Match Report 23/10/19
Billingham Synthonia 1, FC Hartlepool 1
(FC Hartlepool win 4-3 on penalties)
Durham County Challenge 1st Round
Billingham Synthonia: Orton, Bashir, Dobie, Slater, Cobain, Joseph (C), Salmon, Boyle (O'Connor), Bruton, Bligh (Smith), Gowan. Unused subs: Rowe Gill, Rafiq.
FC Hartlepool: Noble, Swales (C), Donaghy, Turnbull, Cope, Weatherill, Jones, Cook, Campbell, O'Sullivan, Blackburn. Subs: Campion, Waller, Hammond, Lloyd, Ross.
After coming off the back of a 2-0 defeat away to Jarrow, this may have been the perfect time for Synners to play a lower league opponent. A win may breathe fresh belief into Synthonia who will be hoping to advance in this years Durham FA Challenge Cup.
Hartlepool had the first chance of the game after Sam cook won the ball on the right hand-side and crossed a ball intended for Andrew Blackburn. The cross flashed across the 6 yard box and the attacker was unable to get on the end of it.
Another opportunity for Hartlepool came shortly after, when Campbell stole the ball from Danny Boyle inside the Synners half. Campbell continued to run toward goal but Boyle clipped his heels and the referee awarded a freekick. The set-piece was hit straight over the bar from 20 yards out.
Alex Bruton had the first shot at goal for Synners after Will Gowan chested the ball down on the edge of the box and Bruton hit a half volley that went just wide of the right post. Moments later, it was Bruton who appeared to have been fouled near the half way line but the referee waved play on and Hartlepool took advantage by taking a shock lead. After the referee deemed Carl O'sullivan's challenge on Bruton to be fair, the attacker carried the ball down the right flank winning a corner after being challenged by Cobain. The corner was floated in and a goal mouth scramble resulted in CONNOR CAMPBELL smashing the ball into an empty net. Synners 0-1 FC Hartlepool.
The away side had the better chances in the first half and Synners were restricted to shots from outside the box. Defender Michael Joseph tried his luck from 30 yards out and came close to finding the back of the net if it wasn't for an impressive save by Noble. The keeper got down quickly to his right and was just able to push the ball wide.
Lack of concentration at the back give Hartlepool further opportunities to increase the lead. Slater lost possession after being caught in two minds near the half way line. The away attacker was eventually brought down 30 yards out from goal and a freekick was awarded. A high ball was hit into the area and Dean Cope was in acres of space unmarked but hit his volley over the crossbar. Only seconds later, an intended pass back to Orton was intercepted by Carl O'Sullivan and the striker rounded the keeper but hit his effort straight at the post from a tight angle.
Synners were the poorer of the two sides going in at the break and Hartlepool certainly looked like they thrived off the challenge of playing against a side in the higher division.
Half-time: Synners 0, FC Hartlepool 1
Hartlepool began the second half on the front foot once again, creating opportunities to increase their lead. Jack Swales played an impressive ball down the right that had enough curl on it to stay on the right side of the touchline. Connor Campbell was the recipient and took the ball to the by-line before cutting inside and making his way into the box. The number 9 hit an effort at goal but the keeper made a smart stop.
Bruton once again with Synners first chance of the half. The attacker switched the ball onto his right foot just outside the box and had enough time to line up a shot on goal. Bruton tried curling his effort into the far corner but the shot just missed the post. Just moments later Bruton hit another effort this time from a good distance out. The shot travelled but didn't test the goalkeeper who was able to keep hold of the ball.
Eventually Synners were beginning to play the better football. They seemed to have composed themselves and were creating more opportunities in the second half. A corner was cleared to the edge of the box where Danny Boyle was waiting in anticipation. Boyle hit an effort back towards goal but it ricocheted out wide for a corner.
Brandon Slater had an opportunity to equalise with a screamer after receiving the ball from Bruton around 25 yards out from goal. Slater continued to run toward the box before hitting a thunderous effort which required the keeper to leap across goal and punch the effort wide.
It was a second Synners debut for Chris Salmon who returned to the team after signing from North Shields. Salmon almost crowned his return with a goal after a counterattacking move ended with the attacker making a 40 yard run toward goal unchallenged. He took the ball into the box but hit his shot straight at the side netting. It was the direct approach that Synners were looking for but the shot was disappointing.
Synners dominance and persistence paid off as a late goal was enough to take the game to penalties. Dobie intercepted a pass in the final third and crossed the ball into a teammate. The striker took a touch before smashing the shot to the left of Noble and the keepers late dive wasn't enough to prevent the goal. A late chance for Salmon coming in the closing moments could have eliminated the need for penalties. The ball was crossed into the area and Salmon was unmarked just a few yards out but headed the ball over the crossbar. The attacker had his head in his hands as he knew he should be scoring from that position.
Full-time: Synners 1, FC Hartlepool 1
Synners lost the penalty shoot-out 4-3 after misses from Salmon and Smith. Its an early exit from the competition but all focus returns to the league.
Referee: Mr P Newhouse, Assistants: P Charnock, L Lacey.
by James McDonald