Billingham Town Football Club
Kyle Patton (90)
Town's eight game unbeaten run came to an end with a ninetieth minute sucker punch in a game they should have won. After a nervy opening quarter of an hour, Town dominated the first half and will be disappointed they didn't go in at half time at least two goals to the good. The second half was similar to the first and it felt it was only a matter of time before Town took a deserved lead. With time running out and a frustrating point seemingly in the bag, Durham scored with a well taken header by Kyle Patton. Durham's line up was full of young looking players and if they lacked experience, they made up for it with grit and determination. And that hard work meant Durham were the first side to prevent Town from scoring this season! The home side played some attractive football and rarely gave the ball away but lacked a cutting edge up front. Town were equally, if not superior in possession, creating several clear chances but a combination of good goalkeeping, luck and profligate finishing cost Town in the end. If Billingham Town aspire to be a top eight side by the end of the season, they cannot afford too many further slip ups like this one.
The management team made two changes from the side that earned a point against Stockton at the weekend. Jamie Davis was rested and Lee Jones joined Davis on the substitutes bench. In came Clayton MacDonald to add a bit of steeliness in the middle and Elliott Beddow started out on the right wing.
Town were fortunate not be behind inside the first ten seconds after a sloppy start that began with Town overplaying at the back. Samuel Morris picked up the loose ball and Thomas Dawson came to the rescue to deny the Durham midfielder. It was a slow start from Town as they tried to get to grips with the artificial surface but they improved significantly after twenty minutes of play. Craig Hutchinson was unlucky to see his header drop over the crossbar from another excellent set piece from Chris Dickinson. How Town didn't take the lead on twenty four minutes I do not know. Jack Connor went on one of his marauding runs to set up Hutchinson on goal and somehow Daniel Gladstone got his body in the way; the bar striking the underside of the crossbar and the defence cleared their lines. Town were on top and again bad luck prevented them from going ahead. Elliott Beddow found Hutchinson on the edge of the box but the forward cleverly dummied and Dickinson was on hand to read the situation; Hutchinson received the ball back and rounded Gladstone but Durham had two recovering defenders on the line to snuff out the danger
Durham were not the only ones to benefit from good fortune as Dawson misjudged a high ball and Patton looked certain to score but the excellent Lee Moore tracked back to clear off the line. Durham's best player in the first half was captain Mark Bertram and he released Patton in the box and as he was about to get the shot away; Rowbotham superbly rushed across to block the shot.
HT Durham City 0 Billingham Town 0
Town were worthy of a two goal lead so it was frustrating to come in at half time on level terms. The chances still came and went; Oakley had a strike deflected over and Luke Hogan dragged his shot wide from an acute angle. Durham nearly made the breakthrough when Jeremy Allen played in Patton but the forward poked his effort wide while under pressure from Dawson. With seventy minutes gone, Popple brought on Davis and Jones for Dickinson and Beddow respectively. Davis wasted no time in making and impact and linked up well with Hutchinson but his low shot was inches away from the bottom corner. Mark Dixon took a quick throw in and Hutchinson struck the ball on the half volley and it looped onto the roof of the netting. Once again, Dixon found Hutchinson on the left side and he did well to hold up play for the onrushing MacDonald but his strike was always rising over the crossbar.
With time running out and Town unable to find the breakthrough, Durham won the game right on ninety minutes. There didn't seem to be too much danger when a cross came into the box but Town were left stunned when Patton rose the highest to head home. A game where two points dropped had now become three points dropped. Billingham tried to respond in added time but Durham defended in numbers; Hogan had an effort blocked in the box and Davis left foot strike went high and wide.
The lads had played well and didn't deserve the outcome but chances need to be converted if Town are to maintain the gradual progression.
FT Durham City 1 Billingham Town 0