A wild and windy October afternoon greeted the two teams today, both teams wanting to win the toss and kick into the wind in the first half. Crook won the toss meaning The Stags would have the advantage of a strong win in the first half.
The wind making good football all but impossible saw the first 15 minutes pass with Esh being camped in the Crook half but no real chances being created. A couple of corners being wasted by Esh being the only real notable opportunities.
22′ Goal Crook Town 0 – Esh Winning 1 (Allison)
It was from a long ball forward that the Crook defence could only help out for a corner that the first chance, and goal, came from. Whipped in my Chris Mordue the ball found its way to Connor Halpin on the edge of the Crook box, shooting through a crowd of players a Crook defender scrambled it off the line, the ball bouncing about in the Crook area landed at Matty Allison’s feet who made no mistake from 4 yards out giving the Stags the lead.
The next 5 minutes was dominated by Esh, Nick Marley going the closest after a lovely lay off from Matty Allison.
29′ Goal Crook Town 1 (Morris) – Esh Winning 1
With the Stags still camped in Crook Territory the ball was lumped forward to Daniel Smith who had the beating of Joe Wilkinson at right back, bursting forward he looks up and plays a beautifully weighted low cross into the edge of the six yard box, where Kyle Morris slides in and just gets a glancing touch to guide it past the helpless Mark Fish in the Esh goal. Albeit against the run of play it was by far the best piece of football in the game.
The rest of the first half saw a few chances either way, Holliday shooting straight at Fish for Crook and Marley heading wide from a corner the most notable.
HT: Crook Town 1 – 1 Esh Winning
With the game now swinging in Crooks favour with the aid of a strong wind the first chance of the second half saw a fine save from Esh keeper Mark Fish, Daniel Smith again showing his class with a viscous looking effort from 30 yards, looking for all the world to be sailing in the top corner of the net before the Esh stopper uses every inch of his tall frame to fly to his left and tip the ball over the top of the bar.
The next 15 minutes belonged to Esh, Nick Marley blazing over the top from 18 yards and Connor Halpin forcing a good save from Daniel Scott in the Crook goal.
Crook whilst maintaining possession failed to create many chances, the best falling to Morris after a lovely interchange with his strike parter Holliday, bearing down on Fish’s goal looking all the world to have a glorious chance he fails to see Swift making a last minute goal saving tackle to see the ball out for a corner.
With the game losing its impetus we had to wait until the 80th minute for the next chance, after a drive forward from Gav Brown he finds debutant Shaun Reay lurking about 30 yards out, getting the ball back from Reay Brown cuts back onto his left foot and curls one towards the Crook goal, Scott makes a TV save and tips the ball around for a corner. The resultant corner finds its way to Stoker at the back post 6 yards out, his volley is miscued and goes harmlessly wide.
The next chance produced what can only be described as an absolute worldie of a save from Esh keeper Mark Fish, after a dangerous cross found the head of Matthew Stephenson on the penalty spot the ball looked destined to nestle in the back of the net, with Mark Fish having other ideas he manages to get down low to his left hand side, the ball already past him he gets enough of a glove on it to divert it up and onto the crossbar and out for a corner.
From the corner Fish claims the ball and bowls it out quickly, Nick Marley finds an advancing Shaun Reay, bursting into the box with the defender close at hand he his felled, looking around for a penalty nothing is given much to the frustration of Reay who was definitely pulled back. What is worth noting is that Reay was also pulling the defender down at the same time, from my angle right alongside with play I believe the decision of a 50/50 challenge was just and the linesman and referee got it correct.
88′ Goal Crook Town 2 (Stephenson) – 1 Esh Winning
With a respectable draw looking likely it was a soft free kick given away that caused Esh’s downfall, the ball is played quickly to Calum Johnston who from the right wing puts in a dangerous cross to the back post, met by the towering Matthew Stephenson who nods the ball into the net to crush Esh’s hopes of a point.
The last chance of the match in the 92nd minute fell to Swift who hit a cross/shot towards the Crook goal, looking to have the beating of Scott in the Crook goal it gave a glimmer of hope, before Scott gets his angles right and pads it down. The referee, who I must give credit to for letting the game flow and his management of the players, signals the final whistle ending a very even game with a defeat for Esh.
Esh XI: Fish, Wilkinson, Swift, Stoker (c), G. Brown (y), Summerson, Mordue, Allison (g), Marley, Halpin (Reay 58′), R. Brown (Mann 68′)
Unused Subs: Robinson, Taylor, Johnson
Crook XI: Scott, Parvin, Spooner, Stephenson (g), Weston, Harker, C. Johnston, Emms (c), Morris (g), Holliday, Smith
Subs: Braithwaite, D. Johnstone, Laing, Cooper, Mohammad
Referee: J. Schofield
Assistants: M. Webster, R. Denton
Match Report by:
All views in this article are my own and do not represent those of the club.