Billingham Town Football Club
(13) Chris Dickinson
(41) Chris Dickinson
(62) Donnor Dunlavey
(68) Craig Hutchinson
Steven Telford (45)
It wasn't fluent; it wasn't pretty but it was still another well earned three points against plucky opposition. Manager, Barry Oliver made seven changes to the side that defeated Easington last week and for the majority of the first half, Town lacked rhythm and cohesion but still managed to go in at half time with a slender lead. Thomas Dawson pulled off three excellent saves in the second half before Town killed the game off with two goals in a matter of minutes of each other. If Darlington R.A can translate this performance against teams around them in the table, then they have nothing to fear during the rest of the season. In Glen Donaldson and Chris Tarn they have two quality players who can make a difference; For Town, today was a case of business as usual without reaching the heights of last week or previously against Blyth Town but they didn't need to. Clayton Macdonald seemed to enjoy the captaincy role and Chris Dickinson looked none the worse after his recent absence, scoring a brace along with an assist. The only major disappointment on the day was Mark Dixon's red card for a rash challenge that would normally have been a yellow in the Northern League but probably a straight red anywhere else. Town are unbeaten in fourteen league games and now prepare for next Saturday's home fixture against Ryton & Crawcrook Albion.
Billingham started the brighter of the two sides as R.A appeared to give Town too much space and too much respect. Josh Keogh, who was handed a starting debut had an early sighter that went over and Macdonald shot wide from twenty yards out. Town took a deserved lead on eleven minutes although it came via controversial circumstances. Jamie Davis did well to make inroads inside the box but appeared to go down too easily under pressure from Callum Liddicott and referee O. Aithwaite hesitated then awarded a penalty. DICKINSON missed the spot kick but reacted the quickest to tuck in the rebound. Credit to R.A who reacted well after going a goal behind and despite their lowly position in the league table, were causing Town numerous problems, particularly in the aerial battles and earning far too many free kicks in dangerous positions. In fact, R.A should have equalised on seventeen minutes when Daniel Flounders headed wide at the back post from a precise free kick. The home side continued to press forward but didn't utilise their free kicks effectively; Joesph Peel shot straight at Dawson and Flounders had a similar effort comfortably saved. Good work on the left wing by Tarn set up Daniel McClachan on the edge of the box but once again, Dawson made the save. And it proved to be an opportunity wasted because Town went straight down the other end and extended their lead; Neat play from Gary Redman and Davis set up DICKINSON and although his initial strike hit the underside of the crossbar, he managed to tuck in the rebound. Just before half time, Town conceded a sloppy goal by their standards; A hopeful punt upfield wasn't dealt with and TELFORD rifled home from a Tarn assist.
HT: DARLINGTON R.A 1 BILLINGHAM TOWN 2
Town may have gone in at half time with the lead but it was a fortuitous score-line at best. The opening exchanges mirrored the first half where Town had several half chances followed by further pressure from the home side. Dickinson, in search of a hat-trick shot straight at Liddicott and Captain Macdonald wasn't too far away with another long range strike. The turning point of the match followed on sixty minutes when Dawson came to the rescue on two separate occasions. Scotland's number one denied Tarn at his near post and then he bettered that with a point blank save to keep out Donaldson. Once again R.A were punished on the counter attack and this time Dickinson turned provider; A beautifully paced pass across goal left Connor DUNLAVEY with a simple tap in at the back post. The game as a contest ended minutes later when substitute Craig HUTCHINSON fired home from a Davis knock-down. There was still time for Dawson to make another magnificent save to keep out the luckless Donaldson and Mark Dixon saw red after only five minutes of action.
FT: DARLINGTON R.A 1 BILLINGHAM TOWN 4