Northallerton Town (Home), Friendly, 06/08/05
Lost 1-0


by Jeff King

The Terriers final warm-up game before the season commences saw ambitious Second Division side Northallerton visit Welfare Park and on the evidence of the 90 minutes it is the visitors who look better prepared for the season ahead.

However, Bedlington were missing Robbie Cockburn, Dean Gibb, John Ludlow, John Milner and Steven Preen who were all on holiday plus Craig Bryce, Graeme Cairns and Paul Dunn through injury and Gareth Powell because of work commitments.

Still the XI who took the field could all lay claim to a starting place in next week's league opener and should have been too strong for their lower league opposition.

It was the visitors who had the first chance of a competitive first half but pre-season signing Carl Chillingsworth failed to hit the target with only Michael Robinson to beat. The Terriers responded under the prompting of Paul Robinson and the calm influence of veteran Michael Cross and began to assert some pressure.

Robinson produced a lovely jinking run to take him past three defenders but his low shot from just inside the area was well held by Town keeper Sam Dobbs. Dobbs did even better later in the half producing a marvellous one hand reaction save to keep out Tony Shandran's 10 yard half volley.

However, in truth a blank score sheet at half time came as no surprise as although both sides had threatened the quality of play in the final third was missing and neither goal keeper had a great deal to do.

The second period was almost a non-event as anything the Terriers tried invariably broke down at the business end of the field and they were unable to breakthrough a resolute Northallerton defence. As the game wore on it was the visitors who looked the stronger and began to get on top.

Michael Robinson had to be at his athletic best to turn over a 20-yard Chillingsworth drive before Northallerton grabbed the only goal of the game with ten minutes remaining. A long ball out of defence saw Robinson have to come from his box to clear.

Unfortunately his clearance only fell to the feet of John Ryan who chipped the ball from fully thirty yards back over the stranded Robinson and in to an empty net. The Terriers shorn of substitutes simply didn't have the energy to produce a late rally and the game ended with Northallerton taking an unexpected win from their travels.

Clearly after the game joint manager Tony Lowery had more of an eye on the game seven days hence than on what he had just seen. "I've told the lads that today was not good enough but they have to put it behind them. We'll have two hard training sessions this week, hopefully one or two back and even possibly a new face or two. We know Morpeth will be a hard game and we have to lift ourselves but I'm sure we'll be ready."

Ready is exactly what Bedlington must be as they face a daunting first ten days competitive action. The game next Saturday at Craik Park, Morpeth will be followed on Wednesday 17th August with the Terriers first home league game against West Allotment Celtic, kick-off 7:30 p.m.

Bedlington then face Newcastle Benfield Bay Plastics twice in the space of four days. The vitally important F.A. Cup Extra Preliminary Qualifying tie takes place on Saturday 20th August at Benfield and then the Terriers are due to return to the same ground on Tuesday 23rd August for an Arngrove Northern League game.

It all amounts to a tough start for a Bedlington outfit that is much changed from the side and squad who ended last season at Welfare Park.


JOHN MILNER'S TESTIMONIAL MATCH [Photos]

Milner's Past & Present Terriers Select v North East Legends Select
Won 4-3 (Milner*2, Bond, Middleton)
by Jeff King

Thankfully the poor weather of the previous few days relented and John's big day was played out on a dry and reasonably warm day. The teams taking part were shorn of a few of the promised names but there was still plenty of talent on display for the crowd to enjoy. One of those thanks to the generosity of the English Cricket Board, being paceman Steven Harmison who was able to line up in the Terriers side alongside brother James and Uncle Mel.

John's side lined up as follows :-
Gareth Powell - Steve Harmison - Martin Pike - Warren Teasdale - James Harmison - Gary Middleton - Micky Cross - Steve Boon - Richie Bond - John Milner & Mel Harmison.

On the bench John had Tommy Ditchburn - Sam Kitchen - Lee Boyle and Gareth McAlindon

For The Legends we had :-
Kevin Carr (ex-Newcastle) - John Anderson (ex-Newcastle) - Derek Bell (ex Newcastle and former Gateshead F.C. Manager) - Mick Tait (ex Hartlepool/Darlington and ex Blyth Spartans Manager) - Gary Bennett (ex Sunderland) - Martin Gray (ex Sunderland) - Alan Shoulder (ex Newcastle) - Ian Bogie (ex Newcastle & Bedlington) - Paul Baker (ex Hartlepool and Bedlington and another former Blyth Spartans manager) - Jeff Wrightson (ex Newcastle) & Brian Atkinson (ex Sunderland)

Micky Horswill a member of the Sunderland 1973 cup winning side was joined on the bench by Dion Raitt from Durham City and the side was managed by Joe Allon (ex Hartlepool and Newcastle).

It was excellent to see so many ex-Terrier legends back together again to honour John and whilst the makeup of The Legends side was not quite what was expected they still had several well known names and faces in their ranks who showed they still had quite a bit of footballing ability in their boots.

The crowd was treated to an entertaining match that finally ended with a 4 - 3 win for the "home" side who had taken the lead early on through a good finish from Richie Bond who celebrated his return to Welfare Park in characteristic understated fashion. However, there is no truth in the rumour that the watching Terriers officials moved in with a contract offer after the game !

Martin Gray brought the Legends level with a neat chip over Gareth Powell after controlling John Anderson's diagonal through ball. And it was 2 - 1 to the Legends at the at the break after Micky Cross was harshly penalised for a foul on Paul Baker who showed all his ex-professional know how to win the spot-kick and then expertly stepped up to send Powell the wrong way with the penalty.

In the second period Alan Shoulder rolled back the years with an immaculate chip from 20 yards to increase the lead to 3 - 1 before Bedlington came storming back. Kevin Carr was forced in to two fine saves to keep out Milner but shortly after he left the field and the Terriers took advantage. Mel Harmison provided the cross for Milner to tuck away his first and then Gary Middleton set-up the Testimonial man for a trademark header at the back post to level the scores.

Fittingly late on John had a hand in the winner as he set-up Middleton for a tap-in to secure the spoils went to Bedlington although the real winner on the day was Milner himself who enjoyed his deserved day in the limelight.

The only disappointing aspect of a thoroughly entertaining day was the poor response from the Bedlington public. Without taking anything away from those who did attend the attendance was disappointing especially when considering the excellent service and success John has given to the Town's football side.


Shankhouse (Home), Friendly, 27/07/05
Won 4-1 (Walklate, Shandran, Douglas*2)

 

By Neil Douglass


The Terriers were able to welcome back Steven Preen, Sam Kitchen, James Lang, James Harmison, Keith Douglas and Steven Walklate following the defeat to Washington 4 days earlier but were forced to reckon without their two first team keepers, several other first teamers and new signing Paul Robinson. The hosts were therefore forced to play youngster Chris Appleby in goals for his first ever appearance in a Terriers shirt.

 

The match got underway with the worst possible opening for Bedlington, Shankhouse taking the lead within 20 seconds of the whistle. A James Harmison ball to Kitchen put the latter under pressure, the challenge in the air from Hogg presented Simon Muckle with a free run on goal, he coolly went on to round Appleby and slot home the early opener.

 

Bedlington were finding it hard to get going in the opening stages and their only effort of note came from a Keith Douglas free kick who saw his low effort saved, not quite the outcome he had the previous week from the same position.

 

The game went from bad to terrible for Bedlington just before half time, Paul Dunn who missed last season due to a cruciate ligament injury appeared to have a recurrence of that injury and was stretchered off the pitch, James Lang replacing him. It remains to be seen just what the damage is and we can only hope it is a muscle injury and not the ligament again, we all had high hopes of seeing Dunny have a marvelous season and it is the last thing anyone would wish on the lad, we all hope he makes a very speedy recovery.

 

At half time Bedlington made several substitutions to liven things up and it worked a treat. Within minutes of the restart one of those subs Shandran powered a Walklate (another sub) cross goalwards, Coleman in the visitors goal pulling off an instinctive save to tip the ball onto the bar and over.

 

Bedlington drew level on 50 minutes, just after O'Neill had spurned a glorious Shankhouse chance when he dragged a shot well wide of goal. The leveller came courtesy of Shandrans skill and Walklates clinical finishing, the former dancing past three defenders to square the ball unselfishly to Walkalte just inside the box and he placed his shot beyond the reach of the 'keeper and into the net.

 

Coleman was needed again to turn a brilliant Douglas free kick to the top corner around the post but he was helpless in the 62nd minute when Bedlington finally took the lead. A deep Walklate cross looked all day to be Colemans but Shandran somehow leapt above the 'keeper to send a backwards header over Coleman and into the empty net.

 

With 20 minutes of the game remaining Keith Douglas got the goal that he had been threatening when he was sent through by Shandran, the midfielder went on to produce a well placed low finish which went in via the post, the 'keeper having no chance. The scoring was wrapped up 9 minutes later when that man Shandran again caused havoc at the back, showing some outrageous skill to leave himself one on one with the 'keeper. At the last minute his touch deceived him on the bobbly pitch and the ball rolled away from him, but he was still able to recover enough to prod the ball past the keeper and into the path of Douglas who had the simple task of putting the ball into the empty net.

 

With Lang and Shandran both going close in the final stages, Shankhouse were fortunate the scoreline wasn't worse, something their battling first half performance didn't deserve. So another good win for Bedlington as their pre season campaign rolls on, only the news about Paul Dunn dampened the atmosphere, a cruel blow for the gifted defender, news will follow once the club is fully aware of the details.


Washington (Home), Friendly, 23/07/05
Lost 2-1 (Freeman)


By Neil Douglass

A severely depleted Terriers side welcomed second division Washington to Welfare Park with the hosts looking to continue their fine pre season campaign to date. With big wins over Swarland, Kenneck Ryhope and Walker Central already under their belts, Washington would prove a much sterner test.

 

The starting line up was missing several big Terrier names, missing were Steve Preen, Sam Kitchen, Robbie Cockburn, Steve Walklate, Michael Robinson, Colin Morton, Keith Douglas, James Harmison, James Lang and Justin Keegan (although he made it for the second half following a dash from the airport). This shortage of players meant that John Milner was forced to play the game with a stomach injury, one week before Welfare Park will welcome a host of stars for his testimonial.

 

Included in the line up was Jamie Lewis (ex NUFC, Doncaster, Notts Forest), Paul Robinson (brother of Michael and someone the management are very keen to get signed up), Michael Robinson (ex Gateshead, Whitley Bay and Morpeth) and new signing Julian Freeman (ex Slimbridge). On the bench was joint manager Tony Lowery, who was there only incase of emergency, youngster Andy Wylam and Dean Gibb.

 

The Terriers have made impressive starts in the other pre-season games but it was Washington who had the first chance within 3 minutes, Andrew Lumsden seeing his shot tipped wide by Gareth Powell. Bedlington took a little bit of time to get going and it took until the 18th minute for them to get a good chance, Freeman seeing his acrobatic effort from a Shandran cross deflected wide.

 

Shooting up the slope, Bedlington took the lead in the 18th minute, Julian Freeman found himself in space in the box and lifted a delicate lob from 16 yards over Lenny French and into the net for his first goal in Terrier colours. Minutes later and John Milner had a Thiery Henry-esque back heel goal disallowed for offside.

 

Peter Kirkham wasted a glorious chance to equalise before half time when he contrived to miss an open goal, Lewis sliding in well to deflect the weak goal bound shot around the post.

 

The second half saw Bedlington make the one change with Keegan replacing Dean Gibb in defence and with Washington having plenty of fresh legs to make an impact it was this that would turn the game in favour of the guests. On the hour mark Dom Rice gave the Terriers a warning with a drive from the corner of the box which stung the fingers of Powell but well collected at the second attempt.

 

Dean Gibb made a return in place of John Milner and it was the veteran striker who had a good chance at the other end just before the equaliser came. French parried a shot from a scramble in the box, the loose ball fell to Gibb and it took a strong hand from the 'keeper to turn the danger away.

 

Straight up the other end Washington went and Rice pulled out an excellent finish, lifting a shot from the edge of the box over the defence and past Powell for a deserved leveller. And it was Rice who won the game for Washington in the 77th minute, a right foot curler from the same spot as his first goal arced beautifully past Powell and into the top corner, a goal worthy of winning any game.

 

With the Bedlington players having been on their last legs for the previous 15 minutes or so, it was no surprise to see them not push for the equaliser and the only other chance of the game came when the impressive Andrew Potter saw Powell get a hand on his low shot with Lewis following up to clear off the line.

 

So whilst most people would have raised an eyebrow at the result, both teams can be pleased with an excellent workout and Bedlington can be safe in the knowledge that when it comes down to the serious business in a months time, they will have at least 10 more players to call upon.


Walker Central (Home), Friendly, 20/07/05
Won 7-3 (Douglas*2, Shandran*2, Gibb, Cockburn, P. Robinson)


By Jeff King

The goals continued to flow for The Terriers as they kept up their 100% pre-season record with a win over ex-Bedlington player and Newcastle "Master" Ian Bogie's Northern Alliance outfit. Once again the game gave Bedlington the opportunity to look at a few triallists as well as providing valuable match sharpness for the more established members of the squad.

The starting XI saw Gareth Powell in goal, Colin Morton and James Harmison in defence and Keith Douglas in midfield make their pre-season bows. They were joined by Jamie Lewis in central defence making a bid to earn a place in the Terriers squad this season and it was also encouraging to see the likes of Dean Gibb, Robbie Cockburn and James Lang on the bench.

In both of the previous friendlies Bedlington have made a flying start and this game proved no different. With the game in to its fourth minute Douglas announced his return with a fantastic drive from 30 yards that flew in to the top corner of the net past the helpless Chris Banner. It was two goals inside the first 15 minutes for both Bedlington and Douglas. Julian Freemen was upended just outside the box after getting on the end of Paul Robinson's astute pass. As Banner attempted to sort out his wall and defence, Douglas took full advantage of the gap at the near post and cheekily curled the ball around the wall and in to the open net.

A fine start became even better on 20 minutes when a neat home move saw the ball find Paul Robinson inside the area and he calmly rounded keeper Banner and tapped in to an empty net. However Walker got back in to the game within four minutes when a neat ball down the line saw Lee Garwood get clear of the home defence to coolly chip the ball over the advancing Powell.

The game settled down after the opening burst and although Bedlington pushed hard and created one or two openings no further goals were registered as the half closed. At the interval both sides made changes and it was the visitors changes that proved the more effective as they pulled level within ten minutes of the restart.

Both were very similar goals with different scorers. Garwood notched his second when put clear through he gave half time substitute Michael Robinson no chance in a one on one confrontation. Robinson again found himself one on one moments later with 17 year-old Lee York who belied his years with and accomplished finish to bring his side level.

Bedlington should have gone back in front midway through the half when Tony Shandran was upended in the box and a penalty resulted. Paul Robinson took the kick but produced one of those efforts, which look great if they go in but awful if they don't. This time it was awful as Banner did not fall for his chip down the middle and saved easily.

With 15 minutes to go Bedlington did break though again and set up a very profitable end to the game. Shandran put Freeman clean through and he was only denied by a fine save from Banner. Walker failed to clear P. Robinson's corner and when the ball fell to the veteran substitute Gibb he lashed it home via a deflection from 10 yards.

In to the last ten minutes and a great breakaway move from the Terriers saw Douglas feed Shandran who picked out Cockburn's run in to the box and the speedy striker smashed the ball on the run high in to the top corner with his left foot. Walker were clearly tiring and were hit again.

Morton's 40-yard daisy cutter of a pass was controlled well by Shandran who advanced in to the box before slotting past the helpless Banner. The scoring was completed in the last minute when M. Robinson's long kick downfield was taken well by Shandran as it dropped over the defence and he fired it high in to the net to make the final score 7 - 3 to the home side.

So, the Terriers go rampaging on. Three pre-season games have now seen three wins and twenty four goals scored. No one though at Welfare Park is getting carried away with the wins as all were games Bedlington were expected to win. However, the manner of the victories has been impressive and some entertaining football has been played. The second half of this game saw Bedlington come under pressure for the first time and the defence looked shaky as Walker levelled. However, the response was excellent and another comfortable victory recorded.


Kennek Ryhope (Home), Friendly, 16/07/05
Won 7-2 (Preen, Dunn, Ludlow, Cockburn, Freeman*2, Milner (pen))


By Jeff King

Bedlington made it 17 goals in two pre-season games as they followed up Wednesday's 10 - 0 drubbing of Swarland with another convincing win against Arngrove Northern Second Division side Kennek Ryhope. A game played in blistering heat did however see the Terriers concede a couple of goals but served as yet another step forward in their pre-season training.

There were several changes from the side that played at Swarland. Michael Robinson continued in goal but Paul Dunn playing his first game since his cruciate ligament injury last September and Craig Bryce came in to the three man back line alongside Captain John Milner, to replace the unavailable Mel Harmison and Sam Kitchen. In midfield there was a start for Graham Cairns and Michael Cross who replaced James Lang and acting Manager Dean Gibb. Robbie Cockburn switched to the left flank and there was another opportunity for Paul Robinson to stake a claim for a first team shirt. Up front John Ludlow and Steven Preen retained their places alongside ex-Slimbridge F.C. striker Julian Freeman who completed the XI in place of Tony Shandran.

A tougher encounter was envisaged as Kennek Ryhope are looking to challenge for promotion to the top flight of the Arngrove Northern League this season. However, it was the Terriers who swung in to action first and opened the scoring after only 4 minutes. Paul Robinson displayed great footwork to create space on the right and his cross to the back post saw Preen arriving late to steer a close range header past the helpless Chris Trotter.

Fifteen minutes later and the first division side doubled their advantage. Cross played an incisive ball through the Ryhope defence and young John Ludlow showed good pace and strength to hold off Dave Leonard's challenge before coolly slotting the ball past the advancing Trotter. Although two goals to the good this was a sterner test for the Terriers as Ryhope contributed to an entertaining open game.

Just after the half hour the small crowd were treated to a beauty of a goal as Dunn signalled his return. Picking up P. Robinson's square pass he advanced forward and as no-one closed him down he drove a terrific left shoot in to the top corner from 25 yards to make it 3 - 0. A spirited Kennek side however got back temporarily in to the game three minutes before the break. Lively winger Ian Watson got the wrong side of the home defence and Bryce attempting to recover the ground brought him down just outside the box. Watson got up to curl the 20-yard free kick past a static M. Robinson.

However within a minute the three goal cushion was restored with a lovely goal. Cairns clipped a great ball down the right flank and Freeman timing his run well was able to look up and deliver the perfect cross for Cockburn to rise at the far post and head past Trotter.

It had been an encouraging half for the Terriers and it got better as within nine minutes of the restart they made it 5 - 1. Bedlington were awarded a free kick on half way and Milner chipped a ball over the top for Freeman to beat the offside trap and hook it past Trotter from 12 yards. Two minutes later it was six. Freeman released Preen who went down under the challenge of Paul Wardle just inside the box. Milner stepped up for the resultant penalty and drove the kick low in to the corner past the right hand of the diving Trotter.

On 68 minutes the Terriers conceded a sloppy second goal. Watson played a ball in to the box and although M. Robinson called for the ball he was beaten to it by Chris Davison who bundled it home.


The final twenty minutes were played at a much lesser pace as the heat took its toll. However Bedlington did have one goal left for the fans and it came four minutes from the end. A neat header from Gibb found Cockburn whose pass put Freeman in on goal and the striker notched his second of the afternoon with a neat finish.

After the game acting manager Dean Gibb said he was well pleased with some of the football that his side had played going forward and the clinical finishing they had shown. It had been another good workout for the players as they strive towards full fitness and although they had conceded two goals he was pleased with the afternoons work.


Swarland FC (Away), Friendly, 13/07/05
Won 10-0 (Preen*5, Shandran, Gibb, Lang, Ludlow, Freeman


By Jeff King

The Terriers began their pre-season schedule with an emphatic and comfortable win against the North Northumberland outfit. In a game where Bedlington had several new faces to parade it was the veterans who took centre stage at the kick-off.

Coaches Mel Harmison and Dean Gibb both started in a Terriers side playing a 3-4-3 formation. Harmison was joined at the back by Sam Kitchen and John Milner. The midfield quartet consisted of Robbie Cockburn on the right, Gibb and trialist Paul Robinson in the centre and James Lang on the left. Robinson is the older brother of keeper Michael and had been released by Tranmere Rovers towards the end of last season. Up front the established strikers of Tony Shandran and Steve Preen were joined by new signing John Ludlow making his first appearance in a Terriers shirt since his move from Blue Star.

The substitutes included Craig Bryce, Graham Cairns in his first outing since breaking a leg and Julian Freeman who played for Sittingbourne in the Kent League last season, a league that yielded F.A. Carlsberg Vase winners Didcot Town.

The Terriers were soon in to their stride and produced a four-goal blast inside the first 20 minutes to lay down their marker for the night. The goal feast was started by Gibb with a chip over the keeper after Robinson had played him in and further strikes from Preen 2, Shandran and a lovely half volley from Lang saw Bedlington well in control at the break.

Half time substitutions saw Preen, Ludlow, Harmison and Gibb replaced by Bryce, Cairns, Freemen and young Tucker as the Terriers gave everyone a run. The changes took time to settle in but Freemen despite lacking fitness looked a useful replacement. However, it was not until Preen and Ludlow returned to the fray in place of Lang and Shandran that the Terriers picked up the scoring. Preen helped himself to a second half hat-trick, including two lovely headers, taking his game tally to five and unselfishly laid on a first Terriers goal for Ludlow. Freeman also capped a useful 45 minutes with a goal as Bedlington comprehensively emphasised the difference between the two sides.

Whilst a 10 - 0 score line against weak opposition hardly gives cause for celebration there were a few plus points to take from the evening. It had been an excellent workout for those involved and as one senior player put it "better than just training". Freeman looked as if he may develop once he gets some training under his belt and Robinson in midfield looked a creative passer in the best Bedlington Terriers traditions.

So, an encouraging work-out for the Arngrove Northern League side who know that it was a nice way to start their preparations for the bigger tasks that lie ahead.