Birtley’s dynamic striking duo were at it again on Tuesday as goals from Aidan Rutledge and Glen Hargrave secured all three points for The Hoops.
Match highlights are available HERE.
Match photos are available HERE.
Birtley were back to winning ways as they made the short journey along the A1231 to Washington. Joe Barwick, Lewis Exley and Tom McIntyre returned to the side which meant that Alex Francis dropped in to the defence. There was also a place on the bench for Josh Thynne, making his senior debut after progressing from our development side.
Birtley dominated the opening stages and should have been ahead when Josh Holland met a Lewis Exley cross but he couldn’t find a finish. Unfortunately for Holland his evening was cut short midway through the opening period when he pulled up with a hamstring injury that is likely to keep him side-lined for a number of weeks. Birtley should have been ahead again when Ryan Keltie flicked on a long Hargrave throw however, Joe Barwick could only prod the ball onto the crossbar.
On 37 minutes, Birtley had another clear opening when Rutledge played through strike partner Hargrave but his lofted half-volley went agonisingly over the bar. By the end of the half Birtley were pushing for an opener and were somehow denied when two goal line scrambles prevented the ball from finding it’s way into the Washy net. Birtley continued to look dangerous from set-pieces with Washington threatening from the odd occasion on the counter attack as the sides entered the break at 0-0.
In the second period, The Hoops remained in the ascendancy without creating any real cut opportunities. The visitors continued to win free-kicks, corners and throw-ins but without threatening the Washington goal. On the hour mark Aidan Rutledge managed to find a yard of space in the box but his curling effort went narrowly beyond the far post. Shortly after, Smiggs clipped a free-kick forward and Glen Hargrave was wrestled to the ground which the referee awarded Birtley a penalty. Rutledge stepped up to fire home the opener and score his 49th goal of the season. Washington always posed a threat on the counter attack and it was important for Birtley to get a second goal.
The Hoops did eventually double their lead, this time Rutledge became the provider when he played a sublime through ball to Hargrave. Hargrave turned on the edge of the area before firing low into the bottom left hand corner. The goal settled any Birtley nerves and when Isam Mohamed was shown a red card for elbowing Callum Smith, it looked to be a comfortable closing period.
Washington did force Grant into a smart stop in the latter stages but the score remained at 2-0. There was still time for Hargrave to provide some unexpected trickery before firing a volley towards goal from 20 yards, much to the delight of the travelling Birtley support. The win puts Birtley back into 4th position, leapfrogging Billingham Town in the process.
All eyes now turn to a huge tie against Blyth Town on Saturday. Blyth currently sit in 6th position and just 4 points behind Birtley however The Hoops do have one game in hand.
Foss was pleased to get back to winning ways. “Well after last Saturdays disappointment of losing to a last minute goal it was about getting three points on the board which we did.”
“The lads dug in well on a pitch that wasn’t conducive to playing football however we rolled our sleeves up and got the job done. At this stage of the season it’s not about performances but about getting the right result. I thought everyone played their part including our bench, the changes we made were at the right time and kept the tempo high. That didn’t allow them much joy at all and ensured us a well earned clean sheet. I wanted to give a special mention to young Josh Thynne who has just turned 17 and was given his debut for the last 10 minutes. Josh is part of the development team but has been training with us for last couple of months. It was nice to see the great work that Dan Irving and his team have done with Josh this season. The work of the development side enabled us to put him on the bench and we had no qualms in placing him on for the last change last night to give him the experience of playing at a higher level and he’s certainly one for the future.”
“We have 8 massive games coming up between now and the end of the season and as a group we need to be on it from the first minute to the last We want to finish as high as possible.”
H2H record (away to Washington)
P11 W7 D1 L3 GF23 GA11 Pts 22
07.03.2022 – Washington AFC 0-2 Birtley Town – (G. Hargrave, A. Rutledge (pen))
11.12.2021 – Washington AFC 5-4 Birtley Town – (B. Garrity, J. Barwick x2, OG)
17.08.2019 – Washington AFC 1-0 Birtley Town – (N/A)
16.02.2019 – Washington AFC 0-3 Birtley Town – (R. Williamson, O. Leedham, B. Garrity)
03.01.2015 – Washington AFC 1-0 Birtley Town – (N/A)
01.03.2014 – Washington AFC 2-2 Birtley Town – (C. Nichol, D. Morse)
01.02.2013 – Washington AFC 0-2 Birtley Town – (B. Johnson x2, L. Wilson)
17.03.2012 – Washington AFC 0-2 Birtley Town – (C. Marron, D. Smart)
14.08.2010 – Washington AFC 0-4 Birtley Town – (C. Tait, D. Hopper, M. Dickson x2)
16.02.2010 – Washington AFC 0-2 Birtley Town – (O. Peterson, R. Latimer)
25.08.2008 – Washington AFC 1-2 Birtley Town – (R. Houghton x2)
Its a huge game in the race for a play-off spot as we travel to 6th place Blyth Town who are pushing for a late spot in the top 5. Match preview will be available in the coming days.