Billingham Town Football Club
Sam Walton (59)
(22) Craig Hutchinson
(55) Luke Hogan
(63) Craig Hutchinson
A strong and extremely vocal Town following witnessed history in the making as Craig Hutchinson broke the club scoring record to take his tally to a staggering fifty eight goals for the season. The Town achievements don't end there because Luke Hogan scored Billingham's 2500th goal since joining the Northern League as founder members of the newly created second division, back in 1982. And Paul Beddow's reserves reached a second cup-final in their inaugural season with Billingham Town, capping off a productive day all round!! Today though, was mainly about Craig Lloyd Hutchinson and the after match celebrations which were fully deserved. Yes, he avoided yet another interview and his first goal should go to the dubious goals panel if one exists but who cares?? The sun was out, fresh air in abundance and Hutchinson ended the day with a spring in his step. A famous writer once said "A man is born to live, not to prepare to live" and this rings true especially with our intrepid striker. Whatever happens at the end of the season, as he may depart for pastures new, we should contemplate on what he achieved here today, not only for himself but the exposure his phenomenal efforts have given to this fabulous club of ours! Without trying to state the obvious, he is irreplaceable and one wonders if he will enjoy his football elsewhere without his soulmate Jamie Davis, the supply lines provided by the likes of Chris Dickinson, the crosses from Luke Hogan, Connor Dunlavey and Elliott Beddow! The searching passes from Mattie Crossen, the diagonal balls from Mark Dixon and Lee Moore! In other words, the whole squad will miss him!! And so would we, the supporters but wouldn't it be fitting if he stayed for one more season, during our fifty year celebrations that could end up seeing Town become division two champions and further history in the making??
The game action itself felt a tad inconsequential as the Town fans made the atmosphere akin to an FA Vase tie. Town dominated the opening exchanges and were coming to terms with the sloped pitch along with the incessant number of bobbles that particularly affected Hogan and Beddow. On thirteen minutes, unluckily for Beddow, the winger shanked his shot over the crossbar after breezing past Chris Graham, Alnwick's left back. Town were patient, and took the lead nine minutes later but to describe the goal would be an impossibility. By all accounts, HUTCHINSON, Dixon and Stephen Oakley forced the ball over the goal-line through a crowd of players although Hutchinson looked rather sheepish when asked who the goal should belong to! For the second game in succession, Davis linked up superbly with Hutchinson but the striker saw his effort curl away from the near post then Davis drove over inside the box, hindered by a loss of balance. On forty two minutes, Hutchinson lost his one-on-one battle with goalkeeper Luc Clasper, allowing the shot stopper to narrow the angles and making a low save in the process. Mark Dixon showed some silky skills, quickly shifting the ball from his left foot onto his right then shooting over from the edge of the box.
HT Alnwick Town 0 Billingham Town 1
It took Alnwick fifty minutes for their first shot on target, Sam Walton with a low drive from twenty yards that Alex Leeds comfortably saved. Town extended their lead four minutes later and this time, Hutchinson turned provider with a ball in behind the Alnwick defense allowing HOGAN the opportunity to drill the ball into the far corner. The winger was desperate for a goal and he will be delighted with his landmark strike that was also his twelfth of the season so far. The home side had created nothing from open play so set pieces always looked to be their best option to get back in the game and so it proved. From a free-kick, Sam Perez floated the ball into the box where Sam Walton and Oakley battled in the air but neither got a touch and the ball drifted into the bottom corner. The setback was only transient, as Town were awarded a penalty on sixty three minutes; Beddow tortured the forlorn left back and when he pulled the ball back to Hogan, the Hartlepool youngster got clattered from behind by Ross Gair. Clasper made an attempt to put pressure on HUTCHINSON with a few choice words..... he wasted his time because Town's unique number nine tucked the ball into the bottom corner although Clasper did dive the correct way! Alnwick, famous for its indomitable castle, practically raised the white flag and Town were content with the battle won rather than creating a rout!
FT Alnwick Town 1 Billingham Town 3