ROSS Stead was again in the wars when he made an unexpected early return for Ryhope CW in Saturday’s Wearside League Cup first round tie at home to Annfield Plain.
Last week, he was taken to Darlington Memorial Hospital with a suspected broken neck.
Fortunately, the injury turned out to be no more than bruising and he was discharged the following day.
On Saturday, Stead lasted only 19 minutes before he was on his way to Sunderland Royal Hospital after sustaining a gash to his head.
There was some good news for Stead, though, when his side twice came from behind to secure a 4-2 victory.
Lee Mole was an early marksman for the visitors when he despatched a penalty wide of goalkeeper Nicky Lawson.
The Wearsiders equalised with a hotly-disputed spot-kick converted by Nathan O’Neil, but, before the break, Scott Heslop fired Plain in front for a second time.
Ryhope were quickly out of their blocks in the second period with Adam McQuillan equalising within two minutes of the restart. James Cook then gave the home side the lead for the first time and, just before the end, O’Neil’s second strike ended the hopes of the brave visitors.
Despite scoring first courtesy of John Combe, Sunderland West End went out at Redcar Athletic after extra time.
A huge disappointment for the Wearsiders was conceding the equaliser to Lance Skelton in the 94th minute. It was the last kick in normal time.
Stephen Barker gave the Teessiders the advantage with only six minutes of added time remaining. Two minutes later, there was no way back for West End as Adam Preston also beat goalkeeper Lee Burrell, who had an outstanding game.
Ashbrooke Belford House produced an excellent performance in defeating Cleator Moor Celtic in the second round.
It wasn’t until the 75th minute that Stephen Bogie deservedly broke the deadlock and after Mark Green made it two on 88 minutes, deep into stoppage time Lee Andrews completed a fully-deserved 3-0 victory.
Easington Colliery reached the semi-finals of the Shipowners’ Cup when they shaded Wolviston by the odd goal in three.
A mistake in the visitors’ defence allowed David Paul to play in Bryan Norton and he chipped goalkeeper Alan Carter from outside the penalty area.
Shortly afterwards, the Easington defence was culpable and Robbie McIlroy took full advantage, curling the ball past goalkeeper Kyle Donaldson.
Midway during the opening half, a clearance by Donaldson was not picked up by the Wolviston defence and David Paul fired past the oncoming Arran Carter for the winning goal.
Two minutes from the end, however, Paul was sent off and Easington had to hang on grimly in the final stages.
Silksworth CW went ahead courtesy of Alex Kempster but succumbed 3-1 to Seaton Carew, whose match-winners were Matthew Kelsey, with a brace, and Chris Birbeck.
Horden CW gained a welcome win over Prudhoe Town to improve their position near the bottom of the table.
Chris Tarn headed the Colliers into a fifth-minute lead, but an hour elapsed before Andrew Lonsdale drove into the top corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.
In added time, Darren Atkinson completed a comprehensive Horden victory with an angled shot from 18 yards.
Stockton Town moved into second place, only a couple of points behind Ryhope CW, with two games in hand on the Wearsiders, when they hit Boldon CA with a seven-goal blast.
Kallum Hannah and James Ward each bagged a brace, with Scott Meehan, Chris Stockton and Tom Coulthard also beating goalkeeper Connor Binney.
An only goal in the 73rd minute by John Murray, who slotted the ball past goalkeeper Simon Parkin, proved sufficient for Harton and Westoe CW in their South Tyneside derby away to Jarrow, who missed a golden opportunity to claim a point.
Three minutes into stoppage time, they were awarded a penalty but David Conroy’s spot-kick was saved by Harton hero Gary Frater.
The bottom four fixture between Leam Rangers and basement side Coxhoe Athletic ended with the spoils shared. After Ryan Kielty opened the scoring, Taylor Hughes levelled.
Boldon CA are second bottom, with Hartlepool only above them by virtue of a better goal difference, which was weakened when they suffered a five-goal drubbing at Richmond Town.
Scott Ryan was an 11th-minute scorer ,but it wasn’t until the second half that the Yorkshiremen finally built on their slender lead.
Three goals from Ben Darville, Michael Layfield and Kalumn Holbrook flowed in the space of seven minutes and, just before the end, Richmond went nap with a second strike from Ryan.