I was thinking about doing East Durham Blue Belles on Sunday afternoon. It would have been a new ground (well, pitch) but I opted against it in the end. Instead, I went to Sedgefield Races yesterday and had a successful day of punting with four winners. Most of the profits came through Katy Royal and Emerald Chieftan. This will be my only game of this midweek. Washington vs Easington Colliery on Saturday will be my next game. For the last four or five seasons, I’ve tried (not greatly) to get to a game in every round of the Durham Challenge Cup and I’ve normally failed because it’s been west Durham teams in the semi-finals. I’m more likely to get to a semi-final game this year, but I didn’t do a preliminary round game. On the bus on the way to this game, I had a slight worry that the pitch would be frozen. If that was the case and I found out still on my way, I would have just stayed on the bus and went to Sunderland’s Checkatrade Trophy game but there was no need for that in the end.
South Shields book Durham Challenge Cup semi-final spot
South Shields booked their spot in the semi-finals of the Durham Challenge Cup with a 2-5 win at Sunderland RCA on Tuesday night.
On a frosty night at Meadow Park, Sunderland RCA came from behind twice, but South Shields took control in the final 20 minutes and ran out comfortable winners in the end.
Robert Briggs’ fine strike put Shields ahead in the fourth minute, but Greg Swansbury pulled RCA level in the 18th minute.
Briggs’ second of the night from the penalty spot regained Shields’ lead, but Nathan O’Neill pulled the hosts level just before the break.
It was only in the final 20 minutes when Shields took control.
Callum Guy put the Mariners ahead for a third time in the 73rd minute, and further goals from Nathan Lowe and Briggs ensured the Evo-Stik outfit of a place in the semi-finals.
Briggs’ opening goal was the first chance of the game. Scott Pocklington’s kick dropped to Briggs inside the centre circle and he spotted Pockington off his line. The former West Auckland Town man hit an ambitious 45-yard effort towards goal. Pocklington got a hand on it, but he was unable to prevent it from finding a way into the net.
RCA immediately went in search of an equaliser. A corner caused all sorts of trouble in the South Shields penalty area in the sixth minute, and Ethan Biwer eventually had to clear an effort off the line.
A South Shields free-kick hit the wall soon after, before RCA pulled level in the 18th minute. A well worked free-kick found Kyle Davis out wide, and his low cross was blasted home by Swansbury.
The visitors almost regained their lead in the 27th minute. A through ball went through numerous players and eventually played Gavin Cogdon in. He took it round Pocklington, but a fine block on the line prevented the former Spennymoor man.
Davis then had an effort blocked for RCA, before Lowe drilled a Shields free-kick wide.
In the 39th minute, South Shields were awarded a penalty. Cogdon charged through on goal and was under pressure from the RCA defence. Cogdon seemed to be looking for contact to go down, and he duly did go down when the contact came to get a penalty. Briggs took responsibility from the spot, and he found the net despite a strong hand from Pocklington.
Tom McAloon fired over as RCA looked to respond again, but they were to pull level for a second time in the 45th minute. More good work down the right wing saw a cross be flicked on by Tom Howard to find O’Neill who rifled a volley into the top corner.
Lowe forced a comfortable save from Pocklington in first half injury time.
It was a quiet start to the second half.
The first half chance didn’t come until the 56th minute. An RCA corner was cleared as far as Luke Page who drilled an effort wide.
RCA were seeing more of the ball early in the second half, and South Shields’ goalkeeper Dan Lister was forced into a good double save to prevent the hosts in the 65th minute.
The resulting corner was headed over by Swansbury.
A couple of substitutions seemed to give South Shields a new lease of life, and they took the lead for a third time in the 73rd minute. A quick counter attack found Max Cowburn and his cross found Guy at the back post. Pocklington got a hand on it, but he was unable to keep it out.
In the 75th minute, RCA could have pulled level yet again. Howard’s low cross should have found Davis at the near post, but he totally missed it. Instead, it bounced off Shields’ Jon Shaw, and Lister’s save prevented Shaw from scoring an own goal.
Soon after, Shields doubled their advantage. Good football resulted with Guy’s pass taking a fortunate deflection to play Lowe in. He kept his cool to slot home and give Shields an all important two goal cushion.
RCA’s Page attempted what would have been an unbelievable goal in the 85th minute. The former Easington Colliery man flicked an overhead kick over a Shields man to tee himself up, but his first tie volley sailed well over.
In injury time, South Shields put the result beyond any doubt with a fifth. A delicate pass played Briggs in, and he finished well for his hat-trick.
The result means Shields will face either Hartlepool United, Shildon or Gateshead/Dunston UTS in the semi-finals.
Full-time: Sunderland RCA 2-5 South Shields
Next up for me is Washington vs Easington Colliery on Saturday.
Sunderland RCA: Pocklington, Howard, Larkin, Preston, Swansbury (c), Hodgson (Croft, 81′), Davis, Kyle Page, Davison, O’Neill, McAloon (Clayton Davis, 81′)
Unused subs: Clayton, Jury, Kokoska
South Shields: Lister, Biwer (Morse, 66′), Scott, Shaw (c), Brown, Mouanda, Lowe, Briggs, Harmison (Cowburn, 66′), Guy (Thompson, 81′), Cogdon
Unused subs: Baxter, Allasan
Admission: £6 adults, £4 concessions
Can of Coke and two Fudges: £2.50
Referee: Marc Edwards