Billingham Town FC
(94) Ash Lavan
Saturday’s morale boosting win against one our nemesis over the weekend was an ideal preparation for two tough fixtures on the road. Both Durham City and AFC Blyth will try to play attractive attacking football which should suit Town. You have to admire Durham Manager Ollie Hotchkiss who continually produces young players on a shoe string budget. They may lack consistency, which you would expect from an inexperienced squad but on their day they can beat anybody - proof in the pudding was a win at in form Thornaby recently. Striker Bradley Hird could go on to better things but has stayed loyal to the club in recent seasons. Meanwhile on Thursday night, the squad have to travel up to Ashington to face all but promoted AFC Blyth. After a promising performance in their inaugural season, Blyth are in contention of winning the second division title. They were one of the pre-season favourites to go up and ran out comfortable winners in the reverse fixture but expect Town to put in a better display this time around.
I caught up with manager James Hunter on Monday and he was clearly ecstatic with the win over Chester-Le-Street. Jama also looked ahead to this week’s gruelling schedule with Saturdays home game to Heaton Stannington to come after the Durham/Blyth games. There will be a separate preview on Friday for the Stan fixture.
JAMA ON DURHAM/AFC BLYTH:
Saturday was a long time coming and is the least the fans have deserved, when following us for the last month or so it has been dreadful and the second half on Saturday shows that if we put our mind to it as a collective group we can play some lovely football and score some great goals. As much as I wanted the lads, fans and everyone connected to the club to enjoy Saturday I couldn’t help but think about the next game as the season isn’t over and I know hard games follow. We both know Tuesday and Thursday are going to be tough with a much depleted squad due to people being at work but the work rate and approach to the game shouldn’t change now from Saturday and we have proved we can play football in the right way. One win doesn’t make up for the previous performances, we all deserve more and expect more and I will make that clear.
Jason Blackburn will serve out his suspension for the Durham game while Mark Dixon is struggling with his ankle. Brandon Kirkbride limped off during the second half at Crook but capped a magnificent display on Saturday with a cultured strike that got Town back in the match. Elliott Beddow has scored four goals in his last five games while Ashley Lavan has now reached the twenty league goal marker. Glen Hargrave had an half an hour run out on Saturday and will almost certainly figure again on Thursday but not on Tuesday. Keepers Liam Gibbs and Lewis Shaw will once again fight it out for the number one shirt. Jack Connor made a difference against the Moors and it is hoped he will be available again to play in midweek; but will be rated doubtful along with Stephen Oakley & Luke Hogan.
Saturday 21st July
Holbrook St Michaels