Half-time blast does the job as Rothbury fight back to the top

Tony Brown was on target for Rothbury. Picture by Ian Glendinning
Tony Brown was on target for Rothbury. Picture by Ian Glendinning

Cramlington Town 2

Rothbury 3

Northern Football Alliance

Team Valley Carpets Div Two

James Loughborough netted on his first start for the Reds and further strikes from stalwarts Tony Brown and Dan Thompson saw Rothbury fight back from behind twice to return to the top of the table.

But it took a half-time blast from boss Dan Herron and coach Tom Macpherson to wake the Coquetdalers from their slumber as they took an age to get out of first gear.

“We started off as poor as I’ve ever seen us play since taking over,” admitted Herron.

“The first half was dreadful from us – sloppy passes, poor first touches and feeling sorry for ourselves. The lads got a total dressing down at half-time, a real rollocking, and we got the reaction we wanted.”

Former Oxford United striker John Campbell shot Town ahead when a blocked shot fell into his path and he finished well. Campbell, whose career started out in the YTS ranks at Manchester City, kept the Reds defence on their toes throughout and Herron admitted: “He was a constant threat for them all game, as we expected, considering he was playing pro football not that long ago.”

Ex-Rothbury junior Loughborough has returned to the club from Bedlington and he got the Reds back into it with a long-range drive that deflected over the keeper on its way into the net after the break.

Dangerman Campbell restored the Cramlington advantage soon after with a superb first touch and finish into the top corner, but Brown levelled things up by feinting to go one way, cutting in and curling a beauty into the bottom corner from outside the box.

The winner came in the 80th minute. Chris Coe drilled over a low cross and hit-man Thompson kept his composure to take a touch and poke it past the keeper. Rothbury soaked up the pressure as Town piled forward to try and salvage something from the game after that.

“All in all it was a massive win – it really shows the character of our squad and their desire to get back to the top of the league. I know I’ve said it before, but coming from behind really seems to be our bread and butter now. It’s great to see that the lads can respond to the half-time talk and produce the results,” said Herron.

Rothbury were done a huge favour by fellow north Northumbrians Spittal Rovers, who recorded a 3-0 win over challengers Whitley Bay Sporting. They now trail the Armstrong Park side by a point and have played a game more.

Loughborough is another local lad who has been attracted back to the club by Alliance football and Herron said that he was proud of the manner that the former NNFL players in the side have stepped up and raised their consistency levels.

“To be in the position we are is a dream come true, and hopefully we can stay there,” he said.

Rothbury’s blend of players with Northern League experience and promising youngsters is proving a success and the quality of characters such as Tony Brown, who came to the club from a higher level, has been invaluable both on the pitch and in the dressing room.

“We were delighted with the result yesterday as we weren’t at our best in the first half. The gaffers got into us at half-time and, credit to the lads, we came out fighting and showed great character to come back and get the win. We’ve done that on several occasions this season which is the sort of qualities needed to win titles,” said Brown.

“It was good to get Thompa back and amongst the goals – he’s tricky in the box, bread and butter finish for him and also nice to get one myself too. Hopefully we can carry on and get the win next week which will ensure top spot going into the Christmas break.”

Results from Saturday, December 8:

Bay Plastics Northern Alliance Premier Division: FC United of Newcastle 0 AFC Killingworth 4; Gateshead A 3 Shankhouse 0; Gateshead Rutherford P Newcastle Blue Star P; North Shields Athletic 2 Newcastle Chemfica 3; Ponteland United 0 Percy Main Amateurs 1; Seaton Delaval P Wallington P; Whitley Bay A P Newcastle University P

Reeves Independent Northern Alliance First Division: Felling Magpies 2 Wallsend Community 0; Forest Hall 1 Seaton Burn 1; Newcastle East End P Red Row Welfare P.

Team Valley Carpets Northern Alliance Second Division: Cramlington Town 2 Rothbury 3; Gateshead Redheugh 1 Willington Quay Saints 5; Seaton Sluice P Jesmond P; Spittal Rovers 3 Whitley Bay Sporting Club 0; Stobswood Welfare 0 Blyth FC 6

Bluefin Sports Insurance Bill Gardner Cup: Wideopen & District 0 Burradon 1 (AET).

Northumberland FA Minor Cup: Blyth Spartans Reserves 3 Haltwhistle Jubilee 5; Ellington 3 Bedlington 4; Gosforth Bohemians P Cramlington United P; Gosforth Bohemians Reserves 2 Cullercoats 10; Ponteland United Reserves 1 Blyth Town 2; Prudhoe Youth Club Seniors 4 Hexham 1; Wallsend Boys Club 7 Wooler 0

Durham FA Minor Cup: Hebburn Town U23s 1 Seaton Carew Wearside 0; Whitburn & Cleadon 1 Shildon Railway 2; Winlaton Vulcans P Washington Reserves P (w/o favour of Winlaton).