MAGIC. That was how the Examiner’s chief football writer Mel Booth described Town’s thrilling 3-0 win over West Brom.
“Playing like this, Town have got every chance of making the play-offs,” he wrote.
“Commitment, passion, endeavour, craft. It flowed from every sinew.
“And the fans loved every minute of some smashing entertainment.”
Goals by Phil Starbuck, League debutant Chris Billy and a Gary Strodder own goal put Ian Ross’s side back into eighth position.
Booth continued: “It wasn’t just that West Brom were made to look second best all over the field. Town shone.
“They produced the football which marked their early-season billing as the best team in Division III – and they did it with style.
“It was a performance inspired by the graft, enthusiasm, guts and tirelessness of Peter Butler, the loan man from Southend, who began his career at Leeds Road and played like he’d never been away.
“Butler tackled and worked and was the catalyst for the best Town performance in months. He was magnificent.
“His adaptability took pressure off the defence and allowed the attack to breathe with an assurance not shown since Chris Marsden was last in a No4 shirt.
“What a difference Marsden made. Switching the play, controlling the ball and illustrating how much Town have missed him over the last few agonising months.”
Marsden and Butler, of course, were eventually to guide Town into the play-offs for the first time in their history a few weeks later, only for them to be beaten by Peterborough over a two-legged semi-final.
Against West Brom, however, Starbuck netted the first goal after 25 minutes after powering home a header from a Iwan Roberts nod down, and Billy slipped in No2 at the end of a sweeping move involving both Roberts and Starbuck.
Billy, Graham Mitchell – who was to make his 200th league appearance against Bury in the next match – and Marsden were all involved in the build-up to the third goal, which came from a direct cross and led to a wonderful own goal from Strodder.
“That capped the day,” concluded Booth, now the Head of Sport.
“Not only were Town playing splendidly with Butler and Marsden at the helm, but the opposition were scoring goals for them as well!”
Town’s team, playing in front of a crowd of 7,428 at Leeds Road, was: Tim Clarke, Simon Trevitt, Simon Charlton, Chris Marsden, Graham Mitchell, Peter Jackson, Chris Billy, Peter Butler, Iwan Roberts, Phil Starbuck, Iffy Onuora. Subs not used were Kieran O’Regan and Mark Wright.
Left-back Charlton, midfielder Marsden and striker Roberts were named in the PFA Third Division XI for the season.