Crook Town 1-0 Sunderland RCA – Durham Challenge Cup

 Crook Town progressed to the Third Round of the Durham Challenge Cup after edging past Sunderland RCA at The Sir Tom Cowie Millfield stadium.

The first half provided little entertainment for the 168 supporters in attendance as neither side created any real chances.

RCA were the side who came closest to scoring, even though their chances barely troubled Michael Arthur in the Crook goal.

Layton Watts saw his header from a Taylor Richardson cross go over the bar in the 18th minute, before Simon Jakab’s header from Michael Hoganson’s corner was comfortably caught by Arthur.

The second half proved to be more exciting – with Crook taking control and producing the best chances of the game.

Crook almost went ahead in the 53rd minute after a deflected pass fell into the path of captain Lee Hume, however his strike curled just wide of the post.

RCA responded with a chance of their own 64 minutes in, when Jonathan Carr drove forward before cutting inside and firing just outside of the post.

The only goal of the game came in the 66th minute – a through ball was met by Tafari Nicholas who rounded RCA keeper Jonathan Ball before slotting home into an empty net.

Nicholas nearly added his and Crook’s second 15 minutes from time after a through ball in behind once again beat the RCA backline, however Nicholas hit the top of the crossbar.

Crook held on for the win, which sees them move onto the next round of the competition.

Crook Town visit Seaham Red Star in their next outing, whilst Sunderland RCA travel to Northallerton Town.

Adam Gill

Consett 0 Shildon 3 – Durham Challenge Cup 2nd round

Shildon – once of the Northern League parish – have moved on to pastures new, with promotion out of our league.  And they have clearly stepped up to the challenge of the new league.

They produced a crisp, professional display to dispatch Consett.  But there were mitigating circumstances for the Steelmen:  a whole raft of injuries meant they had to change more than half their team from Saturday’s Vase defeat.

But they’re now out of two cups within a matter of days.  They started brightly enough.  Calvin Smith getting on the end of a Darren Holden cross but hitting it wide and Stephen Callen trying to lob Shildon keeper Matthew Bateman who was able to grab the ball at full stretch.

But then Shildon started to impose themselves on the match – Michael Sweet with a header over the bar and then the No. 9 working hard to keep the ball in play before sending over a cross met by Danny Craggs whose effort brought an excellent save out of Consett keeper Ross Coombe.

He could do little to stop Shildon’s first goal – Kurt Matthews with a cross, setting up Billy Greulich-Smith with a powerful header to make it 1-0.  Aidan Heywood doubled their lead with a shot from outside the box that made it past a despairing dive by Coombe.  In between, the Consett keeper pulled off another fine save to deny Chay Liddle who hit a shot from distance.

Consett finished the half with a couple of attacks but failed to test Bateman.

They struggled to make much headway in the second half, battling Shildon and a stiff breeze.  A half chance came five minutes into the half when captain Jake Orrell sent over a free kick from wide left.  Ross Wilkinson rose above the defence, managing to get the slightest of touches to the ball which sailed just the wrong side of the post.

The tie was put beyond Consett in the 57th minute:  Nick Allen tripping Heywood in the box, with Sweet scoring from the penalty spot, hitting it low and hard to the left.

With the injuries piling up, Consett’s squad will be tested to the limit in the coming weeks.

Mike Snowdon

North Shields – our last team in the Buildbase FA Vase – have been drawn at home to Rugby Town in the fifth round of the competition.

The draw was in two sections – North and South.

The game will be played on Saturday, February 12, with the winners getting £2250 and the losers £725.


Harborough Town 1 North Shields 1 – North Shields win 5-3 on penalties – Buildbase FA Vase fourth round

The Ectasy of winning a penalty shoot-out after one of the toughest, most competitive games I’m sure the Robins have had all season.

They started the game well enough, getting into their stride the quicker of the two sides but their attacks floundered by over hitting their final ball or putting them too close to Harborough keeper Elliott Taylor.  At the back they had to be on their toes to combat the home team’s quick counter attacks.

The goals came within two nerve-gangling minutes.

In the 28th minute Harborough won a free kick 20 yards out, with No. 7 Joshua Walsh hitting a sweet strike past the Robins wall and just out of the reach of Shields keeper Ollie Marshall to put the home side 1-0 up.

They had little time to rest on their laurels with Andrew Cartwright finding Shields No. 9 Dan Wilson in the box.  The front man was able to work some room for himself before firing it past Taylor to make it all square.

After the positive, promising start by Shields, Harborough finished the half the stronger.  Roles were reversed in the second half – Harborough on the ascendancy at the start of the second half with Shields on the back foot.

Gradually the Robins were able to take the game to the hosts:  Wilson sending over a cross that got past Taylor but the ball was cleared before it reached a Shields attacker.  Then Ryan Carr had a shot deflected for a corner, from which Jack Walker hit a volley over the bar.

Both teams could have found a late, heart-breaking winner.  With six minutes to go, Wilson got the better of Town centre half Ben Williams before hitting a shot past the keeper and just the wrong side of the post.  Three minutes later, Harborough No. 4 Paul Malone hit a powerful header towards the Shields goal, with Marshall able to stop and then grab the ball before a Harborough player could poke it home.

With nothing to separate the teams, it seemed inevitable that the tie would be decided by a penalty shoot-out.  Shields held their nerve, with Wilson, Brad Hird, Carr and Chris McDonald giving the keeper no chance with their spot kicks.

Harborough winger Rhys Hoenes stepped up to take his team’s fourth.  He struck the ball after a stutter step but Marshall guessed right to make the decisive save.  That left it to Gary Ormston to seal the win, and he made no mistake to cue massive celebrations among players, coaching staff and fans.

The Agony for Consett – losing in the 90th minute as they tried to get back to Wembley in consecutive years; going ahead as early as the third minute thanks to a Jake Orrell goal only to be pegged back in the 62nd minute (11 minutes after the Steelmen had Matty Slocombe sent off) and then the hammer blow late on.

The Robins are now our only surviving club left in the Vase as they try to repeat their famous Vase victory seven years ago.

PS – As you would expect, the Robins had a sizeable and vociferous support with them on the day – from greeting the team when they arrived at the ground (see photo below) to wild celebrations involving fans, players and coaches at the end.

Mike Snowdon

Ryton and Crawcrook Albion 1-4 Billingham Synthonia – Ebac Northern League Division Two

Billingham Synthonia came away from promotion rivals Ryton and Crawcrook Albion with all three points after a brilliant display at Kingsley Park.

It took only five minutes for the home side to take the lead as Scott Bamborough spotted Synners keeper Jaan Yaqub off his line, before chipping him from about 25 yards out.

The away side drew level in the 21st minute – Clark Kay’s cross was met at the back post by John Howard who brilliantly volleyed home beyond Ryton keeper Dan Gladstone.

Just a minute later Synners took the lead through Ben Henderson. Ryton gave up possession in the middle of the park, before Henderson drove forward and fired into the bottom corner from 25 yards to put his side in the ascendancy.

There seemed to be no stopping of the away side as they began to take control of proceedings.

The visitors almost added a third in the 26th minute when Henderson’s close range effort was well saved by Gladstone.

Tensions began to rise between the two sides which saw Kay booked for a rash challenge, however the Ryton dugout believed the left back should have walked.

Minutes later Synners added to their advantage – a quick counterattack saw Howard play Henderson through on goal who lifted the ball over the onrushing Gladstone.

The majority of the second half didn’t bring much action from either side until the 77th minute, as Synners put the game beyond doubt.

A long ball forward was chased down by Henderson, who shrugged off Ryton defender Carl Paterson before slotting home into the bottom corner to seal his hat-trick.

Henderson almost scored his fourth of the game with a brilliant curling effort – only to be denied by an equally brilliant save from Gladstone who tipped Henderson’s strike over the bar.

Things went from bad to worse for the home side two minutes from time – Paterson sent his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card.

Synners sealed the win and the three points to send them fifth in Division Two – six points behind second placed Ryton with two games in hand.

Both sides compete in the Second Round of the Durham Challenge Cup in their next fixtures – Ryton and Crawcrook Albion travel to Ryhope CW, whilst Billingham Synthonia host West Auckland Town.

PS – a pall of fog descended on the pitch in the closing minutes.  Tongue in cheek requests by Ryton fans for the game to be abandoned were to no avail.

Adam Gill

Bedlington Terriers 1 Newcastle University 0 – Techflow Northumberland Senior Cup

Sometimes you’ve just got to graft your way to a win.  A heavy, lumpy pitch meant that tidy, flowing football was never going to be high on the agenda for this Northumberland Senior Cup quarter-final tie between two of our second division teams.

The Terriers are in the semi-final thanks to a quick reaction and a precise finish.  Seventeen minutes into the match, a ball was pushed up to Bedlington No. 9 Jackson Ward but he couldn’t quite get a shot away.  The ball was only half cleared and it fell to right winger Keelan Nellis who instinctively hit it first time between defenders and keeper and into the net.

Other chances came and went for both teams, but none could find Nellis’ precision.  Before the goal, Bedlington keeper Nathan Harker saved shots by University strikers Jack Butler and Josh Hammett in quick succession, while University keeper Daniel Dekanski was able to deflect a Ward shot out for a corner.

Bedlington played with more energy and pace compared to the last time I saw them against Brandon and they seemed to adapt to the difficult pitch better than University.

Just after half an hour Ward and Nellis played a one-two but Ward placed the ball too close to Dekanski who was able to save it with his legs.  That was quickly followed by an attack by University No. 11 Blake Wood who drove into the Terriers box only for full back Tristan Gray to slide in with a well-timed interception, with Wood picking up the ball again.  His foll0w-up shot came off a defender for a corner.

Terriers thought they’d doubled their lead in the 37th minute when Glenn Harvey broke down the left and sent over a dangerous cross that was met by Ward who tucked it away, only to be judged offside.

University started the second half with quicker, more direct attacks and it almost paid off with their best chance of the game when sub James Coates found Butler who forced a fine save out of Harker.

The half turned into a more scrappy, untidy affair.  University crafted the better openings but couldn’t convert them:  Coates passed to fellow sub Tom Romano, with his shot blocked with his legs by Harker who came racing off his line.

With quarter of an hour to go, University could have had a penalty as Romano was brought down in the box, but play was waved on by referee Matt Sowerby.

A solid Bedlington defence was then able to see out the rest of the tie.

Mike Snowdon