Sunderland RCA 2 South Shields 5 – Durham Challenge Cup third round

5-2 sounds a bit of a drubbing but it doesn’t quite reflect how the game panned out.  To be sure South Shields were the better side, but perhaps not quite by the margin of the final score.

After twice falling behind, the Wearsiders twice fought back to level it up, but then South Shields cranked up their game and polished the Northern League side off in the second half.

RCA’s first wound was self-inflicted.  Four minutes into the tie, keeper Scott Pocklington didn’t get enough distance on a clearance.  If fell to Robert Briggs 30 yards out and the South Shields No. 8 tried an audacious and successful lob that Pocklington got his fingertips to as he peddled backwards, but he couldn’t divert it away from the net.

RCA responded with a series of back-to-back corners, with the fourth being cleared off the line by Shields No. 6 Joachim Ursene Mouonda.  (More of him later.)

At the other end of the pitch, all of Shields’ attacks came down the right, while the RCA defence looked a tad hesitant, although they played a high back line, catching Shields offside on several occasions throughout the first half.

Their first comeback came in the 18th minute when Kyle Davis rifled a cross between Shields defenders and keeper Daniel Lister with RCA captain Greg Swansbury thumping it into the roof of the net.  It settled the team down and allowed them to get into their stride.

The next chance came Shields’ way when a fortunate deflection sent the ball past Pocklington.  Shields No. 11 Gavin Cogen was able to react the quickest and he tried to cut it back from a tight angle, but could only send it across the goal line.  RCA matched that by coming close themselves.  Perseverance by right back Tomas Howard set Mark Davison away down the right and his cross went within a foot or two of Nathan O’Neill right in front of goal.

RCA conceded their second in the 39th minute when Ross Preston pulled Cogden down as he ran through on goal after getting on the end of a Nathan Lowe through ball.  Preston had little option but to bring him down and a penalty was duly given and, in turn, duly despatched by Briggs.

In the dying seconds of the half RCA pulled it back to level terms – again thanks to a quality cross from the right by Davis.  This time it reached O’Neill who was half turned away from goal but he managed to get the outside of his boot to the ball, back across Lister and into the net to make it 2-2.

For the first 20 minutes of the second half RCA enjoyed more of the possession and spent more of the time in Shields’ half without causing the visitors too many problems.  Their best chance came in the 65th minute when Lister couldn’t keep hold of a Colin Larkin shot and Davison nicked it from him and worked himself enough space to get a shot on goal which Lister stopped as he scrambled back towards his line.

Three Shields goals in the closing 17 minutes put paid to any RCA hopes of progressing in the cup.   Ursene Mouonda battled and managed to get the ball out to sub Max Cowburn and his pass round the back of the RCA back line was met by Callum Guy with a first time volley – making it 2-3.

A pass from Guy to Nathan Lowe spliced open the defence.   Pocklington managed to get a hand to Lowe’s shot but he couldn’t stop it from going in.

2-4 turned to 2-5 in the last minute of the game when a one-two released Briggs clear in the RCA box and the Shields man completed his hat-trick with a confident finish.

And finally, back to Joachim Ursene Mouonda:  I really enjoyed watching him play and I think he had a terrifc game, a game that might well have gone un-noticed by many spectators.  For most of the game he sat in the hole just in front of his back four.  He did the simple things really well – denying RCA players space to threaten the goal, put in some well-timed tackles, always made himself available for team mates and hardly mis-placed a pass all night.  Not the star of the show, but he was an essential part of Shields’ win.

Mike Snowdon

Birtley Town and Ashington FC have organised Sportsman’s Dinners.

Ashington’s is on Friday, March 22 when ex-Newcastle United striker Mickey Quinn will be the guest speaker, with comedian Josh Daniels and compere Graeme Foster.

A table for 10 costs £475 + VAT and includes a three course meal.  There will also be a raffle and auction.  The event is at the Grand Hotel, Gosforth Park.  To book tickets email:  finance@ashingtonafc.com

Birtley Town’s event is on Thursday, April 18 at the Birtley Parish Centre, DH3 1LJ.

Former Newcastle defender Steve Howey is the guest speaker and he will be joined by comedian Finbar Healy.  Tickets cost £35.  There will be a three course meal, late bar, auction and raffle.  Contact details are below:

Bishop Auckland 3 Newcastle Benfield 1 – Ebac Northern League Division One

The midweek meeting between Consett and Shildon was all about the finishing.  Bishop Auckland and Newcastle Benfield provided the sequel four days later.

Benfield played a game that was pleasing on the eye, spraying the ball around the pitch with the minimal of touches.  Their game had a rhythm and flow to it.  They also had a bagful of shots.  They only problem was that they couldn’t despatch them.

That was something that didn’t trouble Bishop Auckland.  They had their fair share of attacks and shots – perhaps not quite as many as the visitors – they just made the most of them.

First up was Kieran Galbraith.  The No. 5 is a tall, big bloke who you expect the defence to mark at set pieces, but as a corner came over in the 11th minute, no-one picked him up and he had a clear header after being gifted all the time and space he needed to pick his spot. 1-0.

In the closing minutes of the half, Kyle Fryatt made it 2-0.  The No. 11 was allowed to twist and turn in the Benfield box before hitting the ball with the outside of his boot.  With not much to aim at, he curled it past Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger.  It wasn’t quite two chances and two goals in the half, but it wasn’t too far short.

Bishops captain Andrew Johnson provided the third clinical finish in the 68th minute with the sharpest of sharp turns, followed by a shot that Grainger managed to get a hand to, but not enough to keep it out of the net.  3-0.  It proved to be the killer blow.

Benfield’s chances: 10’ a Scott McCarthy shot smothered by Bishops keeper Nick Liversedge.  14’ – a run by McCarthy beating three Bishops players but James Martin skies his shot over.  18’ – an excellent cross by Martin that Dennis Knight miscues badly at the far post, sending the ball back across the goal instead of on target.  20’ – Alex Nisbit putting a header wide.  21’ – Knight putting a first time shot wide, immediately followed by a more difficult header by Nisbit, also going wide.  31’ – McCarthy unable to get enough power into a shot, allowing Liversedge to stop it.

One of their few shots to really test Liversedge came in the 43rd minute when Reece Noble’s shot forced the keeper to make his best save of the half.

In the second half:  49’ – a Jake Orrell shot deflected for a corner.  51’ – another Knight shot, pushed out for a corner by Liversedge.  53’ – McCarthy jinking between Bishops defenders, with his shot veering high and wide.  69’ – substitute Dale Pearson managing to find some space for a shot, palmed away for a corner yet again by Liversedge.

They finally broke through in the 71st minute when a long, crossfield ball looped over defenders and found Paul Brayson clear on the left.  His first-time shot gave Liversedge little chance of saving it.

The strike re-energised Benfield who clearly believed they could get something out of the game in the last 20 minutes, but Bishop Auckland were able to negotiate the remainder of the game safely.

Quote of the day:  Prompted by a Benfield player’s repeated complaints to the officials, one Bishops fan remarked:  “Linesman – do you want some ear plugs?  We’re bad enough, never mind about him!”

Durham City AFC have vacancies for Physios to support the first team in the Northern League and also the reserve team in the development league.

Anyone interested in either position can contact the club at durhamcityafc@sky.com

The Football Association today announced the teams that have applied for promotion to Step 6 of the National League System (NLS).

Three teams from the region have applied:  Newcastle University (who play at Kimberley Park, Prudhoe), Hebburn Town Reserves and Sunderland West End (who play at the Nissan Sports Complex).

Under FA rules, teams apply for promotion to a Step in the national system rather than for promotion to a specific league.  It is for the FA to decide to which league they are allocated.

Newcastle University are currently in the Northern Football Alliance League, with Hebburn Town Reserves and Sunderland West End in the TWR Wearside League.  Only one club per league can be promoted to Step 6.  The application by Hebburn is subject to the first team being promoted to Step 4 (as FA rules stipulate there needs to be two divisions separating teams from the same club).

The Ebac Northern League Division One is at Step 5 of the NLS and Division Two at Step 6.

Promotions decisions will be made by the FA at the end of the season.  Each application will now be assessed to validate the eligibility of each club from a ground grading, ground-sharing (i.e. must be in the same ground next season as the whole of the 2018-19 season) and the regulatory point of view.

A link to the FA’s announcement is here:


Consett 0 Shildon 2 – Ebac Northern League Division One

In the end it came to how clinical the two teams’ forwards were.  Self-evidently, Shildon’s front line edged it on the night.  Both their goals were pretty good too, in very different ways.

Just two minutes into the match Zak Atkinson put the visitors ahead.  There seemed to be no imminent danger to the Consett goal.  The Shildon No. 9 picked the ball up at the outside corner of the Consett box, paused just long enough to look up to spot and seize his chance – hitting a beautifully struck shot that sailed over Kyle Hayes and into the net.

His team-mates seemed as surprised as everyone else by the goal.

Fast forward more than an hour and the Railwaymen’s second was just a simple cross and header, but precisely executed by David Palmer and Billy Greulich-Smith – Palmer providing the pinpoint cross in from the right and Greulich-Smith finding the gap between Consett’s centre backs to attack the ball and head it in.

Apart from the goals, both sides came desperately close to adding to the scoreline.

Just like the opening goal, there didn’t seem to be too much on for Aksel Juul in the 8th minute until the Consett man turned left and hit a shot that bounced off the post with Shildon keeper Shaun Newbrook beaten.

Next up was Greulich-Smith who was allowed to run through Consett’s midfield with his shot from 25 yards out careering off the right hand post.

Apart from those chances, Shildon looked more dangerous when they attacked while Consett never really hit a rhythm, with much of their play looking somewhat rushed, when a bit of patience might well have served them well.

They looked more positive and energised for the opening 10 minutes of the second half, which was played mostly in the Shildon half.  I counted five chances/half chances and shots for Consett before Shildon doubled their lead, but none of them tested Newbrook.

Michael Mackay was the last player to rattle a shot off the post in the 68th minute and Juul had their last shot on target, but Newbrook had a straight forward save diving down to his right.

The last two shots came from Shildon:  Marc Ellison with an uncontested effort in the 83rd minute with Hayes forced into a one-handed save and then in the third minute of added time, substitute Nathan Steel finding himself all alone one-on-one with Hayes as Consett pressed forward, but the Consett No. 1 got his angles right to block the strike on goal.

Mike Snowdon