Billingham Town Football Club
(47) Chris Dickinson
The Northern League website did a Twitter poll - which team deserved performance of the week? Congratulations to Whickham, but how Towns 1.0 win at Easington didn't win I will never know!! Unbeaten in the league, with five wins in a row, Easington went into the game flying high at the summit of Division Two. And Town thoroughly deserved the three points with a self assured performance. The victory was a tactical masterclass, stifling the home side of any meaningful creativity but at the same time, attacking with intent, particularly down the wings. It took Easington eighty minutes before they exerted any pressure but Town were rarely troubled despite the referee playing far more time than was required. The Town management had done their homework during the week, taking in Thursday nights foggy affair between Easington and Blyth Town. Lessons were learned and Barry Oliver set his side up accordingly to counteract the colliers 3-5-2 formation with a 4-5-1 of their own. To a man, Town were superb and when the home side became frustrated and went with the physical approach, the blues didn't falter. Mark Dixon, Ashley Lavan and Jack Connor put in some superb challenges and Jamie Davis, Luke Hogan and Chris Dickinson took knocks along the way. Some of the lads will need the Bank Holiday to recover in time for Tuesday nights Derby against Norton but I am sure they will be desperate to play and continue the momentum earned from the last three games.
Initially, Craig Hutchinson was supposedly unavailable but returned early from a short break so he was added to the squad. Luke Moore made his debut at right back and Lavan kept his place after an eye-catching display in midweek. Such is the strength in depth of the squad, the bench had a strong look to it and two further signings will be announced in time for the Norton preview.
The game had a stop-start feel to it; three early injuries didn't help matters but when the action did unfold, it was all played around Easington's final third. Dickinson created the first chance with an inviting rolled ball into the six yard box and Hogan did well to get the shot away but Kyle Donaldson produced a fine reflex save. Dickinson and Hogan were at it again on nineteen minutes, this time Moore was involved in the link up play with a fine cross and although Hogan made an intelligent run, his header deflected wide for a corner. It took a lethargic Easington thirty minutes for an attempt and even then, Joe Kerridge blazed over from twenty five yards. Two more glorious chances weren't converted and you wondered if Town would later regret both misses. An exquisite first time cross by Hogan was volleyed over by Danny Lambert and Hogan found Lambert unmarked with another precise cross but the ex Darlington man mistimed his header and the ball bounced harmlessly wide of goal. However, for the second game in a row, Town took the lead in added on time. Davis right wing cross evaded the defence and Hogan's dink into the middle caused indecision between Donaldson in goal and Ian Redman. The defender only half cleared with a weak header which left DICKINSON with an open goal to put Town ahead.
HT Easington 0 Billingham Town 1
The Easington second half onslaught never materialised but Kerridge did test Robbie Stockburn with a low shot but Town's keeper saved with his legs. On sixty two minutes, Lambert did well to rob Shane O'Brien on the byline to set up Dickinson and despite being surrounded he still managed to get the shot away but Donaldson saved. Hutchinson replaced Dickinson and his industrialism would be needed to put pressure on Easington from the front, denying them time on the ball. Town had Stockburn to thank on eighty two minutes, diving low to his left to keep out Kerridge and the Easington number ten followed that with an unmarked header from a Peter Jones free kick but this time he was off target. Deep into added on added time!!; Stephen Oakley intercepted Luke Page's free kick and the resulting corner was headed over by Kai Williams. Whistle went, job done, three points and an end to our summer journeys..... But it's been a pleasure to watch this team evolve as we approach an Autumn campaign, predominantly at Bedford Terrace.
FT Easington 0 Billingham Town 1