Lambs pay the penalty at the International Stadium
11 January 2009
It’s Sunday afternoon so it must be Gateshead! Who would have thought it? Tamworth have played a few games on Sundays before, but it must be a first that a Lambs game has been postponed, rescheduled and played within 24 hours.
And it is testament to the Tamworth and Gateshead officials hard work and understanding that the game goes ahead at The International Stadium, with no trace of yesterday’s perma-frost anywhere in sight, and that a large number of the fans that made the journey yesterday have been able to come again – this time enjoying Mediterranean temperatures (well almost) and watching a game on a green, flat pitch although a strong wind would undoubtedly be playing a part in the tie.
The Lambs kick off but are immediately pushed into their own half – the wind assisting balls forward in the first half – and Gateshead have opted to play leading striker Lee Novak on his own up front.
Nick Wright lost the ball in midfield on 5 to Wayne Phillips but made up for his mistake by sprinting back and defending, hitting a gale assisted pass to Sheldon but the move broke down.
Then on 7 Alex Francis crossed well looking for the head of Novak, only for the wind to take it too high and out for a throw at the other side.
Not one for the purists so far although the home side have had more possession mainly by trying a slow controlled passing game into the wind which Tamworth are struggling to do because the wind takes the slightest forceful pass further than intended.
Graeme Law was forced to clear with a hefty boot on 10 as the wind foxed Danny Alcock a little.
On 15 Wright hit the post with a right footed drive from the edge of the area which came straight back out and was hoofed away and on 16 Tamworth won a freekick for handball which Tom Shaw stepped up to take on the right of the corner of the box. Bradley Pritchard made the most of poor defending and got a touch but couldn’t force it over the line allowing the home side to break and although Novak put the ball in the net with a right footed drive from 20 yards the linesman’s flag had been up for a while.
Chris Smith fouled Phil Turnbull on 18 and the deadball forced Alcock to drop and collect as chances started to present themselves.
Rodman took a knock on 24 and needed treatment leaving him hobbling and the Lambs a man short as Sheldon’s freekick was pushed out for a throw. Alex rejoined the game shortly after with seemingly no ill effects.
Rodman almost latched onto a ball into the box on the half hour mark but didn’t and another referee may well have awarded a foul against the defender as the striker hit the deck. Pritchard hit a shot on the half volley shortly after which took a deflection and out for a corner which came to nothing.
But on 34 Phillips fed Novak and the latter rounded Alcock, before shooting from an angle on the left of the area and Wylde slid in but also lifted an arm to stop the ball going over into the goal. The Lambs defender earned a straight red card and Novak stepped up to give the home side the lead from the spot on 36 – his 16th goal in 17 games (0-1).
Novak had the ball in the net again on 38 but again it was ruled out for offside after a good ball around the back of the Lambs defence from the right wing set him up to knock home and celebrate before the whistle cut the home fans cheers short.
Craig McAughtrie came into the fray for Rodman on 38 restoring the numbers at the back as Tamworth opted for two up front.
Another right wing cross from Harwood on 45 caused problems for the Lambs back four again but was cleared as three minutes added time was shown.
Sheldon found himself free and unmarked as the first half whistle drew to a close but was unable to turn the ball goalward and the whistle blew.
The second half now underway Lambs fans are unsure of what will come next. With the wind hampering balls forward it’ll take a Herculean effort from Tamworth to get something from the game.
Alex Francis’ downward header almost found Novak on 48 but Law was quickest and cleared the danger.
Great work from Sheldon and Wright won The Lambs a corner on the right 49 and Shaw almost found the head of McAughtrie, but the ball skimmed out for a throw on the far side.
However on 51 Phillips fed Francis who made no mistake for the home side’s second goal with a low right footed drive from 15 yards as the Lambs defence were unable to halt the move into the box. (0-2)
Positive moves from Tamworth on 55 keep the ball in the final third of the field although Wright fell and had to be substituted holding his left calf before McAughtrie met Shaw’s corner with his head, but put the ball wide.
Tom Shaw almost got a shot on target on the hour after Sheridan and Pritchard combined to get the ball the edge of the area, but Shaw’s shot went just wide.
Sheldon got a goal back on 64 with a good right footed finish in off the far post from 8 yards after Law’s ball fell invitingly for him (1-2)
Tamworth tried hard to keep Gateshead rattled – which brought their first sub into the game – Novak’s partner up front Graeme Armstrong.
Novak challenged Alcock to reach a high ball and won on 70 but his header bounced harmlessly wide and on 71 Novak sent in a right footed cross from the right wing which Alcock got a finger to and diverted onto the far post and out.
The wind was still not abating and had almost ripped the flag off one of the corner posts and still Tamworth tried to get something from the game.
Ten minutes to go and Chris Nurse takes to the field for Pritchard as the flag finally gives up it’s grip and Gary Mills rescues it during a break in play!
But it’s another goal for Gateshead on 82 with Novak once again finding the back of the net somewhat fortuitously as Armstrong and Phillips combined and the ball fell for the home side’s leading marksman to make it 3-1.
It was then 4-1 when Phillips found himself in acres of space on the left of the area and fired home unchallenged.
And it went from bad to worse – Armstrong squared the ball back to Stephen Turnbull and he sidefooted home on 86 to make it 5-1 to Gateshead.
Four minutes added time was shown before the final whistle blew and it was “job done” for Ian Bogie’s Gateshead side but the start of a long journey home for Tamworth.
Alcock, Lyttle, Law, Smith, Wylde (sent off 35), Foster, Wright (Sheridan 58), Shaw, Sheldon, Rodman (McAughtrie 38), Pritchard (Nurse 79)
Subs: Lea, Birley
Musselwhite, Baxter, Smith D. (Brackstone 73), Turnbull S., Curtis, Jones, Harwood (Southern 86), Turnbull P, Francis (Armstrong 69), Novak, Phillips
Subs: Hocking, Norton
Referee: S. Campbell (Middlesborough)