Durham City AFC 3-3 South Moor AFC

After lasts weeks disappointing 3-0 defeat against Durham United, the Citizens were looking to rectify their slow start and get off the mark against South Moor. With a few changes in the side needing to be made due to injury and other commitments, we saw the consistently excellent Liam Peverley out for Lewis Rigg to make his debut. City also opted for a 4-4-2 formation over a 3-4-3/3-4-1-2 that we saw last week.

 

Heading into this game, Durham would have been hopeful to pick up something from this game, due to the fact that South Moor were only a few places above them in the league. Of course the points gap was large, but Durham simply has to take points off teams around them.

 

The game got underway with roughly 29 fans in attendance, including that of kit collector, match day vlogger and YouTube content creator, Ellis Platten. City were quick to put pressure on South Moor, with Kaya Bodur finding himself through on goal with just the keeper to beat. Despite dribbling past the keeper, his touch went just too wide and saw the ball go out before he could take the shot. But only after a few minutes did Durham start to fall into the same habits as last week in regards to not communicating and getting pulled out of their defensive positions. 

 

With 10 minutes played, South Moor opened the scoring when they were able to easily cut through the Citizens back-line and score a simple goal. Frustration began to mount and time and time again, Durham were trying to defend resolutely to the constant presence and pressure from South Moor. Then in the 15th minute, South Moor made it 2-0 after being awarded a penalty after Kaya Bodur brought down one of the opponents in the box. To Lewis Rigg's credit, the keeper made a terrific save to stop penalty after getting down low, however his teammates were slow to react to the save and South Moor players ran into the box first to bury the rebound.

This second goal seemed to spark some life into Durham and they fought hard to get back into the game, yet issues still persisted at the back. The gaffer made a substitution in the 30th minute, bringing off Preston Gredziak for Jordon Southern and shifting the Durham formation. This proved to support the lads and suddenly they were getting a foothold in the game and mounting attack after attack. Two minutes after the change, Andrew Pritchard had a good opportunity to reduce the deficit when he headed a ball goal wards from a brilliant cross, but saw it just tipped over the crossbar. The South Moor keeper was in superb form and once again spoiled the celebrations, when Andrew Burrows unleashed a rocket from just inside the box and somehow the keeper kept it out. Durham were now playing with great attacking impetuous and were unfortunate not to make the score 2-1 before the whistle for half-time was signalled by the referee.

The Citizens started as they were towards the end of the first half and were straight out the block to attack South Moor. Durham were awarded a freekick in the 50th minute from about 25 yards out, with Mark Hemmingway standing over the ball and lashed it brilliantly towards goal. It looked destined to nestle into the top corner, until once again South Moor's goalkeeper pulled off a fantastic save to keep it out and tip it over the bar.

Just as the pendulum was shifting towards Durham, the Citizens received a gut-punch when South Moor were awarded another penalty. Lewis Rigg attempted his earlier heroics, but the precision and pace of the penalty was too much and nestled in the bottom left corner.

Yet Durham's heads didn't drop. Despite it being the 62nd minute and down three goals, the lads kept pushing and just minutes later, they got one back. Jordon Southern chased a long ball forward over the top of the South Moor back-line and capitalised on the keepers error in making the clearance. Despite an almost impossible angle and shooting from the byline, Southern somehow tucked his shot away to make it 3-1.

Durham made three more substitutions, ascendancy on their side and fresh legs needed, with Kaya Bodur, Craig Megson and Curtis Layfield coming off for Liam Walls, Adetunji Benson and Calvin Payne.

With only six minutes left of regulation time, the game would have seemed out of sight to most, but Durham kept on pushing. The fresh legs and pace of the forwards  and wingers proving too much for South Moor to deal with at times. The game was beginning to become tense, with tackles, fouls, offsides and freekicks being awarded every few minutes. Both teams feel aggrieved by refereeing decisions.

Yet, it was in the 84th minute that we all began to wonder, could Durham do this? After a brilliantly took free-kick from Ross Hutchinson, Andrew Pritchard pounced on the ball and toe-poked it into the goal. The lads quickly grabbed the ball from the net and ran to the centre circle to get the game underway. South Moor were stunned and belief and excitement was beginning to spread between players and fans in attendance. Durham continued to mount attack after attack and then in the 87th minute they were awarded another free-kick from just past the half way line. Ross Hutchinson duly stepped up again on free-kick duties and sent in a long ball into the box for Brandon Gredziak to get the faintness of touches to send the ball into the net. All the fans were jumping around in elation, but Durham still wanted more. The lads once again took the ball to the centre circle to try and get a winner.

Which they almost did in what was the last kick of the game. A ball sent into the box passed everyone and coming in at the back post was substitute Liam Walls who just had to get the slightest touch to take it past the keeper and into the net. But unfortunately, he couldn't sort his feet out quickly enough and the ball was miss-kicked and knocked out of play, with the full time whistle following just seconds after.

Durham City finally got their first point of the season. It could well have been three, but just for the lads to be competitive and come back from being three goals down was a brilliant illustration of their determination and testament of their willingness to never give up.