Match Report: Hebburn Town 3 – 0 Esh Winning – 23/8/17

Before we get into the match report I need to point out two things, number one Hebburn Town, your supporters, players, management and committee are a superb bunch and one of the nicest clubs I have had the pleasure to spend time with, it is an amazing thing to go from the brink of extinction to fairly comfortable within 6 months and it could not happen to a nicer club. Number two, some of what I will say here is controversial, whilst I make no apologies I must point out that NONE OF THE VIEWS HERE ARE THAT OF ESH WINNING FOOTBALL CLUB, THEY ARE MY OWN AND NEED TO BE OBSERVED AS SUCH. IN FACT I HAVE BEEN ADVISED AGAINST THIS POST BY THE CLUB, HOWEVER I CANNOT IN GOOD FAITH PRODUCE A REPORT WITHOUT THE COTENT INCLUDED. 

So heres the thing, taking chances is what wins matches, today Hebburn had 5 shots on target and scored 3 goals, Esh had 20 shots, 6 on target and scored none. Before Hebburn scored their first goal, Esh could have been a couple up, if we are more clinical we will start to pull in the results in the next few weeks.

Having said this, the first chance of the match fell to Hebburn, after a corner was whipped in from the Hebburn left, the giant of a man Channon North climbs above everyone to power a header towards the Esh goal, Mykel Summerson getting a head on the ball and deflecting a ball onto the crossbar was the only run of the ball Esh had all night.

Esh’s first chance came from a superb 40 yard cross from Chris Mordue meeting the leap of Callum Boakes, his 18 yard header leaves Hubery in the Hebburn goal stranded, but just beats the crossbar by a yard.

The following few minutes saw Esh domination, on the 10th minute a 40 yard free kick gets floated in by Boakes, meeting the jump of Joe Gill who directs a powerful header towards goal, either side of the keeper and it flies in, unfortunately for The Stags it goes straight down the throat of Hubery who clutches gratefully.

Within 60 seconds Esh have another free kick in the exact same position, again Boakes floats a dangerous ball into the Hebburn box, causing chaos, leaving Max Stoker to power a header through the hands of Hubery, and into the net, just as the ball crosses the line the referee spots the linesmans flag and disallows the goal. From the opposite side of the pitch to the assistant referee there are several Hebburn fans perfectly inline with the play, who laugh and say “never offside” much to the agreement of the Esh substitutes, personally I wasn’t inline and could not definitively tell. In the assitants defence, the flag did go up immediately.

The next bit of goalmouth action again fell to Esh Winning, with Jonathan Swift working hard on the halfway line, managing to tackle not one but two Hebburn defenders, before releasing Daniel Kent with a superb through ball that sees the keeper rush out 18 yards to narrow the angle, he takes the ball wide to go around the keeper before looking up on the edge of the 18 yard box, and seeing 2 players on the line. Trying to thread the needle he releases a shot that flies over the bar, stretching as he shoots.

Hannant in the Esh goal saw his first bit of action on the 34th minute as Channon North was reduced to a 20 yard shot, a daisy cutter that Hannant got down well and comfortably secures.

Two Daniel Kent runs where The Stags next attacks, the first he beats two men before cutting back onto his left foot and shooting, the block coming in sends it off for a corner. The second see’s an almost identical run, this time the right back from Hebburn pulling Kent back in what would have been a blatant penalty had Kent not been so honest showing strength to push him off before flashing a left footed shot across the goal.

With Esh starting to dominate it was clear that a chance needed to be taken, and that almost happened when Gav Brown saw his 25 yard volley, showing excellent technique, spilled by Huberry, into the path of Kent, somehow the ball took a strange bounce on a superb looking pitch, this allowed the Hebburn defender to get back at Kent who flashed another shot across the goal mouth, inches away from both defenders and strikers alike, any touch and it’s in, but alas the ball just did not run for The Stags tonight.

The last 5 minutes of the half saw Hebburn back into the game, a long ball nodded on by Paul Chow ahead of Summerson, saw North clean through on goal, sliding the ball to Hannants right, the Esh stopper gets down really well to divert the ball wide with a very good save.

42′ Hebburn 1 (Chow) – 0 Esh Winning

The real moment of controversy in the first happened on the 42nd minute, after a long ball finds the striker clean through, Joe Gill nipping at his heels and pulling him back. The referee Mr Lawson, playing the advantage rather than awarding the penalty, the initial effort stopped by Hannant and then flicked through to Paul Chow, clearly in an offside position now Hannant is on the floor in front of him and only one defender behind him, Chow uses his arm to force the ball in, in my opinion it was in a bowling action from others point of view it was punched in to the goal, in some Hebburn fans opinion the ball did hit his hand but it was accidental, however there is no doubt the ball was handled into the net, from most peoples opinion it was compounded by Chow being in an offside position. The Hebburn fans point back to the penalty, fair enough award the penalty as I agree it certainly was, do not then make up for it by allowing an offside goal that was handled into the net instead.

On leaving the pitch at half time the referee was heard by multiple sources, including myself, that the he thought the ball hit Chow’s knee. That is an opinion and there is no issue at all with that it is his decision to make. Where I do have issues is that after the game he changed his opinion to tell me that the ball was “accidentally Handled by the striker” in isolation that is also his decision with no issues at all, but please please do not tell two different versions of events and then deny the original comment, that is what loses the respect of people. This was not the only time during this game, or indeed this season, that different tales for the same event have been told by officials.

HT: Hebburn 1 – 0 Esh Winning


48′ Hebburn 2 (Malley) – 0 Esh Winning

The sucker punch of the game, and a goal that took the wind out of the Esh sails, Malley drives forward from right back, cuts back in and lets a shot go, Esh Captain Max Stoker sticks his leg out to divert it, unfortunately his deflection leaves Hannant with no chance and rolls into the net.

Hebburn then look to control the game for the next 5/10 minutes, with the next chance falling to Esh on the 58th minute, a long ball forward flicked into the box by Stoker, first finds substitute Marley who whos viscous shot hits a defender at point blank, before falling to Kent who shoots himself and forces the corner.

From the corner, Stoker puts the ball in to be met by Allison on the volley who flicks the ball towards the goal, looking all the world to be going in, before the man on the line somehow contorts his body to clear the ball, the clearance falling to Summerson up from the back who blazes over.

This was the story of the half, the ball spending a lot of time in the Hebburn area, just not falling to any Esh players. A perfect example being a tidy ball through to Joe Gill who meets the ball on the byline and puts a superb cross in, beating the keeper, with Dagan Taylor a matter of yards out getting a touch on the ball, the Hebburn defender somehow getting a tackle in mid air and diverting the ball up and over the bar from a foot out, an unbelievable clearance and one that summed up that Esh where not going to score tonight!!

80′ Hebburn 3 (Chow) – 0 Esh Winning

A tiring Esh side started to find themselves under the cosh in the remaining minutes, the third goal coming from a defensive mix up with Hannant shouting for the ball, Chow nipping in to roll the ball into an empty net.

Frustration starting to grow, a strong tackle from Swift received a yellow card. Different opinions on the matter, firstly mine from 10 yards away and from a clear Esh perspective, it wasn’t even a foul, the man on the receiving end did not appeal. One of our committee men believed his studs where showing so a yellow being slightly harsh but understandable. A group of Hebburn fans, talking to each other, laugh and say “Really, never a booking ref, just get on with it, it’s not about you”. The near side linesman 5 yards away doesn’t flag, the referee allows play to continue for a second or two, and the second their defender calls for it, not the man tackled, he gives the free kick. The Referee being behind two men and with no clear view of the challenge, then goes to his pocket and produces a yellow card, later claiming he was making his mind up whether it was worth of a red card! And finally the far side linesman 70yards away who later informs me he believed it was worthy of a red! How you can have so many opinions from three officials that contradicts the one with the best view is beyond this reporter. Following on from this there was a similar tackle from a Hebburn player, a free kick awarded, the player then goes on to swing his fists to the floor in frustration in the direction of the referee and swear directly at him and call him a “F****** idiot” to receive not even a talking to. The referee saying he did not see the act or would have spoken to him, which I am happy to take his word on. Now the main issue here is that all any fan, footballer or club can ask for is consistency, unfortunately we seem to be getting anything but that this season so far.

The last chance of the match was a superb cross finding Paul Chow alone in the middle of the box 12 yards out with a header, begging to be put away for his hattrick, he heads the ball down hard into the ground, the ball taking a flier goes a good 2 yards over the bar.

The result could have been so different had Esh taken their early chances, however full credit to Hebburn who where clinical in front of goal, leaving Esh to lick their wounds and move on to a run of vital matches starting with the early return visit of Darlington RA.

Again I make no apologies for airing my views on the officials so far this season, and I have bitten my tongue in earlier matches. I fully understand the view that it is sour grapes after a loss, what I can promise is that is not the case I have no ill feelings to towards the result today. However, without going into details here, if the FA wish to get in touch with me directly feel free, I again cannot stress enough this is not a view point from the club, we have had an instance this year of a referee inviting one of our management team into the officials dressing room to discuss a decision in front of people, rather than on the pitch, the assessor then physically pushing him out when he gets there saying he MUST not be there, reporting said Esh member to the FA, THE ASSESSOR, NOT THE REFEREE. The referee then changes his mind at a later date and he now agrees with the assessor and filed a complaint!! It beggars believe, by the way I will say we did not lose that game therefore cannot be accused of “sour grapes”.

You may notice a common theme here, it is my own personal opinion that the way referees are assessed is incorrect, why on Earth does the assessor turn up an hour before, have a chat with the referee, share a brew with them and talk them to them up to kick off? It is not fair to the officials, the players, the supporters, the clubs and arguably most importantly the hard working volunteers involved with the clubs.

You often hear a shout of “It’s not all about you” or some variance of it, towards referees and in the main they are right of course it isn’t and most know this. But actually, when you really think about it, when officials are being assessed, of course it is about them? The players are not being marked, nor the managers, but an official is given a mark, which defines their success or failure by their own peer group, whilst the club mark is often disregarded as irrelevant. This was proven at the Northern League Development Day, when a current referee gave a speech and informed us that any feedback we give as a club is, in this referees opinion, never given to the referee, but feedback the other way around certainly is allowing us to adapt how we work. That is not the officials fault, but a league/FA issue.

How to change this culture? What if the assessor turns up unannounced five minutes before kick off and blends into a crowd there is more chance of getting a true representation of where said official is at, that is much fairer on the referee and most certainly the clubs. I will be conducting some research over the next few years. It will consist of comparing the matches which have been assessed compared to those that haven’t and I would be confident in predicting more cautions/sending offs in these games. Therefore, the system does not work. The collective groan of an assessor at a club is across all levels of non league football, all clubs I have spoken to know full well that game is going to cost them more money, something that for clubs with their back against the wall financially can ill afford.

Now, I am also someone that will put their money where the mouth is, and I totally appreciate quite how difficult the job of a match official can be. Therefore I will be sitting the referees course towards the end of the year and looking to qualify to referee at local level as it is only fair if I criticise I should be able to do. I won’t get every decision right, hell I may be a shocking referee, but one thing is for sure. If I make a decision, rightly or wrongly, I will give my reasons for it and NOT CHANGE it when i’m talking to different people, that is unacceptable, clubs in the Northern League pay over £100 a home game to match officials, including travel expenses, and whilst we are told we must show more respect, which I totally agree with, where is the respect to the clubs? Just to be absolutely clear, the VAST majority of officials are superb, incorrect decisions or not we have a chat and a handshake at the end of the evening and move on, that is how football should work and how respect is earned both ways!

Yet again I really hope Hebburn Town understand my need to vent, and do not take offence to me using this match report to do so. It is in no way associated to, or aimed at them, as I say I cannot speak highly enough of their hospitality and their players being decent, good people when talking to them at the end of the game. Congratulations on your win and I hope my report has given you the information you feel it should have. If you wish to discuss this further with me or have anything you need clarifying please do leave a comment or send me a message through the contact page.

Now as I keep harking back to, the club or other officials at the club have nothing to do with this, indeed they have advised me against writing this report, I actually wrote this in full last night, I have slept on it and feel the same way. I cannot in good faith continue to write match reports that people keep telling me they enjoy, without including facts about the game. There is nothing that I have written here that I would not be willing to discuss further or defend. I would sooner walk away from football at this level, as a lot of other volunteers have done, than continue to sit down and accept what is happening right in front of my face without attempting to throw some light on it.

Esh: Hannant, Mordue, Swift (y), Stoker (c)(y), G. Brown, Summerson, Kent (Taylor 66′), Gill (y), Hird (R. Brown 63′), Boakes (Marley 55′), M. Allison

Unused Subs: Stewart, L. Allison

Hebburn: Hubery, Malley (g), Wallace, Bickerstaff, Bramley, Donaghy, Hargrave, Kanda, Chow (2), Feasey

Subs: Smith, Burrell, Jones, Blackburn, Douglas

Ref: S. Lawson

Assistants:  R. Denton, S. Parnaby

Attendance: 125

Committee MOTM: Jonathan Swift



Adam Wilding






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