On his night of fame – a cameo in a BBC programme about the Northern League that fell some way short of the Andy Warhol four-minute test – Pete Sixsmith found himself dodging paparazzi and autograph seekers at Eppleton for a youth development squad match against Stoke City …
A chilly evening at Eppleton CW as the Hetton irregulars (minus 1) turned out for the final time this season to watch Kevin Ball’s reduced Development Squad take on Stoke City. Of the remaining four home games, two are at the Stadium and two are at the Academy, so this was Hetton’s swansong.
It wasn’t much of an event either. It ended as a 1-1 draw, with both goals coming in the opening few minutes. Craig Lynch put us ahead within 60 seconds of the game starting after some fragile defending by the Potters. We reciprocated on five minutes, allowing the impressive James Alabi to equalise after Pickford had made a good save from Lecygne.
From then on, Stoke keeper Bachmann went into overdrive, saving from Watmore (he may have been the reason why Colin Cooper and Graham Kavanagh were in the crowd), Ferguson and Harrison.
The game petered out in the second half, although both sides produced a flourish at the end, but not enough to send the 450+ crowd home happy. It was a competitive game, as one would expect from a Stoke side that was well drilled in the Tony Pulis way of playing; big defenders who won the ball, big forwards who waited for it to come to them and midfield players who rattled around and kicked the ball away whenever they could.
That we failed to beat a side who are 14 places below us was a disappointment and leaves us with a difficult task in overhauling leaders Fulham. The format this year is that everyone plays each other once, the top four go into a knockout tournament and the winner is decided from that. Next season, the top 11 form a PL Development League Division 1 while the next 11 go into Division Two. Simple.
We had a few fringe players on show last night. Jordan Pickford, no longer a Brewer, having left Burton Albion, made his seasonal debut for the DS and looked a decent keeper. He is well regarded within the club and the England set up and may well be destined for the top – although I remember saying that about Ben Alnwick.
Watmore ran well at defenders, but seemed to be trying too hard. He is very much a work in progress and could well benefit from a couple of months in the lower divisions. Ba was tidy and reasonably effective but nowhere near as much as his cameo against Carlisle, while Mavrias, who played in the Champions League as a 16 year old, must have wondered what he was doing at Hetton on a cold Monday night.
John Egan captained the side and turned in an impressive performance at centre half. He appears to have recovered from the broken leg he suffered while on loan at Bradford City last season, and tackled firmly and fairly. He was such a good prospect that it would be a shame if he does not fulfill his early promise.
The Gilded Youth of Hetton appear to have found other activities on Monday nights, so the promenading around the perimeter of the ground and the clustering around the café are no more. It makes for a quieter match day experience.
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