At last Heaton Stannington first team had a home game with paying customers. We came along, a new manager and his staff, new players, some we knew, but familiar faces who we did know. Expectations, well it was only a friendly, against a Northern Alliance side, managed by Dave Malone, who lead his side to two cup finals in May/June.
Alas, Stann having started well, lost the match, to the lower league side, Burradon, who took their chances, whilst Stann’s newcomer Laquan Esdaille and Connor Campbell hit the woodwork.
As early as the second minute Leighton Hopper crossed for Campbell to glance a header just wide of the upright. James Proctor had a shot deflected for a corner. Hopper set up Mackenzie Sharpe, with his fierce low drive fizzing wide.
But in Burradon’s first attack, on 14 minutes, they opened the scoring, when a long ball for Liam Hudson, on his own, left Dan Regan exposed, Hudson calmly lobbed the ball up and though Regan got his fingers on the ball, it went over him with Michael Hall unable to prevent it crossing the line.
Stann hit back and on 31 minutes when a corner from them was headed out to Esdaille, but his header hit the bar and went over.
A further setback for Stann 7 minutes later when referee Peter Osgood penalised Kyle Dobson for hand ball, and Jos Besford sent Regan the wrong way to put the visitors two up.
Stann then had a purple patch beginning on 41 minutes with a Campbell header was headed off the line, two minutes later Campbell, around 40 yards out struck his shot against the bar with keeper Tom Shanley beaten, but on 44 minutes Dobson hit a 30 yard low drive into the corner of the net. A foul on Sharpe brought a yellow card for the offender. That goal must have given Dean Nicholson a different half time team talk.
As often happens in friendlies, the restart saw Stann making 3 immediate substitutions, Kevin Carr, Jay Hornsby and Dean Imray coming on.
Only a friendly, but do you know a footballer who does not want to win every game?
On 56 minutes Joe Blackbourne and A team captain, Harry Poole also came on.
Five minutes later Carr had a curling shot on the right, which flew just past the far post
On 61 minutes the second A team player, James Harper came on.
Dave Mason put the ball down the right flank for Sharpe to run onto and unleash a powerful shot which Shanley managed to punch away. Another booking for Burradon, this time for a foul on Hornsby.
Shanley then showed class as he saved a back header from a free kick.
Alas for Stann, they fell further behind on 78 minutes when former player, Andy Robertson lobbed the ball over Regan. Again the defence caught out, leaving Regan on his his own.
Carr concluded the action when he drove a low shot into Shanley’s hands.
Burradon deserved their win, and our thanks, for showing us some of our weaknesses, which will cause manager, players and fans to ponder. Great to see Poole and Harper given playing time, which will stand them in good stead in their developing careers. No need to panic, it was only a friendly, but we all hope for improvement at Newcastle Benfield.
Heaton Stannington: Regan, Stoddart (Hornsby), Hall (Blackbourne), Bailey, Esdaille, Dobson (Carr), Mason, Sharpe, Campbell, Proctor(Poole), Hopper (Harper).