Our first fixture in the Durham Trophy produced our first real local derby, given Harton & Westoe are based just around the corner from ourselves. We got the game under way and within seconds should have been 1-0 up, Adam Newbrook pounced on a through ball after a defensive slip, finding himself one on one with the keeper however was unable to give us an early lead as his left footed shot was parried by Cooper. We started brightly with another flash in front of goal, this time falling to Andy Smith who failed to keep a left footed volley down from 12 yards out. Not taking early opportunities punished us sooner rather than later as the visitors took the lead through David Bulman. The goal scorer will say he meant it, whereas most spectators will say it was luck, but either way Bulman's looping out swinging cross come shot managed to find it's way into Mark Symington's top left hand corner. Harton & Westoe had a half chance to double their lead soon after however great defending from a centre half pairing of Gareth Adams and Jonny Doyle cleared the ball away to safety. In terms of possession, both teams were pretty even, but we had by far the most clear cut chances during the first half and the game. Another falling to each of our players who'd previously failed to get us off the mark. Firstly Newbrook rounded the keeper after winning the ball high up the field only to see his effort scrambled off the line, that loose clearance then fell to Smith in the exact same position as he found himself in earlier, who passed the ball a yard wide of the far post. We then found ourselves 2-0 down, down to a bit of a controversial decision. A ball fizzed in to their forward, who had came back from an offside position, was dummied through his legs which set up the on rushing Shaun Heads to blast home from a tight angle from the left hand side of the box. The referee insisting there was no interference from the man offside, a decision we disagree with as there was no doubt he had the attention of our defenders. More opportunities throughout the first half just wouldn't result in goals for us, Newbrook couldn't find the back of the net with his head from close range after Smith's corner before Wilson struck the ball as sweet as he'd have hoped from 8 yards out to see it again blocked on the line. The score stayed at that as we headed into half time, although more good defending from Doyle ensured that minutes before the break.
The second half got under way with Harton & Westoe undoubtedly the better side for the first 15-20 minutes and edging it in general, with them making the most of their spell by scoring their third of the day. A certain corner in our favour was given as a goal kick after Newbrooks shot was superbly tipped over the bar by keeper Ben Cooper resulted in a well built counter. After initially recovering from a break down the left side by opposing left back Carl Evans, the visitors kept the ball well to find Bulman at the back post to head back across goal and into the net- Just! Naturally, we opened up more and more due to chasing the game which resulted in more risks being exploited by H&W. After surviving a real spell of dominance going against us, we still couldn't make our mark on the game while still being vulnerable at the other end. A poor keepers clearance fell straight in Daniel Wilson's path who couldn't guide the ball into what was essentially an empty net. Changes were made after that, with Smith and Wilson being replaced by Little and Fawcett. Soon after we finally took a chance, with Wilson going off, Nolan relished being pushed into a more advanced role by appearing in the box after a late run to slot past Cooper from close range. Jack Fawcett was the last to join the long list of wasted opportunities as he couldn't guide his volley towards goal after a late surge forward from right back in the final seconds of the game.
It's an obvious statement in football that if you don't take your chances then you're there to be punished, and this game epitomised that. We really should have been 2-0 up before going behind, which would have made it a different game all together. A pulsating cup tie nevertheless, and we hope the supporters who came to watch enjoyed the fixture. We'd also like to take the opportunity to thank those who did come down to support the game, while we hope it isn't the last we've seen of you either.
We resume our domestic season next week in the league, at home to Gateshead Redheugh, kicking off at 2pm.