Don’t Look Back In Anger
Northgate 2 – 5 Oasis Reds
Following last week’s hard fought draw against Kay Street United, Northgate were in high spirits coming into their second pre-season friendly. Now at their true home ground at the Cheshire County Sports Offices, they could enjoy a lovely playing surface on a warm August morning as well as the luxury of substitutes with 14 available for the game. Their opponents are new to the league in name and management, but with many players remaining from the folded Warrington Ambassadors outfit they knew all about the SMCCFL and had 11-a-side experience under their belts.
Wearing the blue kit of Kay Street for the second match in a row, the game started well for Northgate as they looked to pass the new club match balls about with confidence on a very nice footballing surface. Changed personnel included Wade Crank at right back, Matt Hilsden at the heart of defence alongside Clark, allowing Tonks to start up top, with only one of the starting midfield five playing there in the previous game. Goalkeeper Ben Davenport also came in for his debut.
Captain for the day Russ Morgan, at this stage a father for less than a week, was the man in the centre of the early action and used his height and long legs to bring a ball under control before being fouled inside the six yard box. He handed the responsibility to striker Dave Tonks, who comfortably slotted it home to give Northgate the lead for the second game in a row, and in so doing became the first ever true Northgate goal scorer.
Oasis soon bucked up their ideas though, and a whipped ball from the left caused confusion between Broomhall and Davenport at the back allowing the ball to bounce up for an easy finish from the striker in red. A few chances soon went begging for the home side as long throws from Clark were headed either wide or straight at the goalkeeper, as they began to make their aerial threat known. It wasn’t long before Northgate regained the lead, after a looping cross from the left made its way into the box and Tonks bravely continued his run and just got a toe to the ball before colliding with the goalkeeper and thankfully seeing the ball bounce into the goal.
Again, composure on the ball seemed to fade as Oasis drew strength to fight back. Davenport was forced into a couple of excellent saves as they attacked with pace and numbers. Eventually the pressure told, and a misplaced pass in midfield allowed Oasis to break down the wing and in the blink of an eye, played three one touch passes and finished precisely in the corner. Five minutes later, another cross came in from the left which the Oasis striker took brilliantly on his chest, curling the ball around his marker Clark with his first touch and again finished with ease from inside the box, leaving the Northgate defenders bemused at how quickly this game had turned around.
Half time came at the right time for the home team, needing to regroup and refresh themselves after a high intensity 45 minutes in the sun. Changes were made with Davenport having to leave at half time, so Billy Paine stepped in goal, with Theo Thomas and Mike Heathcote also being introduced to mix things up in midfield.
Early into the second half the physicality of Oasis began to tell as they won the majority of 50/50 challenges and left several Northgate players with niggles – some too bad to continue. Keeping hold of possession seemed to be the problem for a while as Oasis showed such intensity at closing the ball down and limiting time for decision making. As a result, they continued to have a number of chances and tested Paine who answered very well with a couple of excellent diving stops down low. A breakaway run from their winger however left him with time and space to pick out their forward who hammered home a tremendous half-volley from the edge of the box into the bottom corner to make it 4-2.
Tired bodies were thankful for the rolling substitutes as knocks began to mount up and engines were running low. This contributed to more disorganisation within the ranks and bar a 15 minute spell in which everything seemed to improve and a comeback seemed possible, Northgate looked done. Tonks kept worked to make an opening up front, and came close to his hat-trick as he hit a thunderous shot from 20 yards out that just went past the post. Thomas made several good runs down the right also only to be eventually crowded out by a disciplined Oasis defence that seemed to have this game figured out. A neatly taken fifth goal came on the break as Northgate had pushed men forward to try to get back in it, and so Oasis deservedly saw out the match.
Lots of positives to take from the game for Clark, who saw his team create more than in the previous game. But in the end it was tiredness, injuries and inexperience that turned this game in Oasis’ favour. All credit to them for some fantastic goals, and Northgate will work hard and look forward to their return on the opening day of the season for the start of the Charity Cup on Saturday 2nd September.
Words by Jonny Clark.
- Ben Davenport (GK)
- Wade Crank (RB)
- Mark Broomhall (LB)
- Matt Hilsden (CB)
- Jonny Clark (CB)
- Ben Jones (CDM)
- Steve Scott (RM)
- Russ Morgan (CM)
- James Holden (CM)
- Dave Tonks (ST)
- Matt Ward (LM)
Man of the match: