Durham United 3-0 Shotton Colliery
To borrow a number from another sport, it had been 147 days since this correspondant last watched a game of football in County Durham. A stuffy August afternoon couldn’t be more different from the cold March evening that saw Durham City face defeat against Birtley in Willington.
With news coming midweek that Durham United had been able to meet the Covid-secure requirements and admit spectators it was a delight to be back in a football ground watching an actual match.
The blistering heat of the previous day gave way to a slightly cooler day as Durham United lined up against the newly formed Shotton Colliery. The two sides lined up on the artificial turf and the first half was an even affair. A division seperates the clubs and with United being established it would be fair to presume they would be favourites on paper, yet for 45 minutes Shotton more than held their own. In the 20th minute Shotton came closest to breaking the deadlock when an inswinging corner was headed against his own bar by a Durham defender. Just over five minutes later it was the home team’s turn to hit the woodwork with a well placed shot beating the keeper but not the post.
A five minute half time break took the 60 or so spectators by surprise, most likely induced by the changing rooms being out of order. United made a number of changes and came out of the blocks at the start of the second half. In the 49th minute Adam Watson put Durham ahead when he was first to a loose ball and found himself in space 8 yards out before smashing beyond the Shotton keeper.
The home side continued to press and doubled their advantage in the 66th minute, their movement stretching the Shotton defence before Liam Butler fired home from a low cross. Two same became three as United continued to press and extended their lead as Matty Smith (not Adam Smith!) found the net with the pick of the goals. Smith picked the ball up on the edge of the box and spotted the keeper off his line before floating a delightful 25 yard chip in to the far corner.
Shotton worked their way back in to the game and had a shout for a penalty turned down in the latter stages. Durham missed a one on one in the 90th minute before the ref blew for time in an entertaining encounter. United will be buoyed by the second half performance but there was also ample encouragement for Shotton ahead of their maiden campaign.