Stokesley SC are hoping to climb the Ebac Northern League Second Division table – with a little help from Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.
Striker Asenjo Bravo has come to the north east in an attempt to revive his career after recovering from a bad injury, and he scored one of the goals in Stokesley’s 2-2 draw with Chester-le-Street on Saturday.
The club were granted international clearance from the Spanish FA during the week, and assistant-manager Chris Lax said: “I think the game was an eye opener for him, because it rained heavily throughout, and I don’t think he’s used to those conditions.
“One of the lads at the club knows Asenjo. He’s been playing in the sixth level of Spanish football for one of Athletico Madrid’s teams, and he’s decided that he wants to come and play in England and work his way towards the Championship.
“Obviously, Stokesley won’t be able to play in the Championship, but if he can do us a good job in the meantime, then great.”
Bravo scored the first goal of the game for Stokesley, but that was cancelled out by Lewis Lynch. Gary Redman restored Stokesley’s lead, but David Henderson equalised.
“Firstly I was pleased that we got the game on” said Lax, “and secondly I was pleased with the performance. However, we should have had all three points but for the excellent performance of their keeper.”
Chester manager Colin Wake said: “A draw was possibly a fair result on a very heavy pitch. It played ok to start with, but when the rain came down in the second half, the players found it hard to keep their feet. Two poor defensive goals from our point of view spoilt an encouraging performance.”
Durham City took a big step away from the relegation zone when they thumped Newcastle Benfield 4-0 on a rain restricted day.
Benfield couldn’t handle their former striker Scott Fenwick, who scored twice and missed two good chances for his hat-trick.
Durham coach Graham Irving said: “We made a point before the game of how important it was to make a good start, because we hadn’t done in our previous three. The players were up for the game from the start, and the early goal put us in control.
“In wet conditions, our 3G surface becomes faster, and I thought we passed the ball around well. Scott did really well, he was quite a handful, and he’s developing a good understanding with our other forwards.”
Fenwick scored with just 5 minutes on the clock, when he buried a right foot shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box, and he made it 2-0 on 20 minutes when he controlled a pass into the middle from Paul Dixon and scored from ten yards.
Benfield keeper Andy Grainger made two good saves to keep his team in reach, but Durham got the their third just before the break when new signing Peter Glen-Ravenhill crossed low from the right for Craig Ellison to slide in at the far post.
Scott Fenwick then set up his brother Ricky, who cut in from the left to fire the fourth on 55 minutes. After that, Scott Fenwick missed two good chances to complete his hat-trick, while Max Stoker, Ellison and Dixon all had shots blocked.
The closest Benfield came to scoring was a first half strike by Jordan Marshall that hit the angle of post and crossbar.
It was the first time this season that Durham have kept a clean sheet, but it was ninth time this season that Benfield had failed to score in a league game.
Benfield manager Anthony Woodhouse said: “We were outplayed, outfought and embarrassed. Of the so called progress I thought we’d made, we are actually miles away. I want to forget about that 90 minutes.”
Billingham Synthonia easily beat Marske United 4-1 at Central Avenue.
Synners` took the lead when the ever-dangerous Dan Johnson crossed for Danny Newby to have a shot saved, but Chay Liddle followed up and scored.
It was 2-0 when Johnson crossed for Newby to score, and in the second half Johnson broke away and fired past Marske keeper Olly West.
Synners` defender Kieran Edwards headed into his own goal to give his old club Marske some hope, but he then went up the other end and fired into the top corner for 4-1.
Synners` assistant-manager Lee Tucker said: “I thought it was a comfortable win, we had lots of chances throughout the game. Marske had a penalty claim turned down at 1-0, but we were so much in control of the game that even if they had been given it and scored, we would still have gone on and won the game.”
Marske manager Ted Watts said: “We were rubbish and totally outplayed.”
Only three games were played in the whole of the league, and the postponements will add to the growing fixture congestion, especially with the First Division playing forty-six games.
Only eight First Division clubs have reached the half way mark in their fixtures, and one, Celtic Nation, still has twenty-nine league games to play. Defending champions Spennymoor have a minimum twenty-nine league and cup games to play.
The FA is sure to insist that games should be played by a certain date, which last season was the end of April. The FA Vase final is scheduled for May 4th.