Whickham continued their impressive form with a 1-0 home victory to Newton Aycliffe, a feisty encounter from the first minute.
Declan Bisset scored the only goal of the game after 10 minutes – his free-kick from the wide left evaded everyone and crept into Adam Pickford’s bottom corner.
A fantastic crowd turned out to support both teams on what was a cold, wet Friday evening under the floodlights at First Mortgage Glebe.
Whickham’s backline can only be described as a brick wall for the full 94 minutes. The team defended in numbers, limiting Newton Aycliffe only to half chances or efforts from outside the box, all of which James Anderson was equal too.
Whickham almost took the lead through defender Kieron Galbraith in the 9th minute; his goal bound header was cleared off the line by an Aycliffe defender.
The breakthrough and decisive goal came only a minute later thanks to Bisset’s free kick out on the left. The ball was whipped into a crowded penalty area missing everyone and past the unsighted Pickford in goal.
Newton Aycliffe started to get a foothold in the game half way through the first half but struggled in the final third to create any clear openings.
Scott Jasper almost doubled the home teams lead, following James Anderson’s long kick up field, catching out Aycliffe’s backline and Jasper was through on goal, his effort forced Pickford into a fine save.
Zak Atkinson was close to getting his name on the scoresheet after latching onto Jasper’s through ball, only for Aycliffe’s right back to intervene before getting his shot away.
Anderson was a giant between the sticks for Whickham, pulling off a string of saves firstly, getting finger tips to Ben Reay’s effort.
Whickham’s number one was down quickly to deny Adam Burnice at the start of the second-half. Anderson was again equal to Jake Petitjean’s free kick on the edge of the box, palming the ball over the bar for a corner.
As Newton Aycliffe pushed for an equaliser they left gaps open at the back – Whickham almost capitalising through substitute Scott Robson, the skilful winger’s effort forced Pickford into a neat save.
Jack Robson and Atkinson also had chances in the final few minutes but neither could find the back of the net.
As the final couple of minutes were coming to a close, Aycliffe thought they had a penalty through Reay. The striker went down in the area following a Tomas Howard challenge. Referee Helen Conley waved play on and Whickham cleared their lines.
All in all a tasty, tough tackling battle at The Glebe in which the referee was kept busy throughout – Whickham’s Captain Ross Peareth was shown yellow early in the second half for a late challenge. Cautions were also handed out to defenders Jack Moody and Galbraith.
The away side were not shy of a yellow card themselves with Joe Ferguson and Ardelean going into the referee’s book.
The victory takes Whickham into 9th place in the Northern League, with Redcar Athletic next up for Tony Fawcett’s side.
After the game Adam Tones spoke with Man of the Match James Anderson, reflecting on the game and the teams new set-up, he said:‘’ I thought it was a proper team performance. I think it’s suited me, we’ve not played a lot of football but defensively we are solid, one of the parts to my game is talking, communicating and I like to organise the players, having the wing backs just adds to that communication.’’
When asked if this was his best performance over the last three weeks, Anderson added: Definitely, the others games I’ve pulled off one or two basic saves, which is down to the organisation and the whole team being solid as the defence starts from the front.
Today they were a good team, moving the ball fast and broke us down well, but we stayed solid and everyone put a shift in.’’