Heaton Stannington were hard pressed to keep their unbeaten league run going, after a poor first half which remained goalless, then going behind, equalising and almost losing in the final moments, with both managers happy to have collected a point.
A slow start to the game with defences on top. Ryan Redford had a shot turned behind by Dan Regan on 11 minutes. Stann had a chance on 22 minutes when Dan Stephenson’s free kick won a corner and from it Joe Robertson headed over his own crossbar to deny Liam McBryde a chance.
Three minutes later and Stann captain, Lacqan Esdaille limped off and was replaced by Andy Burn. Esdaille twisted his ankle, with Stann’s new physio in action early on. Burn went on to play a solid contribution, just the opposite to last week, and he is only 20 years old.
Ex Whitley Bay player Ryan Redford was booked for two fouls. Good interplay between Leighton Hopper, Dean Holmes and Stephenson lead to Stann having their first shot on target on 43 minutes, a low drive from Stephenson which Edward Claxton saved comfortably, Then McBryde almost set up Jay Hornsby but Claxton collected. A free kick for the visitors was blocked and cleared. Not a great first half, with the visitors just shading the first half. Stann by their own standards were poor.
The visitors started the second half on the front foot with Regan saving a shot and Holmes defending well on the right flank. Stephenson put the ball left for Holmes but he sliced his shot wide.
It was no surprise when Stann went a goal down on 55 minutes when a needless corner was given away, and from it Joe Robertson headed in at the far post. 0-1
A delightful 4 man move between Proctor, Hornsby, McBryde to Hopper, but the visitors cleared the danger.
On the hour James Proctor played the ball inside for the excellent Stephenson, and he found McBryde and his low shot was pushed around the post by Claxton. A minute later and Andy Burn crossed for McBryde to net, his 20th goal of the season. 1-1.
Uni’s Blake Wood was booked for a foul on 62.
“A tough match for David Luke to come into” said Dean Nicholson after the match. But he did well for 70 mins” and Kevin Carr replaced him. At the same time Uni’s James Coates was having his left arm put into a sling, and he was replaced by Finn Hebron.
Noah Neill put in a superb cross for Wood but his header was wide of the post. A great chance at the other end when McAndrew cut inside and put in a good cross for McBryde, but his shot was blocked, it fell for Carr in a central position but he sliced his shot wide. Should have been 2-1.
Stann made their third substitute, replacing Proctor with Mackenzie Sharpe on 86 minutes.
A golden opportunity for the visitors on 90 minutes when substitute Jack Butler on the left fired across and past Regan but wide of the far post. It could have been a winner.
A tough pitch to play on and both sides worked hard to get a win, with both sides applauded at the end by the crowd of 244,
“Before the game I would have taken a point” said Dean, I am happy with a draw, probably a fair result.”
Upon reflection I pondered the pluses for the Stann. In both games now played against Newcastle University, Stann have played 180 minutes and both games ended 1-1. Both games I think Newcastle University would come off the field disappointed not to have won. Stann fans might have left Groundsell disappointed at the loss of 2 points, but rather I see the resilience of a side who have shown this time and time again this season, at Boldon CA and Barnoldswick, and at home to Carlisle City and Horden in particular. They are a very consistent team, consistently hard to beat, and it is consistency that will gain promotion.
Credit: Joe Street