Boro Rangers 1 Ryton & Crawcrook Albion 1 – Ebac Northern League Division Two:

As we get to the business end of the season, every point won and lost seems to take on extra significance.  At opposite ends of the Division Two table, both teams will be regretting chances created and not converted.

Two wingers proved to be their side’s cutting edge in the first half. Rangers No. 11  Callum Hickman was the first to make an impact – a shot deflected for a corner, a cross for team mate Jack Guy who screwed his first time shot wide and then he cut in from the left and hit a shot that Ryton keeper Thomas Dawson parried at his near post.

Ryton No. 7 Harvey Walsh was the main attacking outlet for the visitors with a couple of dangerous crosses, but it was No. 9 Aaron Costello who exploited a mistake to put the Tynesiders ahead.  A high ball was misjudged by James Dillon, allowing Costello to get between the defender and Boro keeper Danny Horner and head the ball into the net.

In between the goalmouth action, Rangers looked more comfortable on the ball, with more of the possession and the better passing game.  Ryton invited pressure, with many of their defensive clearances going straight to Rangers players, giving them the opportunity to launch another attack.

With 10 minutes to go before the break, Costello almost bagged a second, latching on to a clearance by Horner who’d come well out of his box.  The No. 9 launched it back over the keeper who backpedalled to see the ball go wide by just a foot or two.

Dawson then had a golden couple of minutes in the Ryton goal.  He was able to block a Danny Lofts shot that the Rangers No. 9 hit from a tight angle.  He then produced one of the best double saves I’ve seen this season.  The referee awarded a penalty for a push on Boro No. 4 Matthew Lovatt.  Diving low to his right, Dawson was able to save Lofts’ spot kick and then, springing to his feet, he stopped Hickman’s follow-up shot from close quarters.

And for the second half it looked as though Dawson’s contribution was going to be crucial.  Ryton’s play improved in the second half.  The two sides traded attacks but most of the shots were off target:  Lofts with a turn and shot wide left, Dylan Lawson’s shot skimming just over the Rangers bar, a Jack Guy cross that just evaded three Rangers attacking running into the box, a Ben Turner effort curling outside the top left corner, Costello with a glancing header just past the post and then Walsh seeing a shot deflected for a corner.

For the last 10 minutes Rangers pushed for an equaliser and in the 85th minute Dawson produced another good save, pushing a half volley by Rangers sub Paul Blake over the bar.

As the Ryton contingent looked nervously at their watches, their team should have wrapped up the win.  Antonio Agostinho had a golden opportunity to score in the 89th minute, but Horner was able to block his shot.  In the third minute of time added on they had back-to-back-to-back chances by their subs:  taking a pass, Liam Shanley’s first touch took him wide instead of setting himself up for a shot, another Agostinho shot then hit the post and then a Harry Poole shot came off a defender for a corner.

The final whistle couldn’t come soon enough for the visitors but with the seconds ticking away, Rangers found the equaliser – Lofts holding off a defender before sliding the ball past Dawson and in:  relief and celebrations for the home team, the stuffing knocked out of the visitors.

Mike Snowdon