NEWCASTLE UNI 0 – WASHINGTON FC 1
Friday 21 July 2017 Cochrane Park, Etherstone Ave, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7JX Kick off - 7:00 pm
On Friday night Washington had a venture north of the Tyne to Cochran Park, home of Newcastle Uni FC. First building you are greeted with is the Cricket Pavilion, not many venues have a visual impact like this. The pitch was nestled out back in a clearing of trees. I had been told by the groundsman the grass had been seeded the previous year and this was the first game to be played on it. And it did not disappoint. It was level and grass cut to a perfect length. I could tell this was going to be a high tempo game.
Newcastle Uni play in the Northern Alliance Premier Division and have aspirations of moving into the Northern League in the next few seasons. Newcastle University are spending a total of £5 million at the site and creating 3G football and rugby pitches along with a new stand. With ambitions set on a bright future, these would be a good test for the Washington Players.
A keen referee brought kick off forward 15 minutes than agreed between the two teams. After some discussion Washington’s warmup ended sooner than planned and we kicked off. The late evening sun was starting to set and after winning the toss, Washington made Newcastle kick towards it.
Early pressure from Washington resulted in a corner in the first two minutes. A poor cross in from the right was easily dealt with by the Newcastle defence. But this set the tone for the game, that was in most, totally dominated by Washington. The first fifteen minutes was a controlled measured game by Washington. Good passing and interchange of play from back to front allowed them to dictate the play and pace of the game. In fact, Newcastle didn’t get a shot on target till the 28th minute.
Newcastle were proving tough to break down and holding strong for long periods. A good shot from Jake Pickard forced the Newcastle keep to make a swift save and Adam Shanks was first to respond only to hit the post. That was not the first time he would hit the frame of the goal in the first half. After 26 minutes, Shanks dispossessed some lazy play by Newcastle and with his attempted lob of the keeper hit the crossbar. And then with ten minutes to go he found the post after being put through on goal by Michael Laws after a 17 pass string from the Wearside club. I recall counting 26 passes in one move that lead to a Washington corner. Again Shanks was in the thick of it only to head wide. I can see goals this season from him.
Washington Goalkeeper Dan Gladstone remained a spectator for most of the first half. Washington dominance continued with good movement through the whole team but the first half would end goalless. Newcastle would be feeling lucky not to go in 3 or 4 down.
The first ten minutes of the second half continued as much of the first did. Good fast paced football from Washington, with good passing and movement. On fifty one minutes Newcastle broke through to goal only to meet Washington’s Michael Laws. A well timed tackle in the box stopped the attack and Laws came away with the ball.
From there the domination continues as you could see Newcastle struggle against a team two leagues above them. The fitness of Washington showed as Newcastle started to tire.
Chances fell to Pickard, hitting wide and Bruno Pilatos putting it over form 3 yards out. But Washington continued to be frustrated and couldn’t break down the Newcastle defence. Newcastle were starting to resort to long balls that were either easily cleared by the Washington defence or covered by keeper Gladstone. When Newcastle did get the ball down, they could play some good football. Following a corner Newcastle kept pressure on the Washington goal and the follow up shot hit the post.
Some changes by Washington Manager James Clark brought Matty Waters and Matthew Parker in the game. This brought a slight change in formation and more gaps started to show in the Newcastle defence. Washington got back into a settled rhythm and dominated the final fifteen minutes. A foul on Parker resulted in a freekick on the right side of the box. The freekick was hit against the wall.
Continued pressure finally paid off after 84 minutes with a Washington goal.
Good play between Washington on the right and the ball falls to Matty Waters feet. Waters beat two Newcastle defenders on the right edge of the box and slotted the ball into the far bottom corner of the goal past the Newcastle keeper. A really well taken goal by the Washington number 9.
That seemed to kill off any Newcastle fighting spirit and the closing five minutes were constant Washington.
Full time brought a convincing end to the game and continued an unbeaten pre season for Washington.
After the game I spoke to Washington Manager James Clark
“Tonight represented a different test for the boys and I’m delighted they managed to overcome it. Teams have built great seasons on 1-0 wins and we are building some good momentum heading towards the start of the season. Once again I am happy with the ball retention although think we could have moved it quicker at times, but credit to the lads they stuck at it and really dominated at times. I didn’t see us at any point panic defensively and looked calm and assured. We created a host of chances and on another day 3/4 of them would go in. Pleased for Matty Waters in getting the goal, think he needed it. Overall I am satisfied with the performance and win today. The players are really bonding and getting to know each others game together which is massively important going forward.”
Next up for Washington is an away game to Northern League Division Two new boys Jarrow FC. Winners of last seasons Wearside Football League and newly promoted to the Northern League.
Saturday 29 July
Perth Green, Inverness Rd, Jarrow NE32 4AQ