Away From The Numbers

Durham City Pre Season Friendly 2006 Match Report

Bayview ParkBayview StadiumEast Fife FC #1Durham City AFC Crest38 Cup Winning Squad47 Cup Winning Squad

SAT 22ND JULY 2006: A v DURHAM CITY (Pre-season Friendly)

East Fife concluded their two game Durham tour with another clean sheet and another comprehensive victory, this time against Northern League Division 1 outfit Durham City.

Durham City were more formidable opponents than the young Brandon team from the night before and offered more resistance.

Playing on Durham's new plastic pitch, the early possession was around 60-40 in East Fife's favour with the Fife passing the ball around excellently and looking a strong threat going forward.

East Fife's first goal chance came on 13 minutes when Paul Ritchie blasted the ball high and wide.

Five minutes later though and East Fife got the breakthrough that their play deserved.

Ryan Blackadder whipped in a corner and Jonathan Smart saw his effort blocked. In the ensuing scramble the ball fell to an East Fife player (and I didn't pick up who it was!) and his powerful shot was brilliantly saved by the Durham keeper Stuart Arkle. The rebound fell to Kevin Gordon, one yard out, and he showed good control to hit the ball high into the roof of the Durham net. 1-0 Fife.

Although a bit overcast at times, it was a very muggy and humid day and in scenes reminiscent of the World Cup in Germany, the players took on water soon after East Fife took the lead.

East Fife had a handball appeal turned down on 24 minutes and the subsequent corner was headed wide.

East Fife were now dominating the possession and playing some great passing football up both wings, leaving Durham to resort to the long ball over the top, which the Fife defence were easily mopping up.

A fierce shot from inside the box from Neil Jablonski brought a good save from Arkle for a corner on 26 minutes and this signalled a string of corners for the Bayview men, but with no reward.

With 29 minutes on the clock, Jablonski was put through and forced another good save from the keeper, who managed to recover before Ritchie could control the rebound.

Jabba was being particularly impressive and was looking to be the most dangerous attacking threat for the Fife and minutes later he went close again, with a 30 yard effort going inches wide.

East Fife won a corner with a minute of the half remaining and Jonathon Smart headed it powerfully home from inside the six yard box to make it 2-0, under challenge from the Durham keeper.

As the match drifted towards half time, Durham had a chance when Keith Graydon turned well in the box but his pass inside was smothered by Iain Ross before Neil Campbell could hit home.

So half time and a comfortable 2-0 lead for the Fife, as the fans posed for photographs behind the flags, which hat trick hero John Martin kindly took.

Durham had the first chance of the second half when their left back made a powerful run forward but finished it with a weak shot on 49 minutes.

Four minutes later though and it was 3-0 to the Fife when the new Durham keeper, Simon Corbett, hesitated in coming out to a through ball, allowing Neil Jablonski to nip in and lob him for a deserved goal. The build up to the move was particularly sweet involving three one touch passes before the through ball.

As the game approached the hour mark, Ritchie displayed some good work on the edge of the box before cutting in and flashing his shot inches wide.

With 68 minutes on the clock Gordon did well to get a shot in from an acute angle at the near post and this was just turned round for a corner.

Durham responded by showing that they were still a threat in the game and their sub Woodhouse was put through and brought a good save out of Ross. The ball broke out to another City sub, Steven Richardson, outside the box and his speculative lob hit the top of the crossbar.

Ross was forced to make another good stop from a Durham corner minutes later.

With ten minutes of the game remaining, a superb Richardson volley brought out an equally superb save from Ross.

East Fife responded immediately but Ritchie missed a bit of a sitter and the chance to make it four, but we'll let him off as he'd had a long journey travelling down from Inverness where he'd been playing in a testimonial game the night before.

Durham were trying desperately to take something from the game and were unlucky when, in the last chance of the game, Campbell hit a volley which crashed off the bar again on 84 minutes.

The final whistle came and it was a very satisfactory end to a productive two game tour. There was a lot on display in these two games that should give us good hope moving into the start of the new season. Our goalscorers have now found some goalscoring form and are starting to build up some understandings. We used both wings to great effect and in Ryan Blackadder we have an excellent crosser of the ball who can take dangerous corners with both feet and from both sides. Neil Jablonski was the stand out player in the Durham game and is the kind of attacking midfielder we've been missing for seasons. So all in all, an excellent break and an excellent show to give us much hope for the forthcoming campaign.

After the game, Durham's hospitality was as generous as we had experienced in Brandon the night before. The fans, players and officials mingled once more, whilst Derrick sat alone on the bus outside, demonstrating just how isolated he is at the Club now. Dave Baikie took the opportunity to thank everyone for coming down and promised us a good campaign for the forthcoming season and as the players left to enjoy their hard-earned night out, the fans congregated around the bus to bid him "cheerio, cheerio, cheerio". He looked a broken man.

But that wasn't the end of the adventure as the Durham officials were superb when we asked if we could have a play about on their new plastic pitch. They provided us with two official match balls and the fun commenced. It started with naked penalties, then just plain old ordinary penalties, then just some kicking about before someone had the bright idea of a 7-a-side match between the whites and the dark colours. That subsequently killed us all and the darks won 4-0 thanks to some inspired frontwork by messrs Lee Gillies and Stevie Llewellyn and the lack of any defence from the ball greedy bastards on my team (you know who you are Matthew McLean, Mike Hunter and Grant Malcolm!!!).

Seriously though, can you imaging Derrick responding like that if he got a request from the Accrington Stanley fans?

Durham's plastic pitch was also excellent. Really good to play on and had a nice spring to it. If we got one like that, I'd have no objections to it at all.

The camaraderie shown by the fans and players and all the officials bar Derrick and Betty was tremendous to be a part of. This is what football at our level is all about and a big thank you to all at Brandon United and Durham City from AFTN on behalf of all the fans that went down for the weekend. You helped make our couple of days visiting fantastic.

FINAL SCORE: Durham City 0 - 3 East Fife

(Starting line up) - I. Ross, D. Ross, Linton, J. Smart (subbed), Courts (subbed), Kelly (subbed), Fortune, Jablonski (subbed), Ritchie, Gordon (subbed), Blackadder

(Subs used) - Mitchell, Crabbe, Doyle, Smith, C. Smart and Martin

(Celebration time - 1-0 Fife!)

(The travelling Fife faithful - as captured by John Martin!)

(Dave Baikie addresses the Fife faithful)

(The fans sing "cheerio" to oor Deek)

(Oh the humantiy!)

(So, just who was the most drunk then?!)