Newcastle University 1 Ryton & Crawcrook Albion 1 – R & C win 3-0 on penalties – Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup final

Lazarus is alive and well – and living in Ryton and Crawcrook.

Newcastle University must wonder what hit them.  Ahead with a goal in the first minute, they were dealt a crushing blow in the 89th minute, having dominated big chunks of the game.

The dream start came in the shape of Finn Hebron who put Uni ahead when he connected with a ball from the left, hitting a beautifully timed shot that left Ryton keeper Jonathan Ball rooted to the spot.

Long balls up to Uni No. 9 Tolu Osiyemi kept troubling the Ryton defence, while Albion weren’t able to generate any quality attacks.  Meanwhile, Newcastle University looked quicker and sharper.  What attacks did come Uni’s way were well dealt with by captain Stephen Pennington who showed pace and vision to snuff out any threats to goal.

But University weren’t able to build on their lead – James Coates with a shot from an acute angle that flashed across the Ryton goal and then Ball racing out of his box to beat Osiyemi to a through ball and clear the danger.

The only thing going for Ryton was that they had only conceded the one goal.

The first chance of the second half fell to Uni No. 11 Jack Butler who saw his shot blocked by Ball in the 52nd minute and that was followed by two off-target efforts.  It took almost an hour before Ryton started to generate any kind of momentum, with left winger Konnor Lamb the main threat.  He cut in before passing to sub Rees Greenwood who in turn pulled it back to Rhys McLeod, with his shot blocked.

They continued to improve, with more possession without threatening Edward Claxton in the University goal, although they had a penalty appeal turned away in the 70th minute for a tackle by Pennington on Ryton captain Callum Turnbull.  At the other end, No. 10 James Coates had a clear sight of goal but Ball saved the shot with his body.  They just couldn’t find a second goal to give them breathing space.

And that came to haunt them in the last minute of normal time.  Ryton No. 12 Oliver Symons broke down the right and sent over a cross that richocheted off Uni left back Milo Cook and into the net, with Claxton completely wrong-footed.

It was so very tough on University, but reward for Ryton’s determination to keep going to the end.  The nightmare continued into the penalty shoot-out, with University missing the first and third spot kicks and Ball saving the second.

Ryton despatched all of theirs – thanks to Turnbull,  Greenwood and McLeod, and the Ernest Armstrong cup was theirs.

Friday the 13th – lucky for Ryton, unlucky for Newcastle University.

Mike Snowdon