After a months inactivity due to wet weather and snow Town had a league game on the Saturday when they travelled to play Crook Town FC in a league game. In the period since the last game Town had been demoted in the table to third position on goal difference after leading the table since October. Nothing is decided in March and with teams in or around the promotion positions due to play each other in the closing weeks of the season there would be many changes in position before anything is resolved.
Pre match news was that regular keeper Tom Dawson would miss the game due to being abroad with work and deputy Niki Lawson would be between the sticks. Shaun Hudson had been ill with flu and started on the bench which looked particularly strong. It was raining but the pitch looked bumpy although playable. It was an early opportunity for Chris Emms to play against his former club with ex Town player Peter Parvin in the Crook ranks.
Crook Town FC
Callum Liddicott Daniel Johnston Peter Parvin Joseph Calvert Ryan Coles Adam Comby Adam Lee Shield Callum Johnston David Paul Kyle Morris and Daniel Smith
Subs: Wayne Gredziak Isam Mohammed Ben Clarke Stuart Hackett and Michael Weston
Niki Lawson Andrew Shepherd Karl Hewitt Stephen Cheeseman Dale Elgie Jack Proctor Chris Dickinson Chris Emms Nicky Martin Aaron Ramsbottom and Stephen Jackson
Subs: Liam Jsrvie Dan Jones Shaun Hudson Mattie Crossen and Richard Walker
Referee: Mr Asa McDonough (Newcastle)
The rain had eased at time of kick off and only a sparse crowd was in the ground at time of kick off with Crook in their traditional old gold shirts and black shorts with Town in their changed strips of two tone red strips sponsored by Kinetic Engineers. Andrew Shepherd captained the team and chose to play down the slope from left to right in the first half.
Niki Lawson had an early chance to kick the ball but it went straight into touch. Town got off to a dream start when an early ball was played by Andrew Shepherd to Aaron Ramsbottom who skipped down the right wing before centring an inch perfect ball to the head of NICKY MARTIN who powered a bullet header into the goal to give Town the lead in the first minute. Chris Dickinson worked a ball down the right with neat inter passing with Aaron Ramsbottom before shooting which the keeper tipped round the upright. Stephen Cheeseman and Dale Elgie were anchoring the midfield and Andrew Shepherd was overlapping on the right and complimenting Chris Emms who threaded a ball to Nicky Martin who rounded the keeper and put the ball in the net before being brought back for offside, which seemed a strange decision. In the 14th minute a ball up the left by Crook went across goal to the feet of DANIEL JOHNSTON who shot into the goal past the prostrate NIki Lawson.
Andrew Shepherd doubled up with Chris Emms to thwart a Crook attack. Chris Dickinson threaded a ball to Nicky Martin on the left who came inside and shot into the side netting when Aaron Ramsbottom was wide open in front of goal. Chris Dickinson combined well with Aaron Ramsbottom who came inside then shot high and wide. Jack Proctor headed on to Stephen Jackson who shot early wide of the upright. Chris Emms showed experience as he forced an error from a Crook player.
Dale Elgie found Stephen Jackson who found Nicky Martin at the back post and he headed into the side netting. Nicky Martin back heeled the ball to Stephen Jackson which gave the defender chance to hammer the ball into touch. Town had a let off as Crook player hit the post. Karl Hewitt mistimed a clearance which went into touch. Nicky Martin controlled a high ball brilliantly then found Stephen Jackson who won a corner. Chris Emms took the kick and when the ball came back to him he hammered it accross the goal and found the foot of NICKY MARTIN who shot into goal to register his and his teams second goal of the game in the 33rd minute. A fresh air kick by Karl Hewitt was hit off the feet of an attacker and the resultant ball was easily collected by Niki Lawson. On the stroke of half time the ball fell to the feet of STEPHEN JACKSON who passed the ball into the net to give Town a two goal advantage in the 45th minute.
Town had controlled the game from the very first minute and although looking a little ring rusty were good value for their hall time lead
Half Time: Crook Town 1 Northallerton Town 3
No change to personnel made at half time as the teams changed ends. Andrew Shepherd played the ball off an attacker to thwart an attack and win a goal kick Stephen Cheeseman fell awkwardly and had to receive treatment and had to leave the field before returning. Aaron Ramsbottom scampered up the left before finding Stephen Jackson with a ball accross the box. Niki Lawson saved well to his left.
In the 53rd minute a brilliant move down the left saw Aaron Ramsbottom find Chris Emms at the back post who centred for NICKY MARTIN to score his hat trick goal and his sides 4th goal with a side footed shot. Mattie Crossen replaced Stephen Cheeseman who received treatment before being replaced. Chris Emms took a corner on the left as Mattie Crossen had gone to centre defence as Town reverted to a back four. Mattie Crossen found Chris Emms who found Nicky Martin but he was just offside. Brilliant play saw Chris Emms find Chris Dickinson with an inch perfect pass and his jinked inside before hammering a shot on goal which came off a defender for a corner.
Chris Dickinson was having his best game to date for Town and frequently was in space. In the 71st minute with the best move of the game so far Town scored again. Aaron Ramsbottom found Chris Dickinson who found NICKY MARTIN at the back post who headed into the goal for his personal fourth goal and his teams 5th goal. Liam Jarvie and Dan Jones replaced Nicky Martin and Chris Dickinson with Dan Jones going up front. He then had a chance out left but his centre went behind. Crook would be relieved to see the back of Nicky Martin who had netted 4 on the day and the two Town goals in the reverse fixture at the Calvert Stadium which Town won 2-1. Niki Lawson leapt high to claim a ball Into the area. Jack Proctor was fouled as he tracked back but still managed to regain his feet and dribble clear before being brought back for a free kick. Liam Jarvie tried a shot from the edge of the box which was high and wide. Aaron Ramsbottom raced clear but his chip on the keeper was read and easily saved.
Town had controlled the game from start to finish and although not at their best had shown glimpses of the form that had seen them lead the league for the last four months. They had shown that they have strength In depth in their squad
Full time: Crook Town 1 Northallerton Town 5