The new Ebac Northern League Division One started with a breath-taking contest at The Calvert Stadium. Northallerton hosted Crook Town in what ended up being a very eventful game and leaving fans definitely getting their money's worth from the day out.
Town started brightly, keeping the ball well in possession and had a few early opportunities via freekicks won in promising areas, the first sent just over from Nathan Stephenson before John Howard had his effort deflected behind.
Crook had an early shout for a penalty waved away with the referee deeming it not to be a foul. In hindsight, it could have been a very different decision on another day.
It wasn't too long before the ball was in the net from Town but the referee had already blown to award Town a freekick. The game began to get a bit competitive with some tasty challenges going in from both sides.
As the rain began to pour down, it somewhat dampened the quality of the game, it wasn't long before our next event came to fruition. Reports of a few punches thrown at Charlie Graham and Ritchie Farrel, caused commotion between both benches and bizarrely everyone involved walked away without a card.
Town began to grow into the game and were starting to apply sustained periods of attacking pressure on the Crook backline, this eventually resulted in Luke Jones having the first clear-cut chance of the game. Jones found himself on the end of a great ball by Stapley but he could only turn his effort wide of the post.
With a matter of minutes left in the half, the whole game changed with the award of a penalty to Crook Town. Tommy Marron had made a sliding challenge and came out with the ball but the referee instead pointed to the spot with fans of both sides unified in the fact it wasn't a penalty.
Craig Moody duly converted with a well-taken penalty.
Half-Time: Northallerton Town 0 - 1 Crook Town
Town tried to kick on from the restart and make immediate amends. Debutant Damian Giliga with a driving run but he saw his cross turned behind. However, it wasn't to be as Crook soon took advantage.
Crook then doubled their advantage moments later. Despite it being a debate whether or not the goalscorer should have been on the pitch. Adam Burnicle fired home following some good play and left Town with a mountain to climb.
Less than 5 minutes later, Town were awarded a penalty of their own and Crook found themselves reduced to 10 as David Webb saw red for a second bookable offence. Nathan Stephenson was on hand to open his account for the season and claw one back for Town.
Town grew in stature and were looking to the more likely to grab the next goal, trying to put the pressure on the Crook backline and in a period of madness they made their breakthrough.
Within the space of 2 minutes, Jack Stapley had won an additional two penalties for Town, with Nathan Stephenson converting one and Ronan Makepeace in the Crook goal making a fine stop to prevent a hattrick of penalties.
Town were once again pushing forward, some great play almost saw Giliga open his account. Stephenson spread the ball out wide to Stapley on the left who linked up well with Charlie Graham to produce a cross but Makepeace was able to thwart the goalbound effort.
A moment of top quality saw Crook take the lead once more, Craig Moody with time on the edge of the area, took his time and curled a wonderful strike into the top right corner. Town were behind once more.
However, it wasn't to be for long as once again Town had equalised within 5 minutes of conceding. A corner whipped in by Stephenson found the head of Matty Crust whose goalbound header caused some confusion in the Crook area and saw Harvey Rudd put the ball into his own net.
Crook had another man sent off shortly after, Joe Lamb was the culprit flying through into a challenge off his feet towards Jack Stapley and the referee gave him his marching orders.
The game was marred throughout the second period by tasty challenges and bad reactions from both benches surrounding decisions on the pitch - a section of the away support were warned about their behaviour by the match officials.
Full-Time: Northallerton Town 3 - 3 Crook Town
A game in which Northallerton were the better side and could perhaps feel aggrieved to not have had 3 points, however, they showed fight to claw back twice from 2-0 and 3-2 respectively.
Dawson, Jackson, Graham, Crust, Marron, Stephenson, Stapley, Ryder, L Jones, Giliga, Howards
Subs: Chidanyika, Lancaster, Rae, D Jones
Not Used: Cocks
Goals: Stephenson (54' pen, 62' pen), OG (80')
Makepeace, J Lamb, Pilling, Parnaby, Rudd, Walker, Moody, Webb, Burnicle, Forster, Hurworth
Subs: Johnson, Betteridge, Kirkbride, Nash, C Lamb
Red Cards: Webb (54'), J Lamb (85')
Goals: Moody (41' pen, 75), Burnicle (51')