A SUPERB hat-trick from Wayne Gredziak saw Northallerton Town come back from 2-0 down to win a dramatic match at Teesdale Park last Saturday.
Having done the hard work by turning a two-goal deficit into a 3- 2 advantage, Mark Fanning’s side looked to have thrown away another two points when they allowed former Town striker Gary Mitchell an equaliser with just four minutes remaining. But stoppage time goals from Gredziak – to complete his hat-trick – and leading scorer Adam Emson, gave Town another impressive away victory.
“The opening 25 minutes apart, I thought we played well,” said relieved manager Mark Fanning at the end.We seem to relax more away from home and perhaps that explains why we are unbeaten on our travels. The players maybe feel the pressure a little more at home and we are not as fluid in our play.
“We carry a threat going forward but perhaps the way we set up leaves us vulnerable at the back at times. However, I will take a 5-3 win away from home any time.”
Fanning rang the changes after last week’s shock 4-3 reverse against Washington, so out went goalkeeper Dean Hudson, Craig Winter, Steve Banks, Pete Bulmer and Stephen Butterworth, with Steve Craggs, Danny Shoulder, Anthony Roberts, Ian Smurthwaite and Carl Chillingsworth all coming in.
But the changes did not appear to have worked in a dire opening 25 minutes. As is the fashion these days, they conceded an early goal when Mitchell rose above Grant Hickman to head home a left-wing cross from the impressive Liam O’Mahoney after just 14 minutes. And worse was to follow, 12 minutes later. The Town defence stood off Rocky Andrews, who was allowed to turn and fire past Craggs from 18 yards to make it 2-0.
But slowly Fanning’s side began to settle. They were close to pulling a goal back in the 32nd minute when only a spectacular goal-line clearance from Thornaby skipper Stephen Morrision denied Gredziak, while home goalkeeper Nicholas Farrell then did well to keep out an effort from Emson three minutes later.
It was nearly all over five minutes before the break however, when only a superb save from Craggs prevented David Howe making it 3-0, and that proved to be the turning point as Town gave themselves a lifeline in the final minute of the half.
Chillingsworth’s spectacular scissors kick was kept out by Farrell, but Gredziak was lurking on the 6 yard line to tuck away the rebound, despite home appeals for offside.
As well as giving Town a way back into the match, the goal also saved them for the full Fanning hairdryer treatment during the interval and they came out for the second half looking a different side.
Indeed they felt they should have had a penalty ten minutes after the resumption when Emson appeared to be impeded by Farrell as he bore down on goal, but referee Michael Taylor was unimpressed.
Fanning made changes - bringing on Banks and Butterworth for Roberts and Smurthwaite - and it looked to be an inspired move when Butterworth grabbed the equaliser 16 minutes from time.
Chillingsworth’s tame effort was probably rolling towards the bottom corner of the net when defender Richard Walker inadvertently directed it back along the line for Butterworth to tap home – much to the joy of the travelling masses behind the goal.
The turn around then appeared complete two minutes later when Gredziak twisted his neck to power a header past Farrrell from 10 yards following a delightful left wing cross from Emson.
But Town switched off for a moment in the closing stages and gifted Thornaby an equaliser.
Mitchell was left in acres of space down the Town right and he drilled a low shot past Craggs at the near post to make it 3-3 with just four minutes left on the clock.
However, Town dug deep and showed their attacking quality to win it in stoppage time. Gav Parkin created the fourth with a wonderful defence-splitting pass for Gredziak to gratefully gobble up his hat-trick. Then, after missing a similar chances moments earlier, Emson ran through to dink a delicate chip over the onrushing Farrell to put the seal on another great away day for Town.
Kick off at the RGPS tomorrow is 3pm and admittance is £5 for adults with £2.50 concessions.