Ebac Northern League: Northallerton pay the penalty with fourth red card of season (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Division Two: Northallerton Town 1 Heaton Stannington 2
3:59pm Friday 27th September 2013 in Sport
NORTHALLERTON Town’s inability to keep 11 men on the pitch once again cost them as Heaton Stannington left the Calvert Stadium with three points last Saturday to leap to the top of the table.
Although the early red card shown to winger Jason Brazauskas by referee Jeff Marr for an alleged handball on the line was very harsh, it is the fourth time already this season that Town have had a player sent off and that has directly resulted in three of their four defeats in all competitions.
Despite falling behind to that penalty after just 12 minutes – converted by the league’s leading goalscorer Jonathan Wright – ten-man Town drew level midway through the first half with another towering header from defender Grant Hickman. But it was that man Wright who scored again before the break – his 18th goal of the season – to send the visitors to the top of the table.
“I was proud of the lads to be honest,” said Town boss Peter Mulcaster at the whistle.
“I thought we did very, very well. After 12 minutes we were a man down but we were the better side all the way through.
“We did not think it was a red card but it was given and we had to get on with the job.
To be fair we played the better football and were the better side. It’s not sour grapes; I am disappointed obviously, but apart from the lad Wright up front they were a very average side.”
After a bright start from Mulcaster’s side the game turned on the controversial 12th minute award of a penalty and red card against Brasauskas. A header from Heaton defender Joseph Wear would have crept into the far corner of the net had it not been for the intervention of the Town winger with what appeared to be a perfectly legitimate goal-line clearance.
But referee Marr saw it as handball and once he had pointed to the spot, he had very little option other than to produce a red card for the stunned Town man. Wright was not about to look a gifthorse in the mouth and he smashed the spot kick into the roof of Alex Kell’s net.
But it was difficult to tell which side had ten players for the remainder of the first half as Town looked far more dangerous.
They were rewarded in the 27th minute when Hickman, as he has done so often this season, rose highest to send a powerful header into the net following a perfectly flighted free kick from Gav Parkin – a fifth goal of the season for the big defender.
However, Wright showed exactly why he is the leading scorer in the league with a coolly-taken second ten minutes before the break. After bursting on to a through ball from strike partner Darryl Leach, the former Hibernian man rounded Kell and somehow squeezed the ball in from a tight angle despite the best efforts of Ian Smurthwaite on the line.
But Town were the better side in the minutes leading up to half-time. Col Anderson, who had scored a hat-trick last time out, twice came close to a second equaliser, while Jamie Clarke fired narrowly wide from distance as Mulcaster’s side continued to dominate.
The game inevitably became more stretched in the second half and the visitors always looked a threat on the break, most notably through Wright, one of the finest forwards to have visited the Calvert Stadium in recent years.
Firing wide from 20 yards, ten minutes after the restart, Wright could then only find the side-netting after rounding Kell again 15 minutes from time as a hat-trick eluded him.
But Town had their moments too. York loanee Chris Dickinson was denied by the alert Richie Hoggins after good work from Clarke, while Anderson then curled an effort narrowly over the top after cutting in from the right.
The fact that the visitors were playing for time as early as the 80th minute showed just how well Town were playing and they twice came close to earning their just rewards in the dying seconds. Firstly, Dale Elgie saw an effort blocked from inside the sixyard box before the former Darlington RA man tested Stannington goalkeeper Shaun Backhouse from 25 yards.
But it was the visitors who left with the spoils to leapfrog above North Shields at the top.
Following Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Whickham, Town are at home to Chester-le- Street tomorrow. Kick-off at the Calvert Stadium is 3pm and entrance is £5 for adults and £1 for children.
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