Sam Hodgson has left the Club to sign for Morpeth Town after exercising a clause in his contract to play at a higher level. We wish him all the best at his new club.
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The close season officially ended today for the Railwaymen and their hosts, Tow Law Town, and for Shildon the new season began with a five star display at the Ironworks.
Shildon dominated possession and took a two goal first half lead before some lax defending allowed the Lawyers back into the game with two cheap replies.
But the Railwaymen got back on track and scored three more without reply to open their 2014-15 season with a thoroughly deserved 5-2 win.
Two of Shildon’s four close season signings made debut starts, with the returning Daniel ‘Bobby’ Moore in centre midfield and Adam Rundle on the left wing both performing well.
The Durham Challenge Cup winners were on the front foot from the kick off but it took until the 25th minute for Billy Greulich-Smith – the county cup goal hero – to open the scoring with a simple tap in after good work down the right side.
In the 40th minute the lead was doubled when Paul Connor, who looked dangerous throughout the first half, cut inside on the right before curling a left-footed shot past the keeper’s right hand and into the far corner of the net.
But what looked like a straightforward victory was complicated by slack defending either side of the first half.
Just before the break a simple through ball put Scott Thomson clear, and with the defence static, the midfielder has the simplest of tasks to lob the ball over the onrushing Lewis Graham in the Shildon goal.
And just after the break, confusion in the Shildon defence was followed by confusion over the outcome of Simon Ord’s cross-cum-chip, which fortuitously sailed over Lewis Graham and into the far corner of the net. At first it appeared to have been ruled out for a foul, but the referee then seemed to change his mind and award the equalising goal after all.
The goal came as Shildon’s second half substitutes were still finding their feet, but Shildon took the lead again after Sam Garvie had his taken from under him by Tow Law’s keeper. Mark Hudson stepped up to coolly slot home the resultant penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way (pictured above).
It was then the turn of Michael Rae to score his first Shildon goal on his second half debut. Shildon’s forwards pressed the Tow Law defence into losing the ball before sending Rae through to slide the ball easily past the keeper for Shildon’s fourth.
Shildon were playing some scintillating passing football on this hot Saturday afternoon and had two goals ruled out for narrow offside decisions. Both deserved reward for the excellent build-up play that preceded them.
But there was time yet for the Railwaymen to add a fifth goal. Another excellent move down the right culminated in a 16 yard drive by Sam Hodgson which nestled in the corner of the net and saw Shildon off to a comfortable start to their pre-season.
Next up will be a sterner test at Blyth Spartans on Tuesday evening before the side’s first home friendly next Friday – a rematch from last season as Scottish League One side Stranraer visit Dean Street.
Shildon: Graham, Harwood, Richardson, Craddock, Brackstone, Moore, Ruddy, Hudson, Rundle, Greulich-Smith, Connor. Subs: Emms, Rae, Wood, Garvie Hodgson, Atkin (unused).
After a minor derailment in midweek, the Railwaymen got back on track in West Yorkshire with a clinical victory in the FA Cup at Garforth Town.
Shildon took full advantage of the wind at their backs to score three first half goals and effectively put the tie beyond the reach of the home side within half an hour.
A goal on the hour mark gave the home side a glimmer of hope, but Shildon made sure their name would be listed in the next round with a fourth goal ten minutes from time.
While the strong wind made for difficult conditions, the over-zealous referee somehow contrived to produce eight yellow cards and one red in a match that was competitive but, for the majority of the 166 spectators, sportingly contested.
It was the stiff breeze that led directly to the first goal, with Garforth keeper, Dominic Smith struggling to get any distance on his kick outs. Sam Hodgson picked up the short clearance inside the Garforth half and fed Ben Wood, who fired low and hard from 22 yards. Smith’s fingertips were not enough to keep the ball from nestling in the corner of the net.
Just three minutes into the tie, Shildon suffered a major blow when Paul Connor limped out of action, to be replaced by Darren Richardson, and one wondered whether the Railwaymen might struggle up front. But a second goal on 25 minutes put paid to any such fears.
Garforth found themselves a man light on the right side when Andy Hawksworth was halted by a ball to the face. As play continued, Shildon worked the ball well in the gap, with Sam Garvie feeding Ben Wood in the box. Wood was forced to the byline but held possession and cut the ball back to Hodgson who fired an unstoppable volley from 16 yards high and wide of the despairing Smith.
Six minutes later the tie was virtually over as a contest when Jamie Harwood latched on to a curling John Brackstone free kick to nod powerfully past the hapless goalkeeper.
Shildon eased down significantly in the second half and conceded a goal on the hour mark that gave the home side some hope of a comeback. A precise pass through the Shildon back four from Gary Storer found Alex Booker alone at the right side of the six yard area and his sidefooted shot across Lewis Graham found the side netting.
Shildon’s defence remained solid containing Garforth to shots from distance that failed to trouble the target. Perhaps Garforth’s best chance to close the gap further came in the 68th minute when it seemed that Darren Craddock had poleaxed C J Lyle in the box. However, in keeping with his run of strange decisions, the referee elected to book the home forward for diving.
As the players tired the match became ever scrappier, which suited Shildon, who duly put the tie beyond any doubt in the 80th minute. The bounce of a Ben Wood through ball was badly misjudged by Smith, and as it sailed over his head, Richardson was on hand to hook the ball into an empty net.
All that remained was for the referee to finally get the opportunity to wave his red card alongside the myriad of yellows he had already produced. On this occasion the yellow received by Tawanda Rupere was merited after he scythed down Richardson in frustration. It was his second of the match and he was forced to an early bath. One wonders whether the presence of an assessor got the better of the man in the middle, who seemed to have coped the least well with the conditions and, perhaps, the pressure of the occasion.
Shildon will now face Penrith at Dean Street in the next round after they ran out 3-1 winners over Newcastle Benfield. The tie will be played on Saturday, 31st August, with a 3pm kick off.