BIRTLEY TOWN 6-1 BEDLINGTON TERRIERS
By Chris Munro
TERRIERS MAULED BY RAMPANT HOOPS
Birtley welcomed Bedlington Terriers to the Robinson Heating & Plumbing Stadium on Tuesday night for their penultimate home fixture of the season. In our previous meeting, the Terriers salvaged a point with an injury time equaliser but it was nothing like that this time round as, after a slow start, Birtley put them to the sword with some excellent play. A big thank you to our U7 player Callum Barrass who was mascot for the night.
The only change to the starting lineup from our win against neighbours Chester-le-Street was the withdrawal of Robbie Williamson after he was elbowed in the face and suffered concussion along with a hairline fracture above his eye. On the bench, Simon Hay dropped out injured and was replaced by Mark Pattison while there was also a place on the bench for goalkeeper Jack Brown, a player signed from first division side Consett just before the deadline.
For the opening quarter of the game however, Bedlington enjoyed the majority of the chances including one which was tipped on to the crossbar. A very early chance in the opening minute for Bradley Higgins after he dispossessed Ben Garrity but he couldn't get his shot on target and it drifted harmlessly wide. A first ball over the top for Joe Barwick from Kallum Hampson-Broadhead in the 6th minute saw Bedlington defender Adam McGuinness stop still with arms wide open asking why the linesman hadn't flagged. Probably because he wasn't offside I'd imagine.
With ten minutes gone and after a stray pass was picked up by Kyle Dobson, he linked up with Higgins who split the Birtley defence with a through ball for Stephen Young. His shot from the edge of the box was blocked by a defender and fell invitingly to Kevin Westphal who took a touch before smashing the ball off the crossbar from the edge of the box. The Birtley keeper must have got a glove to it as the ref signalled for a corner. From that, a close range header into the ground saw Jordan Bolton produce another good reaction save while the ball was turned out for another corner which was eventually cleared.
It took seventeen minutes for the hosts to register their first effort at goal when a free kick was headed straight at the keeper by Tony Smith who had ghosted his way into the box unopposed. Within two minutes and some excellent passing, the home side had had another one through Kallum Hampson-Broadhead who forced a point blank save from the Bedlington keeper which ran for a corner and from that, Martin Guy did well under pressure to get a cross into the box where he found Joe Barwick who headed against the post with the keeper well beaten.
Birtley made their recent chances stick with their next attack which actually came from a Bedlington free kick near to the corner flag. It was played short, the shot was blocked and was played out to Aaron McEwen who raced down the pitch, lifted the ball over the defender and despite losing control of the ball momentarily, he regained possession and played in Oli Leedham who took a couple of touches before scoring the opening goal off the inside of the post. With four Birtley players on the attack to Bedlington's one, they were again calling for the flag to be raised but it didn't and the goal stood.
Straight away, Birtley had another chance through Joe Barwick who struck from the edge of the box but saw his shot come off two defenders and narrowly miss the post as it ran out for a corner. That was punched clear but Birtley regained possession and the ball found its way forward to Barwick once again. He put defender Adam Harvey under pressure who hit the deck as the ball ran out for a goal kick and after a couple of minutes on the sidelines receiving treatment, he had to be replaced by Sol Bell in the 26th minute.
Just before the half hour mark, another through ball put Oli Leedham in on goal and like the last couple of chances, the same player was very vocal in suggesting the Birtley man was offside. Absolutely no chance of that but the chance went begging when he squared it to Barwick who lashed it wide of the goal.
A decent enough chance for John Sherlock in the 30th minute but he couldn't get his strike on target and it drifted wide. A minute later, it was 2-0 to Birtley. Aaron McEwen had seen his cross blocked for a corner which was swung in by Oli Leedham, headed into the ground by Captain Nick Hay and as it bounced back up, Joe Barwick was there to cleverly back heel it into the net from a few yards out. Some excellent one-touch passes saw Birtley awarded another corner which was flicked on to Nick Hay in the box. He took aim but saw his strike blocked on the line by Ian Herron. The rebound then fell to Oli Leedham who unfortunately put it over the bar.
Yet another scream for offside coming from Bedlington's Adam McGuinness. This one being the worst attempt of them all as if he had cared to look over his shoulder, he'd have noticed two of his team-mates about ten yards closer to goal! Hay crossed into the box in search of Oli Leedham but it was too close to the keeper and he claimed it with ease. The only other chance for Bedlington came seconds before the half time whistle, a long range strike that was easily saved.
HALF TIME | BIRTLEY TOWN 2-0 BEDLINGTON TERRIERS
Much like the first half, Bedlington started the better of the two sides and had a chance from a corner in the opening minute or so which was headed just wide of the post. Another corner a minute later seemed to miss everyone in the box and fortunately went out for a goal kick.
Nine minutes into the second half, Birtley scored their third of the night. A Bedlington cross into the box was easily claimed by Jordan Bolton who quickly played it to Oli Leedham who was pretty deep. He then sent a long ball forward which Joe Barwick ran on to. The Bedlington keeper, Sean McCafferty raced off his line to clear but Joe was able to get inbetween him and the defender and knocked the ball round him. With an empty net to aim for, he scored his second of the game to make it 3-0 to Birtley.
As I was waiting for a suitable break in play to tweet about the third goal, I completely missed the fourth a few minutes later as Joe Barwick secured his second hat-trick in three games and his third treble of the season. The ball was broken down well in midfield by Nick Hay. He played it to Oli Leedham who beat one man and dropped it to Kallum Hampson-Broadhead who quickly moved it on to Aaron McEwen. He put the defender on his backside before fizzing a ball across the 6-yard where Barwick nipped in with another poachers goal and a great sliding finish.
Following his third of the evening, Barwick was quickly subbed and replaced by Dan Hill and Kai Elliott was introduced six minutes later in place of Martin Guy. Bedlington made their second change as Cameron Fenton was replaced by Callum Lawson. A few minutes later, Birtley's third change saw Captain Nick Hay replaced by Cameron Hood. Another chance came and went for Bedlington through John Sherlock from a Sol Bell cross, the ball fell invitingly to him but he couldn't take the chance and put the ball over the bar.
Kai Elliott was involved pretty much straight away as he picked up a loose ball and tried to play in Hampson-Broadhead who dummied it brilliantly which then allowed Aaron McEwen to run on goal. Unsure if he had the legs to get him into the box, he seemed to get the ball stuck under his feet and it looked like the opportunity was lost when he was heavily surrounded by three defenders. Somehow though, he was able to lay it off to Dan Hill who hit a sweet curling strike into the top right corner of the net for Birtley's fifth of the night.
The home side weren't quite done there and further punished the Terriers in the 86th minute through Oli Leedham who had been played in by a Hilly sliding pass. He took one touch before placing the ball into the bottom left corner to make it 6-0 to the Hoops.
Any hope of what would have been a very well deserved clean sheet for the defence was wiped out less than a minute later. Birtley switched off momentarily from a Kevin Westphal free kick which was swung into the box leaving two Bedlington players unmarked and a third close behind and the ball was poked home by substitute Michael Bell from no more than three yards out. No celebration although there wasn't much to shout about at 6-1 so the only voices you could hear were the Birtley players annoyed at losing their clean sheet.
FULL TIME | BIRTLEY TOWN 6-1 BEDLINGTON TERRIERS
That makes it three very good wins on the bounce and we round off our home fixtures this coming Friday night when we entertain West Allotment Celtic looking to make it four. Allotment are a very good side and have some excellent players but the confidence is high at the minute and we're hopeful it will continue.
We're open from 6pm, kick off is at 7:30pm and is one of just two fixtures in the league so we're hoping for a decent crowd. If you've nothing on, come down to support the lads and get your weekend off to a bang! Tonight's attendance took our total gate at home to 1900 exactly so if we manage a crowd of at least 100 on Friday, it will have been a fantastic achievement in our first season back in the league and something to build on next season.