Thursday, 28 February 2013

Holders Town scrape through after cup thriller

NORTHALLERTON TOWN 5 RYHOPE CW 3 (after extra time)

TOWN remain on course to become the first club to retain the Ernest Armstrong Cup as they came from behind to see off the brave challenge of ten-man Ryhope on Wednesday evening.

In one of the best matches ever seen at the RGPS Stadium, Town set up a quarter final trip to Chester-le-Street as a brace from Mickey Dunwell and further efforts from Adam Emson, Carl Chillingsworth and an own goal, saw off Ryhope, who had defender Greg Swansbury sent off in the first half.

Manager Mark Fanning made several changes to the side that had squeezed past Whickham in the League Cup a week ago. In fact it was a virtually full-strength Town side with the exception of leading scorer Adam Emson, who started on the bench.

There was very little to choose between the sides in the opening exchanges but it was the visitors who grabbed a 16th minute lead when captain Phil Hall nodded home following a spell of head tennis in the Town penalty area.

However, Fanning's side were level less than five minutes later. There did not appear to be too much danger when the ball fell to Dunwell 25 yards out, but he manufactured a stunning first-time, dipping volley which gave goalkeeper Neal Bussey no chance.

Town nearly went in front almost immediately when Steve Butterworth crashed a shot against the top of the crossbar, but Ryhope were the better side at this stage.

They looked to get ball forward quickly to utilise the power of front two Chris Winn and John Butler, while the pace of wide men Clayton Davis and Lee McMahon was a constant threat.

It was therefore no surprise when the visitors regained the lead soon after. Butler turned neatly on the edge of the penalty area before slotting past James Briggs with the confidence of a man who has scored nearly 40 goals this season.

But the whole complexion of the tie turned on an incident less than two minutes later. Col Anderson went down after apparently being struck by a stray elbow from Swansbury and referee Steve Moran issued a straight red card for the Ryhope man.

Despite their one man advantage however, Town were unable to create a clear cut opening before the break against a strong, well organised Ryhope defence.

In fact it took until just past the hour mark for Town to finally penetrate the visitors back line. Butterworth, who was starting to have more and more influence, found Dunwell in the inside left channel but his first time effort was comfortably saved by Bussey.

The introduction of Emson soon after gave Town more forward thrust and he almost equalised with a stinging drive which only just cleared Bussesy's crossbar three minutes later.

Fanning's side came even closer fifteen minutes from time. Butterworth waltzed past several challenges on a magical solo run before bringing a smart save from Bussey, while Anderson was only just unable to turn home the rebound.

However, Town's grip on the trophy was very nearly loosened moments later when only a full-length stop from Briggs prevented McMahon making it 3-1.

That proved to be crucial as Town kept their cup hopes alive nine minutes from time. Butterworth was again at the heart of it with another fine effort which was parried by Bussey and Dunwell arrived to smash the loose ball into the roof of the net from the tightest of angles.

There only looked like being one winner now as Gav Parkin volleyed narrowly over the top before a late Anderson effort was deflected wide as it finished 2-2 after 90 minutes, just as it had in the league meeting here in November.

But the opening period of extra time got off to an explosive start. Winn, who although failing to score on this occasion, produced one of the best all-round displays seen from a visiting player at the RGPS this season, slipped over in the area under pressure from Danny Shoulder and Moran pointed to the spot.

Town were unhappy with the decision as any contact did seem minimal but substitute Craig Marron was not about to complain as he smashed the penalty past Briggs.

But the lead lasted less than a minute. A quick Town break saw Emson initially denied by Bussey but the former Stokesley man made no mistake at the second time of asking.

And incredibly it was 4-3 just seconds later. Parkin released Marcus Laing down the right and his low, driven cross was turned into his own net by Ross Stead under pressure from Emson. It appeared the goal may be disallowed as the linesmans flag had been raised for offside, but after consulting with Moran the goal was given and Town led for the first time.

Ryhope may have felt everything was going against them but they they continued to press in the second extra period and it was difficult to tell which side had ten men. Town were hanging on at times but the brave Ryhope stand was finally over with the last kick of an absorbing cup tie - substitute Chillingsworth chipping the ball over Bussey from 20 yards to make it 5-3.

"It was a great end-to-end game that flowed one way and then the other," said a delighted Fanning at the whistle.

"Credit to Ryhope who dug in after they were reduced to ten men, but I thought we just about deserved the win in the end.

"I didn't see the red card incident but if he did use the elbow then he deserved to go. But it did appear a harsh decision from where I was."

It proved to be a good night for Town as promotion rivals Crook Town and Jarrow Roofing both dropped points in the promotion race.

It was also confirmed by league chairman Mike Amos that should Ryhope's ground not reach the required standard by the Easter deadline they will face relegation back to the Wearside League.

Should that be the case, and should they finish in one of the three promotion spots, their place in Division One would go to the side finishing fourth, which of course is currently Town.

TOWN - Briggs, Banks, Alderson, Shoulder, Hickman, Parkin, Butterworth, Laing, Anderson, Dunwell, Bowman. Subs - Dunn, Chillingsworth, Emson, Burton, Winter.

RYHOPE CW - Bussey, Stead, Metcalfe, Hall, Swansbury, Trewick, Davis, Johnson, Butler, Winn, McMahon. Subs - Charlton, Arkley, Cook, Dunn, Marron.




  1. Weldone to Les and Dave for making the pitch something like. No team can play quality football on a damaged pitch, hope it holds up and does not play a part in the club missing out.

  2. Quote of the Day...
    "I didn't see the red card incident but if he did use the elbow then he deserved to go. But it did appear a harsh decision from where I was."

    Nearly as good as Chris Kamaras miss on the red card lol...

  3. agree with the above, my have to get the 2nd team to play it remaining game on the back pitch, stone cross or at Brompton give the first team lads every chance of promotion.