Local rivals Durham FA edged Northumberland FA's county representative team on Saturday (3 February) afternoon through a Ryan Kirby header in the second half to maintain the visitors’ 100 per-cent record this campaign.
Durham FA won the coin toss and kicked off the Association of Northern Counties East Division fixture at a rainy Whitley Park. Both teams on the day played to the conditions and tested the goalkeepers from distance early on - neither chances proving difficult for the shot-stoppers.
Northumberland had the first chance to score on 20 minutes when Paul Van-Zandvliet picked up the ball in the centre, just outside the box, and tried to thread through Cam Cunningham. However, his pass was superbly blocked by Durham FA’s Codie Howe, deterring a one-on-one situation.
Cieran Jackson, of Spennymoor, was a threat all game for Durham FA; the tricky winger dribbling through on many occasions and drawing fouls in dangerous areas. Shahban Mohammed’s free kicks were, likewise, a menace. On 26 minutes he found the head of Jordan Patterson in the box, but the midfielder could not direct his effort on target.
Callum Harley had a lot to do in his 10th appearance for the Northumberland FA U18 side, most notably denying Durham FA the lead just before half-time with a point-blank save, keeping his side in the game.
The teams went into the dressing rooms at half-time with the score 0-0; both managers making changes to their sides for the final 45 minutes.
Northumberland came out of the docks early on in the second-half, with Dibb-Fuller making a run down the right wing and dinking the ball towards Mackenzie Share, but it was intercepted away from the striker into the hands of South Shields’ reserve ‘keeper, Jack Ramage.
It was Durham FA however, who broke the deadlock on 57 minutes. Captain Ryan Kirby got his head onto a corner kick at the near post to put his side 1-0 up and in the driving seat.
Northumberland didn’t crumble after the goal and pushed on for an equalizer. Midfielder Jack Ramage had a great chance to get a shot off on 64 minutes but couldn’t make a decent enough connection on his volley from Mackenzie Shape’s flick on.
Full-back Brad Allen also went close on 79 minutes, his shot fizzing past the post from an acute angle before Callum Harley tipped a long range effort over the bar, diving backwards into his goal to keep the ball out.
Fouls were a problem for Northumberland on the day; the team gave away a total of 14 free-kicks and received a red card in the process on 84 minutes, halting any chance of a late comeback.
The game ended 1-0 to the away team, amidst late pressure from Northumberland, to extend Durham FA’s unbeaten league run to 3 games this season.
Next up for our under-18 side is a home fixture against Sheffield & Hallamshire FA on Saturday 10 March – details will follow in due course.
Northumberland FA U18: Harley, Allen, Kooistra, Wells, Kalthoeber, Banks, Ramsay, Van, Dibb-Fuller, Cunningham, Proudlock
Subs: Clark, Renwick, McNally, Henderson, Sharpe
Durham FA U18: Ramage, Patterson, McGill, Howe, Kirby, Mohammed, Petitsean, Burns, Hassanin, Jackson, Thompson
Subs: Sproston, Eltringham, Tait