The 4th match of the season and a welcome win
This fixture was a rematch of last year's plate final with Marton coming out on top on that occasion. With a number of Newcastle players keen to erase 'certain' memories from that match, the motivation to win was high.
A new formation was introduced in an attempt to take back control of the centre of the park, a real contributing factor to last year's successes. This led to a number of players trying to find their feet in some slightly unfamiliar positions, including Neil at an advanced left back, Lawson in a wide-ish midfield role and Wee James in a central advanced midfield role.
Despite the new formation and new positions for some, the team looked structured from the off. Marton perhaps had the better of the early play but had difficulty in finding space in dangerous positions with Newcastle's structure forcing their play out wide. A lot of passes into the forwards were intercepted with Al and Fabz not giving their strikers an inch. A few early short corners for Marton came and passed with Newcastle dealing with these with relative ease. In truth, the first half had very few good scoring opportunities, part of this possibly being due to a bouncy pitch, this proved with the fact Joe took an aerial down over his head after a bounce.
A positive team talk at half time and now with the wind at our backs and the slight pitch slope in our favour, Newcastle came out strong in the second half and soon scored the opening goal. A well -worked goal with the ball switched from right to left led to Neil crashing a ball into the D and a rebound off the keeper fell nicely to Smailes who had the time to set himself and sweep an accurate finish across the keeper and into the bottom corner.
Marton quickly got an equaliser after working the ball down their right hand side. A ball off a foot led to some Newcastle players switching off. Marton played the advantage indicated by the umpire and as the ball made it's way into the D, their striker was able to slot past an advancing Biggles.
There were concerns of this game going the same as the others have this season where we have thrown away points from a winning position. Keen for this not to happen again, focus was regained and control swung back in Newcastle's favour. Some great link up play in the wide positions on the right flank between Matt P & Smailes meant Wee James was able to receive the ball in good space and threaten the defence with some direct running, but this was well complimented with smart decisions from him to drop the ball back into midfield when under pressure.
Kev threw himself on to inject some energy into the attack who had covered a considerable amount of ground pressuring their back line. He may have regretted his decision though as he chose to position himself in an advanced left position in front of Lawson. Keen to ensure Kev was well instructed, Lawson issued a constant barrage of instructions probably leading to Kev regretting his decision to enter the action, especially given a few chances which fell his way and well let's just say they weren't converted….
With approximately 10 mins left on the clock, Newcastle won their first short corner of the game. Neil was quick to spot the goalkeeper was quite short and could struggle with a top corner drag flick. Lawson stepped aside to allow this to happen. Injection - check, control at the top of the D - check, drag flick top corner - not so much. The flick was going wide of the far post until Joe managed a superb aerial deflection onto the on-line defender, a stonewall penalty flick. Neil grabbed the ball and dispatched this confidently despite the goalkeeper moving about on the line prior to the flick being taken.
Some excellent hold up play from Joe in the corner and retaining of the ball allowed Newcastle to run the clock down well. Neil then ventured forward from his left back role despite plenty of warnings from Lawson to not go higher than halfway. Neil invited plenty of pressure from Marton defenders desperately trying to win possession back for their team yet he still managed to weave his way into the D before playing in Wee James who made the points safe with yet another clever bouncing reverse finish. Safe to say Wee James is building a reputation for some great goals. We wonder if a strong side tap-in will happen before the end of the season!
M.O.M was almost a unanimous decision and went to Wee James who shone in his new position and extended his lead at the top of the goal scoring charts.
Lawson took his second D.O.D of the year - although on this occasion it was for off-pitch incidents as he chose to allow those in his car (and 2 following cars!) a scenic route through one of Teeside's longest cul-de-sacs after a wrong turn on the way to the pub for a post-match drink. Biggles showed his disgust at this by nearly opening the car door on Al as he was pulling in to park in quite an Inbetweeners-esque moment.
All in all, a great team performance with the new formation working a treat and great game management in the closing stages to ensure a first win of the season. Hopefully this will be the kickstart to go on a winning run and show that we belong in this league.