Bishop Auckland 1-5 Billingham Synthonia
Another week of Corona-themed havoc threatened to send non-league football back behind closed doors. As Matt Hancock announced further restrictions on life as we know it in the North East, many clubs must have feared that the return to football was going to be short lived.
We (try to) remain politically neutral here at Footy in Durham, so will spare you from the opinions, but the fact that this is being written means football did take place, with fans, and what a relief it was.
The terraces of Heritage Park, complete with the new marquee bar, were awash with opinions, but at 15:00 all eyes turned to the pitch. With Bishop Auckland in the midst of an impressive FA Cup run and a tie against Stalybridge on the horizon, home fans could have been forgiven for assuming a home tie against the Synners shouldn’t provide too much of an obstacle. However, from kick off it was the away side who controlled the game, dominating the midfield and getting the ball forward at every opportunity.
In the 8th minute the away side made the pressure tell as Bishop failed to deal with a corner leaving Connor Johnson free to hammer the ball home. With Billingham having the wind at their back, they continued to press, and it soon became apparent that Bishop keeper Nick Liversedge was in some discomfort when having to kick long. Defenders were taking the goal kicks which allowed Synthonia forward to remain further forward and stay onside if the header was won in midfield. Liversedge pulled up after clearing a backpass and was treated on the field for what looked like an abdominal issue.
It didn’t take long for the Synners to double their lead, again from a corner in the 12th minute. Bishop once again failed to clear their lines and Johnson turned provider, heading the ball in to the path of Ben Bielby who shot low through a crowd to make it 0-2.
The lively Daniel Chapman got his head on the end of a free kick in the 37th minute to make it 0-3 and the game was looking done and dusted before half time. Bishop weren’t at the races and struggled to find any momentum.
Half time came and went with ominous tannoy announements about the prospects of further games and crowd limits booming over the speakers. Bishops made changes at half time and started the second half with a little more purpose. With the home side now having the wind at their back, they found it a little easier to get further up the field and were awarded a penalty in the 57th minute as a ball over the top was chased down by Hogan who was one on one with the keeper. He was taken down by one of the Billingham defenders in the box and the ref pointed to the spot. The home fans bayed for a red card, but as the linesman explained to the two chaps berating him, a genuine attempt was made to play the ball, so under the double jeopardy ruling, it was only a yellow card. Needless to say, the two spectators weren’t overly enamoured with this explanation, but were on hand to celebrate when Hutchinson rolled the spot kick in the bottom left corner to make it 1-3.
With the home fans dreaming of a glorious comeback, Synners number 10 Jackson chased a ball down the left flank, cut inside and beat three defenders before firing an unstoppable shot off the post and in to the back of the net to make it 1-4, effectively killing the tie with 15 minutes to go.
Synners wrapped things up with a penalty of their own in the 84th minute converted by Curtis Howes, making the score 1-5.
Bishop had a flurry of corners in the closing stages but were unable to make any of them count, and it was the pink clad visitors who progress to the next round of the Vase, dreaming of Wembley and what might be. For Bishop, their Wembley dreams are a little further fetched, with the Stalybridge in the FA Cup next up.
Crowed 237 – no dogs spotted.