[B]oxing Day brought Christmas cheer for Penrith AFC with a 6-1 league win over Bishop Auckland. This was a superb team performance, and it’s hard to believe this is almost the same of team of under performing and struggling players that player-manager Kyle May inherited just under two months ago. In this match the Bonny Blues played with spirit and commitment, and put in an extraordinary second half performance that produced five goals for the home side.
The first half was a fairly even affair, with no clue of what was coming up, and it was Bishops who had the first chance on goal, with a volley flying over the Penrith bar, but after a scrappy end to end spell, it was Penrith went ahead when Martyn Coleman pounced on a fumbled save by Bishops’ goalkeeper Ryan Graham who palmed out a Brandon Robertson strike, and Penrith were ahead with an easy goal on twenty one minutes.
Bishops then started to look the more likely to score, and a shot from Griffith’s went over the bar by a couple of inches. Penrith were now in full defensive mode, and minutes later Bishops’ Shaun Ryder did score, with a low shot that gave Stuart Dixon no chance, and the teams went into half time level at 1-1, and if anything the visitors would have thought they should be getting the win.
No chance. With Robbie Hebson replacing Brad Hayton, the second half was almost all Penrith, with Dixon rarely troubled in the Penrith nets, and with May and Grant Davidson dominating any plays that came into the Penrith half.
Andy Murray-Jones was next on the score sheet, tapping in from a corner after some dreadful defence, another easy but well deserved Bonny Blues goal. Next up it was Coleman again, with his second and Penrith’s crucial third goal. The build up came from from an excellent pass from Matty Moynan to Robertson, who fed the ball to Coleman who had little trouble with a now disorfanised defence, and Coleman made it three.
At 3-1 Penrith never looked back, although Dixon did have to pull off one good save at the other end from a Tom McAloon strike, tipping the ball onto the bar. Penrith were now by far the better side, and it was man of the match Murray-Jones who got the next goal when he leapt high above a flat footed defence in the right hand side of the box and scored from a superb header which smashed into the back of the net.
With fifteen minutes to go, Will Paul came on for Mally Holliday and the bandaged Murray-Jones, who had been a constant positive influence for the home side all over the pitch, was replaced by Connor Shields, and Shields still had time to score not one but two more goals, firstly picking up a clearance and advancing on the Bishops’ goal and calmly slotting the ball home, and then with Coleman evading Graham on the right of the box and with his own chance to score for a hat trick, he passed to Shields who was perfectly placed to tap in the sixth and final goal.
The three vital points see Penrith climb out of the relegation zone into nineteenth spot, two points clear of Jarrow Roofing in Division One of the Northern League – but still six points adrift of Newton Aycliff in eighteenth spot. A mountain to climb, but Penrith have more than a fighting chance if they can play like this.
Penrith AFC: Stuart Dixon, Shaun Gardner, Mally Holliday, Matty Moynan, Kyle May, Grant Davidson (C), Brad Hayton, Adam Main, Martyn Coleman, Andy Murray-Jones, Brandon Robertson. Subs: Ben Davidson, Robbie Hebson, Connor Shields, Sam Bell, Will Paul.
Bishop Auckland FC: Ryan Graham, Aidan Hurt, Michael Hoganson, Niall McGoldrick, Stephen Tobin, Tom Marron, Andre Bennett, Priestly Griffiths, Andrew Johnson (C), Shaun Ryder, Tom McAloon. Substitutes: Ibrahim Hussain, Warren Byrne, Joe Grant, Alex Goundrey, Matty Lovegreen
Cumbria Crack Man of the Match: Andy Murray Jones.