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Catch Us If You Can

Tamworth 2-0 Spennymoor Town (National League North)

Spennymoor United were formed in 1905 and spent most of their seasons in the Northern League and Northern Premier League until sadly folding in 2005.

Meanwhile, little old Evenwood Town, based the other side of Bishop Auckland and down the A688, they were also having troubles as a Northern League second division team and used their own plight in 2005 to merge with United and form one club between the two Durham communities. Spennymoor Town were born and continued to use 'United's' long standing Brewery Field home ground, they still do to this day.

Since 2005 'Town' have had more success than some non-league sides have had in over a hundred years of establishment. The Moors as they are nicknamed, winning the second tier of the Northern League in their second season before winning four Northern League titles in five years and the FA Vase before back-to-back NPL promotions and since 2017 they have held firm in the National League North. Always appearing in the top half of the table.

This season has been different, much tougher they sit out of trouble, just, but they are watching over their backs. Meanwhile Tamworth are seemingly romping things at the top.

The Lambs have Scunthorpe in a huge game at Glanford Park on Tuesday but before then, they still need to do the business against Spennymoor. I'm at both games and am heading down the M42 well within good time to get my spot on Kettlebrook Road which saves me all of £2 parking.

The Venue

I'm over Bolbridge Street and Ankerdrive where the huge Tamworth Snowdome is housed before pulling up on a terraced street outside the club’s main entrance.

The Spennymoor bus is here, pulling in as I listen to the second half of Ipswich v Maidstone in the FA Cup, before getting out of the car and walking over the wasteland used for parking, towards the portacabins at the back of the ground where I'm let in at reception, allowed to walk straight through, which I do before stopping off for a wee.

It's like the river Anker in here. The men's floors are soaked as a pan leaks above the urinals, it's not pretty, it hardly ever is in these places. God knows what the ladies is like but I've a feeling it's the sort of bog my wife would even refuse to go in.

A quick wipe of the hands with some cold water and hard paper towels before walking out to the burger van for nothing more than a coffee and snickers. The pitch glowing grey under the skies that have the sun trying to sneak through the clouds, I'm walking to my spot at the press area where I'm asked by the steward if I've a seated or standing ticket.

Sat perched at the back row of a small, red seated stand it's a good view, as I discuss with Tamworth FC's home team radio commentator the best and worst of National League North press boxes. He tells me Warrington's is awful, we share our displeasure for Peterborough Sports and Buxton. The latter has a huge pillar in view of one of the goals and the desk is too far from the seats, I'm glad I'm not the only person who has noticed.

Unlike Buxton, Tamworth has no restricted views, we're only five or six rows up but close to the pitch, nicely elevated and with good desk space.  Opposite is a covered terrace which tends to slope down left to right. The left goal end is roofed and slightly elevated with the right side open, all backed by terraced housing to give a proper enclosed football venue feel.

The Game

I like the look of the Spennymoor team today. A few I know from Boston, a couple from Bradford PA. A bit of pace in attack, it's a banana skin for Tamworth and a real test of their patience as the home side struggle early doors for any sort of rhythm.

The radio guy earlier said “It’s the best group of lads we've had in a long time" as he states "they all get on really well, there's no big time Charlie's here". I told him 'I really like the team' with its experience mixed with a bit of youth and pace, Andy Peaks boys play direct and get it forward quick, put crosses in and use the pace and technique on their flanks, in Tom Tonks they have a player who can throw it a mile, and every opportunity they get, he chucks it into the area to test the opposition defence.

Spennymoor have stood firm, somehow, Creaney has twice headed over from close range before finally breaking the deadlock with a header from a corner just four minutes before half time.

The Score

Despite the deluge of missiles into the Moors box the first half could have gone either way with Tamworth having the lions share but the away side were decent and game, threatening on the break and looked more than capable of nicking something until Creaney eased the nerves and frustration of the home crowd.

With advantage Tamworth are more forceful in the second half but the away team continue to show resilience. That is until Ben Acquaye races through on the break, he's one on one and coolly slides home a second on 75 and that seals victory for the table toppers in red.

It’s not been pretty, they have had to dig in, but Tamworth show why they are perhaps favourites to go up. Spennymoor no mugs, they are always in the game until Acquaye scores, the last fifteen however gives comfort in the know that there’s only one outcome from here on in.

The Stars

Acquaye’s pace and footwork a constant irritant for the Spennymoor defenders, the left sider is quick, direct and travels well with the ball, he’s backed up by little left back Luke Fairlamb who has a brilliant game to claim the sponsors man of the match, I like their centre half pairing of Jordan Cullinane-Liburd and Jamie Willets who seems to have taken over as the go to replacement for the ageing stalwart Liam Dolman.

Respect in midfield with Ben Milnes who’s got guile on the ball, Tom Tonks who hasn’t, but who can break up play and do the ugly stuff well, then there’s Nathan Tshikuna who is powerful and technical with an eye for goal, the club have recently sold Jamie Jellis to Walsall, evident they have players who can play higher, but the depth to the side is that even he is easily replaceable.

Dan Creaney up front did what he did best, a couple of sniffs before finally netting a typical Creaney headed goal, whilst the talented Kyle Finn was kept relatively quiet, the bench including Kai Williams, Ty Deacon and Lindon Meikle, who I watched play for Ilkeston whilst on loan only last week, they all have legs and attacking intention, good impact players that can be hugely resourceful in the latter stages of bigger games to come.

For Spennymoor, as I mentioned they weren’t bad at all. Lebrun Mbeka and Ben Pollock who last year played centre back pairing for Boston, did their usual solid defensive no frills game. Reece Staunton is a left back I like, having previously watched him at Bradford Park Avenue. Callum Ross in midfield was combative and looked to get a foot on it. David Moyo and Jordy Mongoy in attack look to have goals in them and certainly have pace, as does Donald Chimalilo who came on off the bench, on another day they might have got something, but today Tamworth knew what they had to do, and did it in a way that only a confident top of the table team would.

The Verdict

Nine points now is the gap at the top of the table between leaders Tamworth and second place Scunthorpe. The Irons do have two games in hand, whilst Tuesday night is huge it won’t necessarily define the Lambs season, but get a good result at Glanford Park and it could confine United to only a playoff spot whilst for Tamworth, it's certainly all in their hands, as the players walked off the pitch following victory, the PA's choice of music direct towards the leagues second place team was the Dave Clark Five's Catch Us If You Can.

Spennymoor are nineteenth just three points above the National League North drop zone. I’m sure they are too good to go down and have too much in their locker to get dragged in, but football is a funny old game and it’ll be on Graeme Lee and his men to turn things around, starting with a home win against Peterborough Sports on Saturday.

The Teams

Tamworth: Jas Singh, Matt Culley, Jordan Cullinane-Liburd, Jamie Willets, Luke Fairlamb, Ben Milnes (Lindon Meikle 81), Tom Tonks, Nathan Tshikuna, Kyle Finn, Dan Creaney (Ty Deacon 82), Ben Acquaye (Kai Williams 85).

Spennymoor Town: James Montgomery, Dan Myers (Donald Chimalilo 62), Reece Staunton, Callum Ross, Lebrun Mbeka, Ben Pollock, Sam Fielding (Will Harris 62), Rob Ranshaw, Keenan Ferguson, David Moyo, Jordy Mongoy (Danny Greenfield 80).

3:00pm Kick Off. Saturday 27th January 2024, The Lamb Ground, Tamworth (att 1,146).

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