It was a bad day at the office for Birtley on Saturday, as a well-drilled Brandon United side inflicted the Hoops’ first defeat since September.
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The game started slowly, with the heavy pitch proving something of a leveller as the two sides huffed and puffed with very little to show for it. It took until the 22nd minute for the first real chance, which fell to the hosts, as Aaron Skelton tipped Glen Hargrave’s effort over following a great bit of work from Josh Holland.
Birtley came close again from the resulting corner, as a visiting defender rattled a header off his own crossbar and out of play. Brandon had a chance themselves shortly afterwards, as Kai Hewitson broke through the Birtley rear-guard only to see Conor Grant rush out and smother the danger. As half-time approached, Birtley had another couple of great chances, with Aidan Rutledge placing an effort uncharacteristically wide and Hargrave sending a glancing header just past the upright, but it remained goalless at the break.
Half-Time | Birtley Town 0 – 0 Brandon United
Brandon made a statement of intent early the second half as Hewitson found himself unmarked, only to fire just wide. Birtley’s best chance of the half came just past the hour mark, as Hargrave nodded wide from a great Tom McIntyre cross. The Hoops were left to rue their profligacy on 65 minutes when Brandon’s young right-back Adam Metcalfe hit an absolute rocket from fully 30 yards that nestled in the bottom corner of Conor Grant’s net. The effort with the outside of his right foot was a goal worthy to break any tight deadlock.
Coaches Bryson & Foster immediately made a couple of attacking changes in a bid to get back on terms, but however hard they fought, it just wouldn’t happen, and things went from bad-to-worse on 78 minutes as Hewitson received the ball with his back to goal, turned his marker and smashed home Brandon’s second from the edge of the box. What had already been a scrappy encounter quickly descended into farce, as a rash of injuries, substitutions and niggly fouls saw the added time stretch to over 12 minutes, with the ref’s final whistle coming as something of a relief to everyone in attendance.
Birtley Town 0 – 2 Brandon United
Paul Bryson was frustrated with a difficult day at The Arrowmark: “It was a really disappointing performance, I didn’t really see that coming after the run we have been on. We were undefeated in 11 games but that run has come to an end. We never really got going and all credit to Brandon. They looked hungry, full of energy and they deserved to win. There scored two superb goals, you probably won’t see two better strikes this season. I thought they were well organised, scored good goals and defended like their lives depended on it.”
“I think what sums the game up is that in recent games, we have had plenty nominations for a player of the match, yesterday we really struggled. The good thing about football is that you get a chance to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and look to re-group against Bedlington next week. The players owe themselves a real performance, I was disappointed for the lads more than anything. I need to look at myself and when we analyse the game afterwards to ask if we could use our players better, change the formation and impact ways to get back into the game. It’s not just the players, we need to look at ourselves as a management team. It was a bad result but we must not dwell too much on the performance and the result. We have put far too much into this season to let that happen, we need to regroup in training and look forward to Bedlington next week.”
Overall H2H vs. Brandon United (League)
P26 W13 D4 L9 GF50 GA43 Pts 43
H2H at HOME vs. Brandon United (League)
09.08.2008 – Birtley Town 2-2 Brandon United (Barrie Smith x2)
17.10.2009 – Birtley Town 1-3 Brandon United (S. Burns)
15.01.2011 – Birtley Town 1-3 Brandon United (S. McAvoy)
10.12.2011 – Birtley Town 2-1 Brandon United (A. G. Soulsby, J. Allsopp)
19.02.2013 – Birtley Town 2-1 Brandon United (J. Allsopp, B. Johnson)
14.09.2013 – Birtley Town 2-1 Brandon United (C. Hope, M. Fisher)
13.08.2014 – Birtley Town 2-0 Brandon United (C. Suggett x2)
16.09.2015 – Birtley Town 3-1 Brandon United (A. Clarkson x3)
01.09.2018 – Birtley Town 2-0 Brandon United (D. Hill, J. Barwick)
11.08.2021 – Birtley Town 6-1 Brandon United (R. Williamson x2, A. Clarkson x2, J. Barwick, D. Stevens)
28.01.2023 – Birtley Town 0 – 2 Brandon United
A rare poor performance for the Hoops, but they have a chance to put it right next Saturday, with a trip to South-East Northumberland to face promotion rivals Bedlington. The Terriers inflicted Birtley’s first home defeat of the season back on September 9th, so the lads in green & white will be out for revenge.