Rothbury 3 Felling Magpies 2
Saturday 10th April 2021
Jack Halton’s heart must have been in his mouth as a late effort crashed back off the crossbar.
The highly promising young Rothbury keeper, who has attracted the attention of a number of clubs, looked nonchalant as a Mags’ player let fly from distance.
But he misjudged the flight of the ball completely and it thumped off the woodwork with him reacting smartly to force a rushed follow-up over and onto the roof of the net.
While he rode his luck there, Halton will also be disappointed in the manner of the Felling opener.
The Reds conceded a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box and although Mark Burns’ effort was well hit, Halton got both hands to the ball but despaired as the power looped it loose into the top corner.
There was nothing he could do when dead ball ace Burns let fly with another free kick from a similar but more central position shortly after, and was unlucky as it slapped off the face of the bar.
The visitors, in their black and white shirts, were quick to press and weren’t allowing the Reds to settle as passes went astray and were picked off under pressure.
With a quick pace and both sides looking to move the ball around into feet, as well as being sharp into the challenge, chances were proving at a premium.
But James Jackson went close as he burst through and, in opening his body to create the angle for bending around the keeper, was tumbling off balance and shot wide.
The Reds got level in the 38th minute when Greg Woodburn ran through with an offside Paul Dunn allowing him the chance to get beyond him.
It looked as though the midfielder had overdone it in going around the keeper as the angle narrowed and a defender got a leg in, but Woodburn turned back and was clipped over by the keepers outstretched hand.
Tony Brown converted the penalty low, sending the keeper the wrong way, for a second consecutive game.
All-action skipper Kyle Smith said: “We weren’t the greatest yesterday by any stretch of imagination but we were definitely better than we have been. We battled well and did have a few nice spells of football – Greg took his goal well after some good movement and a great ball by Chris. Tom Mac made some good tackles and was dominant in the air as ever. We made it hard for ourselves but we held on and got the 3 points. It doesn’t matter what level you play at 3 points is 3 points and a wins a win. After the match you can see how much a win lifts everyone, we were all having a good crack, taking the mick out of each other’s mistakes and overall it was a nice place to be after the game. Hopefully we take this into the next few games!”
Rothbury were more of an attacking force after the interval with Woodburn and Chris Coe running the wings at pace to add some width for Dunn’s knock ons.
They went ahead 9 minutes after the turnaround when Brown bent a dangerous corner into the near post and Tom Macpherson stuck out a pigeon chest to bounce it over the line from close range.
They had their tails up and were enjoying their best spell of pressure, a Dunn pull back just evading the inrushing Jackson, who then headed inches over as Coe’s quick cross kept the move alive.
Rothbury did extend their lead in the 61st minute as big Dunn flicked on for Coe to flash over a superb first-time cross from the right that Woodburn guided coolly into the back of the net. Midfield ace Brown described the cross as a ‘buffet ball’ in the changing rooms after; when he received some puzzled looks, he screamed: ‘help yersel,’ to laughter.
A bending Brown free kick was punched out from under the bar and when Coe and Kyle Smith combined on the edge of the box, the inrushing Brown’s curled 20 yard effort shaved the bar.
The Magpies were given a huge boost in the 81st minute as a corner was drilled low to the edge of the box and Marc Conroy struck it superbly first time without breaking stride into the roof of the net.
The Reds survived the late scare when the bar was rattled again to claim an important first three points in the Combination Cup from a game that was evenly balanced and entertaining throughout.
Reds Secretary/Chairman Dan Herron said: “I thought we were outplayed in the first half to be honest, and credit to Felling. They were young, energetic and in our faces and really made it difficult. That coupled with us not even getting out of first gear meant we were well outplayed.”
“A big rocket at half time made the difference, and the introduction of young Josh meant we played a bit more with the ball down the right and brought Coe into the game more, which ultimately won us it. I thought the front 3 of Greg, Coe and Dunny were quality and it was great to see all three link up for that third goal, which was a piece of class.”
“As a team we have a tendency to not be ruthless though, and we need to get that into our game. We had chances to make it 4/5-1 and didn’t take them. Then we switch off for their second and have everyone on the touch line with no nails! It was a gritty win though and I thought we ultimately deserved it, with credit to felling for playing football the right way and running us close!”
– Jon Tait (https://thenorthernassociation.blogspot.com/)