Northern League: Ryhope CW out of luck against clinical Stockton Town
Ryhope CW put up a spirited show but succumbed to a 3-1 defeat away to clinical Stockton Town in one of only two Division One games to beat the frost on Saturday.
Gary Pearson and Stu Gooden’s men can count themselves unfortunate, particularly following an impressive second period.
Ryhope had a couple of opening before falling behind in the 10th minute, after Jonny Ball dived quickly to his left to keep out a Dale Mulligan header, only for Jamie Owens to convert the rebound from close range.
Ryhope responded with a neat flick from skipper Kyle Davis which set up James Ellis for an 18-yard strike comfortably saved by keeper Liam Jordan.
A Lewis Turnball cross was just too high for Tom Bott before Davis cleverly worked an opening, from a Matty Weirs pass, but his strike was saved.
Ellis headed wide before Stockton responded, nodding an effort past the post and then forcing Ball to make a low save.
Ryhope broke brilliantly just before the break when Davis played in Ellis, only for the wideman to fire wide.
The Wearsiders continued to cause problems in the second half, dominating play, helped by pinpoint Ball kicks to the forward line, boosted by the half-time introduction of Joey Melvin.
Nevertheless, Stockton had chances, with Nathan Mulligan going close, while Corey Nicholson made a miraculous clearance off the line and over the bar to keep it at 1-0.
Ryhope were victims of a disputed offside call when Davis clipped the ball over the defence and the pacy Melvin got to the ball ahead of the keeper, only to be flagged offside, to spectators’ amazement.
Melvin headed a Weirs free-kick wide as Ryhope kept up the pressure and a rapid break saw Weirs’ quick feet trouble the home defeat before he forced a good save out of Jordan.
Nicholson fired wide, then Ellis cut in from the left and opted for a right-footed shot which was easily saved, when a pass might have been the better option.
Paul Braithwaite had an effort well saved low down before Stockton doubled their lead against the run of play, Kevin Hayes firing past Ball from a driven, low cross.
Ryhope were undaunted and a superb solo run from Weirs ended with a chip over the keeper from an acute angle and a clearance off the line.
The visitors cut the deficit on 73 minutes when a series of quick passes ripped through the Stockton defence and Weirs finished clinically with a fine, low strike into the bottom left corner of Jordan’s goal from 10 yards.
Ryhope pushed for an equaliser, but Stockton sealed the win 10 minutes from time when Hayes was fouled and Max Craggs curled an exquisite free-kick into the top right corner of Ball’s goal.
The visitors’ fate was sealed when centre-back Danni Lay was sent off for hauling down Sonni Coleman just outside the penalty area, though Craggs was narrowly off-target with his second set-piece attempt.
Stockton leapfrogged Ryhope into 12th place with the win.
Town secretary Paul Beard said: “It was pretty even all the way through. We took the lead and then they put us under pressure in the second half.
“It was a frantic finish, with Max Craggs scoring the third goal and they then had a player sent off, within the last 10 minutes, but we are really happy with the win.”
In the only other game to beat the frost, Consett climbed to fourth place on the back of an entertaining 3-2 victory over visitors Guisborough Town at the Belle View Stadium.
In the sixth minute, the Steelmen took the lead, when Michael Mackay turned his defender and fired home past goalkeeper Jordan Nixon.
On the stroke of half-time, Consett made it 2-0 when Daniel Craggs curled a brilliant free-kick into the corner of the net, again giving Nixon no chance.
The Priorymen pulled a goal back on 63 minutes, however, with Brian Close finishing at the back post.
Consett restored their two-goal advantage in the 75th minute, when Mackay scored his second of the game, following a good advantage played by the referee.
Guisborough came back again though and, with just eight minutes remaining, Jay Wilson netted with a stunning strike to make it 3-2.
The hosts, though, held on for the three points and are now just a point behind third-top Shildon, and four adrift of second-placed Marske United, albeit having played more games.
Consett manager Mark Eccles said: “One of the old sayings of ‘a game of two halves’ was right today and we played very well in the first half and could have been 3-0 up, but both teams played well, to be honest.
“We came out in the second half and didn’t start, which invited them on and their goal gave them momentum.
“But our deflected goal from Mackay settled us down a bit and then we had a scary last few minutes, once they pulled another one back, but we held on.
“We are right in the mix now and we just need to keep winning and keep the momentum going.
“At the end of the season, who knows where we will be, hopefully right up there at the top.”
Consett will host Sunderland West End, from the TWR Bifolds Wearside League, in the Durham Challenge Cup tomorrow night.
Sunderland RCA’s Meadow Park clash with Marske United was one of a host of Northern League postponements on Saturday. The entire Second Division programme was called off.