Birtley continued their excellent start to 2024 with an incredible 5-1 victory over West Auckland.
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The Hoops recorded their second 5-1 victory of the week with goals from Alex Francis, Matthew Ward, Scott Heslop, Kyle Wharton and James Proctor rounding off a fantastic week.
Birtley named an unchanged side from the one that beat Whitley Bay on Tuesday night and it took just nine minutes to open the scoring. The referee awarding the hosts a penalty after an alleged push in the back, Alex Francis stepping up to fire home.
The early goal sparked West into action and they dominated for the majority of the first half. Lee Hume struck the post after excellent work from Josh Scott. West Auckland were level when the impressive Oscar Fletcher cut inside and unleashed a brilliant effort from around 20 yards out.
Against the run of play, Birtley took the lead on 39 minutes. A change of system had switched Matty Ward over to the right and he cut inside before curling the ball into the far top-left hand corner, leaving Liversidge with no chance.
West responded immediately and would have been level bar some heroic defending from the hosts.
HALF TIME | Birtley Town 2 – 1 West Auckland
The game followed a similar pattern in the second half with West dominating possession but finding it difficult to break down a well-organised Birtley side.
The hosts stood firm in the opening stages when a series of set pieces were met with headers, clearances and blocks as numerous Birtley players put their bodies on the line.
Birtley continued to look dangerous on the counter attack and a break down the right saw Matty Ward drill in a low cross that was eventually turned in by Scott Heslop to put the Hoops 3-1 up.
Ward was the provider again for Birtley’s fourth goal as he found space on the left of the box. He squared it to Kyle Wharton who superbly found the top corner to further extend Birtley’s lead.
In the final minutes West were reduced to 10 men with Joseph Hope receiving his second yellow card of the game.
In injury time, Drew Lake beat his man before firing in another low cross. Nick Liversedge blocked the initial cross but the ball found it’s way to James Proctor who prodded home to round off another fine Birtley display.
FULL TIME | Birtley Town 5 – 1 West Auckland
It was an impressive victory for Birtley but another game when the score line does not fully reflect the performance of both sides. West Auckland dominated possession for long periods of the game but some outstanding Birtley defending kept the visitors at bay. Birtley remained dangerous on the counter attack and recorded a second consecutive 5-1 victory.
Player of the Match – Alex Francis collected his 5th player of the match award courtesy of stadium sponsors Arrowmark Home Improvements.
Attendance – 213 including a couple of Manchester City fans who found their way to The Arrowmark before heading off to watch Newcastle v Man City.
Paul Foster was delighted with a disciplined performance: “It was a very disciplined performance and we are delighted to pick up three points against a good side. The results shows that, for the time being, we deserve to be where we are in the league table .
The changes we made after twenty minutes regarding our shape worked really well and nullified the threat that was causing us problems. Every one of the lads responded to the changes we made. If anybody had said at the start of the season we would have 40 points from 19 games we would have snapped their hands off but it just goes to show how much the lads are in this together.
I thought the five lads who came on from the bench on Saturday all added something for us too. They kept the tempo up until the 95th minute and in particular the last two goals were really well worked.
There will be ups and downs from now until the end of the season but we are delighted with where we are and that’s all down to the lads. We know they will put a shift in every week and as long as we continue to work hard then that’s all we can ask.”
H2H vs West Auckland Town (all games/competitions)
P7 W1 D1 L5 GF9 GA25
10.01.2006 | West Auckland Town 2-0 Birtley Town – DCC Quarter Final – (N/A)
02.10.2010 | West Auckland Town 6-0 Birtley Town – FA Vase R1 – (N/A)
25.08.2012 | Birtley Town 1-4 West Auckland Town – FA Cup Preliminary – (D. Smart)
30.10.2012 | West Auckland Town (5) 3-3 (4) Birtley Town – DCC R1 – (Dan Smith, S. Telford, M. Hornsby)
08.10.2013 | West Auckland Town 3-1 Birtley Town – League Cup R1 – (D. Reaks)
28.04.2021 | Birtley Town 1-6 West Auckland Town – DCC SF – (J. Barwick)
12.08.2023 | West Auckland 1-3 Birtley Town – League – (O. Lancaster, L. Wotherspoon, B. Pentland)
21.11.2023 | West Auckland (4) 2-2 (3) Birtley Town – DCC County Cup – (J. Procter, A. Francis)