Match Report: RFC v Hexham - Rothbury Football Club
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MATCH REPORT: Hexham v Rothbury

The imposing yellow sandstone of the Old Gaol sits on a hilltop above the Wentworth ground and Rothbury were lucky to get out of Tynedale without getting one of their players chucked in the stocks at least.

Late on in the game a deep far post cross looked destined to be headed home by a Hexham forward but a sly shove from the impressive Josh Blakey sent him flying into the back of the net instead and the ball sailed harmlessly wide. The referee was probably unsighted as he took up his position behind the play, but from the sidelines it looked like a stone-waller. 

The Reds had another big escape deep into stoppage time as another far post cross was this time nodded goalwards but Tom Macpherson stretched out a long leg and hooked it off the line to preserve a valuable battling point.

“I thought we battled hard throughout and on the whole looked solid, probably doing just about enough to merit the point. I thought we were a little sloppy in possession at times but that might be expected after 5 weeks off and the pitch conditions not being ideal,” said the player/manager, who marvelled that he could still get his leg that high to make the last-gasp clearance.

Rothbury had chances themselves in a first half that saw centre-forward Dunn sent tumbling just outside the box as he raced onto a Tony Brown through ball, but the Reds appeals for a foul were waved away.

Dunn was unlucky to scoop a later bending Brown free-kick just over the bar while stretching and Brown himself saw a stinging drive deflected wide off a defender. At the other end Rothbury keeper James Morton flung himself to parry away a fiercely hit effort and made the save of the game just before the break. He was shaping to dive one way when a shot was hit from outside the box and when it took a deflection had to readjust in an instant and got down with a strong wrist to keep it out.

The hosts pushed on after the break in search of a winner but Rothbury soaked it up and always looked like they posed a threat on the break with the likes of Chris Coe and Greg Woodburn able to carry the ball out at pace to ease the pressure.

“I was pleased with our performance levels and overall fitness levels. We’ve been asking the lads to maintain their fitness levels over Christmas with gym sessions and runs, which on the whole have been adhered too,” said Tom.

“I thought the midfield three of Tony, Greg and Jake were immense, covering a lot of grass and really protecting the middle of the pitch. We discussed before the game that Hexham’s main threat comes through their three centre mids and they more than matched that. I also thought Sam played really well and James obviously made some top class saves to keep the clean sheet intact. We won’t mention him hanging the washing up in the 94th minute though,” he laughed.

The Old Gaol – the first purpose built prison in England – has housed many a Coquet rogue in the past and the Reds will consider the foray into Tynedale a successful one to come away with a point. They will look to build on that when they host Forest Hall at Armstrong Park this Saturday (kick-off 2.00 pm) and Tom says the Reds are looking forward to welcoming them at the third time of asking this season.

“Forest Hall are a young, energetic team so we have to match that. I’m hoping we show the same commitment levels as Hexham but just sharpen up our play in possession. We have a full squad pretty much so it’ll be difficult task narrowing down to 16, but that’s a great problem to have. It’s the first game of the New Year so hopefully the Don Jeans west stand will be packed.”

Words: Jon Tait