Saturday 22 July 2017, 15.00, Ferguson Park
The friendlies continue with Whitehill Welfare of the Lowland League against Heaton Stannington of the Northern League Division Two.
It’s a quick return to Ferguson Park after being there for Welfare’s friendly with Penicuik Athletic four days earlier. The traditional Scottish summer weather had us changing our plans to a ground where we would be under cover.
Heatington Stannington were established in 1910, although there was a team of the same name in existence before that, who folded in 1904. Initially playing friendly matches, they joined the Tyneside Minor League in 1913. The following season they joined the Northern Amateur League Division Two and following the war, gained promotion to Division One where they won the title in 1937. After moving to the Tyneside league they were runners-up in 1939 and were then elected to the Northern League.
The Northern League was founded in 1889, the second oldest surviving league in the world. Division One is the ninth tier of the English Football League system.
The second world war interrupted their progress after one season and when the league resumed in 1945, ‘The Stan’ had 5 consecutive bottom three finishes, and resigned at the end of the 1951-52 season and joined the Northern Alliance. They stayed there until 1956.
They continued to move around the leagues with spells in the Northern Amateur League again, the North Eastern League, the Northern Combination, the Wearside League, the Tyneside Amateur League, back once again to the Northern Amateur League then back to the Northern Alliance in 1986.
When the Alliance restructured in 1988, they became members of the Premier Division and were there until relegation to Division One in 1995-96. Three years later they went back to the Premier, but 2000-01 saw them go down again. When they returned to the Premier in 2003-04 they were better equipped and after winning the Premier title in 2012 and 2013 (the highest level trophies they had won), they were promoted again, to Division Two of the Northern League.
An eighth-place finish in 2014-15 and ninth in 2015-16 consolidated their place in the 22 team league and last season saw them finish fourth, one place off promotion.
The club name originates from its links with the Stannington Avenue area of Heaton in Newcastle.
They have signed midfielder Salihu Portella and former Newcastle United youth player Adam Laidler who is a left back, for the season ahead.
The Stan are starting to make a habit of a pre-season friendlies in Scotland. This is the third year in a row they have made the trip north from Newcastle for a game, with Selkirk and Dalbeattie Star their previous opponents.
We saw four sides from the Northern League Division One last season, namely Morpeth Town, Newcastle Benfield, South Shields and Chester-le-street Town, and they were of a good standard.
Around 90 showed up on a filthy day.
Stan won a corner in the first minute and Welfare in the second, but neither produced anything.
A quick break by Welfare in 4 minutes with Hunter finding Gormley on the right side of the box. He squared it to Kerr, but he couldn’t get his shot on target.
A long range effort by Welfare’s number 6 in the fifth minute was spilled by Maughan, and Carter was quick to seize upon the rebound but off balance, he shot wide.
Welfare failed to clear a ball into their box in 8 minutes and it eventually fell to Yates, but his half volley was off target.
Yates received the ball as Stan came forward in 11 minutes and played a perfect pass into the path of Robinson who slotted past the Welfare keeper to give the visitors the lead.
Good play by Hunter on the right for Welfare in 13 minutes saw him pass through for Kerr who ran on, but fired wide.
Jones passed through the Welfare defence in 14 minutes looking for Robinson, but the keeper was out quickly to smother.
Laidler went through the back of Welfare’s Hunter in 15 minutes then moments later had a full blooded challenge on Dodds. It was certainly a competitive friendly.
As Stan came forward in 19 minutes, Robinson played the ball back from the by-line to Holland, but his cross was well taken by the keeper.
Hunter picked out McPartlin on the edge of the Stan box in 25 minutes, but his shot was too high.
Stan’s Dodds went down with an injury in his own box in 27 minutes and had to come off.
Three minutes later and Welfare’s Carter also limped off, along with a limping physio.
A pass back by Wright in 31 minutes was anticipated by Yates, but he didn’t get a good touch on the ball and it ran through to the Welfare keeper.
Welfare floated a free kick into the box in 33 minutes which was cleared away. Dodds ran onto the ball and hit a first time strike at the Stan goal which was narrowly over the bar.
A low curling shot from the edge of the Stan box by McPartlin was pushed away by Maughan in 36 minutes. The ball was played back to Gormley but he shot well over, although the referee said it had taken a nick off a defender. The corner was cleared but put back in the box by Wright for Kerr, who shot wide.
Robinson set up Jones on the edge of the Welfare box in 38 minutes, but his shot with the outside of the foot was well wide.
Two minutes from the break Gormley passed from the left for Kerr, but Maughan was well placed to save his effort.
Just before half time a mistake by Gordon gave Robinson a chance for Stan, but the keeper was out quickly to clear.
A pretty even first half with Welfare probably having more possession, but it was the travelling team who led.
Welfare made six changes at the break.
The home side won a corner in 48 minutes and number 12’s delivery found number 16, but his header was just wide.
A fine ball by Welfare’s Mitchell in 51 minutes looked to find Swanson in the box, but Holland managed to get a touch to divert the ball away.
Robinson had a great chance for Stan in 53 minutes, but his shot was too close to the keeper who was able to block with both hands.
A great tackle by James on Welfare’s Mitchell deep in the Stan box prevented the striker getting a shot away in 56 minutes.
Swanson put a free kick into the Stan box in 61 minutes and it was met by the head of Kidd, but it was straight at Maughan.
A quick break by Stan in 63 minutes saw Robinson through on goal, but he shot wide.
Chapman launched a Stan free kick in 66 minutes from just inside the Welfare half into the box which sailed towards goal and the keeper had to tip the ball over the bar.
Despite some pretty heavy tackles, Chapman picked up the game’s first booking in 72 minutes for what looked to be dissent. As if to emphasise the point, McCarthy had a poor tackle on Welfare’s number 12 two minutes later.
The heavy rain wasn’t conducive to good football and the second half was getting scrappy as the match progressed.
Swanson was brought down about 22 yards from the Stan goal by Holland in 83 minutes. Swanson took the kick himself and crossed to the back post where Kidd headed across goal and number 16 was first to react, poking the ball home for the equaliser.
The game was becoming bad tempered and the referee had to have words with Welfare’s Swanson and Stan’s Holland in 84 minutes.
In 85 minutes, Jardine handled outside his box on the right near the by-line. Portella crossed into the Welfare box and the ball bobbled around the area before falling for Hoggins who struck the ball low into the net to restore Stan’s lead.
McCarthy strode forward from midfield in 88 minutes and struck for goal from the edge of the Welfare box. The keeper made a good save to push the ball away.
The visitors continued to put pressure on in the remaining minutes following their late goal and ensured Welfare had no chance of another equaliser.
A much improved performance from Welfare from their midweek game and they would have been disappointed not to take at least a draw from the match. Heaton Stannington showed great commitment and their determination after losing the late equaliser was to be admired. They certainly didn’t treat the game as a friendly and although some of their tackling was a bit over the top at times, their will to win was clear to see.
Hunter and Mitchell looked best for Welfare, with their number 15 having some success running at defenders. Wright showed some good touches again despite playing at left back instead of the midfield berth he had on the Tuesday. The other full back, Dodds, also played in midfield during the week.
For Stan, Robinson looked a handful and Portella showed some good touches, but Jones was the real stand out from either side.
Full Time: Whitehill Welfare 1 Heaton Stannington 2
Whitehill Welfare: 1 Trialist (Jardine 46), 2 Kerr Dodds, 4 Chris Gordon, 5 Willie Kidd, 3 Jack Wright (Trialist 16 46), 6 Trialist (19 46), 7 Hamish Hunter (Swanson 46), 8 James McPartlin, 11 Robbie Carter (Trialist 12 30), 17 John-Ross Kerr (Mitchell 46), 10 Scott Gormley (Trialist 15 46). Subs: 12 Trialist, 14 Kyle Mitchell, 15 Trialist, 16 Trialist, 17 Scott Lucas, 18 Sonny Swanson, 19 ?, 21 Ross Jardine.
Heaton Stannington: 1 Dan Maughan, 2 Michael Dodds (Watchman 27), 4 Joe Wear, 5 Josh Holland, 3 Will James, 6 Paul Chapman, 8 Lee Johnson (McCarthy 57), 10 Shane Jones (Portella 62), 11 Adam Laidler, 7 Gary Yates (McKenna 55), 9 Dan Robinson (Hoggins 64). Subs: 12 Lawrence McKenna, 13 Richie Hoggins, 14 Matt McCarthy, 15 Jack Watchman, 16 Sal Portella, 17 Gary Dixon.
Referee: Alastair Grieve
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