Newton Aycliffe v Billingham Town, Tuesday 8th February 2022, 7.45pm

Newton Aycliffe is another of those places that’s not too far from me, but I’ve never been to. I suppose you’d need a reason to go there and I’d never had one. That is, not until I’d wanted to tick off their Northern League ground.

I parked up near to the Moore Lane Sports Club and was directed towards the pitch through a gate in a wooden fence. It was seven quid to get in and the only team sheet available was fixed to a wall. There were no programmes either, due to “the media officer having gone to Hartlepool”.

I enjoy flicking through a programme, but I can appreciate that with sales likely to be in low double figures it’s a thankless task to produce them. Hopefully the career progression of the former media officer will encourage someone looking for a start in football media work to get involved at Newton Aycliffe and resurrect their matchday magazine.

I bought raffle tickets giving the chance to win a bottle of something or other and took a seat in the covered stand along one side of the pitch. Newton Aycliffe turned out in blue with Billingham Town in a white kit. The hosts are challenging for promotion from Division One of the Northern League with Town down at the bottom of the table.

The pitch was fairly cut up by modern standards with both goalmouths made up of mud rather than grass. Newton Aycliffe looked good early on and took the lead in the opening minutes with a shot that may have been deflected more than once.

The talking point of the first half was a Billingham town striker being sin-binned for telling the ref to “Fuck Off’. Whilst swearing is ever-present in football, there’s a line and he crossed it. I like the sin-bin approach being trialled in the Norther League but I’d like it more if players were simply sent off instead for abusing officials.

Newton Aycliffe added a second goal twenty minutes from time when a precise ball across the face of the goal was tapped in to clinch a win that keeps them in contention for promotion.

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