Shotton Colliery 3-1 Durham City AFC
Last weekend, Durham City managed to get their first point of the season when they drew 3-3 against South Moor. Despite being 3-0 down, the Citizens turned the game around in what was a momentous occasion. The hopes of the team and fans, was that the jubilation would spark a revival and confidence heading into the fixture away to Shotton Colliery. It was a cold and grey day with scattered showers, but the lads were ready to turn the heat up in this fixture.
Gaffer Wayne Gredziak and his staff opted for the use of a 3-4-3 formation. Calvin Payne awarded his first start for City after a good performance off the bench last week. Whereas Lewis Rigg was given the nod ahead of the retuning Liam Peverley in goal. New signings Aidan West and Junior Masandi were also set to feature from the bench, but Junior pulled up with an injury during pre-match preparations.
As soon as the game began, it set the tone for how the afternoon in Shotton was going to be. From the very first whistle, both teams fought hard for possession, with the hosts edging it just slightly. The Yakkas had the opportunity to open the scoring early on, when a dangerous cross was whipped into the Durham box, however fortunately for City, the header met by the opponent went wide of the goal. Despite the early scare, Durham had a chance in the 8th minute to take the lead. Ross Hutchinson crossed in a dangerous freekick into the box from the right wing, with Jordon Southern bringing it down and taking the shot, but there wasn't enough power on it to trouble the keeper.
Just moments later, the Citizens had another chance. This time with Jordon Southern and he played in a brilliant through ball in behind the Shotton defence for Calvin Payne to run onto and take the shot. But the Shotton keeper made a great reactionary save to keep it out.
It was in the 18th minute that Durham were stood in disbelief with their hands on their heads. Ross Hutchinson brought down a Shotton player just outside of the box and from the ensuing freekick, Lewis Rigg was forced to make low save. Unfortunately for Lewis, his attempt to smother the ball, bounced back into play and the rebound was put away by the onrushing opponent.
From then on, both sides were pushing for a goal, but struggling to maintain possession and create any opportunities. With passes going wayward and plays being intercepted. The game was quite physical, with stoppages in play for the referee to reprimand the players for their challenges and arguments.
City had a chance to get an equaliser in the 36th minute, when Calvin Payne sent in a brilliant through ball behind the defence for Andrew Pritchard. The forward just couldn’t sort his feet out in time and his shot towards the keeper was soft. Whilst Durham didn't have the majority of possession, they were certainly dangerous on the counter, with Calvin Paynes speed causing real problems for Shotton.
The referee blew for half time, with Shotton going in with a goal advantage. Whilst City hadn't performed badly, those of us who have watched them recently, know they were capable of more. No changes were made by either manager at half time and the game got back underway in a similar style to the first half.
Durham defender Alex Gudgeon, picked up a yellow card in the 50th minute and thus started what was to become an even more heated and physical game between the two sides.
City were furious just moments later, when Brandon Gredziak was taken out by a Shotton player in what was a very heavy tackle, taking him off his feet and flying up and over, landing heavily. Despite the protestations, the referee only awarded a yellow card and thankfully Brandon was okay to continue after some treatment.
The gaffer made three changes just minutes later, bringing off Kaya Bodur, Craig Megson and Jordon Southern for Preston Gredziak, Nathan Smith and new signing Aidan West.
The debutant got into the thick of it straight away and in the 59th minute, he succeeded in winning City a penalty. Andrew Pritchard stepped up to take the honours and duly dispatched the penalty into the top corner, leaving the keeper no chance. It was a goal they deserved after their constant pressure and chances going forward.
Perhaps wanting to see the game out and rely on the stoic and in-form Liam Peverley, the gaffer made the decision to substitute goalkeeper Lewis Rigg for the aforementioned Peverleu just minutes after the equaliser. However, just moments after coming on, Liam was made to pick the ball out of his net when Shotton made it 2-1 from a brilliant strike from against the run of play.
Sensing that the game was maybe getting away from us, City made their final substitution. Bringing off Calvin Payne for Adetunji Benson for some much needed pace and technicality. The lads continued to press hard and were having the majority of possession and chances on goal, but lacked that clinical edge in the final third to capitalise on their opportunities.
The game was entering into the final 10 minutes and tension were rising as Durham looked to get an equaliser and Shotton looked to maintain their lead. Tackles were flying in and the referee was busy blowing the whistle and trying to maintain the peace as frustrations reached breaking point. Both teams feeling aggrieved by the officials decisions.
City continued to pressure Shotton at the back, making runs down the wings and sending danegrous balls into the box, just begging someone to finish. Yet it was the Yakkas who got the next goal. In the 85th minute, Shotton countered after City seceded possession in the attack and with limited numbers back to defend, the opponents cut the ball back for their teammate to finish. It was gut punch for Durham, after having the majority of possession and chances towards the latter stages of the game.
Despite it being 3-1 and with only minutes left in the game, the Citizens kept fighting and maybe started to believe there was enough time to reduce the deficit, similarly to last weeks quick turnaround. It was made even more possible, due to the fact that a Shotton player was sin binned for venting his frustrations with the referee and giving away a freekick.
However, it wasn't meant to be. Despite being awarded more free kicks and opportunities in the final few minutes of the game and stoppage time, City couldn't find another goal and the referee soon signaled for full time.
A disappointing result? Yes. But, it was a spirited performance from the lads, with the result not reflecting the effort, hard work and determination that was given by the whole squad. Regardless, City go again in a few days time, when they face Durham United in some midweek league action.