Durham City arrived in Radcliffe with only one defeat in the league, fielding Adam Johnston with 24 goals so far and the luxury of Gavin Cogdan on the bench with 21 goals to date, confidence would have been high. Radcliffe with less goals on the board than the two Durham players would be looking to build on a very solid set of performances and hoping for back to back wins. Lee Unsworth returns allowing Howson his more familiar striking role. Griff Jones is still recovering from hamstring trouble. Here goes seat belts fastened, what a fantastic football ride ahead. First on the grid are Boro who start bright and are unlucky not to forge a break in the first minute. The pace of the game is formula one speed and no pit stops will be used. Howson up front chasing down the leaders and panics the keeper who kicks against him on the seventh minute the ball hits Howsons foot and goes to safety. The game is quick to swap lanes and Durham counter with nice touches that see them challenging Priestley who puts the brakes on with two great blocks close in , he can do little with the rapier like shot from Tommy English that stays at the same height all the way to the back of the net for 1-0 with 8 minutes gone. Form books are being brought out but will soon be ripped in half. The gears are selected in the boro midfield freeing Roscoe to the bye line and he delivers leaving Dawson to cause trouble , the ball is now easy for Mark Jones to strike goal bound and with a deflection off English finds the back of the net to equal the scoring and send Boro into overdrive. 1-1! Circuit records are being broken as players move ball and body quickly to try to gain an advantage. Durham are in the Boro slipstream and are selecting reverse as Boro quality upsets thier game plan. With 30 gone Priestley is tested again , this time by John Toft with a powerful shot , Priestley grips in the wet like expensive Michelins and the threat is shown the red light. Drew & Mark Jones are quicker than a Williams pit stop team in closing the opponents , Drew releases a great pass into the path of Oates who is now in the box and is brought down , the linesman is quick to decide with the flag across his chest, the ref takes his advice and awards the penalty. Adam Roscoe steps up to convert with the keeper getting a hand to it but to no avail 2-1 Boro. The flag is waved and we have another 45 minute lap to enjoy.
Wipers are needed as the rain gets heavier . Roscoe sends a slick pass into the feet of howson who changes feet well to send out wide, the cross is whipped in and Drew firing on all four cylinders bullets a text book header crashing into the net for 3-1 , a brilliant move and goal on 48 minutes. Whats left in the tank now for Durham? They have football a plenty and continue to play it, Boro likewise. The two teams are a real positive advert for Unibond football. Durham break quickly with the ball on the floor and are great at getting the ball to the six yard box with lovely football. Unsworth , (full service history) is capable of ending the moves. Durham fire into the side netting and then win a corner before the ball is back in thier defence. They panic a little and send a shed of a pass across the back, Drew on the starting grid sees the green flag first and reacts quickest to collect and pass the ball into the net past Craig Turns for 4-1. Boro continue to chase and face up to Durham whenever they can. Durham dig deep and again continue to play some lovely football that is matched by Boro. Lewis Dodds is at the end of a great strong challenge by Jones after a poor ball to him. The player is stretchered off to hospital and is wished well. The game continues in the same vein with strong challenges, slick passes and clever movement by both sets of players. The chequered flag is due to be waved as Durham play again to the six yard box with neat interchanging of passes before Cogden adds to his tally on 91 minutes. The game was fast and furious with some of the best football i have seen at this level for many years, a tribute to the two teams. tribute must be played to the boro for the effervesant attitude to the game, the team look stronger and certainly more fitter. Endless chasing down and support for each other was a treat to watch as was the four goals. Durham will travel home shell shocked as going into the game they are the Ferrari of the league, boro are upgrading to a new model.
One dissapointment on the night was that only 83 people watched it, if more had been in they will have certainly been back. Next time your passing Stainton Park, indicate ,turn in and watch some high octane football.
PS Congrats to Gary Miller ( Durham Physio) who was awarded by Durham County Council for in his efforts in the original game in going swiftly to Martyn Forrests aid.