Durham gain a point
Durham U18s roller coaster season continued with a 2-2 draw at South Yorkshire which has probably left them needing a result from their final league game against Northumberland to qualify for the finals of the Northern Championship.
The game was played on a cabbage patch of a field which was more fitted to rugby than football and both teams struggled to build any patterns of play and resorted to playing long balls forward at the earliest opportunity. From the start both keepers had to be on their toes and both made good saves in the first five minutes to keep their teams intact early on but it was not long before the deadlock was broken. South Yorkshire wide men were causing problems for the Durham defence with their pace and movement and a good delivery from Kirk caused a moment of hesitation among the Durham defenders which the Yorkshire forwards capitalised on to make it 1-0 on 15 minutes. Durham reacted well to this setback and Dan Mitchell placed a 35 yard crossfield pass behind the Yorkshire full back for Dan Maddison to run onto and cut across his defender to fire home and bring the scores level. Yorkshire kept on with quick counter attacks and got their reward when Durham again failed to clear the ball effectively and allowed Yorkshire to take the lead again on 34 minutes. Their centre half firing a loose ball high into the net in a crowded goalmouth.
The teams turned round with Yorkshire still in front and the game declined in quality with both teams simply getting the ball forward at the earliest opportunity and hoping to get the break. However, it was a delightful piece of combination play down the left hand side which opened up the Yorkshire defence. Jay Redman linked up with Callum Webster who went past two defenders and crossed for Andrei Ardelean to glance a near post header past the stranded keeper and bring the score back on to an even keel. Some strange refereeing decisions were bewildering both teams at this stage and fortunately none of these were to have an effect on the scoreline and the game played out to what was probably a fair result with neither team on top form but both working hard to win it.
A point to each side keeps the East League interesting at this stage with four team still in contention to qualify.
Durham have two games coming up in early January which will define their season against present league leaders Northumberland and then the quarter final of the ESFA National trophy against either Greater Manchester or Merseyside and for both games they will need to be firing on all cylinders to fulfil their potential.