The first snow of the season greeted us this morning, fortunately the afternoon was brighter and by the looks of it no snow was seen in Birtey at all! We arrived at a ground much improved from the last visit and a decent crowd in attendance, including some familiar faces now playing for Birtley.
The first 30 minutes was a turgid affair, the best chance for Esh coming in the way of a Callum Boakes long shot, and a few dangerous crosses from the Stags. The final ball just lacking the required quality unfortunately. Birtleys best chance of the half, if not the game came from a corner. Nicholas Hay out jumping the defenders to meet the ball with a powerful header, Reece Brown perfectly positioned on the line prevents Birtley gaining the lead with an excellent block and clearance.
Esh finishing the half stronger saw a long ball from Callum Boakes bounce invitingly to Joe Mole. Mole lifted the ball up and over the onrushing Jordan Bolton, the ball bouncing agonisingly wide of the upright.
43′ Goal – Birtley 0 – 1 (Nick Marley) Esh Winning
Despite the match being a disappointing affair, Esh controlled the half, and a goal just before half time was a deserved one. Good work from Max Stoker saw Callum Boakes pick the ball up on the left wing, skipping past a tackle from Martin Guy he put a low cross into the box. Nick Marley charging in met the cross with a right foot guiding the ball in to the goal to give the Stags the lead.
HT: Birtley 0 – 1 Esh Winning
Birtley generated their first and only real chance of the second half following a nice lay off from Joseph Barwick setting up substitute Anthony Smith who could only power a shot down to Tom Orton’s right, Orton up to the task made a smart save down low.
59′ Goal – Birtley 0 -2 (Max Stoker) Esh Winning
A quick free kick from Callum Boakes saw the ball bounce on the edge of the Birtley area, with no defender around Max Stoker had the task of beating the keeper to the bouncing ball. Making no mistake he rose to glance the ball into the gaping net giving the buffer and confidence his team needed.
For the next half an hour there was a few dangerous looking corners from Birtley and controlled play in the middle from Esh, but the game looked to be petering out to its conclusion, Nick Marley smashing the ball straight at the keeper after a powerful run (Pictured below) in the 90th minute being the best chance, before the game kicked back into life.
90+2 Goal – Birtley 0 – 3 (Sam Steele) Esh Winning
With the clock looking like it was being run down professionally by the Esh Winning team, it came as a massive surprise to everyone in the ground when Sam Steele, powered up the field from right back. Find himself at the edge of the box with time, he cut back on to his right foot and powered the ball past Bolton in the Birtley goal to score a well deserved goal in what was, in my opinion, a man of the match performance from him.
90+4 Goal – Birtley 0 – 4 (Daniel Kent) Esh Winning
Not finished yet, the Stags went hunting the ball right from the kick off. With the left back in possession it did look like a foul from the Esh player as the ball fell to Daniel Kent, with the Birtley defence stopped and the keeper in no mans land Kent marked his return to the club with a shot that hit the underside of the bar before settling just over the line to finish the game with a bang for the Stags. In the aftermath of the goal Mark Pattison saw red for dissent to compound things for Birtley
Whilst 4-0 flattered the Stags it was, without doubt, a well deserved, professional, victory that got us back to winning ways. With a midweek cup game away at Willington before a return to league action, Esh will be looking to maintain the momentum.
Esh XI: Orton, Steele (g), Brown (y), Stoker (c)(g), Summerson, Swift, Redman (y) (Kent ’57 (g)), Mitchell, Marley (g), Boakes (Fisher 81′)Mole (Hailes 70‘)
Unused Subs: Hendix, Moncur
Birtley XI: Bolton, Guy, Pattison, Allsopp (c), Soulsby, Hay, Tanoh, Honour, Barwick, McEwan, Williamson
Subs: Graver, Fenwick, Smith, Hill, Dodds
Referee: D. Watson
Assistants: L. Brown, D. Hall
Match Reporter: Adam Wilding
All Views are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the club.