RYHOPE CW could hardly have enjoyed a better Easter.
On Friday, they were informed that their ground met the STL Northern League criteria and yesterday they lifted the Sunderland Shipowners’ Cup with victory over arch-rivals Redcar Athletic.
The pair are neck and neck at the top of the Wearside League and a close contest was anticipated at the seaside.
Neither side gave much away in the opening half, but the Wearsiders finally broke the deadlock in the 58th minute.
John Dunn made good progress down the flank and his cross was fired into the net by Nathan O’Neil.
Ten minutes later Martin Swales’ side celebrated again. Ross Stead was given room to centre and John Butler headed back over goalkeeper Scott Allison for the crucial second goal.
Ryhope were never seriously threatened and simply sat back on their two-goal cushion to win the first of the three domestic cups.
Next Saturday, they visit Ashbrooke Belford House in the semi-final of the Monkwearmouth Charity Cup and on May 12 visit Stockton Town for the final of the Wearside League Cup.
H Sunderland RCA’s tenuous hold on the STL Northern League leadership weakened yesterday when two of their main rivals for the championship both won.
West Auckland Town are now just a point behind the Wearsiders, with five games in hand, after racking up an Easter weekend double.
In both games, however, they were taken to the wire, but nevertheless came through unscathed.
On Saturday, they won by the only goal and in yesterday’s derby with Shildon once again finished just one goal ahead of their opponents.
It was an extremely close call and the game was deep into stoppage time as Mattie Moffat crashed home the winner from eight yards following a free-kick delivered by John Campbell.
Sam Garvie gave Shildon a 55th-minute lead from the spot and 14 minutes later Campbell equalised when he converted a penalty.
Dunston UTS, unlike Shildon, romped to a second five-goal victory and significantly advanced their goals difference.
On Saturday they defeated already relegated Stokesley SC and yesterday consigned Tow Law Town to the Second Division.
Chris Swailes, with a brace, Andy Bulford, Stephen Shaw and Stephen Goddard all struck to lift Dunston into third place, five points adrift of RCA with seven games in hand.
Spennymoor Town, who were without a fixture, are now fourth, but also very much in contention for a third consecutive championship win.
With Stokesley SC and Tow Law relegated, Penrith and Jarrow Roofing are battling it out to avoid joining them in Division Two next season.