Royalwinnersseason2

Royal Mail, a team ahead of its time.

When Royal Mail elected to join the league, they revolutionised everyones attitude towards the game. Ruled with an iron fist by Jamie Fleming and with a purely professional outlook, they were the organisers dream. So winning the double off a Sporting Redhouse team which was far superior to the Season 1 version was a benchmark to follow.

It was Sporting who were calling the shots. Win after win culminated in a 2-2 draw against Royal Mail which gave them the edge. But an amazing shock was in store for them. Herrenknecht who were having a turgid season shocked them with a 4-2 win. Sporting's first ever defeat in the league. Royal took control and never looked back. They even wiped out Sporting in the SFL Cup quarter finals to head to the final where they met a new force in PCB. The final went to penalties and it was the unfortunate Stubbs who missed the decisive shot to give Royal the double.

Back row shows Garry Errington, Jamie Fleming, Ian Polly, Kevin Hill, Mick Stockdale, John Thirwell, William Lawson Front row: Steve Lawson, Mick Boylan, David Pringle, Anthony Langan

MATCHDAY 1 – 9th May 2000

Groundwork - early pacesetters.

Major setback for Herrenknecht and Slipway.

Groundwork teamSeason 2 kicked off with 16 teams battling it out on the opening day. Two Title Contenders opened up the League, Royal Mail and Herrenknecht, with Royal Mail  coming back from 1-0 down to win 3-2. Garrett, in goal, played well for Herrenknecht as he saved a penalty in the opening minutes but a disorganised Herrenknecht team were no real match for Royal Mail as they were picked off one by one with some clinical finishing. Gavin Wilson fired in the opening goal for Herrenknecht but David Pringle replied with 2 and Les Gamble scored the other for Royal Mail. It wasn't all bad from Herrenknecht as they managed to hit the post on several occasions and scored the best goal of the game from substitute Richardson. But despite that they are now playing "catch-up" again with all the teams in the top half of the table.

PCB bulldozed Sex & Chocolate 4-0. The games was evenly balanced at 1-0 for quite a while but PCB, with Rolls scoring a hat-trick proved that his and PCB's performances during the second half of Season 1 were no fluke as they entered the top half of the table. Sean Forrest scored the other goal as Sex & Chocolate showed no real improvement from last season. It seems that it'll take a lot of effort from S & C to make a real impact in Season 2.

Sporting, as expected beat Port of Tyne by the same score. A thoroughly dominating performance from the Champions as they fired in shot after shot on the Port of Tyne goal. Ed Cooke, in goal for Tyne, played exceptionally well otherwise the score would have been in double figures. A harsh lesson for Tyne, but they were up against the strongest team in the League and were not expected to win at all. They did manage to counterattack on several occasions and were probably unlucky not to score. Stephen Wilson scored a hat-trick and John Cairns scored the other goal.

TCB continued their steady progress which began in the late stages of Season 1 and culminated in a fine 3-1 win over Three Tuns. It was expected to be a difficult game for TCB, but they dominated and thoroughly deserved all 3 points, despite a late scare when Three Tuns scored to make it 2-1. Goal scorers for TCB were Neil Pilkington, Rob Howard, and Steven Riseborough.

A superb performance by Groundwork sent them to the summit. 9 goals scored past a hapless Thoburns gave them a head start in the goal difference table. A cruel lesson for the debutantes, with Groundwork, who finished 5th last season, proving themselves to be a strong contender for this Season. Groundwork's last season was littered with problems in getting a full squad together - but with a stronger squad this season, it's unquestionable that they'll make an impact. Graham Defty scored 6, Paul Huitson scored 2 and Lee Hodgkiss fired in the final goal. Thoburn's scored from a penalty from Mark Farnsworth but it was no consolation. Graham Defty has now scored a total of 11 goals in two games (including Season 1) while playing for Groundwork. Question is – were Groundwork so good or Thoburn's so bad? Probably in favour of the former. Groundwork did play some exceptional football in Season 1 and were hampered by a lack of squad numbers and also no set goalkeeper. Those problems seem to have been emphatically solved for this season.

A controversial decision allowed Fergusons to equalise against Slipway as both teams battled it out in a 2-2 draw. Fergusons had lost to the same team in a friendly game back in April by 2-0 but performed exceptionally well in this encounter. Melvin Keith opened the scoring from Slipway but Stronach equalised. Keith again gave Slipway the lead but in the dying minutes Claudio Petrillo snatched an equaliser to give both teams a share of the points. A disappointing start from Slipway as they started the previous season in a similar manner. But Fergusons were delighted having gained a positive result after playing and losing all three pre-season and friendly games. Slipway started again with a draw. They were likely favourites to win this game after finishing third and being unbeaten in the League since they lost 1-0 to Sporting many months ago.

Durham Pine kept pace with Groundwork after a 7-1 thrashing over BHD Windows. A strong performance from Durham who are now beginning to score goals freely - a problem which they had last season. Two goals from Dave Pitt, two from Peter Rackstraw and a solitary goal from Brian Gettins gave Durham the perfect start to the Season. BHD, ironically, played reasonable well, but Durham's experience in the League shone through. Durham lost a player through injury after making their substitution which allowed BHD to fire in their only goal from Craig Harding, but like Thoburn's, it was no consolation.

University made a winning start with a hard fought win over CDS Security. With last season's disastrous conclusion behind them, a more stronger looking team proved to have the extra edge over the new team. CDS opened the scoring from Chris Exley, but a penalty equaliser from Paul Graham put University back in the game. They went 3-1 ahead with Greg Smart firing an a first time shot and new signings combined with Jon Phillips scoring from a neat back heel by Andy Wing. Shaun Hope gave CDS a shout but despite having several chances during the game, University hung on for all three points.

An interesting set of results for all the existing teams. The low and mid-table placed teams from Season 1 gained excellent results. PCB, Groundwork and University all showed major improvements from last season. Durham managed to score a plethora of goals. Herrenknecht, arguably, had the most difficult opener against a strong Royal Mail team. Individually the team line up was strong but they failed to play and defend together as a team. Sporting performed to their usual standards in a one side affair. Sex & Chocolate were a disappointment having made no improvement whatsoever from Season 1. Slipway had a bad start with a controversial refereeing decision allowing Fergusons to gain a point. Slipway did have several opportunities to go further ahead in the game but they lacked some of their regular personnel. Most of the new teams suffered heavy defeats. Port of Tyne - predictably, Thoburns - shockingly and BHD Windows to the tune of 7-1. CDS had a reasonable start with a narrow defeat, but Three Tuns had a disastrous start losing to the bottom placed team in Season 1.

MATCHDAY 2 – 16th May 2000

Herrenknecht back on track.

Groundwork still lead the pack. Slipway turn on the style. Setback for TCB as Thoburn's halt their slide.

Herrenknecht teamThoburn's halted their slide with a hard fought 1-1 draw against TCB Accountancy. TCB had the lions share of the possession and the majority of the shooting chances but were seriously hampered by bad finishing. Neil Pilkington opened the scoring for TCB but Thoburn's made an inspired substitution with Michael Wilkinson, who broke away and equalised to help them gain some confidence and some satisfaction to know that they are no longer bottom. Excellent goalkeeping from Ian Hartley also kept them in the game. A major disappointment for TCB as they, in some part, ruined the good work they accomplished in the 3-1 win over Three Tuns. A victory would have seen them in the higher reaches of the table as they try to avoid finishing below 10th position. Thoburn's, based on their performances, are almost certain to be relegated into Division 2. It is probable that they will get better and become a stronger force in the League - but by then it might be too late.

Fergusons Transport trounced Sex & Chocolate 3-0 in a match which was evenly balanced in the first half. Both teams started the second half at 0-0 but Fergusons pushed harder for a goal. The reward came when Darren Lillie scored the first. Paul Brehenny slotted home the second after a sustained period of possession and Darren Lillie fired home the third with an unstoppable shot to win all three points. Fergusons should have scored more but bad luck and another excellent performance from then highly rated Mats Glenne, in goal for Sex & Chocolate prevented a heavier defeat. Sex & Chocolate will probably feel aggrieved that they gained nothing from this game but their performance was improving slightly. A tireless performance, though, from Fergusons as they move up into 5th position. A draw and a win after three below par performances in the pre-season games showed that they had learned much. As for Sex & Chocolate, it seems inevitable that they will be in Division 2 next season after two straight defeats.

The shock result of the day was Three Tuns 2-0 win over PCB. Three Tuns, still smarting from an opening day defeat, conditioned and organised themselves to cater for PCB. They learned quickly as they fired in two goals either side of the half to gain three points and an excellent, morale-boosting win over the highly rated PCB. Three Tuns simply had more fire and passion and a desire to win. PCB were disorganised and easily put to the sword. A major setback for PCB who were easily favourites to win, but a fine second start by Three Tuns.

CDS after a narrow defeat, last week, were confident of a positive result against Slipway, who had drawn with Fergusons on the opening day. Slipway, though, came alive earlier than expected and handed CDS a heavy beating to dent their confidence and announce their own intentions of winning the League outright. 8 goals scored against 0 with Melvin Keith bagging 4 and new player Joe Dove opening his account with 2. Stephen Clark and Billy Mooney scored the others in a much changed Slipway team with two new players making their debuts. The new look team made sure that Slipway began this season with positive results.

Durham Pine easily overcame Tyne Port with a resounding 4-0 win to match Sporting's result over the same team. Durham attacked from the kick off with Gettins grabbing an early goal to set the tone of the game. Tyne Port played some good football as they are gradually improving in the League, but despite that they simply could not break down Durham's. Just before half time Dave Pitt made it 2-0 for Durham to almost guarantee the win. Durham's new player Ian Chrystal came on at half time for Dave Pitt and hit the post with his first touch of the game, shortly afterwards Gary Ewitt burst through from defence and scored his third goal in two games. After the third goal Durham's possession and domination increased and the inevitable fourth goal finished the game off, courtesy of Ian Chrystal to mark a fine debut. Major game coming up next week for Durham as they face Sporting in their biggest test. The game will prove whether Durham have it in them to win the League, which, seen from recent performances, they definitely have…

A very depleted University team made Royal Mail fight for all three points as they went down 2-1 in an evenly balance game. University had various unassigned players "filling in" for them - only three first team players were on the field and inevitably, Royal Mail won with better organisation. A setback for the University as they attempted to start the League on a positive note. An interesting game for University next week as they face JJB Sports. A win would take them further up the League and with one win already against one of the new teams - it could consolidate their position and keep them above the relegation line. Royal Mail have a major game against Slipway. Slipway won in pre-season 2-1 but as seen that result counts for nothing. Both teams are definite contenders for the Title.

Thoburn's place at the foot of the table was taken by BHD Windows who were, again, heavily beaten, this time by high flyers, Groundwork. Its hard to assess BHD as they have played two exceptionally strong and experienced teams. They have encounters against teams in the bottom half of the table over the next few weeks and should gain some confidence from better performances. As for Groundwork, goals from four different players, Sean Ward, Paul Huitson, Lee Hodgkiss and Graham Defty along with an own goal kept them at the top on goal difference. There was one controversial moment in the first half when the team had a shot which hit the inside of the post and bounced back out - Groundwork were adamant that they had scored but the referee did not. No complaints from Groundwork though as they played well to consolidate their position. BHD Windows were almost reluctant to attack, wary of the quick Groundwork attacks and seem resigned to another defeat.

Herrenknecht finally woke up and demonstrated why they came Second in the League last Season and were amongst the favourites for this Season. A loss last week was a serious setback as the team seemed to be in disarray. Despite losing 2-1 JJB Sports in a pre-season, they began confidently and raced into an unstoppable 4-0, first half lead. JJB's kept their heads up and caused a stir with 2 quick second half goals as Herrenknecht's defending was non-existent but they soon took control again to end up 8-3 winners. Gavin Wilson, now playing as striker, scored 5, while Baines, Hunt and Richardson added the others. The result was even more remarkable considering that Herrenknecht did not have a natural defender in their team. Sangha (who normally fills this role) was forced to play in goal due to Chris Garrett's absence and Lambert was pushed deeper to defend more. Ironically, Garrett was Herrenknecht's best player in the 2-1 pre-season defeat. A major disappointment for JJB Sports as they expected at least a draw after beating the same team pre-season. One consolation was Alan Burn's excellent hat-trick and the come-back in the second half. Against a lesser team they could have made an impact but against a strong Herrenknecht team they were undone.

Early stages, but the table seems to be taking shape with only Royal Mail and Fergusons out of the new teams making the top of the table. Sporting, in 8th position, will unquestionably rise to the top after missing this week. An interesting bottom half of the table. Three Tuns are just below the Relegation Line on goal difference and 5 teams have 0 points. BHD, Tyne Port and CDS are stuck at the bottom, although

What it all boils down to, and this goes for the likes of Herrenknecht, Durham Pine, Royal Mail, Slipway and Groundwork, is that they may beat other teams easily, but to win the League, they will eventually have to beat Sporting Redhouse.

MATCHDAY 3 – 23rd May 2000

Big guns silence each other.

Groundwork take advantage win another win. CDS and JJB register their first wins. Sex & Chocolate look doomed.

The two outstanding fixtures of the night were Sporting Redhouse v  Durham Pine and Royal Mail Sunderland v Slipway.

Sporting dominated their game in the first half and scored early on from Kevin Turner. Durham immediately equalised and took control in the second half. They led 2-1 until the very end when hard work and persistence from Stephen Wilson allowed Sporting to grab a share of the points. Dave Pitt and Richie Carr scored the goals for Durham as a 2-2 draw mirrored the Season 1 clash and was probably a fair result. Sporting seemed satisfied with the point whereas Durham Pine were disappointed. Durham's excellent start to the season continued and Sporting have another difficult fixture next week against high flying Groundwork.

Royal Mail suffered a 3-2 pre-season defeat against Slipway and were determined to do better. Slipway thrashed CDS 8-0 the previous week while Royal Mail struggled to beat the University 2-1. The style of the teams was similar. Both mixing skill with a strong physical game. The result was a bruising, but fair game which ended 1-1. Melvin Keith fired in the opening salvo to put Slipway ahead, but Royal Mail played some good football which was rewarded with a goal from Steve Lawson. All in all, both teams were generally satisfied with the outcome.

The other major game was an expected win for Groundwork over Tyne Port. The final result: 6-0 was an improvement for Groundwork over Sporting's and Durham's 4-0 wins over the same team and sets the stage for the much anticipated encounter against Sporting next week. Sean Ward scored a hat-trick while Huitson grabbed 2 and Hodgkiss scored the other. Defty, for a change, failed to score. The game should prove whether, or not, Groundwork have the strength to win the League. Tyne Port have had the most difficult start of all the teams this Season. Games against Sporting and Durham preceded this encounter, but a game against TCB next week could be a bit more evenly balanced than the table shows. After that Tyne Port have games against the teams closer to them in the table.

JJB's put their opening heavy defeat well behind them with a resounding 4-1 win over the University. Paul Graham scored University's consolation as JJB's took advantage of a  disorganised team to race into a handsome lead and then maintain it during the remainder of the game. Alan Burn bagged his second hat-trick in two games and Fletcher added the solitary goal. University were disappointed at losing two games in a row, and with a difficult next game against a resurgent Herrenknecht, they could well find themselves struggling to maintain their top flight status. Excellent play from Paul Graham and reserve player, Mark Kelsey were the plus points for University who look like they will have a much changed team for their next encounter.

Three Tuns were probably the most unlucky team of the night. The held a 2-1 lead against Fergusons but were denied the three points by a late equaliser. The second half performance was nothing short of excellent as they lost a player to injury at the start of the half and, with no substitutes, played out the remainder of the game with four outfield players. A disappointment for Three Tuns and probably a disappointment for Fergusons as they should have took advantage - they still remain unbeaten in the League after three games. Jason Lonsdale and Neil Pringle scored for Three Tuns and Ian Stronach shared Fergusons goals with Darren Portrey.

CDS gained their first win after two defeats against a doomed Sex & Chocolate. Having already lost to PCB, Fergusons and now CDS, it looks grim for the S & C squad as they languish in the bottom of the table and look destined for Division 2. CDS proved in the narrow (3-2) defeat against University and the heavy (8-0) defeat against Slipway that they could play good football, and against Sex & Chocolate they certainly did. They matched and beat Sex & Chocolate for skill and aggression to gain a much need three points. Jeff Morrow and Paul Brownson scored 2 each and Mark Findlay added the other. Graham Bambrough scored S & C's consolation.

PCB put the surprise 2-0 defeat against Three Tuns behind them with a narrow 2-1 win over the rapidly improving Thoburn's. PCB went 2-0 ahead but with Thoburn's hitting a reply, the team looked nervous. They held on to register all three points and also gained a much needed boost after last week's defeat. Sean Forrest and Gary Rolls scored for PCB and, again, Michael Wilkinson scored Thoburn's goal.

TCB continued their remarkable unbeaten run with another victory, this time over BHD Windows. Despite going a goal down, scored by Steven Harding, experience and a better squad pushed TCB to gain the equaliser and run out 4-1 winners in the end. All the goals came from David Ellis and it confirmed TCB's third place position. They could even go top next week if they manage to beat Tyne Port and other results go their way. Relegation to Division 2, their greatest fear, seems completely out of the equation as they have managed to beat the teams they were hoping to and remain unbeaten for the time being. A fixture against Sporting Redhouse is on the horizons and how they perform in that game should decide their progress over the course of the Season.

MATCHDAY 4 – 30th May 2000

Royal Mail go top as Sporting cruise past Groundwork.

Herrenknecht and University in an 8 goal thriller. TCB fail to reach the pinnacle.

In the end Sporting cruised to a 3-0 win over Groundwork. The much hyped match failed to meet the standards of the Durham Pine - Sporting 2-2 draw. Groundwork surprisingly matched Sporting for physical strength and skill and they played some excellent football. The team failed to penetrate the Sporting defence and a breakaway goal from Cairns set Sporting up for the second half in which the Champions came back into it. Two further goals from Turner and Cairns gave Sporting a handsome win which could have been higher had it not been for Hodgson in the Groundwork goal. With a major clash against Durham Pine next week, Groundwork have to regroup and make sure they don't move further down the table after an excellent start

Amazing goalkeeping from Ed Cooke rewarded Tyne Port with a 0-0 draw against high-flying TCB. A win would have guaranteed an unprecedented 1st place position for TCB, but as against Thoburns, they failed to take advantage despite controlling most of the game. Strikes on goal from Tyne Port were few and far between but they were reasonably accurate. TCB should have gained all three points but failed miserably in the striking department. The good strikes were beaten out by Ed Cooke who deserved the man of the match award. The bad news for TCB is that they face Sporting next week....

PCB continued their quiet progress as they jumped into 3rd place. A hard fought 2-0 win over BHD Windows kept them in the top half of the table. BHD were unfortunate but they remain rooted at the foot of the table along with Sex and Chocolate. A disallowed goal for BHD could have made all the difference but unfortunately for them, Gary Rolls and Liam McGinty (making his first appearance this Season) hit the net with two well taken strikes. PCB are now into 3rd place and despite the hiccup against Three Tuns look good value for their positioning.

Slipway thumped JJB's to the tune of 5-0. New signing, Neil Richardson came on as a substitute to hit 2 to match Joe Dove who scored 2. Paul Mooney scored the other as JJB's lost the momentum of the 4-1 University win last week. It was unfortunate for JJB's as they kept the score down to 1-0 in the first half only to collapse in the second. A solid performance from Slipway as they have bolstered their already large squad with some excellent players in order to mount a serious challenge. Inconsistency was their undoing last season but it appears that they are well capable of taking on Sporting Redhouse for the Title.

Royal Mail shot to the top of the League with a resounding 4-1 win over S & C, despite going a goal down. After last week's heavy defeat, S&C were a little nervous coming into this game against one of the league's strongest sides. Showing their superior skill from the kick off, Royal Mail dominated the first five minutes. However, it was S&C who took the lead thanks to an outrageous piece of good fortune - a stray last ditch tackle on the S&C box spinning ludicrously to Graham Bambrough in front of the opposite goal who scored his second goal in two games. Although S&C frustrated Royal Mail until almost half time, it was the favourites who were eventual winners. A solid performance earning them a 4-1 victory. Four different players were on the scoresheet: Steve Lawson, Langhan, Gamble and substitute Polly. Groundwork having lost beforehand and TCB failing to score past Tyne Port meant that Royal Mail were on top.

Fergusons remained unbeaten in the League as they beat Thoburns 3-2. Fergusons raced into a 2 goal lead but were pegged back by two goals from Michael Wilkinson as Thoburns got back into the game. Fergusons managed to score a final goal which settled the tie. Darren Lillie, Ian Stronach and Claudio Petrillo hit the goals for Fergusons. Thoburns are definitely improving but it's likely that they will be in Division 2 next season having yet to play the likes of Durham Pine, Sporting, Slipway and Herrenknecht.

Three Tuns continued their fine form with a 4-2 win over CDS. In a tough tackling encounter both the Three Tuns' scorers got booked as both teams fought it out for the points. The Three Tuns' keeper made some excellent saves to thwart the CDS strikers as his team made no mistake up front. The result was probably the correct one but CDS could count themselves unfortunate. Mark Casey hit an excellent hat-trick while Neil Campbell bagged the other. Shaun Hope and Paul Brownson scored for CDS.

The most entertaining game of the night was the Herrenknecht - University encounter. Both teams played out a 1-1 draw in Season 1 and both had contrasting finishes to Season 1. Herrenknecht finished in 2nd Place whereas University reached the Final of the Challenge Trophy. Herrenknecht were obvious favourites and raced into a 3-1 lead. Major defensive mishaps cursed Herrenknecht throughout the game with almost every player making a mistake which led to a goal. The normally reliable Garrett made a howler of a mistake to make it 1-1. But even at 3-1 ahead mistakes were being made. Paul Graham tormented the (non-existent) Herrenknecht defence as he did in Season 1 and was rewarded with 2 goals. University were leading 4-3 with seconds remaining until Herrenknecht equalised to steal a share of the points. The only plus point was Herrenknecht's incessant attacking play led by Richardson. Herrenknecht look unbelievable going forward but at the back simple mistakes are now leading to crucial goals being conceded.

MATCHDAY 5 – 6th June 2000

BHD, Tyne Port and Thoburns show improvement

Groundwork's Title hopes almost dead and buried. Herrenknecht shut out Slipway as Royal maintain their Number 1 Position.

Tyne Port v PCBThe big game of the night was Slipway v Herrenknecht.

Both teams have had contrasting fortunes in the League. Herrenknecht look unlikely to win the League and would consider a top three finish as success. Slipway, on the other hand, are genuine contenders and with 13 goals scored in their last two games, they were obvious favourites to come out on top in this encounter.

Herrenknecht suffered a player exodus as two key players, Hunt and Richardson were unavailable. The team closed ranks and became more defensive. The actual line up was not too different from the team which beat Slipway 2-1 in Season 1. Slipway had their full team available.

A 0-0 first half saw both 'keepers make excellent saves as Herrenknecht probably had the majority of the chances. The second half was mostly Slipway and Herrenknecht on the counterattack. With a forward line of Melvin Keith, Joe Dove and Neil Richardson, Herrenknecht faced an onslaught which was repelled by Chris Garrett, in goal, who was arguably the man of the match. His opposite number Mark Turnbull was equally on form as both teams were reasonably satisfied with the outcome.

Sporting annihilated unbeaten TCB 5-1. Cairns shot to the top of the Goalscoring Charts with 5 goals. TCB held on and even scored to make it 2-1 but when the third goal went in their heads dropped as they lacked motivation. Constant pressure from Sporting helped with Kevin Turner, in particular playing exceptionally well. Stephen Wilson, however, looked below par and out of form as Cairns' stole the show.

A deflected goal from Gary Rolls set PCB on their way against Tyne Port. PCB in third place prior to the game starting were ready to push for three points prior to their major encounter against Sporting next week. However, as all the lower placed teams are showing, Tyne Port were rapidly improving and gained an equaliser from Alex Hope. The final score of 1-1 was probably a disappointment for PCB but an excellent boost for Tyne Port who, having drawn against TCB last week, look forward to getting a victory under their belt in the following weeks.

BHD caused the shock of the night by ending Fergusons' unbeaten run. BHD scored on each side of the half to set them on their way, despite a late Fergusons' goal. "Tactical" time wasting frustrated Fergusons in the dying minutes, but with BHD close to their first win and first points, no one could deny BHD's commitment. Darren Lillie scored for Fergusons but Tommy Hutchinson scored both goals for BHD.

CDS and Thoburns took part in an amazing 4-4 draw. CDS were favoured to win but they were always on the back foot attempting to equalise against Thoburns. Shaun Hope hit a hat-trick and Chris Exley added the other.

A solid performance from Royal Mail made sure they remained at the top of the table. 4-1 over an improving Three Tuns was an excellent result. Langhan scored 2 while Lawson and Patterson shared 2. Casey scored for Three Tuns as they were no match for the Leaders.

Durham Pine went into the Groundwork game knowing they needed the full three points to keep up there with the Leading Teams having watched Royal Mail and Sporting take all three points against their opponents. In a game between two members of the "Big Six", Durham started in a very positive and attacking mood. They knocking the ball about and playing some attractive football which was good to watch. Durham opened the scoring after some crisp one touch football which left Richie Carr running clean through too hit a first time shot across goal beating the keeper at his right-hand post. Groundwork, after their 3-0 defeat against the Champions, last week, looked nervous as Durham Pine continued to press with numerous chances. They maintained possession which led to Dave Pitt grabbing Durham's second from the edge of the box. The second half saw Groundwork, from the kick off, pushing all their men forward attempting to grab an early goal to get them back into the game, left their defence wide open, Durham took full advantage of this with a long throw over the top from the keeper in which Richie Carr found him self in acres of space controlling well with his first touch and smashing home his second goal of the match and Durham's third. Durham having been 3 goals up at half time brought on their new signing Ian Clayton replacing Brian Gettins, As the second half went on Durham seemed to take their foot of the peddle in which Groundwork started to create a few chances leading up to their first goal. After Groundwork got their goal they could have added another if it wasn't for tremendous double save from Peter Carty, this left him with a painful injury in a place where no man should have an injury but it did not affect his overall performance. Durham made a further substitution with Ian Chrystal replacing Richie Carr and making a instant impact linking up well with their new signing and slotting home from the edge of the box clinching a good win after a good overall performance and keeping their unbeaten run going. A definite contender along with Sporting, Royal Mail and Slipway.

A fifth straight defeat for Sex & Chocolate condemned them to the bottom of the table and also, most likely, Division 2 football for Season 3. They looked as if they were set for a 0-0 draw until an excellent late goal for JJB Sports from Alan Burn, his 7th goal of the Season gave JJB's all three points. An average match in which both teams had opportunities. JJB's hit the post on a few occasions and Sex & Chocolate also had their moments. A draw would have been a fair result.

MATCHDAY 6 – 13th June 2000

No more easy games as Sex & Chocolate, TCB and University cause major upsets.

Sex & Chocolate's first win since February overshadows excellent results elsewhere.

In terms of names and experience, Herrenknecht were odds on favourites to win (if not slaughter) Sex & Chocolate. Herrenknecht, despite having an inconsistent season, were more than capable of winning. Sex & Chocolate suffered a narrow defeat against JJBs the previous week but were still expected to lose. The form book seemed to be going correctly as Lambert and Paul Garrett put Herrenknecht 2-0 ahead in the first half. But then the comeback, Bambrough set S & C on their way as he scored first. Sex & Chocolate then scored a deserved equaliser as they piled the pressure on. Walker fired Herrenknecht back into the lead but the, again, non-existent defence let Herrenknecht down as S & C hit another two goals. Neil Howe scored 2 and Dave Gourlay hit the other. Herrenknecht looked shell shocked and Gavin Wilson, in particular did nothing in attack against one of the (allegedly) weakest defences in the League. Baines had an off day as he missed several excellent opportunities and most of the other players simply seem as if they were not "up for it". True, Sangha, was on the sidelines, but with a side bolstered with the likes of Gavin Wilson, Christian Baines, Barry Lambert and the highly rated Trevor Walker they should have won. Sweeping changes are on the cards for Herrenknecht in their next game as the personnel and system will be extensively changed - and with the return of Richardson and Hunt - they have to improve.

University and TCB inflicted the first defeats for Slipway and Durham pine, respectively.

University fully deserved their win after having a week off. They went ahead with Paul Graham firing one in but Slipway equalised. University then went ahead with Anthony Strange firing in his first League goal in his first appearance this Season. University had a goal disallowed as Slipway's appearance of invulnerability vanished.

It was the same for Durham as they went ahead in their game against TCB. Durham looked nervous as the game went on and suffered an inevitable equaliser from Ellis. They soon went behind as TCB sensed their nervousness with another goal from Ellis.

All three teams, Herrenknecht, Slipway and Durham Pine suffered from extreme arrogance - thinking they could turn up with any team and beat the others. The thing to remember is that the other teams want to win as well.

Royal Mail nearly suffered the same fate as the other teams as they were 2-0 down against Thoburns. Inspired substitutions by Royal Mail Manager Jamie Fleming put his team back on course with a final result of 4-2. Langhan scored a hat-trick and Lawson scored the other. Wilkinson scored 2 for Thoburns as they have a huge game against Herrenknecht in two weeks time.

Tyne Port gained their first win after excellent, steady progress over the last three games. A 2-0 win over Fergusons, who have now suffered two defeat - back to back, was fully deserved. Chris Dixon scored his teams' goals as they slowly climb out of the bottom part of the table closer to the Relegation Line.

Sporting inevitably beat PCB by a 5-1 score line. An easy game for Sporting as Cairns was left unmarked and punished the opposition with 5 goals. He's now scored 10 goals in two games and looks as if he'll be holding the Golden Boot Trophy again. Gary Rolls scored for PCB as they were well and truly beaten.

CDS overcame BHD by 3 goals to 2. BHD clawed their way back to 2-2 but suffered a third goal from CDS. Shaun Hope and Jeff Morrow scored the goals for CDS with Hope grabbing two. Mark Nelson and Tommy Wilkinson scored the BHD goals.

A disastrous goalkeeping error helped Three Tuns to a 2-1 win over JJB Sports. Jason Lonsdale and Martin Cowell scored for Three Tuns while Andrew Browning scored a consolation for JJB.

MATCHDAY 7 – 27th June 2000

Tyne Port end Royal Mail's run while Sporting return to the top.

Herrenknecht's easy win. Three Tuns climb into a safe position.

A crucial game opened the evening after a weeks' break. Herrenknecht, rapidly disappearing into obscurity had to face an improving Thoburns team. A change of tactics from Herrenknecht saw Gavin Wilson partner Davinder Sangha in defence. A front line of Hunt, Lambert and Richardson was there to create chances. Hunt and Richardson were returning from a three week absence.

Herrenknecht scored in the opening minutes with a very soft goal from Richardson. They controlled the game as Sangha and Wilson nullified the Thoburns attack. A second goal for John Hunt made a win almost certain. A third goal, again from Hunt, sealed the win and despite Wilkinson scoring from a quickly taken free kick, Herrenknecht had a comfortable three points as they finally look to have found their starting line up and shape. Thoburns were restricted to around three shots on goal all match which speaks volumes for the new defensive duo.

Slipway made sure that the previous defeat (off University) was a flash in the pan as they demolished Sex & Chocolate. The irony was that Sex & Chocolate scored first and the game was finally balanced until the second half. The final score of 7-1 concluded a match which degenerated into dangerous tackles and bad behaviour which continued after the game had ended. Barry Clark, Neil Richardson, Paul Mooney, Joe Dove, Michael Mooney and Melvin Keith (with two goals) scored for Slipway. Neil Howe scored the Sex & Chocolate goal.

Sporting Redhouse pulverised CDS Security 6-0 with a dominating performance. CDS played reasonably well and should have scored at least a couple of goals but the superiority of Sporting showed with an easy win. With other results going their way, Sporting are now back at the top of the table for the first time this season and will be very difficult to dislodge

PCB and Groundwork played out a 3-3 draw. Lucky for Groundwork as they equalised with a last minute penalty. A reasonably successful game for Groundwork as they were defeated 3-0 nearly three weeks ago by Sporting. Gary Rolls had another good game as he notched up two more goals. Groundwork's goals came from debutante Steven Sinnott and two from Paul Huitson, including the last minute penalty. John Wardle scored the other PCB goal.

Durham Pine started the match much changed from previous weeks with four players away on holiday. The game started very much evenly balanced with both teams having early chances then Ferguson's broke down the left to cross a tricky ball into the middle in which Glenn Conley stepped into the box to conceded a penalty in which Ian Stronach from Ferguson's converted to make the score 1-0. When Durham restarted the game they moved straight into second gear which they couldn't do against TCB the week before. As the game went on Durham seemed to grow stronger passing the ball about well and going in strong on Ferguson's then Gary Ewitt found Glenn Conley in acres of space in which he waited and judged he's pass to perfection to find Brian Gettins at the other side of the box to grab Durham's equalizer. The score stayed the same into the second half in which Durham dominated and Richie Carr scored Durham's second of the night and if it wasn't for some excellent goalkeeping from Ferguson's Durham could have had a lot more.

A 2-2 draw involving BHD and JJBs was probably a fair result. In a game which swung from end-to-end both teams had chances which were either squandered or saved. A good result for BHD especially as they had a depleted squad. Tommy Wilkinson scored both goals again for BHD while Alan Burn and Andrew Browning scored for JJB Sports.

Three Tuns moved up into fourth place with a resounding 4-0 win over University as the University team struggled, again, with players. A depleted University team were no match Three Tuns attack. A crucial week next week for the University as influential manager, Greg Smart is unavailable for the rest of the season and Paul Graham takes over. They face a tricky Cup Game against JJB Sports, and having been last seasons' finalists, they'll want to be there again. Three Tuns on the other hand have had an excellent season to date. Mark Casey bagged a hat-trick and Phil Duffy scored the other goal.

The best result of the night was Tyne Port, maintaining their four match unbeaten run by inflicting the first defeat on Royal Mail. Strong defending and excellent counterattacking resulted in Tom Monaghan scoring from a difficult position in front of the ruck of players. Royal Mail pressed and despite some good goalkeeping from Ed Cooke, Tyne Port were in no real danger and polished off an excellent win with a last minute penalty from Chris Dixon.

Challenge Trophy - 4th July 2000

Sex & Chocolate's penalty win.

Herrenknecht eliminated. Slipway, Sporting and Royal Mail through. Last season's finalists, University, eliminated.

Having brushed aside CDS Security in the Preliminary Round, Royal Mail had to face Three Tuns in the First Round. A 4-1 defeat inflicted on the Tuns by Royal Mail in the League was completely void as the teams played out a thrilling 3-3 draw. Penalties were to decide the outcome and Royal Mail pulled through with a 2-1 win.

Groundwork were matched against Thoburns, a team which they defeated 9-1 in the opening day of the Season. A comfortable 4-0 win sent Groundwork through as expected.

Sporting Redhouse the current holders also went through as expected against BHD Windows, despite BHD putting up a good fight. John Cairns scored another hat-trick and Stephen Wilson added two. Tommy Wilkinson scored both the BHD goals.

JJB Sports dumped last season's finalist out with a comfortable 4-2 win. Another much changed team saw University's inconsistency shine through.

The result of the night was Sex & Chocolate's penalty win over Tyne Port. Despite being the favourites to go through, Tyne Port conceded a goal after 10 seconds, but did manage to equalise. A shootout was the result and Mark Tearney's two saves sent Sex & Chocolate through.

TCB Accountancy easily beat Fergusons Transport 4-0. Fergusons have now lost four games in a row and appear to be in a serious slump. A competent performance from TCB as they proved their recent successful run was no fluke.

A closely fought game between Durham Pine and Slipway resulted in a 2-1 win for Slipway. Durham went 2 goals down but grabbed a late goal to make the remaining moments of the game a nervous affair for Slipway.

PCB eliminated one of the pre-season favourites, Herrenknecht in an unbalanced game in which Herrenknecht had the majority of the possession. Herrenknecht hit the cross bar and post on several occasions and failed to take several good opportunities which came their way. Hunt opened the scoring only to see it cancelled out by Wardle. Christian Baines had a seemingly valid goal disallowed and immediately PCB scored the winner with Wardle grabbing his second. Hunt had a good chance to take the game to penalties but failed to take his chance as Herrenknecht were eliminated.

The Quarter Final draw made after the games threw up some interesting ties. The big one is unquestionably Sporting v Royal Mail. Both teams are now favourites, along with Slipway to lift the Cup. Slipway face PCB, and despite it seeming to be a balanced game, Slipway should pull through. JJB Sports face Sex & Chocolate in a game which is definitely hard to call. The final tie sees Groundwork taking on TCB.

 

 MATCHDAY 8 – 11th July 2000

Thoburns' first win. Royal Mail and Sporting share the points.

Herrenknecht's first consecutive League win. PCB dominate the TCB local derby.

Full marks to both Referees as they kept a control on some potentially explosive clashes.

A major encounter was held with Royal Mail taking on the Champions in a tie which could have decided the Championship if it went in favour of Sporting Redhouse. As expected, a game between two of the so called "Big Six" teams always prove to be excellent.

Sporting were still unbeaten in the League whereas Royal Mail had lost against Tyne Port in their last League game. The outcome was a fair 1-1 draw. Royal Mail missed a penalty in the opening half only to concede a goal at the start of the second half from Cairns. Royal Mail's possession and persistence paid off when David Pringle scored a superb long range shot near the end. Both teams had chances to win the game in the last moments and Danny Coulson, playing in his last Season with Sporting, made some excellent stops to keep Sporting's unbeaten run going. A fantastic game, one of the best so far which compared with the Durham Pine v Sporting Redhouse and Herrenknecht v Slipway game.

Herrenknecht raced into a 2 goal lead against BHD courtesy of Richardson and Hunt and looked to be coasting. Defensive mishaps (a concurrent theme in Herrenknecht's season) led to BHD clawing it back to 2-2 within minutes. Pressure soon paid off with Herrenknecht scoring a further 2 goals to gain a much needed win. Gavin Wilson scored two goals as he played in the forward line in the absence of Baines. Tommy Wilkinson scored both for BHD as they seemed to lack the will to take control once the score was tied at 2-2.

Slipway scored two goals against Three Tuns to gain an important victory which kept them in the title hunt. Paul Mooney and Michael Mooney were on the score sheet. Three Tuns made it difficult for Slipway as their recent form has shown but with key players missing - it was obvious that Slipway would overcome them

Durham Pine v CDS Security was probably the roughest game of the night which resulted in Jeff Morrow, from CDS, being sent off for dissent more than anything. A major disappointment for CDS as they dominated the game after leading 1-0 then 2-1. Durham persevered and eventually led 3-2. CDS missed a late penalty when they were a man down which would have given them a deserved point. The irony was that the previously heavily criticised Brian Gettins scored the winner for Durham when he came on as a second half substitute to keep Durham in the Title Race. For CDS it was a third straight defeat despite the return of the Manager Chris Exley. The return was allied to an excellent battling performance which was unfortunately in vain. Richie Curry and Richie Carr scored the others for Durham while Paul Brownson and Jeff Morrow scored for CDS.

Tyne Port gained a morale boosting 4-2 win over a depleted JJB Sports team despite conceding a first minute own goal. The win sent them into the top section of the table just above the Relegation Line to set up a mouth-watering clash against Herrenknecht. Graham Newton scored three goals (including one own goal) and Tom Monaghan scored the other two for Tyne Port. Kevin Shillitto scored JJB Sports' consolation goal on his debut

Thoburns finally gained their first win of the Season with a much deserved win over University. Ironically, Thoburns had a depleted squad with two stand in players, whereas University, yet again, had a completely different team. The defeat probably set the University on a course towards Relegation, along with Thoburns who, as expected, have shown excellent steady progress during the last few weeks, but, as mentioned earlier in the Season, the progress has come too late. Mark Farnsworth and Tom Ramsay scored for Thoburns and Paul Herbertson hit the University's solitary goal.

Groundwork put themselves back on track with a superb 4-2 win over Fergusons. The result meant that Fergusons dropped into the Relegation Zone with a run of 5 straight defeats. Despite that, the performance was reasonable but they were punished by some excellent finishing from Groundwork. Fergusons did fight back with Paul Brehenny and Frank Home scoring but a resurgent Groundwork look to have put their two major defeats against Durham and Sporting well and truly behind them.

Another big game, overshadowed by the Top-of-the-Table clash was PCB v TCB. Classed as a local derby, both teams were capable and strong this Season and both teams had won their previous week's Cup games. In the event, PCB totally outclassed TCB with a dominating performance that resulted in a devastating 4-1 win. On paper PCB were the better team, but TCB's excellent League run proved that they were a team to be watched. John Wardle scored a hat-trick in his third game for PCB and ever present Gary Rolls added the other goal. Riseborough scored for TCB as they were well and truly devastated.

MATCHDAY 9 – 18th July 2000

Sex & Chocolate prove their critics wrong…again.

Durham Pine annihilated by Royal Mail. Herrenknecht's inconsistency continues. Ross fires in all four goals for a resurgent University.

Herrenknecht were defeated, again, 2-1 in another game in which they dominated. Despite going a goal down, an error by Mitchell and in some ways Garrett, who allowed himself to be lobbed by Chris Dixon, they began the second half with Walker replacing Mitchell and an equaliser after 20 seconds. Hunt scored his 6th goal of the Season and from there, Herrenknecht should have tool control. But, as expected, they failed to hit the target or put away one of their many chances to seal a win. A second breakaway goal by Tyne Port sealed the win. Another defensive error, this time by Sangha and also partially by Chris Garrett, who failed to get up in time after making a save. John Hunt proceeded to miss a late penalty which would have given Herrenknecht a point but Tyne Port fully deserved their win. Herrenknecht, as in the PCB Cup defeat, were scratching their heads thinking on how they failed to win. Simple answer....take your chances.

Slipway were all too powerful for Thoburns. Paul Mooney scored a hat-trick while Neil Richardson added the remaining two in a thoroughly deserved 5-0 victory.

A belated appearance by Michael Ross allowed University to grab and excellent 4-1 win over BHD Windows. Ross scored all four goals in his debut and looks to make an impact as University attempt to climb out of the Relegation Zone. As for BHD, back to back League defeats means that they will probably be Relegated.

After beating Herrenknecht, nobody rated them. And after beating Tyne Port on penalties in the Cup, nobody was convinced. It appears now that Sex & Chocolate have gained the credibility they fully deserve with a 3-1 win over the highly rated Three Tuns. They raced into a three goal lead and despite Three Tuns bagging a consolation goal, Sex & Chocolate were pretty impressive. The only downside was that two players, one from each side, were sent off for fighting.

Anth Langhan put his penalty miss against Sporting behind as Royal Mail swept away Durham Pine to the tune of 5 goals to 1. Langhan scored 4 goals and Lawson scored 1. Ironically, it was an evenly balanced game, but Royal Mail's clinical finishing made it apparent that they are an awesome team to take on. Durham were disappointing and looks as if they have blown their title chances.

Groundwork continued their good recent run with an outstanding 9-0 win over a much depleted CDS Security team. Groundwork ran circles around CDS and were ultimately rewarded with another high score to equal the Thoburns result on Day 1. Groundwork were by far the better team as they controlled 90% of the game, and some great quick "to feet" passing proved far too much for CDS. There were some great goals from Groundwork as a much depleted CDS were easily beaten. Beardmore was solid at the back and Huitson made some excellent midfield run as Sinnott added the finishing touches in style. Steve Sinnott has now scored an amazing 12 goals in 4 games.

A depleted TCB were still too strong for Fergusons Transport who look doomed to playing Second Division football after 6 successive defeats.

Sporting Redhouse swarmed over JJB Sports in the opening minutes and should have scored long before they actually did. When they did it seemed as if the floodgates would open but JJB Sports held themselves well. Playing with a depleted squad, they managed to score 2 goals but the eventual 6-2 win for Sporting put the result into perspective and kept the Champions on top of the table.

MATCHDAY 10 – 25th July 2000

Herrenknecht beat the unbeatable.

Sensational 4-2 defeat inflicted on Sporting overshadows other excellent results such as JJB 5 Durham 2, Sex & Chocolate 7 Thoburns 3, PCB 7 Fergusons Transport 0

Davinder Sangha celebratesUnbeaten since the creation of the League in a range of games spanning six months, Sporting looked set for their Second League Title with only one major team to take care of in Slipway. Herrenknecht were not considered any real threat after watching the team labour through a 2-1 defeat against Tyne Port with two silly mistakes which cost them. Sporting had thundered past JJB Sports 6-2 not long after in an onslaught which set up a game which everybody expected Sporting to win.

Both teams were full strength and it seemed that another Sporting win was underway when Stephen Wilson beat Gavin Wilson to the ball to fire in the opener. The game resumed as Herrenknecht matched Sporting in every department. Gavin Wilson replied to Stephen Wilson's earlier goal which was the result of an excellent move that involved four Herrenknecht players. Sporting soon went ahead again with the Herrenknecht defence completely split to allow Stephen Wilson to grab his second.

A key turning point in the game then occurred with Herrenknecht again equalising from John Hunt in a superb move. Confidence was sky high for Herrenknecht now. They were actually taking advantage of their possession and beginning to score easily. Davinder Sangha completely marked John Cairns out of the game and Gavin Wilson bulldozed Stephen Wilson in some very aggressive marking. Richie Oliver for Sporting playing in the centre was completely shadowed by a combination of Walker, Hunt and Richardson taking turns to control him and was isolated as Herrenknecht used the flanks to attack. The great advantage of Herrenknecht (and sometimes a disadvantage) is that they no longer play with an orthodox striker or strike pairing. Last Season they had Christian Baines and Gavin Wilson as strikers who were easily marked out of the game by Sporting in the end of Season 4-2 defeat. The three front-runners, Walker (or Baines), Hunt and Richardson put in an amazing amount of work as they essentially rotated and attacked at will. The great thing for this game was that Herrenknecht clinically finished the chances that they had against a strong defence. Tarnjit Sangha and David Walker were pegged back against the onslaught and even Danny Coulson only managed a few saves. All the Herrenknecht team played to their up most ability. Chris Garrett in goal made some fantastic saves and handled the situation exceptionally well after a few bad performances. Sangha played to his strengths as a stopper. Gavin Wilson was strong in defence and the three front men, captained by Hunt, devastated Sporting who were in a state of shock as Hunt then Richardson finished them off with a further 2 goals. The final score of Herrenknecht 4 Sporting 2. Sporting's first ever competitive defeat in the SFL. The only downside is that Herrenknecht lose the services of Gavin Wilson and Trevor Walker for two games. Sporting will definitely become stronger after this defeat. The arrogance is gone because they were not narrowly beaten - but comprehensively beaten. Other teams will now be confident, especially Slipway who seem the only other team, at this stage, likely to turnover Sporting.

by D. Sangha (Herrenknecht)

John Hunt scores the decisive fourth goalOutclassed, outfought and outthought. All adages that have been levelled at Herrenknecht so far this season. So who would have given them any hope of defeating reigning Champions Sporting Redhouse, a team who have remained unbeaten since the inauguration of the SFL. But how the form book was turned on it's head. Herrenknecht pulled out all the stops to provide us with the biggest upset of the season so far, in a spectacular 4-2 victory.

Herrenknecht were clearly on the back foot in the early exchanges, as Sporting took the game to their unfancied opponents. Both John Cairns and Stephen Wilson of Sporting could have scored with good chances, but Christopher Garrett in the Herrenknecht goal was equal to them. It was of no surprise when Sporting pressure eventually paid of and Wilson smashed in the opening goal. What was of surprise, is the immediate response by Herrenknecht as Gavin Wilson ended a superb passing move with an unstoppable low drive pass the despairing Danny Coulson in the Sporting goal. Just before the half time whistle, Sporting made it 2-1 with another superbly taken goal by Stephen Wilson and many expected the favourites to go on from this. But it was the second half when Herrenknecht came into their own. Once the superbly in form John Hunt of Herrenknecht had equalised, the underdogs took full control of the game. Anthony Richardson scored a third as Sporting conceded three goals for the first time this season and the Champions were finally brought to their knees when John Hunt scored his second and Herrenknecht's fourth of the night. Herrenknecht's passing, pace and exuberance excelled in all departments and the victory was well deserved. Outclassed ! Outfought! and Outthought! They most certainly were. But for once it wasn't Herrenknecht

by T. Sangha (Sporting Redhouse)

Sex & Chocolate went into this relegation battle full of confidence after consecutive wins over Tyne Port and Three Tuns, but it was Thoburns who started the brighter and dominated the early stages of the game, deservedly scoring first. S&C got back into the game with a debatable penalty, which was easily converted by Gourlay. This changed the match completely.  S&C raced in to a 3-1 half time lead with a further goal from the increasing influential Gourlay and one from Morris. Thoburns showed great spirit to pull one back early in the second half, only to be downhearted by an instant reply from Howe. They then had a penalty saved at a crucial time by Wake, who made an excellent debut in goal. That would have taken the score to 4-3, but S&C took full control, with Howe competing his hat-trick in quick concession for his eighth goal in five games. Gourlay completed this highly impressive performance with a simply outstanding half volley, a perfect illustration of the consistently improving S&C.

by N. Howe (Sex & Chocolate)

A very close game but typical Tyne Port....pegged back for much of the first half and hit on the break. University probably had the best of the half before Pottinger scored his first of the season, a sweet half volley which went in off the near post. In the second half Tyne Port had more of the play and created more chances, again on the break when Phil Ross put Chris Dixon through for a one-on-one to make it 2-0. Jon Phillips in the University goal pulled off an amazing save with his left leg near the end to stop it from going to 3-0, and University probably felt hard done by not to get something out of the game. The old saying is "if you don't take your chances...."

by C. Dixon (Tyne Port)

Royal Mail took full advantage of the Sporting defeat to climb to the top of the table. Herrington, Langan and Carney scored the goals in a 3-2 win over Groundwork. At one stage Groundwork went 3-1 down but caught up at 3-2 to make a game of it. Inexplicably, Groundwork substituted goalkeeper Sean Hodgson for Jimmy Hall. Hodgson was having an outstanding game and his removal probably added to the defeat. Sinnott was sent off for a second yellow card after unnecessarily lunging in when tackling.

A fantastic win for JJB Sports over Durham Pine meant that they moved further up the table in a bid to avoid relegation. Durham Pine were 2-0 up and cruising until Brian Gettins substituted himself to see his team collapse. JJB Sports had their strongest team playing for the first time in two weeks and it showed as Alan Burn put himself back in the frame for the Leading Goalscorers Award with a brilliant hat-trick. Neil Fletcher added another two to finish off the game in style. Another bad result for Durham who have now conceded 10 goals in 2 games. With 16 points Durham are still in danger of dropping into the Relegation Zone. With a crucial clash against Herrenknecht next week it looks awkward for Durham who have yet to face Slipway, PCB and a resurgent Sex & Chocolate.

TCB Accountancy maintained their rise with a superb 4-0 win over CDS. 2 goals from Howart (1 penalty) and 2 from Riseborough moved them into 5th place. A crucial time now for TCB as they face strong opposition in Groundwork, Herrenknecht, JJBs, Royal Mail, S & C and Slipway. All teams likely (according to form) to beat them. But as critics have pointed out TCB have gained superb victories over teams they had never expected to beat and they now seem to be scoring freely, even without the influential Michael Booth who returns next week.

PCB annihilated a doomed Fergusons 7-0. Good finishing from John Wardle proved that PCB were now ready to push further up the table. Fergusons were resigned to playing Division 2 Football next Season and were no real match for PCB.

Slipway made sure they were in the Title Race after trouncing BHD Windows 3-0. A slightly better performance from BHD with no in-fighting during or after the game. Slipway were too strong and organised as Paul Anthony Mooney, Joe Dove and Neil Richardson scored.

MATCHDAY 11 – 1st August 2000

Sporting back on track.

Royal Mail beat TCB to set up a double header next week. Defeated Slipway face Sporting while Royal face the on form PCB.

Despite fielding a much depleted team, Herrenknecht were still confident of a positive result against Durham Pine. Baines, Wilson and Walker were missing, which meant Mitchell doubled up with Sangha in defence and Graham Smith came in for his first appearance in front of the two defenders. Durham were suffering in the League having lost their last two games and also conceding 10 goals in the process but now had a reasonable squad to choose from. Both these teams cancelled each other out in a draw in Season 1 and Durham had won a pre-season game by 3-2. The final result in this latest encounter was another stalemate at 0-0. Both teams had chances with Durham probably having the majority of the possession in the first half. Chances were missed at each end and Garrett managed to make some excellent saves to keep his team in the game. Herrenknecht were intent on playing on the counter attack as both teams began to tire. Hunt and then Richardson both squandered chances and opportunities to snatch a victory and Durham Pine pressed to take advantage but didn't really trouble the Herrenknecht defence. Both teams were reasonably satisfied with a draw. Durham, for not conceding a goal and Herrenknecht for not losing with a depleted team.

By D. Sangha (Herrenknecht)

University were probably the wrong opponents to take advantage of the self-doubt evident in Sporting after their "historic" defeat last week. Sporting put out the same side to prove a point - which they did. Backlash is term used lightly. 11 goals were rattled in with Richard Oliver scoring 5, Wilson scoring 4 and Walker and Cairns scoring 1 each. With Royal Mail beating TCB prior to the game and Slipway losing comprehensively to Tyne Port, a major double-header next week could decide the outcome of the League. Royal take on an on-form PCB while Slipway face their hated rivals Sporting Redhouse in what could turn out to be a explosive encounter. If either Royal or Sporting fail to win, it could end their Title hopes. Agreed there are several games left, but both teams should be competent enough to overcome any obstacles in their way as they have already faced their nearest rivals.

By D. Sangha (Herrenknecht)

After suffering their first ever defeat in the SFL at the hands of fierce rivals Herrenknecht last week, Sporting Redhouse came back in emphatic style by demolishing Sunderland University to the tune of eleven goals to one. Key University players Paul Graham and Michael Ross were well subdued by the Sporting defenders and this led to their downfall. For the first time this season Richard Oliver of Sporting Redhouse was given his preferred role of striker and he did not disappoint as he scored an amazing five goals. Stephen Wilson who was given a free role by manager Tarnjit Sangha in a bid to change things after last week also waded in with four goals. David Walker and the SFL's leading goalscorer John Cairns rounded of the evening with a goal a piece to complete the rout. Manager Tarnjit Sangha demanded a 100% improvement by his players after the debacle against Herrenknecht. You can certainly claim he got it. Now bring on the Slipway !!!!!!!

By T. Sangha (Sporting)

Judging by their recent performances you would have thought that S&C would have ran out easy winners. Well S&C thought wrong. Although S & C started off the better of the two teams with a first half goal from David Gourlay after good build up play with Neil Howe, BHD Windows were never going to give up.  In fact if it wasn't for the impressive Michael Wake in goal, the outcome could well have been a completely different story.  In the latter stages of the second half BHD Windows deservedly drew level with a goal on the break. With only 3 minutes to go the draw looked like being the final outcome as well as the fair result.  However in the dying seconds Neil Morris connected onto a fine through ball from Neil Howe to took the ball away neatly.  S & C ran out narrow winners in the end but if they are to continue their recent form they will have to be more focused & sharper.

By D. Gourlay (Sex & Chocolate)

An outstanding performance from Tyne Port who have now won their last six league games. A workmanlike and skilful performance from Tyne Port, who, after recent scrappy performances, raised their game to play some of their best football of the season. Dave McLaren opened the scoring with a thunderous long range drive to notch his first of the season. Two more goals followed from Tony Pottinger - both from acute angles - to continue his impressive run of form in recent games, taking the score to 3-0 at half time. With a habit of conceding early goals from the kick off, Tyne Port did not disappoint as Slipway pulled a goal back immediately, before substitute Chris Dixon produced the goods with a fine solo goal to restore a three goal lead for Tyne Port. Tough tackling and aggressive marking followed as Slipway pulled it back to 4-2 in the last couple of minutes, but Tyne Port were strong and held on to take the win after an impressive performance.

By C. Dixon (Tyne Port)

Three Tuns, who appear to be on a decline, struggled to a 1-0 win over Thoburns. Missing Mark Casey, their prolific goal scorer, Three Tuns could struggle for the rest of the Season and could easily be swept into the Relegation Zone.

TCB Accountancy lost, as expected, to Royal Mail 2-0. The result wasn't decided until the second half with Royal Mail retaining possession but failing to score, mainly due to an excellent performance by Scott Barrs. Even at 1-0 TCB could have snatched an equaliser - but the second killed them off.

MATCHDAY 12 – 9th August 2000

Race for the Title.

Both Royal Mail and Sporting gain victories. Herrenknecht push for safety. Tyne Port held by Sex & Chocolate. Durham trounce a new look University team.

Slipway teamWith Slipway unfortunate to lose against Sporting (again) and Royal Mail thumping PCB 4-1 with all four goals coming from Anth Langan - a Season 3 Sporting Redhouse player, both are now commencing a race to win all their remaining games and hope either one of them slips up to give the other the lead. Sporting have a huge goal difference of plus 34 which means that they are obvious favourites. However, the impressive performance over PCB seems to have raised the confidence of Royal Mail after an indifferent 2-0 win over TCB the previous week. The irony is that Royal Mail are now officially safe from Relegation.

BHD Windows are now officially Relegated into Division 2 after a 4-1 defeat against Three Tuns. It was inevitable but surely BHD should be stronger for Season 3 with Tommy Wilkinson banging the goals in on a regular basis. Three Tuns have climbed the table as a gap seems to be appearing between the Relegation Line. TCB are 4 points ahead of Sex & Chocolate who are in the Relegation Zone. It looks grim for Thoburns, CDS and Fergusons who could be officially Relegated over the next two games.

The plan for Herrenknecht against Durham and Groundwork was to avoid defeat. Having lost key players to holidays, the previous 0-0 draw against Durham was an excellent result. A game against Groundwork was probably one game that Herrenknecht feared. Losing John Hunt prior to the game was a huge blow which meant Christian Baines, was rushed into the fold despite suffering from tonsillitis. Richardson was also injured but still had to play. Sangha, Mitchell, Smith and Garrett filled the other positions.

Luckily for Herrenknecht, Groundwork also had similar problems. Missing key players, they had to use Chris Haldane as a stand in. And a perfect choice he was as he equalised with a fantastic curling shot which beat Chris Garrett in the top corner. Smith had put Herrenknecht ahead as he was playing what turned out to be his final game for Herrenknecht, with Wilson and Walker returning next week. The game wasn't evenly balanced as Groundwork had the majority of the play in the first half. Excellent work from Paul Huitson, who appears to be Groundwork's engine, split a disorganised Herrenknecht on several occasions as the Herrenknecht players were massing in defence. Soon though Herrenknecht began to show their strength with Richardson, Baines and Smith making some defence splitting passes and movement. The Groundwork crossbar and post was shaved on several occasions before Smith put Herrenknecht 2-1 up then 3-1 with a late penalty.

By D. Sangha (Herrenknecht)

An interesting clash saw the two form teams in the league come head to head in what was a very close game. With the recent impressive displays of both teams, a draw was always going to be the likely outcome. Early pressure from Tyneport saw them take the lead with an under hit strike from Chris Dixon. Tyneport had most of the play in the first half but as the game developed S & C gained more of the possession, equalising through Dave Gourlay midway through the second half. As the game progressed, each team was guilty of missing chances at both ends, but a stalemate was probably the fairest result. S & C came close to snatching victory at the death, but a fine save from the ever-impressive Cook denied Gourlay the winner.

By C. Dixon (Tyne Port)

Durham's night started off with bad news after finding out that University's team had been replaced until the end of the Season with a mix of representative players who previously played for the Sporting Redhouse and Herrenknecht. On paper University had a reasonable team but on pitch it was obvious that they had not settled and gelled as a team. Both teams started the game wanting to win but Durham's experience showed playing a lot more attractive football and creating a lot more openings and squandering a lot of their early chances. The early pressure and possession finally paid off when Brian Gettins popped up to grab Durham's first with a sweet left peg. Confidence surged throughout the Durham Team but it didn't make any difference to the score line with Durham finding it hard to put the ball away with a lot of chances going astray. Durham finally scored their

crucial second goal when Gary Ewitt miss hit a shot and it crept under the keeper. The first half ended shortly after with Durham going in with a well deserved two goal lead. The second half started very much the same with Durham applying the pressure and making several good chances and it paid of with Gary Ramsay picking the ball up in his own half and passing it out wide to Dave Pitt then receiving the ball back and turning well on the edge of the box to slot past the keeper for his second of the season and Durham's third of the night. With Durham tiring near the end University seemed to be able to put a few more chances together and create a few opening's only for Durham's stand in keeper to pull off some outstanding saves. A competent performance from Durham as they prepare to face old rivals Slipway and attempt to gain their first victory over them.

By B. Gettins (Durham Pine)

Judging by the form of these two teams this eagerly awaited re-match between these two rivals was always on the cards to be a draw. Sex & Chocolate were victorious on penalties in the Quarter Final tie a month ago after a 1-1 draw and this game proved to be the same. After only 1 minute a lapse of concentration in the S & C defence allowed Chris Dixon to scuff the ball home. Soon after S & C realized what sort of game they had on their hands. Tyne Port were not to be underestimated having been unbeaten since May. The game flowed with ease and chances went begging from both sides, before Gourlay dribbled pass McLaren to slot the ball past the diving Cook. This game was probably the fair result in the end but an excellent save in the dying seconds from the impressive Cook denied Gourlay his second of the match after a great through ball from Howe. All in all a fair result and a hard fought draw which leaves both teams maintaining their superb form...and Tyne Port are still unbeaten.

By D. Gourlay (Tyne Port)

MATCHDAY 13 – 15th August 2000

Three Tuns, PCB and TCB drop points.

University, JJBs and Sex & Chocolate look to make a final push into the top flight. Royal Mail thump Fergusons 9-0.

Tyne PortA close game and perhaps a lucky escape for Tyneport who appear to be suffering from a touch of complacency after their excellent result against Slipway. After their indifferent performance against Sex & Chocolate, Tyneport under-performed again in a game which they struggled to take control of and found themselves on the back foot too often. The game against Three Tuns was always going to be a tough test, but Tyneport made life difficult for themselves by allowing their opponents too much time and space on the ball. The early running was made by Three Tuns who had a couple of half chances well saved by Cook. Tyneport were slow to get going, but opened the scoring against the run of play through Chris Dixon. An interception by Dixon then released Alex Hope, who marked his return from injury with a well taken goal. In their attempts to pull the scoreline back, Three Tuns pressed forward but were hit on the counter attack, Chris Scott lofting an exquisite ball over the defence to the foot of Tom Monaghan who applied a cool finish. The half-time scoreline of 3-0 flattered Tyneport who had often found themselves chasing the game.

The second half saw a more positive side to Tyne Ports game, when shortly after kick off an injury sustained to Monaghan meant they were reduced to five men for the remainder of the half. Chris Scott had opened his account for the season and added the fourth goal for Tyneport, before a clash of heads saw Monaghan leaving the pitch needing stitches. As Three Tuns tried to make their extra man count, the work rate put in by Tyneport was tremendous, with non-stop movement and players chasing the ball all over the pitch. Three Tuns did manage to pull two goals back, but the determination and resilience of Tyneports defence held firm. The final scoreline of 4-2 may have slightly flattered Tyneport, who were relieved to leave the pitch with their unbeaten run intact.

By C. Dixon (Tyne Port)

Sporting Redhouse showed against S & C, everything that is good and bad about their game. Superb individuals, whose singular performances manage to get the team through a match. But as a unit they are non-existent. According to Goalkeeper Danny Coulson, opponents Sex & Chocolate deserved something to show for their efforts, simply for the fact they played far better as a team, with each player prepared to sacrifice his own glory for the teams gain. As for the match itself. Sporting raced into a 3-1 lead, only for S & C to peg them back to 3-3. Amazingly, if it was not for terrific goalkeeping from Coulson, S & C would most certainly have taken the lead in the game, and who knows what the result may have been. But as has been the case all season, if a team does not take their chances against the Champions, they get punished. And they were. Sporting went on to score three more goals to make it 6-3, and that remained as the final result. It does seem that Sporting may well retain the title under-performing throughout thir final four fixtures. Looking at both Royal Mail and Sporting Redhouse, there is little doubt in my mind that Royal Mail are the far better team. But as we all know, you do not always get what you deserve in football.

By D. Coulson (Sporting)

This was always going to be a tough game for the in form Sex & Chocolate.  This proved to be the case, although I feel the scoreline slightly flattered Sporting Redhouse.  Both teams started strongly, in fact S & C played the better of the two teams in the 1st half having hit the post twice as well as the goalkeeper denying us of some great opportunities.  The truth of the matter is that S & C couldn't handle the frontline of Cairns & Wilson.  Sporting Redhouse twice went into the lead only for S & C to pull back.  However Sporting were just too strong for S & C in the second half.  The final outcome could have been a different story if it wasn't for some great saves & some very unlucky finishing. S & C now have 4 games left & are quite capable of winning them all.  Final score Sporting Redhouse 6 Sex & Chocolate 3.

By D. Gourlay (Sex & Chocolate)

After last weeks 3-0 defeat at the hands of Durham Pine. New Sunderland University Player/Manager, Tarnjit Sangha made wholesale changes to the team. In came debutantes Malcolm Harvey in goal, Chris Haldane in midfield and Simon Williams with a man of the match performance in attack. Along side these, were last weeks new boys Tarnjit Sangha in defence and Kevin Turner in a free role. The only remaining player from the original University side was Michael Ross in an attacking midfield position. Considering the amount of changes made and the opposition Groundwork Murton, the performance by Sunderland University was nothing short of amazing. The passing, movement and execution of goals was superb. University matched Groundwork in all aspects of the game, especially as mentioned, the passing, which pleased Sangha so much, since he regards Groundwork as the best footballing side in the SFL. It was University who opened the scoring through a well worked goal that Williamson finished off clinically. But Groundwork replied immediately from the kick off. It was Groundwork who then took the lead to make it 2-1 and then had opportunities to increase their lead but failed to take them. After re-grouping University equalised through Michael Ross as he placed an excellent cushioned left foot volley passed the despairing Sean Hodgson in the Groundwork goal. It was then University's turn to miss chances that could have put the game beyond their rivals. And they were dually punished for not taking them as Paul Huitson of Groundwork smashed in a wonderful volley that gave Malcolm Harvey in University's goal no chance. But University were determined to show something for their efforts, and deservedly they got their just rewards when Simon Williams finished off a superb passing move involving the whole University team with a delicate left foot shot that slid in to the bottom left corner of the Groundwork goal. The match finished 3-3, a wonderful result for the University. On this performance, there is no doubt in my mind, whichever Division University end up in. They will most certainly be a serious threat to anyone

By T. Sangha (University)

A full strength Herrenknecht team faced TCB who were on a definite downward spiral. The only real change for Herrenknecht was Sangha replacing the missing Garrett in goal. Wilson, Walker and Hunt rejoined Baines and Richardson in the team.

The final result, 1-0 to Herrenknecht, was a little harsh on TCB. A penalty save by Sangha late in the game prevented TCB from sharing the points as Herrenknecht looked decidedly disinterested and lacked any real drive throughout the game. TCB, controversially, had a perfectly valid penalty by Feasy disallowed after he'd taken more than the regulated one step. Seconds later, Herrenknecht were 1-0 ahead with a well taken goal by Trevor Walker who was arguably the best player on the pitch. Gavin Wilson played well despite being restricted to the role of a stopper and Sangha probably kept Herrenknecht in the game with the late penalty save and a few key stops at the start and the end of the match. Despite the negatives, Herrenknecht are now unbeaten for 4 games since (and including) the historic win over Sporting and look likely to be unbeaten for the remainder of the Season. A serious assault on the Title for Season 3 is definitely on as long as Sangha can keep the team together. Walker is leaving to join Stadium News - an agreement made before Walker was a regular member of the Herrenknecht team and Richardson is being touted for Sporting Redhouse. Both these players could still remain, especially Richardson, but then again a back line of Sangha and Wilson with Hunt and Baines in midfield along with one other is a definite Championship Winning team.

By D. Sangha (Herrenknecht)

Thoburns faced BHD who were already confirmed as a Division 2 team next Season. Thoburns were arguably stronger and looked more professional as they aimed to end the Season in style. Its unlikely that they will stay up but both teams should build for the Second Season where they are amongst the favourites to be promoted.

Royal Mail thumped Fergusons with nine goals scored and no reply. A depleted Fergusons who, if anyone can remember, were unbeaten at the start of the Season for over a month and looked like solid candidates for Division 1 football next season. Now, however, they seem to be struggling consistently week in and week out. Royal Mail were awesome again. After demolishing PCB last week they are without a doubt, along with Herrenknecht and probably Sex & Chocolate, the in form team at the moment. It would be a shame for them not to win the League but essentially the Title is now in Sporting's hands with four games left against the bottom four teams and also Three Tuns, who appear to be on the decline.

PCB, decimated by key players missing, notably John Wardle equalised almost immediately after JJB Sports had fired in the opener. The game remained that way and despite both teams coming close to breaking the deadlock, the 1-1 score meant that JJBs still were in a chance of joining the top flight and PCB were still in danger of being swept into Division 2.

Despite the 4 point gap between the Relegation and Promotion teams, the select group of teams are still not safe. TCB have some horrendous fixtures to cope with, pr 1obably the hardest out of all the teams. PCB look unstable after losing key players and Three Tuns have some difficult games ahead. There's still a significant gap but University are now resurgent and Sex & Chocolate have maintained a solid team since their first win this Season against Herrenknecht. A new look team with Daykin, Gourlay, Morris and Howe joining the best of the existing team essentially meant that S & C were almost classed as a new team. The same goes for University. Despite first losing Greg Smart then Paul Graham, new manager, Tarnjit Sangha has built a strong looking outfit from scratch with Malcolm Harvey, an excellent keeper who nearly signed for Herrenknecht, Kevin Turner alongside Tarnjit Sangha from Sporting and Michael Ross from the original University team joining debutantes in the League Chris Haldane (former Referee) and Simon Williams. Both teams look good and it would appear that they would practically walk through the Second Division next Season if they fail to move into the top half of the table. If they did stay up, both would be strong candidates and deserving top flight teams.

MATCHDAY 14 – 22nd August 2000

JJB Sports triumph in an amazing game against TCB.

Herrenknecht now unbeaten in 5 games. Durham Pine damage Sex & Chocolate's recent run of form. University setback against TCB. Royal Mail narrow the goal scoring gap. Thoburns and Fergusons join BHD in Division 2 next Season.

JJBs teamSunderland University went into their vital relegation match with TCB Accountancy missing two key players, Michael Ross and Kevin Turner. So in came Paul Garrett and Joe Middleton as their replacements. For the first ten minutes, TCB did not know what had hit them as University sliced them open on numerous occasions. It would not have been unfair to suggest that University could have been three goals up in the first two minutes. Some of the football being played by University was sublime. The only thing missing was a goal for their efforts. TCB obviously had done their homework. They left Dave Ellis up front on his own and packed their defence, which was superbly marshalled by Michael Booth. Gradually as the first half drew to a close, TCB finally managed to get back into the game and created a couple of great chances themselves. But at the interval the score was still 0-0. University started the second half as they had finished the first, pegging TCB back, but still dogged defending by TCB managed to keep them at bay. As the game went on even University Player/Manager Tarnjit Sangha started to venture up field in search of the opening goal his team deserved so much. But it was in vain. Finally when it looked as if both sides would have to settle for the draw, TCB's Michael Booth fired in the winning goal with a shot that left Malcolm Harvey in the University goal with no chance. It then became desperation time for University as they all piled forward in search of an equalising goal. Btu this tactic left them with huge gaps at the back, and a bit more composure by the TCB forwards could have extended their lead. And that is how it remained, 1-0 to TCB. In the end their tactics of defending deep and hitting their opponents on the break worked splendidly. But their were also many positive signs for the University team. It is obvious their passing style will win them many admirers. And once Tarnjit Sangha manages to put out the polished article, whatever guise his new team appears as next season, they will most certainly prove to be a thorn in many a side.

By T. Sangha (University)

A woeful performance from Tyneport who have been lucky to win their last two games. After scraping through past Three Tuns last week, it was assumed Tyneport would have learned their lesson and raise their game against Thoburns. But, as has been shown recently, Tyneport appear to have lost momentum and seem to be grafting out the results rather than dominating their matches. Were it not for the outstanding goalkeeping of Ed Cook, Tyneport may well have been on the end of a mauling. As it was, they eventually scraped a 1-0 win courtesy of a second half strike from Chris Dixon. After the recent run of good form, Tyneport were expected to come through this tie comfortable winners. It was Thoburns, however, who made the early running and dominated much of the first half. Although Tyneport did play

badly, nothing should be taken away from Thoburns who played some good football despite their league position. A string of saves from Cook kept his side in it till the interval, with Tyneport appearing to have no shape. Their frustration was clear with dissenting voices and confrontations within the team. An improved attacking performance in the second half caused more of a threat to the Thoburns goal, Dixon breaking the deadlock with a half-volley mid-way through the half. But sloppy marking and poor distribution gifted chance after chance to Thoburns, who must have left the pitch in disbelief at the goalkeeping heroics of Cook, whose man-of-the match performance was an example for his team mates to follow. Tyneport manager Chris Dixon was left wondering why his side have suffered such a poor loss of form after their impressive run, but thankful to have kept their run going, albeit with an uninspiring performance. If they are to survive in the first division next season, Tyneport will need to improve on this weeks performance.

By C. Dixon (Tyne Port)

With mass withdrawals due to reasons such as injury, 11-a-side games and Bon Jovi Concerts (!), Herrenknecht and Three Tuns entered the field with depleted squads. Three Tuns were missing key players while Herrenknecht had lost Richardson, Garrett, Wilson and Walker. Graham Smith returned for one last game (again), Sangha filled in as goalkeeper. An injured Mitchell returned and new player, Paul Devlin joined the attacking duo of Hunt and Baines.

Despite an evenly balanced game which swung from end to end, Herrenknecht had the better chances. Baines put Herrenknecht 1-0 ahead, his first goal since scoring against University on 30th May. Sangha made some competent and useful saves in the second half to keep the Herrenknecht goal safe and solid performances all around from both teams resulted in some heavy tackles late on. But the game didn't get nasty as both teams respected each other. Herrenknecht had triumphed in a pre-season victory 3-2 and again triumphed here to now remain unbeaten for 5 games.

By D. Sangha (Herrenknecht)

One of the most remarkable games took place late at night. JJBs had annihilated Fergusons 11-0 beforehand and due to the replay situation they had to play TCB immediately afterwards. Amazingly, the superfit JJBs raced into a 2 goal lead until near the end. TCB pulled one back but then JJBs went 3-1 up with about a two minutes remaining. Two substitutions made by TCB changed the game as they clawed it back to 3-3 within a minute. There was one final twist to the game when the alleged hero of the night, Chris Feasy pole axed a JJB player who took the free kick which resulted in a final 4-3 win for JJBs.

MATCHDAY 15 – 29th August 2000

Thoburns give Royal Mail an unlikely boost.

Sporting suffer a major setback with a draw against Thoburns.

Thoburns (with the late Steve Thoburn bottom right)Groundwork went into this match with two key players missing (typical of the whole season): Steven Sinnott and Lee Francis. The team was re-shuffled and goalkeeper Sean Hodgson played in defence with Manager Andrew McNicoll filling in as a goalkeeper his first game since 4th April. With McNicoll's goalkeeping skills (at his own admission) being terrible to say the least, imagine our surprise when he pulls off two stunning saves early on. After this early scare, Groundwork were slapped into action.

Their typical classy build-ups with no end product had Sex & Chocolate on the ropes. Nearly all of the possession was in Sex & Chocolate's half for the next ten minutes. However, the opening goal came from a S & C attack, it broke down with a miss-placed pass and as Huitson pulled wide, Nichol was able to play a simple through ball to put Ward in on goal, and he obliged with a good finish. Sense the floodgates opening? They would have if it were not for some excellent saves by S & C's goalkeeper who was possibly man of the match. Just before half time, Huitson made it 2 -0 after some slick passing. The second half continued with Groundwork playing keep ball. Huitson was fouled after turning a S&C defender and scored with the free kick. After pressing too much for a fourth, some slack play involving Huitson and Beardmore let in S&C to pull one back. The final whistle went soon after and the match ended 3-1 to Groundwork.

By P. Huitson (Groundwork)

Thoburns dealt what could well be the final nail in Sporting Redhouse's attempt to retain the SFL Championship, in a terrific 1- draw. Both teams were forced to make changes due to a mixture of injuries and 11-a-side commitments. Sporting Player/Manager Tarnjit Sangha brought in Graham Smith form rivals Herrenknecht to fulfil defensive duties. In midfield, the services of Joe Middleton were acquired. For Thoburns, Player/Manager Steve Thoburn brought in Russell Coulson to shore up the defence. Immediately Sporting went at their opponents, with both John Cairns and Stephen Wilson having attempts, but the Thoburns rearguard superbly marshalled by Steve Thoburn repelled any attack. Thoburns obviously knew Sporting's threat would come from their two front men, so to counter this they always seemed to have at least three men back behind the ball. Amazingly as the game went on and Thoburns tactics remained the same, the Sporting strikers seemed to run out of ideas of how to break their opponents resolve down. In desperation, both Cairns and Wilson resorted to futile attempts at trying to run through Thoburns defenders, but it was all to no avail. Thoburns sensing their more illustrious rivals plight, started to create chances of their own, and as their confidence grew, they became more ambitious in attack. Thoburns finally got what they deserved for their brave endeavours when a superb passage of play ended with Mark Farnsworth eluding Sangha in the Sporting defence and slipping the ball past Danny Coulson into the net. With just 5 minutes remaining on the clock, Sporting quite visibly shook, and in their panic piled forward in search of what for them was now not a winner but an equaliser. In their clear panic, Sporting shrugged aside any type of constructive football and resorted to shooting from anywhere around the pitch. Sporting finally got what in reality they did not deserve when with just a minute remaining on the clock John Cairns found a gap in the Thoburns defence to fire in his 28th goal of the season. It would have been a great injustice if Sporting had gone on from here to snatch what would have been the winning goal. They nearly achieved it when Cairns took advantage again of what was now becoming an increasingly tired Thoburns defence, when he managed to pounce on a loose ball, but this time the shot came cannoning back off the post. The final whistle went and Thoburns let out a collective cry of triumph. They had achieved what everyone had thought impossible and prevented Sporting from taking all three points. You could understand if Thoburns felt a slight feeling if disappointment of not taking all three points. For Sporting, this result could well signal the end of an era. The team that has won so much together, looks like it will be dismantled come the end of the season, as Tarnjit Sangha looks to create a new Sporting Redhouse.

By T. Sangha (Sporting)

The University representative team went into their game with PCB full of confidence, but after just five minutes found themselves 3-0 down following some exhilarating forward play from PCB. The University team, again being marshalled by Tarnjit Sangha had to improve things mightily quick if they were not to be on the end of a massacre. And to their credit they did. The one factor that Sangha has instilled into his team is that they must not be afraid of passing the ball around the pitch, and no matter how the game is going, they must adopt this philosophy. Well University did not disappoint as they managed to claw there way back into the game through goals by Michael Ross, Chris Haldane and Graham Smith. Once the scores had been levelled at 3-3, University were unlucky not to seal the win as on numerous occasions they squandered chances to put the game beyond PCB. To be fair to PCB, they themselves also missed opportunities to add to their three goals. In the end 3-3 was a more than fair result for both sides. Both teams had contributed to a superb game of football and played the game the way it should be played.

By T. Sangha (University)

Durham started the game the same way they finished last week passing the ball about well and creating a lot of opportunities and goal scoring chances it wasn't long to be before Durham broke down the Three Tuns defence in which Dave Pitt banged home Durham's first. After the kick off Durham seemed to take there foot off the pedal a little in which Three Tuns got a well deserved equaliser. From there on in Durham seemed to realise that they couldn't lie back so they started to sweep the ball about the park and Dave Pitt picked the ball up just inside his own half and played a lovely ball throw the middle for Richie Curry to slot home Durham's second of the night. That's the way it ended in the first half. The second half started very much the same as the first with Durham doing all the pushing and Three Tuns lying back and hoping to catch Durham on the counter attack but Durham's pressure paid off early with Brian Gettins grabbing there third. After that it was one way traffic with Gary Ewitt adding the forth and Brian Gettins getting his second and Durham's fifth.

By B. Gettins (Durham Pine)

MATCHDAY 16 – 12th September 2000

Herrenknecht throw away third place.

Excellent, morale boosting performance by Fergusons. Sporting back to their best. PCB deny Slipway third place. Three Tuns on the edge.

Fergusons TransportGroundwork went into this match with key players still missing. Steven Sinnott (work), Barrie Massey (ankle) and Lee Francis (appendicitis) will all hopefully be back in time for the cup quarter finals. When a team dominates a game, having ninety percent possession and plenty of shots, yet still has to struggle to win, the new term for this type of performance has to be - 'They played a Groundwork'. The first half was a tight run affair with very few 'scoring opportunities'. Huitson did manage to score from a free-kick, however this was disallowed as the kick was adjudged to be taken from the wrong place. Three Tuns did have their moments and Groundwork needed goalkeeper Hodgson to be on top form - which he was. Half time ended 0-0. The second half was much more one sided : Borrowdale, on his return from working in USA scored the opener after some slick passing. Three Tuns were tiring and good link up play from Ward and Huitson ended up with Ward finishing off a superb move. Ward had his best performance in the SFL thus far. The games was all but over when Huitson was played through by Nichol to finish the game off. In the final few minutes Huitson went on a great run, beating four Three Tuns players only to be badly fouled as he went clean through. The referee decided to be lenient with the defender and an apology from the Three Tuns player was sufficient. An intriguing end to a quite entertaining game which ended: Groundwork Murton 3 - 0 Three Tuns

By P. Huitson (Groundwork)

Sporting Redhouse went into their game with BHD Windows determined to prove to their critics they were not a fading force following their 1-1 draw with Thoburns the previous week. Richard Oliver returned to partner John Cairns in attack, while Stephen Wilson adopted a midfield position, a role that has served him well in the past. In defence it was Tarnjit Sangha and the superb Graham Smith. In goal, was the ever impressive Danny Coulson. Right from the kick off, Sporting went at their opponents giving them very little time to settle on the ball. It was only a matter of time before Sporting would score, and they duly did when John Cairns fired in the opening goal. In the second half Sporting stepped up a gear and started to play the ball about with a confidence that has been lacking from their game for quite a while. BHD's leading striker Tommy Wilkinson found it extremely difficult to find a way past the defensive duo of Sangha and Smith who were having an excellent game. Stephen Wilson who was revelling in his role of midfielder extended his goal tally to 19 as he banged in a superb hat-trick to make the final score 4-0. Unfortunately it seems Sporting have come to form too late to bring them the Title.

By T. Sangha (Sporting)

With Slipway and Herrenknecht both dropping points to PCB, Tyneport would above their close rivals if they could win their final two games. After a loss of form in recent games, Tyneport could not afford to underestimate their opponents BHD Windows if they were to have any chance of finishing in third position. The game started brightly, albeit a little scrappy, with chances missed at both ends before neat build-up play from Tyneport allowed Chris Scott to open the scoring with a cool finish. Further chances went begging – Alex Hope going closest for Tyneport - and safe hands from both keepers kept the scoreline at 1-0 until half-time.

The second half saw Scott and Hope replaced by Monaghan and Dixon as Tyneport tried to extend their advantage. A quick break saw Dixon release Pottinger, who slotted the ball home to make the score 2-0. BHD had always looked likely to score, and they immediately pulled it back to 2-1 to put the pressure back on. As BHD pressed forward searching for an equaliser, Tyneport exploited the gaps left in defence, and Dixon made it 3-1 with a first time strike after good work down the right flank from Pottinger. Minutes later, Dixon cut inside to score again with a long-range drive to seal a 4-1 win. This performance by Tyneport – although still not totally convincing - was a definite improvement from recent games when the team seemed to lack shape and creativity. Manager Chris Dixon is hoping the bad patch is over and his team can regain their form for their last game against CDS, and for the start of the new season in Division 1.

By Chris Dixon (Tyneport)

Durham with one change from the previous two weeks seemed to show with lack of creativity and very little chances made with Dave Pitt missing Durham just couldn't hold on to the ball in the middle of the park in which Thoburns battled so well and it paid off well when they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box in which they slotted home well. Then Durham seemed to be passing the ball about well and keeping Thoburns pushed back but once again far to much play and no chances getting created. The second half was very much a battle in the middle with both teams only having a couple of cracks at goal but Thoburns grabbed a second late on to kill the game off and that's how it ended.

By B. Gettins (Durham)

Cruising at 2-0 Herrenknecht were well on course for a Third Place Finish in their final game of the Season. In the event, PCB came back strongly two claw it back to 2-2 and nearly go on to win the game. Walker and Hunt had given Herrenknecht a comfortable lead but unnecessary early challenges in defence were punished by Jon Wardle and Jeff Clark who managed to give PCB a share of the points.

On reflection it was an excellent Season for Herrenknecht. Tipped as one of the Pre-Season favourites, they floundered under high expectations and soon became the laughing stock of the League. Only after losing Barry Lambert, who was a key member in the Season 1 side and an eminently reliable player during Season 2, and also some tactical reorganisation did they show their true form. The side then stumbled through the League matches leading up to the major encounter against the unbeaten Champions, who were destroying opponents in every game and totally outplayed them in a superb 4-2 win. The manner of the win was a culmination of what Herrenknecht were about. Solid defence and three attackers who put in a superb amount of work. They were unbeaten during the remainder of the season with the final game against PCB - a total of 8 games spanning three months. With the side apparently staying together for Season 3 they look as if they are classed as favourites to win the League alongside Royal Mail.

By D. Sangha (Herrenknecht)

MATCHDAY 17 – 26th September 2000

Royal Mail take the Title.

Both Contenders win their games on the night. JJB Sports confirm Division 1 status.

Royal Mail finally took the Title which apparently was Sporting's until the 1-1 debacle against Thoburns. Royal Mail, however, deserved the Trophy after hitting form at the right time. With only one defeat this Season, they hit form soon after a 1-1 draw with Sporting, winning 8 games in a row. The final decided against JJB Sports was a thrilling encounter. JJBs were still not guaranteed Division 1 Football and had to at least win one of their last three games. A first minute goal by the prolific Alan Burn pushed Royal Mail on to the ropes as JJB Sports had numerous chances to go further ahead.

Royal returned in the second half and soon began to dominate. An equaliser with about 5 minutes was still not enough but then a spectacular "placed" shot by David Pringle, one of the contenders for Player of the Season, gave Royal a 2-1 lead. JJB Sports had one further chance but squandered it as Royal took a 3-1 lead to end a thrilling League Campaign.

By D. Sangha (Herrenknecht)

Going into their last game against CDS Security, Tyneport needed a win to finish third place in what has been an encouraging first season in the league. But this game was by no means a foregone conclusion, and indeed CDS took the lead to put the pressure on Tyneport. Just before half time, confusion in the CDS defence allowed Chris Dixon to equalise. The second half saw Tyneport dominate possession as they pressed for the win, but poor finishing and fluffed shots appeared to indicate it was going to be one of those days. But with the last kick of the game, just as time was running out for Tyneport, Alex Hope hit a hopeful long-range effort which squirmed through the keepers grasp to make the final score 2-1, and secure a third place finish in the league for Tyneport.

By C. Dixon (Tyne Port)

S & C went into this game with mixed feelings. With a depleted team, with four regular players missing this was always going to be an up hill struggle and this proved to be the case. From the first whistle, you could see that the mixed University side were head & shoulders above S & C.  A quality footballing side that were always dangerous.  The defence of S&C just couldn't cope with the pacy, penetrating youngsters. With only Gourlay up front there were limited chances although disappointingly didn't beat stand in 'keeper, Davinder Sangha. At the end of the day the scoreline reflected the performance of both teams.  The question remains, will S & C keep a settled team for the new season & can they mount a serious Promotion campaign.

MATCHDAY 18 – 3rd October 2000

Royal Mail through…just

JJBs, Slipway, TCB out. Groundwork, PCB and Sex & Chocolate through

Royal%20Mail%201%20Sporting%200 JpgThe game of the night was without a doubt, Sporting v Royal Mail. Despite dominating the first half, Royal only went in at half time 1-0 up with a well taken goal by Steve Lawson. The second half onslaught came from Sporting, who had two goals disallowed during the game. A late penalty miss by Stephen Wilson condemned Sporting, the current Cup Holders to only their second competitive defeat.

Royal Mail's opponents in the Semi Finals, Groundwork, were hugely impressive in a 2-0 victory over TCB Accountancy. TCB only had a few shots on goal as Groundwork, despite being weakened, dominated. Steve Sinnott and Richard Borrowdalescored their goals.

Slipway's bad Season continued with a penalty defeat against PCB. Slipway lost 4-2 to PCB in their last League game and were much improved as they led from a Joe Dove goal. PCB – this season's "comeback kings" equalised from John Wardle to send the game to penalties. Only Wardle scored as PCB triumphed 1-0 on penalties.

S & C went into this game having suffered a severe loss of form which surely made the in form JJB the favourites, well at least you would think so. This however made S & C more determined to get a result despite the fact that Morris & Howe were once again missing from the starting line up. With JJB only having 5 players in the 1st half the chance was their for S & C to grab it with both hands. S & C started brightly playing some neat football which earned them a penalty after a JJB player decided to walk right across the box. The penalty was converted by D. Gourlay nicely in the bottom corner. 1 - 0 S& C. Shortly after S & C went 2 -0 up with a flowing move involving Daykin & Bambrough & converted neatly by D. Gourlay. In the 2nd half S & C continued to dominate & could easily have scored another 4 or 5. Having said that Tearney made a couple of excellent saves from JJB until they struck with a couple of minutes to go, but by that time S & C had already done the damage in the 1st Half. Final Score Sex & Chocolate 2 JJB Sports 1. 

By D. Gourlay (Sex & Chocolate)

Final League game of the Season followed the Quarters with JJBs taking on CDS Security. CDS, despite having a full squad, failed to make an impact as Alan Burn ran riot with 4 goals in a 9-1 win.

MATCHDAY 19 – 10th October 2000

Royal Mail crowned Double Winners.

Penalty victory over PCB.

Royal Mail 3 Groundwork Murton 1

The first Semi-Final saw the newly crowned Champions Royal Mail take on the seasons great under-achievers Groundwork Murton. Immediately Groundwork took the game to their opponents playing some slick, fast paced football, a trait they have shown all season. But Royal Mail managed to keep them at bay. Royal always looked dangerous on the break, and in the eighth minute managed to take the lead. Once the first goal went in Royal Mail began to show the form that has seen them to the summit of the SFL this season. It was only a matter of time before they would extend their lead, as Groundwork seemed to be losing interest in affairs. Royal Mail dually scored their second goal and it seemed the contest was over, but amazingly Groundwork sprang to life, and again started to play the kind of football that saw them start the season so brightly, attack after attack eventually yielded reward and Groundwork halved the deficit to 2-1. But Royal Mail withstood the pressure and showed everyone why they were the best team this season, they weathered the storm and gradually clawed their way back into the game. They scored again towards the end of the game to put a comeback well beyond Groundwork Murton. The final score of 3-1 to Royal Mail was in the end a fair reflection of the game. But you cannot help but think that this was an opportunity lost by Groundwork, but how many times have we heard that this season.

PCB 4 Sex & Chocolate 2

The second Semi-Final saw the highly rated PCB take on the outsiders Sex & Chocolate in a game that PCB were expected to win with ease, and they did. From the start S & C were on the back foot, as PCB's prolific strike force put them under intense pressure. For S & C Dave Gourlay was outstanding, but unfortunately that was not enough. The final score of 4-2 to PCB could and should have been higher, but in the end all that really mattered was that they had reached the final.

Royal Mail 0 PCB 0

Royal Mail won 7-6 on penalties

All that stood between Royal Mail and a glorious double were PCB, and to many people it was a forgone conclusion that PCB would not be able to put up much of a fight. Earlier on in the season when the two teams had met in a league confrontation, Royal Mail had ran out comfortable 4-1 winners when arguably PCB had a stronger team. So the omens were good for the Champions. The game started of by both teams adopting a cautious approach. PCB's normally all out attack was dropped in favour of a more calculated build up. This seemed to work detrimentally for Royal Mail as they expected their opponents to come at them all guns blazing. It seemed as though Royal did not know quite how to play their quarries, and increasingly PCB gained territorial advantage. John Wardle of PCB was a constant threat to Royal Mail, and the Champions just could not cope with him. However the first half ended goalless. Of the two managers Dave Hopps of PCB would have been the far happier. It was clear that Jamie Fleming of Royal Mail had to do something to raise his troops, and too his credit, Royal Mail came out in the second half looking like a far better team, but unfortunately for Jamie, as Royal raised their game, so did PCB. It was without doubt PCB's best performance of the season. They constantly tested the Royal Mail rearguard, and it was clear that the Champions were missing the influential Stephen Lawson. So in the end both teams had to settle for a 0-0 draw, and the lottery of a penalty shootout was going to decide who would be this seasons SFL Challenge Cup winners. After a succession of superbly taken penalties, it went down to sudden death. When finally a superb save by the Royal Mail Goalkeeper handed the Trophy to the Champions.

Royal Mail were crowned the SFL Cup Winners. Over the season no one can deny the fact that they have undoubtedly been the best side in the SFL. The one factor that Jamie Fleming's team have managed to achieve over all others is consistency. Royal Mail are now the benchmark for all teams to follow come Season 3, if they wish to emulate what they have done. All that remains for me to say is to thank all the teams who took part in such a successful league and cup competition and no doubt everyone is looking forward to the start of Season 3 of the Sunderland Football League.

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

GD

Pts

1
Royal Mail Sunderland
16
13
2
1
56
18
38
41
2
Sporting Redhouse
16
12
3
1
70
20
50
39
3
Tyne Port
16
10
3
3
29
25
4
33
4
Herrenknecht
16
9
4
3
48
25
23
31
5
Slipway
16
9
3
4
44
16
28
30
6
Groundwork Murton
16
9
2
5
57
29
28
29
7
Pennywell Community Business
16
7
6
3
44
27
17
27
8
Durham Pine
16
8
3
5
43
26
17
27
9
JJB Sports
16
7
2
7
50
43
7
23
10
TCB Accountancy
16
7
2
7
27
28
-1
23
11
Three Tuns
16
6
1
9
26
34
-8
19
12
University of Sunderland
16
4
4
8
30
47
-17
16
13
Sex & Chocolate
16
4
1
11
25
54
-29
13
14
Thoburns
16
3
3
10
23
45
-22
12
15
CDS Security
16
3
1
12
23
77
-54
10
16
Ferguson's Transport
16
2
3
11
22
65
-43
9
17
BHD Windows
16
1
1
14
17
55
-38
4

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