Association of Northern Counties
Durham County FA vs Cheshire County FA
Saturday 19th March, 2pm Kick Off
Nissan Sports Complex, Washington Rd, Sunderland, SR3 5NS
The final game in the Association of Northern Counties League saw Durham County FA take on Cheshire FA for the second time in the league and this
one fixture was played at Nissan Sports Complex.
Both teams locked horns for the first time back in December 2021 which saw Jim Thompson’s side 5-1 winners with goals from Brennan Fitzpatrick, Elliot Judson, Liam Dunn and a double from Ryan Wright.
Durham FA came into this game in fantastic form coming away with all 3 points in a 7-goal thriller against Northumberland FA; goals courtesy of a Ryan Wright hat trick and two from Sam Peat
Jim Thompson made a few changes to the side that started against Northumberland with Sam Wilson, Matthew Ward, Luke Richards and Charlie Green all coming into the starting eleven.
It didn’t take long for the fierce battle to commence between both teams with Matthew Ward and Ryan Wright combining well down the left wing before seeing the cross well intercepted by Cheshire.
The quick flurry of Durham attacks continued which resulted in an excellent chance to take the lead after just 7 minutes, Matthew Wards cross beat everyone in the Cheshire penalty box and into the path of Luke Richards and his well struck effort produced a great save by Mike Wilkinson in the Cheshire goal.
On the quarter hour a good chance fell to Brennan Fitzpatrick on the edge of the box, but the chance came to nothing as the shot sailed over the bar.
20 minutes gone Ryan Wright was brought down on the edge of the Cheshire box, he stepped up for the resulting free kick and fired over the crossbar.
Cheshire slowly began to grow in confidence and started to knock the ball around well, a diagonal pass found the Cheshire right winger who was met by the onrushing Sam Wilson who was penalised for handling the ball outside the box.
The resulting freekick was well blocked by Findley Smith in the Durham wall.
Five minutes before half time as Cheshire began to pile on the pressure striker Mikey Davies was 1-on-1 with Sam Wilson but was denied by the shot stopper.
Cheshire didn’t let this stop them as they continued to come forward at Durham yet again in hopes of finishing the half on a high, a pass in behind the Durham defence was squared across the box and tapped in at the back post, relief for Durham as linesman Alex Atchison had his flag up for offside.
Into additional time of the first half Cheshire FA took the lead, a mistimed back pass was well intercepted by the Cheshire striker, who was brought down by Wilson and referee Lewis Marriner pointed to the spot
The Cheshire Captain Alex Bennett stepped up for the penalty, dispatching it into the corner to give Cheshire the lead.
Half Time: Durham County FA 0 – 1 Cheshire County FA 45’ (Alex Bennett) (PEN)
A substitution at half time saw the introduction of Evan Gray who was making his first appearance for the County.
The second half started slowly until the 58th minute, a Cheshire corner was well dealt with by Wilson and he quickly released a great pass splitting the Cheshire defence to find the onrushing Sam Johnson who brilliantly got the ball up and over the goalkeeper to level the scores. Sam’s first goal for the County.
Sam’s equaliser really changed the tempo of the game and Durham nearly went ahead when another ball through the centre saw Ryan Wright fire just wide.
Durham continued to ask questions of the Cheshire defence as a cross from Luke Richards wasn’t cleared and fell to Matthew Ward at the back post who failed to make a real connection with the ball.
75’ Minutes gone, and Durham took the lead! A free kick inside the Durham half was played forward, Cheshire looked to clear but the ball landed right in the path of Ryan Wright who made no mistake with the finish, low and hard into the bottom right corner.
Minutes later Cheshire pulled themselves back into the game, a few minutes of madness saw a back pass bobble back to goalkeeper Sam Wilson who’s goal kick spun out for a Cheshire throw, the resulting throw in was delivered into the box and headed clear but it was lashed back into the bottom left corner by substitute Mason Piercey to put Cheshire on level terms.
A real blow to Jim Thompson’s side as they played some great football to take the lead.
Just over 10 minutes to go and the two good footballing sides were certainly entertaining the spectators.
Durham took the league for the second time when a strong tackle in midfield regained possession for Durham before a brilliant pass split the parting Cheshire defenders and found Ryan Wright again who took the ball on his left, cutting inside onto his right opening up his body brilliantly and sliding it into the bottom right corner for his second goal of the game and 7th goal in the Association of Northern Counties League!
Durham knew they’d be in for a tough ending to the game as Cheshire piled on the pressure to try and knock Durham back, another long throw from Cheshire was sent into the penalty area and narrowly headed wide.
Another chance for Cheshire came when captain Alex Bennett launched the ball into the Durham box again, the throw was flicked on and was destined for the top right corner but Sam Wilson pulled off an outstanding acrobatic save to push the ball away from the goal and Durham managed to scramble clear.
With full time approaching Durham began to keep possession of the football, Ryan Wright put himself 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper but the resulting shot flashed wide denying him of a hat trick.
Referee Lewis Marriner blew the whistle for Full Time completing the final group stage game that saw Durham FA maintain their unbeaten run with ten points out of a possible twelve and finish top of the group.
Durham County FA 3 – 2 Cheshire County FA
60’ Johnson, 75,79’ Wright 45’ Bennett (PEN), 77’ Piercey
Durham County FA Squad vs Cheshire FA:
Sam Wilson (Birtley Town), Harry Petterson, Brennan Fitzpatrick (Spennymoor Town U18’s), Findley Smith (FC Hartlepool), Elliot Judson, Matthew Ward (Chester-Le-Street Town) Josh Jukes, Samuel Johnson, Evan Gray (Esh Winning), Charlie Green (Hartlepool United FC), Harvi Driver (Newcastle Blue Star), Luke Richards, (Seaton Carew), Ryan Wright (West Auckland Town) Ethan Day (Gateshead FC U18’s) Louis Airey (Bishop Auckland Juniors U18’s)
Manager: Jim Thompson, Coach: Ken Riley, Coach/Physio: Martin Richards.