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North Yorkshire U18 v Durham

Durham agonisingly finish one goal short of progressing to the semi finals
Posted by: Geoff
Durham U18s finished their Northern Counties East League campaign with their finest result of the season in a polished and professional performance to beat North Yorks 6-1, but it was a frustrating end to the season as they missed out on a semi-final place by one goal in a frantic and dramatic game.


For Durham it was a must-win game with the the huge task of winning by six clear goals to keep their semi-final qualification hopes alive and their squad was depleted with notification of three late absentees on the eve of the game. However, this was all about the brilliant application of the players that were there on the day!

Durham set up with a 3-5-2 formation to press from the front and utilise the pace and guile of Ben Reay and Joe Lamb down the flanks. The midfield trio of Stefan Hornsby, Mason Hurworth and Charlie Hindson would provide the stability of the engine room to drive this on and create opportunities for front-runners Stevie Johnson and Ellis Creighton.

Durham set off with a high tempo and dominated the early stages and only had to be aware of the odd quick break by North Yorks. Their sustained pressure paid off when Reay played in front-runner Stevie Johnson who finished off a good combination move with an excellent shot across the North goalkeeper as he broke into the penalty area to take the lead on 18 minutes. North Yorks were on the rack at this stage and were lucky to survive some excellent corners from Hindson and Lamb where centre back Lewis Green and Creighton narrowly put headers wide of the mark.

Tragedy struck on 28 minutes when the referee failed to give a blatant push in the back on Johnson on the halfway line and the ball broke kindly to Yorks who forced a free kick on the edge of the Durham area. Charlie Lamb in the Durham goal pushed away the initial free kick but was beaten by the follow up and Durham were back to square one needing six clear goals to progress. Durham continued to press and create chances but Yorks gained in confidence from their goal and the game ebbed and flowed without further goals until half time. Up until the goal the defensive trio of Adam Dovaston, Lewis Green and Ryan Bolton had not been troubled. Durham lost Bolton for a spell when the full back bravely headed a ball and was caught by the rash challenge of a Yorks opponent and had to receive attention from the sidelines. Harry Doughty stepped in as a confident and solid replacement.

Durham re-started the game at an explosive pace and were immediately rewarded when Creighton was played through the central channel by Reay and he bravely held off strong defensive challenges to force the ball home to make the score 2-1 and put Durham back in the driving seat. On 54 minutes Reay was again the provider for Johnson to finish low in the bottom corner and the dream of a six-goal victory became reality. Reay than turned from provider to poacher as he finished off a Taylor Richardson corner to make it 4-1 and Hindson kept his cool to hit the back of the net during a goalmouth scramble. On 85 minutes Johnson showed a real striker's prowess when he headed over a packed goalmouth and into the net to claim his hat-trick and make it 6-1. At this tense stage the huge task of winning a county game by six clear goals was a strong possibility but chances from Richardson, Johnson and Creighton all narrowly missed the target and the referees whistle brought agony and anguish to the heroic Durham team who had given everything on the day and should be proud of a valiant effort to finish the season on a high.

The Durham lads were well worth the result and the management team thanked them for their efforts throughout the season and a job well done on the day. It was a season when one goal was the difference between success and failure. They lost by 2-1 in the quarter-final of the ESFA National Trophy, 2-1 in a league game and the goal difference of one kept them out of the semi-final spot. However, they have represented their county well!

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