Northgate 1 – 1 Kay Street United
After several months of preparation, the time had finally arrived for Northgate Church to field its first ever 11-a-side football team. Putting themselves up against Kay Street United gave Rob Elkington the farewell testimonial match he’d longed for as a Streeters legend, as well as manager Jonny Clark coming up against former teammates as a member of the United squad last season. Kay Street also generously offered up one of their kits to Northgate for pre-season with their own kit currently on order.
The night before the game the squad looked strong with 13 players available, however late fitness tests were failed and work got in the way, leaving Clark in the unenviable position of turning up to the first ever game for the club with just nine men. Luckily for Northgate, Clark’s rapport with the Kay Street management helped them secure the services of one of their substitutes, Josef Janusz, to help them to 10 men. For the occasion of Elkington’s testimonial, he played a half for each team, meaning Northgate knew an eleventh man would arrive in the second half.
Despite the tricky start to the morning, Northgate looked bright in the opening stages and appeared to take advantage of the long journey Kay Street had undergone to get to Chester. Some slick passing around the team in their 4-4-1 formation led to a cross from the right from Matt Bodels, finding stand-in-striker Janusz who controlled neatly and fired into the corner past his cousin in goal. Against all the odds, Northgate had taken the lead and scored their first ever goal as a club – putting the name Josef Janusz in the history books!
Going behind seemed to awaken Kay Street however, and they built in confidence as they passed the ball well across the fairly long grass at Christleton. Carving out clear-cut chances seemed to evade them, but goalkeeper James Sharrock had to be on his toes to keep out some long range efforts. Several corners came close to putting Kay Street level, most notably when Mike Heathcote headed two efforts clear off the line as Northgate struggled to compete with the aerial threat coming in. Eventually the pressure told, and another corner was headed down and knocked in on the line as Kay Street threw bodies at the ball.
At half-time Northgate were pleased at holding it to 1-1 after 45 mins with 10 men and were buoyed with the transfer of Elkington to make it 11 vs 11, a welcome extra body in midfield. The match continued in much the same way though in the second half. Kay Street looked more assured on the ball than Northgate, using their experience to play things at their tempo and dictate the game meaning the back four of Northgate were called into action many times, as well as Sharrock. A volley from James Holden flew off target, and a few decent crosses into the box provided highlights in a half that was a good, tight contest. A couple more late corners tested the Northgate nerve, with one hitting the woodwork. Sharrock also made a fantastic save from an effort that seemed to be curling and dipping into the top corner, only for him to reach to tip it over the bar.
1-1 it finished, and Northgate could hold their heads high after an excellent first display, with particular defensive resilience being shown by a back four of Broomhall, Clark, Tonks and Scott. Fitness levels were more encouraging than many expected, considering a full 90 minutes was required from all involved, and the game was played in an excellent spirit for Elkington’s testimonial match. Things to be worked on, but all in all a promising and positive start for the SMCCFL’s newest club.
Words by Jonny Clark.
- James Sharrock (GK)
- Steve Scott (RB)
- Mark Broomhall (LB)
- Dave Tonks (CB)
- Jonny Clark (CB)
- James Holden (CM)
- Matt Bodels (RM)
- Mike Heathcote (CM)
- Josef Janusz (ST)
- Cory McCreadie (LM)
- Rob Elkington (CM)
Man of the match: