Ryton & Crawcrook Albion 1-1 South Shields
By Daniel Prince. Match sponsored by: Lawsons Timber & Building Supplies.
David Molloy equalised with the last kick of the game to earn South Shields a point from a hard-fought encounter with Ryton and Crawcrook Albion on Tuesday.
The Ebac Northern League Division Two match looked to be heading the way of the hosts after they took the lead 20 minutes from the end.
However, Shields battled on, and Molloy turned in Chris Feasey’s cross at the death to give Jon King’s side a deserved 1-1 draw.
Flowing football was difficult to produce on a bobbly pitch which made life tough for both teams.
It was a day on which Stephen Ramsey reached the milestone of 250 games for Shields, and he will be presented with an award to mark the achievement ahead of Saturday’s game against Ryhope CW, which will now take place at 1.30pm at Peterlee.
Niki Lawson returned to the starting line-up in goal, but that was the only change to the side which started Saturday’s 4-1 win at Stokesley SC.
The opening exchanges were tight, but Shields were bright going forward.
Steven Graham charged down a Ryton clearance on 13 minutes and the ball fell to Molloy, but his shot bobbled into the hands of home goalkeeper Conor Gillespie.
Paul Kane, deployed wide on the left, almost conjured up a chance for Graham with a glorious cross soon after, but the Ryton defender just nudged him off the ball and cleared the danger.
At the other end, the Mariners half-cleared a cross from Will Forsyth, but the ball came out to David Backhouse on the edge of the box. His half-volley cleared the crossbar, but that was the first warning sent to Shields about how dangerous Ryton could be going forward.
Adam Sharp was booked for the Mariners after a late challenge on halfway, while Chris Locke did well to block an effort from Forsyth.
Shields’ best chance of the first half came on 27 minutes when James Talbot played a short corner to Kane. He was just outside the box on the left, and his curler was destined for the opposite corner when home defender Adam Chrostowski threw himself at the ball and cleared it behind for a corner with his head.
After that, the game became tetchy, with a number of late challenges, while home complaints were directed at the referee after two Ryton players were booked.
That period led to Ryton’s best spell of the half as they began to exert some pressure on the Shields goal.
Lawson did well to save a low free-kick by Forsyth, while Jack Stoddart got in on the left and fired the ball across goal, only for it to evade everyone.
Aron Burn made a good block just before half-time to stop Dan Robinson’s shot, but that was his last involvement as an injury forced his withdrawal at the break.
Dan Hall replaced him, and that led to a slight tactical reshuffle, with Sharp moved to a role in central defence, while Hall slotted into midfield.
Within two minutes of the restart, Shields had the ball in the net after Kane’s fine finish, but it was ruled out for offside.
Molloy was booked soon after for an accumulation of fouls, and he later survived a second caution after a foul on the goalkeeper, which led the referee to speak to his assistant.
On 58 minutes, Ryton came close to taking the lead when Stoddart’s cross was met by Scott Gunn in the centre, but his header from point blank range was brilliantly kept out by Lawson.
Five minutes later, Lawson raced out of his box to clear the ball with his head, and although his clearance went to a home player, Shields were eventually able to clear the danger thanks to some calm play by Locke.
The Mariners were struggling to create clear cut chances of their own, and Kane rifled a free-kick from 30 yards into the wall.
Alex Kempster came on for Ramsey 20 minutes into the second half, and just before that, Kane had sent a cross from the right which went narrowly over the bar.
On 66 minutes, it looked like Ryton were certain to open the scoring when Robinson got behind the Shields defence and shot goalwards, but his effort somehow hit Locke and then bounced into the grateful arms of Lawson.
The hosts did not have to wait too much longer to find their breakthrough, though, and it arrived four minutes later.
Shields half-cleared a corner from the right, and it fell to Leigh Shickle on the edge of the box. He struck a sweet left-foot shot which took a slight deflection before nestling in the bottom corner.
Gunn curled an effort wide soon after, and Shields were forced into another reshuffle when Sharp had to be withdrawn 14 minutes before the end.
Ryan Bolam – the 16-year-old who became the club’s youngest goalscorer in the modern era when he netted on his debut against Stokesley on Saturday – came on in his place.
He took up a berth on the left, with Feasey pushed into central defence for a period.
Shields later changed to 3-5-2, and Robinson fired an effort wide for the hosts as they looked to secure a victory.
The Mariners had to be patient to come up with an opportunity, and they almost created one on the 90 minute mark when Kane’s pass in the box fell just behind Kempster, and Ryton were able to clear the danger.
A Molloy through ball almost put Kane through on goal, too, but the forward was unable to control effectively and the move fizzled out.
Ryton almost wrapped up their victory one minute into stoppage time through Forsyth, but he struck his effort not far over.
With only two minutes added on, Shields knew they would only be able to create one last chance, and they needed to be clinical.
Craig Roberts – who had a fine game at right-back – sent in a cross that came out to Feasey on the left, around 30 yards out. His cross towards the back post bounced in the box and was met perfectly by the late run of Molloy, who nipped past the defender and poked the ball past the goalkeeper to earn Shields their point.
As soon as the game was kicked off again, the referee blew the final whistle as Shields’ point was confirmed against a side which now sits seventh in the table.
The Mariners are now unbeaten in their last three in all competitions, and will look to extend that run on Saturday when they take on Ryhope CW at Peterlee in the league. Kick-off for the last game at Eden Lane before Christmas is at 1.30pm due to the ongoing floodlight problems at the ground.
RYTON AND CRAWCROOK ALBION: Gillespie, Stoddart, Hodges, L Barker (Shickle 14), Turnbull (c), Chrostowski, Kastrati (P Robinson 63), Backhouse, D Robinson, S Gunn (C Barker 85), Forsyth. Subs not used: Mundy, McMeekin.
Goal: Shickle (70).
SOUTH SHIELDS: Lawson, Roberts, Feasey, Burn (Hall 46), Locke (c), Graham, Talbot, Sharp (Bolam 76), Ramsey (Kempster 65), Molloy, Kane. Subs not used: Stephenson, Salim.
Goal: Molloy (90+2).