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Durham U18 v South Yorkshire

Durham edge close game
Posted by: Geoff

After a prolonged delay to the start of their season Durham U18s got their campaign off to a winning start against a gritty and physical South Yorkshire side who had recorded an empahatic 6-0 victory against Cleveland in their previous outing.

Durham had to re-arrange their squad as they went into the game as many of their players had commitments in other competition with their club and college sides and the players that came as replacements did a fantastic job of stepping up to the plate and securing the win. Durham started well with good movement and pace allied to skill and ability which helped them move the ball around with purpose and they created some excellent chances in the opening stages of the game and it was no surprise when Ben Reay put Durham ahead on 12 minutes after some swift combination play with Taylor Richardson.

They extended their lead 5 minutes later when the energetic midfielder Stefan Hornsby cleverly side-stepped Joe Mellor in the Yorks goal to complete a five-man move which started from goalkeeper Charlie Lamb in the Durham goal. Ryan Bolton, Harry Doughty and Richardson all moved the ball swiftly and accurately to carve open the Yorks defence and create the opportunity for Hornsby. At this stage looked like they were going to clock up a cricket score but Yorks and - in particular – striker Sam Eccles had different ideas. With what was effectively their first foray into the Durham penalty are Eccles pulled one back for Yorks with a cool finish past Lamb. As often happens in these situations, the momentum changed dramatically and Yorks were proving to be a more formidable opposition. But it was still Durham who created the better chances and Hornsby, Reay and striker Stevie Johnson all tested the keeper and some excellent skill from Johnson along the bye-line opened up an opportunity for overlapping full back Ryan Bolton who thudded a strong strike against the post. Ironically, it was a fluke own goal which increased Durham’s lead when a long-range Richardson strike took a wicked deflection and cruelly evaded Joe Mellor in the Yorks goal to give Durham a 3-1 lead at half-time.

Durham started slowly in the second period and were punished by the mercurial Eccles who placed a sweet volley across Lamb into the far corner to make it 3-2 and game on. Six minutes later he repeated this when he showed great footwork to work himself a shooting opportunity and levelled the scores on 67 minutes and bag himself an impressive hat-trick. It was now anybody’s game. This was a cruel blow to Durham and it looked as though their wasted chances could cost them. However, they continued to surge forward led by Dylan Quinn and were denied two clear penalty claims. It took a piece of creative class from Reay to restore their lead. He picked up a short corner from Joe Lamb and jinked his way into the edge of the penalty area and curled a shot across Mellor and into the far corner.

Durham maintained the lion’s share of the possession and Yorks were always dangerous on the break after changing formation to push an extra man forward but the Durham rearguard of Adam Dovaston, Callum Wilson, Lewis Green, Adam Lennox and Bolton held on to claim a well-deserved victory.

Next game is away to Humberside in the ESFA National Trophy on Monday, 2nd December.

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