for his sake, I hope he succeeds and gets Durham off the foot of the table.

Overall prediction for the rest of the season:

Although I haven’t watched them this season yet, I think Crook will remain right up there throughout the season. Bedlington are doing well, and their pitch is a real leveller, but I can’t really say much about them having not watched them this season yet. Carlisle City will be there or thereabouts without winning the league in my opinion, and I think Billingham Synthonia can improve to get involved in the top four. As I said earlier, I firmly believe there is no reason why we at Easington can’t be right up there come April too.

Now I’ll move onto the Wearside League. I haven’t watched a great deal of Wearside League football this season, but I have watched a few teams and I’ll give you my thoughts on what I thought of them. I’ve only watched six of the 18 teams so far this season, with the teams I’ve not watched being Boldon CA, Chester-le-Street United, Richmond Town, Silksworth CW, Wolviston, Darlington RA, Norton and Stockton Ancients, Washington United, Windscale, Gateshead Leam Rangers, Annfield Plain and West Auckland Tunns. Of the teams I’ve watched, I’ll go through them in order of how they appear in the league table.

Darlington Town:

Darlington Town were right up there last season, and they’ve started this season without being quite as impressive. I watched them at Farringdon last week and they were made to work hard for their win. The pitch and conditions probably didn’t suit them down to the ground, but I didn’t think they looked quite as good as they did last season. Mind, they’re probably a better team on their own pitch. I do think they’ll still be quite high in the league table this season, but whether they’re good enough to win the league, I’m not sure.

Horden CW:

Horden had a great season last season, and with me knowing the majority of them, I’m always pleased to see them do well. I’ve only watched them against FA Hartlepool so far this season, but they won that game quite easily. Horden have a good solid defence, and a strike force which will always get goals with the likes of David Doughty and Robbie Renwick. If I’m honest, I don’t think the Wearside League is as strong as it was a couple of seasons ago, but that’s just going to be a bonus for Horden as they seek promotion to the Northern League. I’d love to see an Easington vs Horden derby in the Northern League in the near future!

Durham United:

An improving club. They seemed to struggle slightly when they first came into the Wearside League, but they seem to have found their feet and got a good squad which will compete with all sides in the league. I only watched them twice in pre-season, but they looked quite good on both occasions. Having not watched them in the actual season, I can’t have too much of an opinion, but I think they’ll do quite well without troubling the league leaders.

Farringdon Detached:

Potentially an under-rated side I think. I thought they were decent when I watched them against Darlington Town last week, and not many people seem to mention them when they talk about the Wearside League. They seem to score enough goals, but they also seem to concede a few more than they’d like to. They won’t be winning the Wearside League, but I think they’ve got a decent chance of finishing in the top eight.

FC Hartlepool:

It’s not something I like to see, but FC are struggling, and I’m not quite sure why. They’ve played 15 games already this season, and they’ve lost 11 of them. Their squad doesn’t seem to be too much different from that last, and it’s great to see that they’re now the “preferred operator” of Grayfields. It looks set to be a poor season for FC, but I do hope they can pick up and claim a few more wins to take them away from the bottom of the league.

Coxhoe Athletic:

Coxhoe are another side who I’ve only watched in pre-season so can’t have too much of an opinion on them. I watched them a few times towards the back end of last season and back then, I kept thinking they should have been higher in the league table than they were. When I watched them host Chester-le-Street in pre-season, they were comfortably dispatched, but that was probably to be expected. Like last season, I think their squad is a decent one, and I think they should be higher than bottom of the league. Mind, based off the season so far, it looks like another long hard season at Beechfield Park.

Overall prediction for the rest of the season:

I haven’t watched them this season, but based off their squad, I think Boldon CA will remain right up there throughout the season. I expect Horden to be right up there too, as probably will Darlington Town. I presume Silksworth CW will be looking to climb into the top four or five too. Chester-le-Street United are doing quite well, but I know very little about them. With them being a new team, I’ve never even watched them before, never mind watched them this season! I have noticed that they’ve signed a couple of the lads who were at Durham City at the start of the season, and those players will do well in the Wearside League.

Please don’t be offended if I’ve said the club you support were poor when I watched them, or if I’ve said I think they’ll struggle this season. It’s all just my opinion and we all have different opinions. All being well, I’ll have finished this isolation on Tuesday, so I’ll hopefully be at Ryhope CW vs Stockton Town on Tuesday night.

Hartlepool United Women vs York City Ladies

I haven’t really said much about the restrictions Durham FA and Northumberland FA put in a place a while back. Why they are restricting the crowds in the way they are while other areas of the country (apparently in a worse position than us given what tier they’re in) aren’t, I’ll never understand. I don’t agree with limiting Northern League games to 150, but the restrictions below Northern League are the ones I really don’t understand. Forty people are allowed at a Wearside League game now (and the local FA’s made it sound as though they were really pleased to be allowing 40). Forty people could mean 12 people down each side, and then 8 people behind each goal. Put those 12 people equally spread out down the side of the pitch and the gaps between everyone is 8.75 metres! Surely Wearside League games can safely have crowds of more than 40! And, below Wearside League level (including division two), many of the venues are just totally open pitches, yet they aren’t allowed a crowd at all. I’ll never understand why both Northumberland and Durham FA are making everyone at all games wear face coverings either. You’re in the open air, 10 metres away from anyone else in a crowd of 10 and you’ve got to wear a face covering! Anyway, enough of that. I have actually seen these two play each other before. In April 2018, I watched these two sides play each other at Victoria Park in this division. On that occasion, Hartlepool ran out 3-0 winners.

Match report:

Ninetieth minute equaliser sees Pools Women snatch point against York

Hartlepool United Women snatched a point in a 2-2 draw at home to York City Ladies on Sunday afternoon.

Justine Robinson’s 90th minute strike rescued the points for Hartlepool, who had gone ahead through Robyn Foster in only the fifth minute.

After Foster opened the scoring early on, York fought back and took the lead before the break with goals from Sophie Tinson and Rebecca Fevers, but Robinson’s 90th minute goal meant the points were shared.

Upon kick-off, York had an effort within the opening two minutes go not far over.

With their first chance, in only the fifth minute, Hartlepool took the lead. A ball was played through to Foster whose first opportunity looked to go. However, she managed to find room for a second opportunity, and she quickly turned and squeezed the ball into the bottom corner.

Foster had a chance to double Hartlepool’s lead in the ninth minute. A ball through the middle released, Foster, and she took it away from the onrushing ‘keeper and defender. She got a shot away before going too far wide, but her effort darted just the wrong side of the post.

Following Pools’ very good start, York slowly made their way into the game.

The visitors went close when a dangerous free-kick went just over in the 17th minute, and then another dangerous free-kick just needed the slightest of touches which didn’t come.

Pools then had a couple of efforts come and go, most notably when Emily Stuart forced a save from the York ‘keeper, before York went up the other end and equalised. Shannon Durkin burst forward before playing the ball out to Tinson on the left. Tinson cut in before firing an effort from the corner of the penalty area into the far corner.

There was almost a perfect response to conceding from Pools. Just two minutes after Tinson’s goal had pulled York level, good strength from Foster gave her an opportunity to regain Hartlepool’s lead, but her shot bounced back off the crossbar with the ‘keeper beaten.

Despite Pools going close, York went up the other end and took the lead. An attack down the left resulted with Caitlin Gough’s pull back finding Fevers, and she fired a 20-yard effort into the top corner.

Not much worthy of note happened for the rest of the first half, and York went into the break ahead.

Early in the second half, Sarah Rowbotham had an effort well saved for Pools, but that was about it until just before the hour mark.

York had a good spell of possession within the Hartlepool half, but an eventual shot was saved by Rebecca Lillystone. The Hartlepool stopper started a quick counter attack, and the attack picked out Foster who fired over from the edge of the penalty area.

Another Hartlepool effort soon followed, but this time it was rather tame and easily saved.

As the second half wore on, Hartlepool upped their pressure. They were in control of possession and looking the more likely to score, but they weren’t creating a great deal of clear-cut chances.

In the 69th minute, a member of the York City bench was sent off, and I’ve absolutely no idea why.

With just over quarter of an hour to play, Pools hit the crossbar for a second time. Another quick counter found Robinson, but her effort bounced back off the woodwork.

Becky Hanratty then had an effort go just wide, before the same Hartlepool player was sent off. Again, I’ve absolutely no idea why. Alike the earlier sending off, it must have been because she said something to the referee. Mind, to have people sent off from both clubs for saying something to the referee suggests to me that the referee may not have been fully in control.

With 15 seconds of the 90 to play, Hartlepool snatched an equaliser. A free-kick looked an easy save for the York goalkeeper, but she fumbled it and the ball was bundled into the net for Robinson to get on the scoresheet.

One chance for a winner remained, and it went the way of York. An attack down the left resulted with their forward being in on goal. She poked a shot through the ‘keeper’s legs, but it could only find the side netting.

That was that, and the points were shared.

Full-time: Hartlepool United Women 2-2 York City Ladies

Next up for me is Sunderland RCA vs Guisborough Town on Tuesday night.

Admission: Free

Attendance: About 40

Programme: No

Easington Colliery vs Esh Winning

Colliers hit Esh Winning for seven

Jack Pounder scored four as Easington Colliery hit Esh Winning for seven in a 7-0 win at the Welfare Park on Saturday afternoon.

Pounder scored a hat-trick within the opening 20 minutes, and Pounder and Josh Home-Jackson added further goals before half-time.

In the second half, Connor Slack got in on the act with a goal, and an own goal made it seven.

Following Tuesday’s 0-9 win at Durham City, Home-Jackson, Kyle Middleton, Niall McGoldrick and Slack all returned to the starting eleven.

Upon kick-off, Jak Ashton had an early shot sail just over, before Home-Jackson had an effort well saved.

In the ninth minute, Esh Winning created their first dangerous attack. Channon North was played through on goal and he knocked the ball past the onrushing Ben Reynolds before falling, but the referee said no foul and play continued.

A very good save denied Liam Adamson in the 11th minute, before the Colliers took the lead in the 14th minute. Ashton and Pounder linked up on the edge of the penalty area to find Pounder, and he tucked an 18-yard effort into the bottom corner.

Just two minutes later, Pounder collected his second. The Esh Winning ‘keeper passed the ball straight to Slack, and he unselfishly squared the ball to Pounder for a simple finish.

With 19 minutes and 30 seconds played, Pounder collected his hat-trick. A ball into the penalty area wasn’t cleared, and Pounder and Slack both had efforts blocked before Pounder fired his second attempt into the net.

Just 80 seconds later, it was 4-0. A ball through the middle released Home-Jackson who beat the offside trap. He rounded the ‘keeper, and in very composed style, he took the ball round a defender who ended up on the deck before dribbling the ball into the net.

Middleton then went close a couple of times with a shot and a header, before Pounder scored his fourth in the 31st minute. A ball over the top was headed straight to the feet of Slack, and he burst forward before squaring it to Pounder for his fourth and the Green Army’s fifth.

Slack then went close for the Colliers, before a rare Esh Winning attack saw Craig Hindmarch drag an effort wide.

Following the break, Reynolds was forced into an easy early save, before the Colliers scored their sixth in the 53rd minute. Pounder and Home-Jackson applied pressure on Esh’s Jonathan Swift. Home-Jackson stole the ball from the full back, and he pulled it back to Pounder. Looking for his fifth, Pounder took aim, but Dom McMahon got a strong hand on it. However, it wasn’t enough to prevent it from bouncing towards goal where Slack fired home to make sure.

Ten minutes into the second half, it was seven. A cross was whipped into the penalty area and Callum Banki stuck a foot out to turn it into his own top corner.

The ruthless Colliers had put the game to bed, and the last half hour was somewhat of a non-event with the Colliers firmly in control.

Esh Winning did have a couple of opportunities as Niall McGoldrick was forced into a couple of very good challenges to preserve the Colliers’ clean sheet, while at the other end, Adamson had a couple of efforts saved as he looked to get in on the act.

Luke Pearn had a couple of late chances for the Colliers, most notably when his header forced a superb save from Dom McMahon, but no further goals were scored, and it finished seven-nil.

That is now 16 goals in two games for the Colliers who are next in action with a trip to Sunderland West End next Saturday.

Full-time: Easington Colliery 7-0 Esh Winning

Next up for me is probably Hartlepool United Women vs York City Ladies.

Easington Colliery: Reynolds, Ball, Ashton, Watson (Todd, 58′), Garside, McGoldrick, Home-Jackson (Pearn, 66′), Middleton, Pounder (c) (Haslam, 63′), Slack, Adamson

Unused subs: Turnbull, Nicholson

Esh Winning: Dom McMahon, Stephenson, Swift, Arnott (Spencer, 67′), Stoker (c) (Mcleod, 17′), Souslby, Mclean (Banki, 49′), Hindmarch, North, Lee McMahon, Boakes

Unused subs: Fish, Burrell

Admission: £5 adults, £2 concessions

Programme: No

Attendance: 106

Referee: Tim Craig

Durham City vs Easington Colliery

Travelling to this game, I knew Easington would be favourites, but I wasn’t expecting us to win by quite this margin. To be honest, when you’re winning so easily, it’s not very entertaining, but it is a good win to book our spot in the next round. I’ve been at Newcastle Races during the day today with an owners badge for Roaring Rory. He ran a disappointing race to be honest, and as he was in the 10 past 5, I went straight from the racecourse to this game at Willington.

Match report:

Colliers hammer Durham to progress in Durham Challenge Cup

Easington Colliery claimed an emphatic 0-9 win away to Durham City in the preliminary round of the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday night.

Jack Pounder scored a steady five for the Green Army, while there was also a brace for Rhys Turnbull.

Jonathan Pearson and Liam Adamson were both also on the scoresheet for the Green Army.

Following their suspensions, Pounder and Brennan Ball both returned to the starting eleven, as did Pearson.

Ben Reynolds played in goal for the Colliers, but it was probably the quietest night he’s ever had as a goalkeeper.

Upon kick-off, Adamson had a chance within the opening minute, and then James Watson had an effort crash off the crossbar and then on the line. Many claimed it had crossed the line, but the assistant referee thought otherwise.

Pounder put the Colliers ahead in the fourth minute. Taking responsibility of a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, Pounder curled it round the wall and into the near corner.

Luke Pearn then hit the post for the Green Army, before Watson, Pounder and Adamson all had further chances as the Colliers bossed the game, and Durham’s task was made even tougher on the half hour mark. Durham goalkeeper Dean Brooks totally misjudged the bounce of a long ball, and he handled the ball outside of the penalty area giving the referee no option but to send him off.

Goalkeepers taking their shirts off after being sent off to give to whoever is going in goal is quite common, but Brooks decided his replacement also needed his shorts, so he left the pitch in boxers and his boots!

Shortly after, the Colliers doubled their lead. A corner was headed partially clear, and with a Durham man just standing there waiting for the ball to drop to him, Pearson ran onto it to send a powerful header into the top corner from the penalty spot.

Soon after, it was three. Pounder again took responsibility of a dangerous free-kick, and this time he picked out the top corner.

The fourth goal came just two minutes later. Pounder turned provider as his lovely cross picked out Turnbull whose equally impressive header found the net.

Pounder then went close to his hat-trick as another dangerous free-kick clipped the ball before bouncing back off the post.

Ball and Pearn both had further chances for the Colliers late in the half.

Following the break, Pounder collected his hat-trick in the 51st minute when he tucked home a penalty by sending the replacement ‘keeper the wrong way.

It was nil-six on the hour mark. Durham’s goalkeeper failed to collect Jak Ashton’s cross, and Pounder was able to poke the ball to Turnbull who fired into an empty net.

In the 64th minute, Adamson got in on the act. After a quick one-two with Pounder on the edge of the area, Adamson curled a lovely effort into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area.

After a couple of further chances for the Green Army, Pounder scored his fourth and the Colliers eighth in the 72nd minute. A good save pushed Turnbull’s original effort onto the crossbar, but Pounder was quickest to react to fire home the rebound.

Pounder had the ball in the net again with 10 minutes to play after Ball’s great ball, but it was ruled out for offside.

Adamson, Garon Garside and Pounder all had further chances, before the Colliers scored their ninth and final goal in the 89th minute. A bit of pressure from Turnbull caused a terrible mistake from a Durham defender, and it left Pounder with an open goal for 0-9.

Unsurprisingly, no added time was played, and the Colliers booked their spot in the next round with a very comprehensive win.

Full-time: Durham City 0-9 Easington Colliery

Next up for me is maybe a game tomorrow.

Durham City: Brooks, Wahab (Khan, 61′), Thompson (c), Potts, Crathorne, Kennedy, Yoossef, Williams (Barrett, 57′), Appleby, Voung (Soakell, 27′), Payne

Unused sub: Graydon

Easington Colliery: Reynolds, Nicholson, Ashton, Watson, Ball, Garside, Pearn, Pearson, Pounder (c), Adamson, Turnbull

Subs (all unused): Home-Jackson, Middleton, McGoldrick

Admission: £5 adults, £3 concessions

Programme: Don’t think so

Attendance: 78

Referee: Joshua Gordon

Heaton Stannington vs Easington Colliery

Colliers back to winning ways at Heaton Stannington

Josh Home-Jackson scored a brace as the Colliers got back to winning ways with a 2-3 win away to Heaton Stannington on Saturday afternoon.

Dean Imray put the Stan ahead in the 38th minute, but Connor Slack pulled the Green Army level with his first goal for the Colliers in the 44th minute.

After creating numerous good chances, the Colliers took the lead through a Home-Jackson header in the 76th minute, and the same man collected his second and Easington’s third with a 81st minute penalty.

Heaton Stannington pulled one goal back in injury time, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Colliers from taking all three points.

With both Brennan Ball and Jack Pounder missing through suspension, and the likes of Simon Todd and Alex Lawrence missing, Garon Garside, Lee Chapman, Jak Ashton and James Watson all returned to the starting eleven, while Liam Robson also came in to make his debut for the Green Army.

Upon kick-off, the Colliers started positively, but Heaton Stannington created the first chance as one long ball over the top released Regan Paterson, but he couldn’t find the target with his shot.

The Colliers first chance came in the ninth minute. After an initial corner had been cleared, Ashton swung the ball back into the area to find Home-Jackson, but his header was too high.

Chapman had the ball for the Green Army after Garside’s great ball in the 11th minute, but it was ruled out as Chapman was offside.

Garside continued to play some very good balls through the middle for the Green Army, and he created chances for both Chapman and Slack, but neither could trouble Heaton Stan goalkeeper Daniel Regan.

Chapman had a free-kick comfortably saved in the 25th minute for the Green Army, before Heaton Stannington went close when an effort was crucially blocked two minutes later.

Another dangerous free-kick for the Colliers was taken by Chapman in the 34th minute, but this time the wall did its job and blocked.

In the 38th minute, Heaton Stannington broke the deadlock. Jonathan Wright’s wide free-kick took a lucky bounce to play Imray in, and he was there to slot home from close range.

It could have been two-nil just two minutes later, but Ashton’s superb challenge prevented what would have been a big chance.

And, four minutes later, the Colliers pulled level. Liam Adamson burst down the wing and cut in to beat his man. Adamson drilled a low ball across the six yard box, and Slack took a touch before firing home.

The Colliers had worked hard to get back into the game, but just 60 seconds later, Heaton Stannington were awarded a penalty after an array of errors. Wright took responsibility from the spot, but he dragged a very poor effort wide and the Colliers went into the break level.

Ben Reynolds was forced into a straight forward save within the opening minute of the second half, but then the Colliers took control.

Kyle Middleton and Home-Jackson both had efforts blocked, before the Green Army went close in the 50th minute. Chapman curled a dangerous free-kick round the wall and it was destined for the top corner, but Regan’s good save kept it out. The ball quickly found a way back to Chapman, and this time his 20-yard effort was just wide.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Wright fired a free-kick well over for the hosts, but that proved to be just one chance wedged in the middle of an array of Easington chances.

On the hour mark, great work from Adamson saw him find the byline in a very dangerous attack, but his pull back was crucially intercepted. Seconds later, Ashton’s superb crossfield ball picked out Home-Jackson at the back post. Home-Jackson’s first touch was perfect, and his powerful shot forced another good save from Regan.

Regan was then forced into another very good save two minutes later. A defensive slip played Adamson in on goal, but Regan came out and saved Adamson’s effort with his legs.

Watson and Home-Jackson both had further half chances come and go.

Despite all the Colliers’ chances, Heaton Stan were still very dangerous when going forward, and they did just that in the 72nd minute. A dangerous ball was looking for their man at the back post who would have had a tap in, but superb defending from Ashton intercepted it and cleared.

With 15 minutes to play, the Colliers finally took the lead. Chapman lifted a wide free-kick into the penalty area and Home-Jackson lost his marker to head home from six yards.

And, five minutes later, Home-Jackson collected his second and the Colliers’ third of the afternoon. Another ball from the right – this time from Luke Pearn – was aimed at Home-Jackson, and he was brought down giving the referee no option but to point to the penalty spot. Home-Jackson dusted himself down to take responsibility of the spot kick, and he sent the ‘keeper the wrong way to double the Green Army’s lead.

In the 83rd minute, there was almost a fourth for the Colliers. A pinpoint cross picked out the towering Niall McGoldrick in the penalty area, but his header bounced off the crossbar and was cleared off the line.

In injury time, Heaton Stannington pulled one back as Richard Hoggins slid the ball past Reynolds and into the bottom corner, but it didn’t matter as the final whistle soon followed and the Green Army took all three points!

Full-time: Heaton Stannington 2-3 Easington Colliery

Next up for me is Durham City vs Easington Colliery on Tuesday night.

Heaton Stannington: Regan, Simpson, Stoddart, Blackbourne, Leech, Imray (c), Carr (Hoggins, 81′), Bailey (Kerridge, 90′), Wright, Wilson, Paterson (Campbell, 81′)

Unused subs: Dixon, Proctor

Easington Colliery: Reynolds, Robson (Nicholson, 74′), Ashton, Watson (Pearn, 69′), Garside, McGoldrick, Home-Jackson (c), Middleton, Slack, Chapman, Adamson

Unused subs: Pearson, Haslam, Turnbull

Admission: £5 adults, £2 concessions

Programme: £1

Attendance: 150

Chips: £1.50

Referee: Andrew Bailey

Farringdon Detached vs Darlington Town

I hadn’t seen a Farringdon Detached home game before today. I hadn’t watched them at home when they were in what used to be the Durham Alliance League, and I haven’t been to Leyburn Road since they’ve been playing there. In fact, it looks like it’s over four years since I watched any game at Leyburn Grove – when Sunderland Hall Farm played out a goalless draw against Wheatley Hill WMC in April 2016. Jordon Southern was at Easington last season and he’s now at Farringdon. He was at one of our midweek games a few weeks ago, and I told him I’d come along to a Farra game and do a write up for them, so tonight was that night. Looking through my past seasons, the only time I’ve watched Farringdon was when they were away to Blackhill & Ebchester in February 2016. That game finished 8-3 to Blackhill & Ebchester. As for Darlington Town, I visited them not too long before the season was stopped last season. With Wearside League clubs now allowed a crowd of 40 (no idea who came up with that figure at Durham FA and the thinking behind it), I got to this game quite early not knowing how many people would be there. It turned out that there weren’t many people there, and the ground hasn’t changed at all since my last visit four years ago.

Match report:

Darlington Town come from behind to claim narrow victory at Farringdon

Darlington Town came from behind to claim a narrow 2-3 win away to Farringdon Detached on Wednesday night.

Vinny Gash put Darlington ahead in the 35th minute, but Farringdon equalised just two minutes later through James Burlinson.

Jordon Southern’s goal 52nd minute goal but Farringdon ahead, but late goals from Gash and Stevie Johnson meant Darlington town took all three points.

Upon kick-off, Darlington had a couple of half chances come and go in the opening five minutes, before the hosts created their first chance in the ninth minute. A deep free-kick was only partially cleared, and a shot from 20 yards darted not too far wide.

Following a quiet spell, another dangerous Farringdon free-kick caused Darlington trouble in the 19th minute, but the Darlo ‘keeper was equal to the header.

Not long before the half hour mark, a Darlington man went in the book for coming back onto the pitch without the referee’s permission following an injury. He was shouting to come back on, but the referee didn’t wave him on, and he took it into his own hands to return to the pitch. When play was stopped and the referee booked him, a team mate protested the yellow card with: “but he doesn’t know the rules ref”.

Just after the half hour mark, Darlington had a decent spell of possession without any serious pressure, but the pressure told as they broke the deadlock in the 35th minute. Jim Wilson’s ball from the centre circle picked out Gash on the edge of the penalty area, and he ignored calls for him to pass before firing a low powerful effort which took a slight deflection before nestling into the bottom corner.

However, just less than two minutes later, Farringdon were level. Straight from the restart, the hosts went up the other end and won back-to-back corners. The latter of the corners was swung into the penalty area, and Burlinson rose highest to head home.

As the first half came to a close, Gash had a couple of chances for the visitors, but he couldn’t trouble the ‘keeper and a fairly level first half saw the two sides go into the break level.

Following the break, Darlington had a couple of efforts sail well over, before Farringdon took the lead in the 52nd minute. A long ball over the top looked simple for Darlington to deal with, but Southern wasn’t giving up, and he chased it down to force both the defender and goalkeeper into errors. The errors left the former Easington Colliery man with a simple finish to put Farra ahead.

Three minutes later, Southern went close again, this time as his 25-yard shot forced a save from the Darlington goalkeeper.

All Darlington could muster as they looked for an immediate response was a flicked effort from a driven free-kick bouncing wide.

Now ahead, Farringdon looked quite comfortable.

A quiet period followed, before Southern had a shot saved by the ‘keeper’s legs, and a couple of further Farringdon Detached efforts failed to find the target.

A long range Darlington effort forced the Farringdon ‘keeper into a comfortable save in the 79th minute, but three minutes later, the visitors equalised. A corner was whipped into the penalty area and not cleared, and following a short scramble, Gash was on hand to poke the ball home for his second and Darlington’s second of the night.

Two minutes later, in the 84th minute, the visitors found their winner. In truth, it was quite a bizarre goal. Johnson’s low free-kick from the corner of the penalty area seemed to be scuffed, and another Darlington man deliberately let it go through his legs. It then found a way through a host of other bodies, before nestling into the far bottom corner.

Farringdon went in search of an equaliser late on, but they only really created one chance as a 20 yard effort was saved, and it was Darlington who claimed a narrow win.

Full-time: Farringdon Detached 2-3 Darlington Town

Next up for me is Heaton Stannington vs Easington Colliery on Saturday.

Admission: £3 adults, £2 concessions

Attendance: I counted 17

Programme: No

Referee: Matthew Webster