Month: January 2014

Pressure on opponents says gaffer

Gary Forrest has been talking about the Railwaymen’s upcoming league matches against two of their title rivals, and the pressure is on the opposition, he says.

“On Saturday we visit Celtic Nation for the first of two back to back games against sides challenging us for the league title,” says the Shildon manager.

“If I’m honest all the pressure is on Celtic Nation for this game. They are the team that everyone expects big things of. They are by far the strongest team in the league on paper and, more importantly, if they lose this game they will trail us by 5 points and we will have two games in hand, and that lead could therefore extend to about 9-10 points with Nation having just 12 games remaining.

“If we averaged the same amount of points in our final 12 games as we have for the season to date it would mean that they will have to win every game until the season finishes.

Gary added that the squad is in good spirits, insisting that the league title is the club’s primary aim.

“Our attitude is superb at the minute and I love these big games: it is what the game is all about. There is a great buzz about the place at the minute and the quality of our training is superb.

“I have said since the start of pre-season – despite what the nonleaguezone [online forum] experts claim – that our main objective is to try and win the league this season.

Gary says that the challenge is so great this season that winning the league will be a special achievement for whoever lifts the trophy.

“This is the strongest the league has been for many a season,” he says. “Over the last few years either Spennymoor have dominated or it has been a two horse race. This season there are four fantastic teams challenging for the title and that means there will be 12 games this season that can be classed as six pointers. Last season there were two, but there is more of an equilibrium of budgets this season, with all four sides having strength in depth.

“We have all witnessed West’s demolition of teams two levels higher in the pyramid and Celtic Nation are signing experienced, established players on loan from the likes of Bristol Rovers. I think it is fair to say that any one of the top four would be more than capable of competing at least two levels higher up the pyramid; and it is for the reasons above that I personally believe that this is the most difficult season for many a year to become league champions.

“Whoever comes out on top can proudly boast of a fabulous achievement.”

Shildon back on top after win at Consett

Shildon returned to the top of the Northern League Division One table on Saturday after a 2-0 win at Consett’s new Belle Vue Stadium.

Paul Connor, who could have had a hat trick, opened the scoring early in the second half and the tie was put beyond the home side when Ben Wood scored with 15 minutes to play.

Consett started the brighter on their new artificial surface, using the conditions as well as their knowledge of the pitch to take the game to the Railwaymen.

Shildon, on the other hand, struggled with the stiff and freezing wind blowing into their faces.

All the same, Consett were limited to shots form distance and failed to trouble Lewis Graham in the Shildon goal.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, the Railwaymen eventually warmed to the task, finding their feet and their way towards the Consett goal. A through ball to Paul Connor provided the best chance of the half and with just the goalkeeper to beat, it seemed a certainty Shildon would enter the break with the lead. But somehow, the top scorer lost his composure and blazed the chance over the bar.

The end to the first half hinted that the visitors, with the icy wind at their backs, might respond more positively in the second half, and it took just five minutes for Connor to atone for his earlier miss.

Jamie Harwood collected the ball in his own half and strode forward before feeding Mark Hudson. The captain twisted inside the box and squared to Connor who this time kept his composure to deftly chip the ball over the keeper and into the corner.

The goal forced the hosts to push players forward and Shildon should have taken better advantage of the chances they created on the break. Lewis Graham was also forced to participate in the game and saved the visitors on a couple of occasions.

But it was Connor who was again presented with a great opportunity to double Shildon’s lead. Put through by Jamie Harwood with a long ball over the Consett midfield, he again found himself bearing down on Elliot’s goal and had perhaps too much time to think about his finish. Consequently, the keeper was able to touch the ball away from him as he tried to round him and the chance was lost.

While the fans remained aware that a one goal gap was a vulnerable lead, so were the players, but unlike the nervous fans, they continued to take the game to their hosts and with just 15 minutes remaining, they were rewarded for their endeavour.

A long throw down the wing found Sam Garvie, who glanced up and crossed to Ben Wood in space in the box. The striker controlled the ball with his first touch before smashing an unstoppable shot across the keeper and into the bottom corner.

It was a dominant second half display by the visitors who deservedly returned home with the three points.

And with news filtering through that the league leaders had fallen to a 3-1 defeat at Newcastle Benfield, Shildon will once again spend the weekend at the top of the table.