MEAN defending and sharp finishing helped Town overpower AFC Emley 8-0 in front of almost 2,000 at the Welfare Ground last night.
Stan Ternent’s strong side were three up inside 15 minutes, five up at the break and – after seven changes at half time and 19 players used in all – added three more in the second half.
Northern Counties East League Emley worked hard to force a few late efforts, Ash Flynn hitting a post and having another shot cleared from the line, but they were rocked by an injury to centre-back Kyle Benton, who was later taken to hospital by ambulance with a suspected broken ankle.
Town’s only injury problem was a twisted right ankle for midfielder James Berrett, who had already found the net by the time he was replaced by Tom Clarke on 16 minutes, although he’s expected to be fit for the next pre-season assignment against Hamilton Academical at Hartlepool on Saturday (noon).
Town’s other scorers last night were Nathan Clarke (2), Phil Jevons (2), Andy Butler, Keigan Parker and Robbie Williams as they produced some decent entertainment in a 4-4-2 system for a crowd of 1,927.
Receipts will provide a solid platform for Ian Banks’ side in Division I of the NCE, and he’ll be pleased with the spirit and attitude of his side to try and bridge a big gulf in class on a Welfare Ground surface superbly prepared by ex-Galpharm groundsman Raymond Chappell.
Nathan Clarke opened the scoring with a cracking downward header on five minutes after Berrett had swung in a short corner from Michael Collins, while Berrett swept home the second three minutes later after an initial save from keeper Matt Clarke and a challenge by Danny Cadamarteri.
Jevons’ first was the result of a brilliant chip after the impressive Shane Killock – who played left-back in the first half and switched to the right in the second – beat the Emley defence with a fine long pass in the 15th minute.
Butler, who again looked strong and dominant at the back, started the move for Town’s fourth on 31 minutes with a raking pass to Malvin Kamara, and Jevons pounced at the second attempt after Cadamarteri had again caused problems in the box. Town were in full flow by the time the unfortunate Benton was carried off just before half time and Butler struck with his first goal for the club in added time, heading home at the back post following a cross from the right by Kamara.
Butler deserved his goal and was one of those rested in the second half when Alex Smithies replaced Matt Glennon, Williams and David Mirfin joined the defence, Danny Codman and Danny Broadbent went into midfield and Parker and Luke Beckett led the attack.
It took Parker only seven minutes to find the net with a neat flick after outpacing two defenders to a ball over the top and, inside the hour, Williams posted No7 from a 20-yard free-kick driven unerringly past the wall and the unsighted Clarke.
The scoring was completed by the man who started it, Nathan Clarke, who again showed his determination to challenge the new signings for a starting slot with a firm header from a corner.
It came just after Flynn had twice gone close to scoring – firstly being denied by Killock’s excellent clearance from the line and then by Smithies’ touch onto the post – and there was a shot just wide in the closing stages from Oliver Banks (the manager’s 16-year-old son) who showed some neat touches.
AFC Emley – Clarke (Morpeth 66), Howson, Leech (O Banks 58), Townsend, Benton (Neesam 39), Fullerton, Quinn (Higginbottom 58), Washington (Davies 66), Berry, Farrell, Flynn.
Town – Glennon (Smithies HT), Holdsworth (Williams HT), Killock, Collins (Codman HT), N Clarke, Butler (Mirfin HT), Skarz (Parker HT), Berrett (T Clarke 16), Cadamarteri (Beckett HT), Jevons (Broadbent HT), Kamara.