DEFENDING Division One champions Northallerton Police moved three points clear at the top of the table last Sunday as they came from behind to beat struggling Travaux FC.
After Michael Birdsall had capitalised on a mix up in the Police defence to give the hosts an early lead, Sam Vernalls equalised before the break, while late goals from Ben Darville and Michael Gunnell sent the Police clear at the top.
Travaux began the day in the bottom three and were desperate for the points to lift them clear of the relegation zone, but the Police started brightly and dominated the early exchanges. However, they were unable to create anything tangible and it was the hosts who went in front after just 16 minutes.
A long ball from the back by Stuart Brown was not dealt with by the Police defence and Birdsall reacted quickly to slot the ball past advancing Police goalkeeper Adam Cunningham.
The pattern of the game continued, with the Police on top but unable to penetrate a stubborn Travaux back-line, but they did fashion an equaliser nine minutes before the break. Johnny Morris headed a corner from Ashley McInerney onto the crossbar and Vernalls was on hand to tap home the rebound.
The second half saw the Police really step up the pressure but the hosts defended for their lives and with Brown superb, they were unable to find a breakthrough. In fact Travaux would have regained the lead 14 minutes from time had it not been for a superb one-handed save from Cunningham to deny Birdsall. And that proved to be the turning point as the Police went in front just two minutes later.
Gunnell broke clear down the left and his low cross was swept in at the near post by Darville.
Travaux’s heads went down after that and it was Gunnell himself who sealed the points five minutes later. Vernalls was the architect this time with a lovely through ball and Gunnell did the rest with a cool finish to send the Police three points clear of second-placed Henleys Athletic with a game in hand.