County Side Wrap Up Before Christmas

Dan Simmonite

The Northumberland FA U18 representative team wrapped up a vital 2-1 win against West Riding FA in their final fixture before the festive break.

First half goals from Will Jenkins and Michael Woods were enough to maintain their unbeaten start in the Association of Northern Counties East Division.

And under the watchful eye of temporary manager, Ian Skinner, Saturday’s triumph now sees North top of the table with seven points from three games.

“First of all I think all credit has to go to the players, they came into what were difficult circumstances,” said the former Blyth AFC coach.

“I chose the team based on the knowledge I had of the players available prior to first meeting them just before kick-off."

With normal personnel missing, Skinner opted to hand the armband to New Hartley’s Robbie Christie, who led the county side to an early two goal cushion and a strong foothold in the game.

However, West Riding grabbed one just before the break in the form of a shot-cum-cross which nestled into the top corner – robbing North’s Liam Renwick of a first clean sheet.

The game progressed in the second half with chances for North to extend their lead, but the extra goal was not needed as the whistle blew at Whitley Park – granting the home side all three points.

“I thought we played really well in the first half and were the better side,” added Skinner.

“On another day I thought we could have scored a couple of more goals and I think we conceded a bit of a poor goal just before half time.

“We could have killed the game off, but got a bit nervy towards the end.

“However, again credit to the players because they’ve stuck at the task and won the game.”

Next on the agenda for North is a trip down to North Riding FA in January - a decisive fixture with the Yorkshire outfit hot on their heels – just a point separating the two teams.