Hambleton Black Sheep Brewery League, Division One: Northallerton Police 2 Henleys Athletic 1

3:11pm Friday 29th November 2013

LEAGUE titles are not decided in November but should Northallerton Police retain their Division One crown this season they may well look back on this victory over Henleys Athletic as being pivotal.

The visitors from Bedale began the day three points clear at the top after an unbeaten start to their league campaign. But despite going behind early on to a fine strike from Mark Hemingway, the Police fought back with goals from Sean Radford and Liam Darville to reclaim top spot on goal difference.

The Police began brightly but it was the visitors that went in front after five minutes in what was their first attack.

Tom Keegan played a crossfield ball from right to left and Hemingway took a touch before drilling an unstoppable shot across goalkeeper Adam Cunningham.

But the Police should have been level almost immediately.

David Cooke was put through after a defence-splitting ball from Darville but with only goalkeeper Ian Moore to beat he mis-hit his shot.

The Police pressure did finally bring its reward in the 16th minute. Moore performed more heroics to deny Radford, pushing the ball onto the post, but the Police man reacted quickly to turn home the loose ball.

And the turnaround was complete less than a minute later when Darville’s near post header beat former Police goalkeeper Moore to put the champions in front.

After such an open start, the match settled down and there was little to separate the sides for the rest of the first half.

Henleys showed why they have started the season so well with some neat, passing football but the five-man Police midfield just had the edge and it remained 2-1 at the break.

Henleys were close to an equaliser within a minute of the restart when Police defender Jason Newall sliced a clearance onto his own crossbar but the hosts that felt they should have had a penalty on the hour. Ben Darville raced clear and rounded Moore but appeared to be brought down by the Henleys stopper as he was about to score. However, referee Jim Wilson waved away the Police appeals.

Moore was certainly the busier of the two goalkeepers in the second half as he saved well from Caygill, Cooke, and both Darville brothers but Henleys had a penalty appeal of their own turned down in the closing stages. Keegan did well to create some space in the penalty area and went down under a challenge from Simon Pinkney but again Wilson waved play on and the Police held on.

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