After a two week festive break we were back in action away at runaway league leaders Killingworth YPC.
A lovely fixture to come back to especially as a fair few of the lads seemed to have had a good Christmas!! We did however welcome some new faces to the side, Davey Conroy joining from Boldon, Yegor Rumble from Harton & Westoe, Craig Mann, who had a previous spell with the club and Anthony Chapman who was returning from long-term injury.
Some overnight rain left the pitch slightly wet in some areas but both teams were keen for it to go ahead.
We knew that Killingworth would be a threat going forward and we found ourselves camped in our half for large spells of the opening 30 minutes in which time their attacking players found space in which to turn and feed their pacey forwards in behind our back 4.
Some wayward finishing, the woodwork and decent hands from stand-in keeper Dom Slater the only reason for the scores being level.
Our only ventures in to the Killingworth final third came from flick-ons from Rumbles, making his debut as a lone striker.
It was from one of these long balls we grabbed our goal to put us ahead.
A clearance evaded everyone and with the home defenders and Jordan Howe chasing it down facing their goal, the Killingworth keeper had a Neuer sweeper-keeper rush of blood to the head and came charging out to clear the ball, 20 yards from his goal.
A mix up between defender and keeper ensued and the ball squirmed out to the pressuring Howe, who touched in to the box and side footed home from 10 yards in to the empty net.
To say this was against the run of play would have been the biggest understatement of 2017 so far! This gave us some impetus and we came out of our shells and began to keep possession better to relieve the constant pressure we were under.
We then had a further two good chances within minutes.
The first falling to Paulie Bell; after being played through he found himself in a 2v2 situation running at the home defence and his shot was blocked just inside the box, with Rumbles maybe better placed to be slipped in for a sight at goal.
Mick Cave then had a fierce drive touched round the post by the diving home keeper moments later.
The last 10 minutes of the half was all Killingworth, searching and probing for an equaliser.
And they got in on the stroke of half-time despite some staunch and resolute defending.
The left winger cutting inside and laying off a ball on the edge of the box to be drilled home by the impressive number 11.
HALF TIME: 1 - 1.
Our talk at half-time centred around of keeping our shape as best we could as we knew we would be under the cosh on a deteriorating pitch with tired legs.
We were forced in to a change at the break with Andrew Jaggers replacing the industrious Howe who was forced off with a calf strain.
The second half started in much the same way as the first.
Any possession we did get was turned over unnecessarily; making life even harder for ourselves.
We managed to hold out until the 60th minute.
A succession of corners were defended but we were behind when the home team headed home a floated delivery.
Further misery was piled on when Cave fouled just inside the box, following a clever dummy and the penalty was dispatched despite Slater getting a hand to it.
The home side sensed blood and went for the kill, not content with being two goals ahead.
They grabbed a 4th shortly after and followed this up with number 5, a second penalty after Graeme Hannant was adjudged to have gone through the back of the number 10 when he tackled him.
The afternoon’s scoring was completed two minutes from time with Killingworth finishing off a well worked move.
FULL TIME: Whitburn Athletic 1 –6 Killingworth YPCIn all it was a good blowout for the lads after the festive break and we will try to take any positives that we can, especially the way we stuck at our defensive duties in the first half.
We will hopefully welcome back a few more players from suspension, work and injury this weekend and might even have a recognised keeper in between the sticks and hopefully a good session on Wednesday will hopefully get us back on track after sliding down the league in recent weeks.