South Shields 1-2 Ryhope CW
By Philip Reay. Match sponsored by: Westoe Taxis.
South Shields went down 2-1 to Ryhope at Eden Lane, with the visitors claiming victory in the closing minutes of the game.
Before the match, the two sides joined for a pre-match photo (see below image) to celebrate the Christmas Truce match of 1914 as part of the Football Remembers week.
Meanwhile, Shields striker Stephen Ramsey was presented with a memento (see main image) prior to kick-off by club committee member Bob Wray to mark his 250 appearances for the Mariners.
Ryhope started the brighter of the sides and had an early opportunity, but Richard Hodgson’s shot was comfortably saved by Shields goalkeeper Niki Lawson.
Within a minute, Ryhope again went close as Jack Pounder raced into the box, but he fired his shot into the side netting.
Shields responded through Dan Hall, who turned away from his marker before sending a cross into the box that was just beyond Paul Kane, and the danger was cleared.
The Mariners continued to press forward, and good interplay between David Molloy and Kane ended with Kane playing the ball towards Stephen Ramsey, but he was beaten to the ball by James Cook, and again the danger was cleared.
As the game approached the quarter-hour, Craig Roberts outpaced the Ryhope defence before playing the ball into the path of Molloy, but the Shields striker skied his shot over the bar.
Roberts was proving to be a threat on the right flank, and on 20 minutes he again raced away, but as he looked to get a shot at goal a last ditch challenge by Cook denied him the opportunity.
Soon after, Molloy broke into the Ryhope box and his progress was halted as he appeared to be pushed to the ground, but the referee waved away the penalty claim and again the danger was cleared.
Shields were looking dangerous in attack, and 25 minutes into the game Kane rifled a shot at goal from 25 yards that Ryhope goalkeeper Gareth Young was only able to claim at the second attempt having initially fumbled the ball.
On 30 minutes, Hall played the ball into the feet of Ramsey and he in turn found Steven Graham in space, but his shot was well saved by Young.
Ryhope responded well as and both Pounder and Hodgson saw shots saved by Lawson.
Shields again broke forward as Hall played the ball towards Molloy; and he controlled the ball before driving it towards goal, but his shot was blocked.
The ball fell to the feet of Kane, but he also saw his shot blocked and the ball was cleared up field.
The hosts were enjoying a period of dominance, but were unable to take advantage.
With five minutes remaining in the half, a free-kick was driven into the box by Chris Feasey and Hall rose above the defence, but his header flew wide of the post.
From the restart, Shields again won the ball, and Graham brushed aside a challenge before picking out Ramsey inside the box, but the striker headed the ball straight at Young.
Four minutes into added time, Ryhope were awarded a free-kick that was driven towards the right of the goal, but a wicked deflection wrong footed Lawson and the visitors went into the break a goal to the good.
At the start of the second half, Ryhope’s Pounder raced through the Shields defence, and with the goal at his mercy he was denied by a superb saving challenge by Barrie Smith.
The visitors maintained the pressure, and Pounder again tormented the Shields defence, but a superb diving save by Lawson denied him.
Ryhope were then awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box that was sent into the box by Pounder, but Carl O’Sullivan fired wide from close range.
With the second half 12 minutes old, Feasey outpaced the defence on the right before finding Ramsey inside the box, and the Shields striker made no mistake from six yards to draw the sides level.
Ramsey had made his 250th appearance for Shields in midweek, and was given a memento before the Ryhope game to mark that achievement.
From the restart, Ryhope broke forward, and Lawson had to be alert to deny Hodgson.
On the hour, Shields manager Jon King made a double substitution as Alex Kempster and Dan Reeves replaced Hall and Ramsey.
Within a minute of the changes, Ryhope almost restored their advantage as Pounder raced onto a through ball, but his shot flew just over the bar.
They continued to press forward, and Nathan O’Neill spurned a great opportunity as he fired his shot straight into the arms of Lawson.
From the clearance, James Talbot played the ball into the feet of Kempster and he in turn found Reeves, but he fired his shot well wide.
On 72 minutes, King made his final change as new signing Adam Ward replaced Feasey.
With the game finely balanced, Shields again began to dominate, but both Talbot and Molloy saw shots fly over the bar, while at the other end Hodgson was denied by a fingertip save by Lawson.
With the game entering the final 10 minutes, Graham sent a 25-yard drive towards goal that flew past keeper Young, but struck the angle of the goal before being cleared.
With two minutes remaining, Ryhope restored their advantage with what proved to be the winning goal.
O’Neill dispossessed Chris Locke before playing the ball to second half substitute Matthew Weirs, and he fired in from close range.
It could have been worse for Shields, as deep into added time a superb save by Lawson denied O’Sullivan.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Lawson, Roberts, Feasey (Ward 72), Locke, Smith, Graham, Talbot, Hall (Kempster 60), Ramsey (Reeves 60), Molloy, Kane. Subs not used: Hubery, Stephenson.
Goal: Ramsey (57).