Continuing the series of past Match Reports we turn to the 2011/12 season which was Morton Titterton’s second in charge.
While League success continued to remain elusive the highlight of the campaign was Town’s spectacular run in the F A Cup. Nuneaton Griff were swept aside 7-0 in the Extra Preliminary Round followed by a much closer 2-1 Preliminary Round success against Coventry Sphinx to set up a First Qualifying Round tie away at Newcastle Town.
And that’s where the everything really took off as the two sides battled it out in an amazing ten goal thriller :-
TEN GOALS BUT TOWN AND NEWCASTLE NOW HAVE TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN
Newcastle Town – 5 – Malbon (5) 34, 35, 67, 74 & 90 Stratford Town – 5 – Beckley (3) 17, 30 & 40 (pen) Mackey 90 + 1 Herlihy 90 + 3
You couldn’t make it up !!
Anyone who wonders whether the famed magic and romance of the F A Cup still exist should have been at the Lyme Valley Stadium on Saturday afternoon for this scarcely believable First Qualifying Round tie when Town raced to a two goal lead inside half an hour only for Newcastle to recover and goes two in front themselves in the 90th minute before Town scored twice in an impossibly dramatic three minutes of added time to secure a replay.
And there was also plenty for lovers of football trivia, as apart from the almost unique scoreline Newcastle’s 19 year old striker Anthony Malbon scored all five of their goals while Town’s Mykel Beckley notched a first half hat-trick yet neither was able to celebrate being on a winning side.
Town’s starting line-up showed four changes from last weekend at Kirby Muxloe. Josh O’Grady has moved on to Daventry Town while Josh Blake and Chris Murphy were absent due to wedding commitments so in came Liam Reynolds, Ben Mackey and Mykel Beckley, while Nathan Edgington was preferred to Mitch Fellows up front.
Although playing one level above Town in the Evo-Stik Northern League First Division South – and having hammered Studley 6-2 in the previous round – Newcastle had not made the best of starts to their League campaign with just seven points from eight games, and it was Town who settled quickest with Mackey soon showing his class and skipper Sam Alsop prominent in midfield.
The first chance of the afternoon fell to Mackey in the tenth minute but he was just beaten to Edgington’s flick-on by James Askey. Town kept up the pressure and shortly after Beckley latched on to an Alsop pass down the left to slip the ball past the advancing keeper Dave Dyson only for Jack Lane to get back and clear off the line.
This was however only to be a temporary let-off for Newcastle as in the 17th minute Town worked the ball down the middle for Beckley to lay it off to Mackey whose shot came back off Dyson’s right hand post with Beckley reacting quickest to fire the rebound into the empty net.
It was all Town and only another goal-line clearance prevented Newcastle going further behind as Mackey dribbled his way into the penalty area before shooting across Dyson and seeing Dave Whittaker hack it away.
In a rare Newcastle attack the lively Malbon – who has three First Team appearances for Port Vale to his credit – gave a warning of what was to come by linking up cleverly with Jack Harrison but Richard Morris was quickly off his line to snuff out the danger, and on the half hour mark Town went two up.
Barely a minute earlier Dyson had pulled off a spectacular one handed save to push a Beckley effort round the post, but he then rashly charged out of his area in an attempt to intercept a Mackey through ball only for Beckley to beat him to it and stride on to hit a rasping shot which deflected into the net off Matt Bradbury as he desperately tried to get back to cover.
But from being seemingly in control Town’s defensive frailties – which disappointingly have been a feature of their season so far – let them down again as they conceded twice in a minute to let Newcastle right back into the game.
The first came when a deep cross from the right was not properly dealt with even though Town had plenty of opportunities to clear and eventually the ball fell kindly for the predatory Malbon to sweep it past Morris from close in.
And within a minute Harrison sped down the Newcastle left to pull the ball back from the byline and present Malbon with a simple tap-in for the equaliser.
Beckley though was really enjoying himself down the left flank with his pace and persistence being too much for the Newcastle defenders, and five minutes before the interval he restored Town’s lead from the penalty spot. Alsop began the move with another slide rule pass which Beckley sprinted on to before being brought down by Kyle Diskin and then getting up to coolly send Dyson the wrong way to complete his hat-trick and ensure that Town went in at half time deservedly back in front.
Newcastle made a double substitution at the restart, and Leon Ashman soon made his presence felt as he sprung Town’s offside trap but Morris was again out smartly to make a vital block.
Nevertheless the changes helped Newcastle to have more of the possession and with thunder, lightning and some beefy showers making conditions more testing Town’s backline began to look increasingly uncomfortable.
It was therefore hardly surprising when Newcastle levelled once more. Again it was due to shambolic Town defending as Aaron Carter’s hopeful ball into the penalty area was allowed to reach Malbon at the far post and he was never going to miss from there as he emulated Beckley with the second hat-trick of the game.
Barely a minute later he could have made it four as he outjumped Ross Brown to reach a Harrison cross but he could only direct his header straight at Morris.
Newcastle now had all the momentum, and went ahead for the first time with just over a quarter of an hour left to go when Diskin raced unchallenged down the right touchline and his centre was expertly turned in by the unmarked Malbon.
Town tried hard to respond, but didn’t really trouble Dyson although Alsop was not far away with a header from a Faulds cross and he followed that up with a fiercely struck 30 yarder which Dyson held at the second attempt.
And when Malbon made it five for himself and his side in the last minute of normal time when he had so much time and space as he collected a pass from Diskin on the edge of the penalty area that he was able to take a couple of paces forward before blasting the ball past Morris it seemed certain that Town’s interest in this legendary competition was over for another year.
Even when Mackey drilled in a left footer from a Joss Holford cross to make 5-4 in the first extra minute the travelling Town faithful thought it had to be too late for any sort of miracle reprieve,, but it wasn’t and in the third minute of added time Adam Cooper hoisted over a deep cross from the right which was volleyed into the bottom corner of the net by the ecstatic Stuart Herlihy.
In the end a draw was probably the right result even though it was nerve wracking for both sets of supporters and undoubtedly hair pulling-out for both managers as well. The action now moves on to the DCS on Tuesday evening, and unless each side can improve on their defensive shortcomings the in-form pair of Malbon and Beckley will surely fancy adding yet more to the eight they managed between them here.
TOWN : Morris, Faulds, Baker, Alsop, Haynes (Cooper 74), Brown, Herlihy, Reynolds, Edgington (Thompson 62), Mackey, Beckley (Holford 67). Unused Subs – M Fellows & Cross (GK)
NEWCASTLE : Dyson, Askey, Lane, Bradbury (Harper 46), Whittaker, Carter, Diskin, Macpherson, Malbon, Daniels (Ashman 46), Harrison (Sutton 90). Unused Subs – Connor & Price.
Attendance – 115
Town Man of the Match – Mykel Beckley
The View From The Dug-Out – Morton Titterton can’t really believe what he has seen
“What an amazing game – I’m still in a state of shock !! When we were two up I thought that we would go on and win, but their first goal was due to our sloppy defending, and another goal inside a minute put them right back in it. In the second half we made the mistake of standing off them and giving them too much space, and they punished us for it. But having looked down and out I thought that we showed tremendous character to come back and earn the replay.”
Match Stats by Rod Abrahams
Town – GA 17 OT 8 HW 1 CW 4 FC 6 OS 5 YC 0 RC 0 Newcastle – GA 9 OT 7 HW 0 CW 0 FC 8 OS 3 YC 2 RC 0
Town Yellow Cards – None
Newcastle Yellow Cards – Askey & Diskin
Match Report by Bryan Hale