DALE ELGIE enjoyed an afternoon of mixed fortunes last Saturday as Northallerton Town were held by title-chasing Jarrow Roofing in a stalemate at the Calvert Stadium.
Elgie’s superbly taken 72nd minute goal looked to have given Peter Mulcaster’s side three points in their late push for promotion. But after Liam McBryde’s acrobatic equaliser seven minutes later, Elgie was shown a second yellow card by referee Stuart Kyle for kicking the ball away and Town were forced to hang on.
The Town boss named yet another new goalkeeper in his starting XI as Ryan Hodgson made his debut following a move from Stokesley last week. Elsewhere, Elgie was back in midfield after missing the midweek trip to Whitehaven, Craig Perry replaced the suspended James Howlett in the back four, while Martin Butterworth partnered Graham Caygill in attack.
The big news saw Academy graduate Michael Gunnell make his first start for the club on the left-hand side of midfield after impressing in a midweek cameo, meaning Darren Kokes and Richie Dacombe dropped down to the bench.
Town started well and dominated the early exchanges although they rarely threatened the Jarrow goal. Roofing centre- half Dan Kirkup has to be one of the biggest, most intimidating defenders in the league so Caygill and Butterworth were faced with the near-impossible task of negotiating a route past him.
Mulcaster’s side were trying to play some good football on the difficult surface but the nearest they came to a breakthrough was an early effort from Caygill that flew just wide of the top right-hand corner.
Meanwhile at the other end, the much-lauded Roofing attack of Stu Nicholson, Andy Appleby and McBryde – with almost 60 goals between them this season – never got a sniff as Town once again defended with great spirit and determination.
The second half saw the visitors gain the upper hand and slowly the chances arrived.
Hodgson marked his debut with a good save to deny McBryde, while Nicholson and Appleby also came close.
But it was Town who grabbed the lead 18 minutes from time against the run of play. Gav Parkin fed Gunnell who had popped up on the right. His low cross into the penalty area with his weaker right foot was looking for Caygill but the ball fell kindly for Elgie to sweep into the net from 12 yards – his fifth goal of the season.
But Jarrow were not about surrender their nine-match unbeaten run without a fight and seven minutes later they drew level. Corey Barnes whipped the ball in from right and McBryde twisted acrobatically in the air to smash an unstoppable scissors kick into the top left-hand corner from eight yards – a goal of the highest quality from one of the best finishers in the league.
The game really opened up after that but Town’s chances of snatching victory looked over five minutes from time.
Elgie, who had already been booked for a foul on Kirkup, was adjudged by referee Kyle to have kicked the ball away and produced a second yellow for the unfortunate Town man.
The Roofers now sensed victory and they they threw Kirkup up front to create some mayhem but the ten-men almost snatched the points at the death. Hickman found himself in the right wing position and his superb ball across the six-yard box was only just a fraction too far in front of the late-arriving Caygill and it finished 1-1.