Rothbury 6-1 Wideopen
Kyle Smith and Michael Old both slammed in doubles as Rothbury ran riot and hit Wideopen for six.
A devastating nine minute spell in the first half saw the Reds race into a three goal lead and although the visitors pulled one back before the break, Dan Herron’s side didn’t take their foot off the gas and crashed in three more before the final whistle.
Burly striker Smith was chuffed to bits with the team display and beamed afterwards: “I am loving the game again and I’m loving it even more knowing that we’re inching towards clinching the league title.”
Smith revealed that there is a great togetherness about the Rothbury squad and the mood in the camp is buoyant.
“The dressing room always has a great atmosphere, both before and after the game, but after a comfortable win like that everyone’s laughing and taking the mick out of each other for the mistakes we made- like Michael’s (Old) first touch today where he ‘purposely’ shinned it,” he joked.
“We were in control of the game from start to finish,” said Smith.
The Coquetdaler’s bumper goal haul is virtually worth an extra point as they begin their run in on the title boasting +38 in the goal difference column. And while it may be a little premature for gaffer Herron to start digging out the calculator, the permutations are hard to resist.
The Reds have nine games to play and trail leaders Whitley Bay SC by three points but the Tynemouth outfit have played three games more. Bay can gain a total of 73 points by winning all their remaining fixtures, while Rothbury can total a haul of 79, making the mouthwatering meeting between the top two at Armstrong Park on the 23rd March a huge six pointer. Cramlington United lost ground in a defeat at Counden while Blyth could prove the dark horses to watch in the chasing pack as they have 12 games remaining. But even if they win every one, they can only hit the 73 point mark – though the Reds do still have to host the only side to have beaten them in the League so far this season.
While Herron won’t get carried away by looking any further ahead than Saturday’s tricky-looking visit to Jesmond, he could at least delight in the six-shooting performance that the Hillmen put on in front of a decent crowd.
“Our tempo and passing at times was really, really pleasing although we only went through spells of doing it,” said Herron.
“The first 25 minutes we pressed really high, popped the ball around with purpose and Wideopen couldn’t deal with it. But then we switched off for their goal, just lack of concentration and intensity really. So that’s one thing we need to manage - it would be pleasing to keep that tempo all the time, because a lot of teams will struggle with us when we’re on it like we were in the first half an hour.”
Old shot Rothbury ahead in the 17th minute and Tony Brown added the second just two minutes later. Smith rose to head in the third, but Wideopen pulled one back through Scott Flynn in the 34th minute.
Gareth McCann’s scoring streak continued two minutes after the break, displaying great control and gliding past two defenders before calmly guiding it into the net.
“Another bread and butter goal, just sheer class from the pig,” said Smith, who slotted in his second in the 69th minute while Old completed the rout late on.
“We were buzzing for Kyle getting a brace, he’s had a difficult time recently so the whole team are over the moon to have him back in the fold and playing like he can, he’s so physical and determined to win, it gives us an extra dimension. Of course he picked up a trademark yellow too!” said Herron, who again praised the squad and the work that the side are putting in at both ends of the pitch.
“I’m over the moon with us defensively this season. I think that’s one of our biggest strengths, and the main reason we’re challenging for promotion to be honest. Tommy has the back line well marshalled, and while it’s hardly ever the same 3/4 in, they always do a great job for us. Big Gar had another good game for us, and his form is so important to our success recently too, with another goal and three assists to add to his already impressive tally for the season. A big 3 points, 9 games to go and we’re just taking it game by game as best we can.”
* In the Premier Division Alnwick Town suffered a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Gateshead Rutherford.
James Norton gave Rutherford a 20th minute lead .
In the second half Scott Maddison equalised for Alnwick, and it looked like it was going to be a draw until Graeme Barber hit an injury time winner for the visitors.