The Stan made the long trip to the ever scenic Ironworks Road on a sunny but windy afternoon, coming off the back of a comfortable midweek win away to Washington. They had every right to be high on confidence, but Tow Law is always a difficult to place to get a result. The travelling Stan Army were all too aware that things would not be an easy as Wednesday night. Tow Law themselves also came into the match off the back of a midweek victory, with an excellent win over a strong Jarrow on home soil. The signs were there that this would be a close encounter and that certainly turned out to be the case.
Due to absences amongst the management team, first team coach Scott Flynn stepped up into the role of Manager today. He was supported in the dug out by Stan stalwart, James Colwill.
Tow Law were the first to notch up a goal scoring opportunity. Indeed, they did have the ball in the net when on 5 minutes a tidy through ball cut through the Stan defence and Hurworth shot past Regan. Fortunately for the Stan, the assistant referee judged the through ball to have been offside and the goal was disallowed. An early wake up call!
It took until the 12th minute for the Stan to begin to get into the game and begin to hold some possession. For the next 10 minutes, we passed the ball well around the back lines and through the middle …. effectively switching the ball and trying to find an opening in the resolute Tow Law defence. However, the only threat was a scuffed Andy Burn shot from distance which didn’t trouble the home keeper.
Supporters Man of the Match, Kye Waters, played a sublime through ball in the 22nd minute which an overlapping Stoddart picked up and done very well to win a corner. The resultant corner was taken by Dan Stephenson and was put in a dangerous area in the box, but the organised Tow Law defence managed to deal with it. Shortly later, Carr plays the ball to Burn’s feet with his back to goal … Burn does well to turn and create a yard of space to get a shot away, but it goes just wide of the post.
After 35 minutes, still with little between the sides, the Stan create a spell of pressure on the right as Stoddart and Stephenson link up well. Waters gets involved and threads it through to Burn who’s cross goes over McBryde and is intercepted before Carr can get on the end of it. Good play by the Stan but still little in the way of a threat on goal.
It takes until the 41st minute for the Stan’s best chance of the first half. Burn takes a free kick from deep and launches it into the box, McBryde sets up Bailey with a gentle header but Bailey’s half volley goes just over the bar. Straight from the goal kick, Tow Law launch a counter attack down the right and cut inside … but Dan Regan stands his ground well and makes a save, putting it out for a corner. The corner comes to nothing and that’s just about the last moment of action in the first half.
HALF TIME: Tow Law 0-0 Heaton Stan
The first 10 minutes of the second half were very quiet and it took until the 55th minute for a notable moment to report! It went to Tow Law striker, Daniel Kent, who done well to find some space in the box and was looking like getting a shot away from close range but mis-kicked it. A let off!
In the 58th minute, Flynn decided to mix things up by replacing Kevin Carr with Mackenzie Sharpe on the right side. However, the next chance for the Stan came from the left in the 63rd minute, as Dan Stephenson ran at his man, cut inside and layed the ball off to Andy Burn. Burn takes a touch but his shot blazes over the bar. Another change on 65 minutes as Lee McAndrew replaced Ryan Bailey and the captains armband was passed to Kye Waters.
Disaster struck in the 70th minute when a Tow Law long ball beats the Stan back line … the intial shot is saved well by Dan Regan but his parry isn’t enough to prevent a follow up and easy tap in to an empty net. Tow Law 1 Heaton Stan 0. It was probably the first major chance on goal for either side in the game and the hosts took it well.
Flynn made his final change in the 73rd minute, replacing lone striker Liam McBryde with Connor Campbell. For the final 15 minutes of the game, the Stan pushed forward in search of an equaliser but the Tow Law defence held strong and restrained us to taking shots from outside the box. Shots from distance from Stephenson and Burn in the 85th and 87th minutes respectively failed to really test the home goalkeeper. In the 90th minute there was a moment of panic in the Tow Law goal as a dangerous cross by Burn is flapped at by the goalkeeper but he is fortunate and it goes out for a corner rather than into his own net. The final few minutes of added time are played out without incident and Tow Law take the three points from a closely fought battle.
FULL TIME: Tow Law 1-0 Heaton Stan
In summary – it was a very close game, with some good football played, and for the most part there wasn’t a lot between the two sides. The first half was an absolute stalemate and as the game progressed it was clear that one goal was the most that would separate the sides if a good chance could be created. Tow Law got and took that chance and then did a good job of closing up shop. The Stan will be feeling disappointed tonight to come away with nothing, but there were positives to build on and lessons to learn from. Our attention is now on a double-header back at Grounsell Park. On Wednesday we welcome Northern League newbies, Blyth Town, to Grounsell Park followed by Willington next Saturday. The lads need the support of the Stan Army – please come down and support us as we seek to make amends with 6 points!