With the weather looking decidedly dicy, with hailstones and heavy rain all around the area surrounding Esh, the microcosm that is West Terrace kept dry and provided a fantastic setting for what would prove to be an entertaining encounter.
Coming off the back of a four game unbeaten run, 6 games unbeaten at home, the bottom club where brimming with confidence and promised a tough test to the team sitting in tenth in the league.
Warned of a quick start from Northallerton the Stags made sure that it was themselves on the front foot, Chris Mordue passing the Northallerton left back with ease time and time again.
3′ Goal Esh 1 – 0 Northallerton (Clarkson)
It took all of three minutes for the pressure of ceaseless attacks from Mordue to tell, after a superb ball from Mark Bailes turns the left back inside out, Mordue uses his pace hits the byline and delivers an inch perfect cross. Andrew Clarkson dominating the centre half and sending a powerful header into the top corner of the net, Alex Ward in the Town goal standing no chance of reaching it.
The same combination again combined on ten minutes; a through ball from Ethan Stephenson, making his first start in Esh colours, again sending Mordue down the wing. Mordue whipping the cross in from the corner of the 18 yard box, finding Andrew Clarkson again 2 yards out, Clarkson stooping heading the ball just wide of the despairing Ward’s goal.
13′ Goal Esh 2-0 Northallerton (Bailes)
After good work from Kai Hewitson releases Clarkson down the left wing, he holds the ball up well, until Stephen Jackson decides to go through the back of him. The referee giving a free kick in line with the 18 yard box 5 yards in from the left touchline. Mark Bailes sets the ball down, spots the keeper inching off his line anticipating the cross; and delivers an inch perfect dipping effort which finds a home in the top right corner of the goal.
For the next ten minutes the pattern repeats itself, great chances missed by Clarkson and Mordue; the Town defence not knowing which way to turn, with the impressive Bailes and Hewitson sitting just behind the front two finding runners left and right. Chris Mordue ruled offside with a very tight decision as he finds himself 20 yards out and bearing down on the keeper.
Esh could, and should have been out of sight before 25 minutes.
26′ Goal Esh 2-1 Northallerton (Martin)
Totally against the run of play, a long hopeful ball forward catches out the Esh defence as Richard Walker finds himself one on one as he enters the box; the Esh defence slow to close him down. The ball finds its way to former Esh man Nick Martin, who hits an unstoppable shot from the left hand side of the box. A superb strike
Many in the crowd anticipated a crumbling of a team sat bottom in the league; however they where incorrect as yet more domination from Esh sees, Chris Mordue clipped in the box; he honestly stays on his feet despite clearly being impeded, nothing doing from the referee.
30′ Esh 3-1 Northallerton (Mordue)
Following superb work from Kai Hewitson beating 3 men, 20 yards out right in front of the goal, the ball bounces to Chris Mordue, who uses fantastic strength to hold off three defenders, beating them for skill, power and pace he finds himself looking up at an onrushing Alex Ward, not to be deterred Mordue cheekily dinks the ball over Ward and into the empty net.
The Esh lads noticeably relax; the only time Town dominate the play for the final 15 minutes of the half.
Esh keeper Mark Fish attempting to sweep up a through ball from Town finds himself thirty yards out from his goal mouth, with a couple of Esh players dropping in behind him, he makes a genuine attempted tackle which brings down the Northallerton striker. With the Town bench screaming for a red card, even with covering defenders behind him, the referee shows leniency and has a long talk with Fishy. The resulting freekick is straight at the wall and a wasted opportunity.
37′ Goal Esh 3-2 Northallerton (Martin 2nd)
The pressure was starting to show on an Esh side pinned back by some good attacking play by Town, the ball finding Walker again on the left hand side, he beats Alex Hird at left back before lifting a nicely weighted cross to the smallest man on the pitch, Nick Martin, who rises 6yards out to head into the Esh goal.
The final few minutes of the half saw more pressure from Town without creating any real chances. It is marked by several at the ground that Esh should have 5/6 goals on the board such was the domination of the first 30 minutes.
HT: Esh 3-2 Northallerton
Half time saw the introduction of Thomas Young to replace Ethan Stephenson, Young switching with Hird to the left wing. Young effectively taking away the attacking threat of Walker on the right wing.
The first shot of note came from Andrew Clarkson, after a superb through ball from Soulsby, Clarkson finds himself bearing down on goal from an angle striking the ball from 18 yards out. Unfortunately for Esh the ball is hit straight at a grateful Alex Ward.
On the 63rd minute after good work from Clarkson on the wing he sends a ball into Chris Mordue; the ball hitting a bobble just before he struck it to prevent a certain second for Mordue.
65′ Goal Esh 3-3 Northallerton (Martin 3rd)
Shortly after the unfortunate bobble, Esh are punished, following a long ball Nick Martin finds himself bearing down on Fish and slots the ball comfortably home for his third, an impressive feat given he only had three shots in the game! The Esh backline incensed that the offside flag was not raised. If I am not mistaken it was a perfect hatrick, I stand to be corrected if this is not the case.
Within 3 minutes of the restart Esh again look the stronger side, a cross from Tom Young not dealt with by the Town defenders, the ball looping straight up into the air, Mark Bailes, stretching, from 3 yards out cannot get enough power on the header to loop the ball over Ward, who gratefully collects an easy catch.
More Esh pressure sees the ball find the feet of Captain Max Stoker on the 72nd minute some 6 yards out he turns and smashes a goalbound effort that is blocked at point blanks range, the ball ricocheting 20 yards over the bar.
Northallertons number four Liam Jarvie, provides Towns only opportunity since their 3rd goal, with an absolute rocket of an effort from 35 yards out, whistling just wide of Fish’s goal.
87′ Goal Esh 4 – 3 Northallerton (Hewitson)
In the dying embers of the game Kai Hewitson chases an aimless ball, gambling on a mistake from Towns rightback. He is rewarded for his work rate as the defender looks right, left and then back to the right again, before deciding on a suicidal ball back to the keeper. Hewitson the only man within 40 yards of the pair, nips in and takes it off keeper Ward before rolling the ball into the empty net from 6 yards out.
The final three minutes of normal time, and the four added from the referee are seen out in the Northallerton half, Stoker and Clarkson providing the protection escort for the ball. Clarkson is clearly fouled on the touchline, however the referee indicates a goal kick much to his frustration.
From this goal kick it is launched forward, the ball bouncing around the Esh half, finally a cross finding the Town striker at the back post. A decent effort is forced towards goal, but a strong foot is thrust out by Fish in the Esh goal to advert the danger, Max Stoker doing the sweeping up. The ball is then thrown into the Esh area before harmlessly finding its way behind.
The whistle is blown just as Fish strikes the goal kick.
A fantastic result, by a team now unbeaten in 5; and 7 at home, is made even more important with news of a 4-0 defeat for Ryton and Crawcrook. The result takes us off the bottom of the table with three games left to play. An absolutely huge game on Fridany night away at Brandon is the next target.
Esh Winning FC
Fish, Stephenson (Young 46′), Hird (Latham 70′), Stoker (C), Day (Y), Wilkinson, Soulsby, Bailes (G,Y), Clarkson (G), Hewitson, Mordue
Unused Subs: Robinson, Marley
Northallerton Town FC
Ward, Jackson, Hewitt, Jarvie, Jones, Proctor, Walker, Owen (C), Nicholas (3), McGlade, Hudson
Subs: Shepherd, Parvin, Laing, Sims, Dixon
Referee: Chris Armstrong
Assistants: Alan Breeze, Dan Trotter
Man of the match poll: https://twitter.com/EWFC1913/status/848221292499279872
All views are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the club.