20th February 1999 - Warrington Town 2 - 2 Darwen
After a prolonged spell of games played away from fortress Cantilever, the Town side, including star striker Damien Whitehead and new signing Ian Callaghan at the back, ran out onto a slightly-less-bobbly-than-usual pitch. The spectators were expectant. Could Town pick it up after their lapse last week against lowly Blackpool Mechanics? They couldn't gain three points, but the game was one of the most exciting seen at Cantilever Park for a while.
The game started badly for Town. Despite some early Town pressure, and some desperately hoofed clearances by the visitors, Darwen were the first to go ahead after a foul by the Town defence led to a Darwen free kick. The ball was swung in from the right, Town 'keeper Thomson missed the punch (we reckon the sun was in his eyes), and the nearest Darwen man headed the ball easily home. Town, however, were obviously not going to stand for this and stepped on the gas for the remainder of the first half. Tremendous pressure on the Darwen back line was bound to lead to something. Numerous corners were won and on two notable occasions, Town were denied legitimate penalty claims.
|One of these claims, after a block on Kevin Tyrell by the Darwen defender, led to an indirect free kick inside the Darwen box. After a bit of a goalmouth scramble, the ball was blasted over. Things were getting interesting towards half time and before long, after some good work by Elfyn Edwards on the right, the ball was crossed long to the far post where Damien Whitehead was waiting. He rose to meet the ball, got the header right, and the ball flew above the flailing Darwen 'keeper into the net. Seconds later, the half time whistle blew.|
|Yet another Town penalty shout is denied by the referee|
Damo heads home just before half time.
Town began strongly in the second half, with Damien Whitehead looking to put Town ahead just after the restart when he headed neatly over the Darwen 'keeper only to see the ball bobble inches wide of the left-hand post. Damo then came within inches of drawing level just moments later as he was released by Kevin Tyrell, but directing his shot just wide of the right upright. Town had started to play and were passing the ball around nicely in midfield. If anything was lacking, it was the final ball to the front men. Still, Town were just getting themselves back in gear after this onslaught on the Darwen defence when the visitors went ahead for the second time. Town were defending desparately when the ball was half-cleared only as far as a Darwen player who's first time snap shot flew over the helpless Thommo into the top corner from about 20 yards. This goal went completely against the run of play and Town were not going to let Darwen spoil their day. The pressure continued.
Damo heads over the
A spooned clearance at the back from Darwen looped over the defence and went out for a Town corner. After yet another goalmouth scramble, the ball came out to Whitehead, alert as ever, who directed his (feeble) shot towards the Darwen goal, left open by the flailing Purvis. Was the ball going to cross the line? It looked like it, as the photo shows, but miliseconds later the defender sliding in somehow managed to keep the ball from crossing the line. Damo's volley from the edge of the box flew narrowly over before Darwen threatened again, forcing a brilliant reaction save from Thommo in the Town net. Darwen's goalie was outshone by Thommo. Lee Purvis's desperate actions only went unpunished with Damo lurking when his defence booted the ball clear. "Hectic" was the only way to describe the events on the pitch. Even at this stage it was clear that Town had deserved to win this exciting game. Paul Berry came on and started to weave his magic down the right. After a mazy run, a corner was won. Whipped into the danger area, the ball was met powerfully by Damo's head. The bullet downwards header bounced once in front of Purvis who fell backwards along with the barrage of defenders on the line trying to keep it out. They had no chance. This was the best goal of the game by far, and Damo's 24th of the season so far.
Damo continued to hound the defence, combining well with Kevin Tyrell his strike partner, who laid the ball off on the edge of the box to Whitehead, whos dipping drive snuck narrowly over the bar in front of the bridge end. There were only moments of the game left when a vicious challenge on Thommo meant that he had to be substituted, Ian Bold taking his place in the goal. But there were only seconds left, and Town were left frustrated as the final whistle blew, bringing the game to a close. Town were desperately unlucky this time. Next time let's hope they'll play like that from the start.
|Alan Hansen says: Aye, weeel, I meean wha' canna saaee? Toon were ootstandin gooin foorwaard boot a meean thi mus jes soort oout that defeance. Thi have given awaay too soof gools thear thaat have coost em the threee points. Aye liike, but theyre lookin more an more liike a claas ooutfit..|