NL2 
6 November 2021, 3:00 pm
Birtley Town
2 - 2
Heaton Stannington
Birtley Sports Complex
Attendance: 165
Heaton Stannington First Team
Referee: Dave Carr

Match Report

The Stan travelled to Birtley in search of a win after a defeat to Eccleshill and a draw with Newcastle Uni in our last two fixtures. Birtley would not be an easy opposition despite the gap between the two sides in the table.

Nicholson made 5 changes with Flynn, Burn, Groves, Hall and Carr coming in for Regan, Luke, Esdaille, Dobson and Proctor. Rhys Groves was also to make an eventful debut for the Club.

Stan were on the front foot from the off, with Hopper breaking through the middle after just two minutes but a chasing defender and approaching keeper combine to do enough to put him off before he can shoot. Two minutes later Stephenson got into a good position on the right side and drilled the ball across the box … only for a defender to get the slightest of touches to redirect it away from the waiting Liam McBryde.

After 9 minutes, the Stan had the ball in the net but the goal was ruled out confidently by the officials for an offside, which seemed like the right decision.

It took until 16 minutes for Birtley to register their first chance of match. They counter attack down the right wing, cut inside and get a shot away from the edge of the box – but it soars over Flynn’s goal.

23 mins in and Hopper, who would go on to be a thorn in Birtley side, breaks on the left side of the box, beats two men, cuts inside and rockets a shot away … only for it to go over the bar. Great chance … but another chance for the Stan that goes begging.

Five minutes later the Stan are continuing to put pressure on their opponents and win two corners. From the second McBryde gets on the end of it with a superb header at the front post …. but the young Birtley keeper pulls off a superb save to keep the score level.

After 34 minutes, Hall picks the ball up in the centre circle and chips forward a great ball straight down the centre for Hopper who looks to be in, but his touch is heavy and he can’t keep the ball from the approaching keeper. Some frustration building now … it feels like the Esh away game again where we dominated but struggled with the final product.

The last chance for the Stan before half time comes on 41 minutes when Carr’s lofted ball into the box is flapped at by the Birtley keeper, who drops it … the ball is scrambled away and comes to Andy Burn about 30 yards from goal … you know what is coming … a rocket of a shot which is saved very well by the keeper. Almost a Barnoldswick moment again closer to home!

As the ref blows for half time, he books Groves for an earlier foul after playing advantage.

Half time: 0-0

The travelling faithful would know all too well how Nicholson’s half time team talk would have went. Keep doing what you are doing, but start taking your chances!

Just 3 minutes into the second half and disaster … Birtley get the opening goal of the game. They get a cross into the box too easily, the initial effort on goal is saved well by Flynn but he can’t do anything about the rebound whilst on the floor. 1-0 to the hosts.

54 mins in and there is a break in play for Stephenson to get treatment. He is down after being body checked off the ball. The referee and his assistant both did not see it, they confirm after the game.

When the game restarts the Stan get on the attack. McBryde finds himself with the ball at his feet in the penalty area and as he tries to find half a yard to shoot … he seems to change his mind and try and pick out a colleague. Wrong decision as it is intercepted and cleared.

On 60 mins, the Gibraltarian makes amends with a text book header straight from a corner! Some times the simple goals are best! Stan are back on level terms … 1-1. McBryde bags his 21st goal of the season.

65 mins in and Stephenson is again on the end of a heavy challenge … this time an elbow to the face. Birtley were very luck to keep 11 on the pitch as the referee considers that it was a flailing arm and not an intention elbow and shows a yellow card to Honour. Any feeling of injustice is exasperated two minutes later when Rhys Groves, on his debut, needlessly pulls back the advancing Birtley forward and picks up his second yellow of the day. Stan down to 10 men with over 20 mins to play.

On 75 mins another chance goes begging as McAndrew drills a cross across the box, but neither McBryde nor Hopper can reach it to finish. 10 men Stan are digging deep now and showing excellent character. That character is rewarded two minutes later when Hopper makes one of his trademark runs down the left win, nutmegging ex-Stan player Josh Holland in the process, and crosses for Stephenson to head home at the far post. 1-2 to the Stan! Holland can only watch from the floor this time 😀

The goal will not finish Birtley off though. They are just as resolute at getting something from this game that they are back on the front foot and two minutes later equalise with a fine finish from an angle.

The closing stages are uneventful except for Birtley captain Honour receiving his second yellow of the day in added time and a slightly early shower. There is time for a penalty box scramble in front of the Birtley goal at the death … but then hold out for the final whistle.

Full Time: 2-2

It would be a frustrating afternoon for the Stan. Whilst we played some good football and Hopper in particular caused Birtley all sorts of problems, we could not do enough to kill the game off when we had the chances to. Birtley, to their credit, stuck in there and made it a tough physical game. Other results went in our favour which, in hindsight, makes it feel like a decent enough point. We now move on to preparing for our only home fixture in November against Washington next Saturday.

Supporters MOTM: Leighton Hopper

Scott Lyndon

Lineup

Name GLS PENS OG Cards
1
2
3
4
5
6 Red Card
7
8
9 1
10
11 1

Subs

Name GLS PENS OG Cards
12
Mackenzie Sharpe Dan Stephenson
13
David Luke Kevin Carr
14
Ryan Bailey Dean Holmes
15
16