Cramlington United 0-0 Heaton Stannington A
(Cramlington win 10-9 on penalties)
Northumberland Minor Cup 3rd Round, Saturday 3 April 2021
The Stan reserves were in county cup action against Cramlington United who play 2 divisions above them in Northern Alliance Division 1 and who had in their team Northern League players including the Stan’s David Mason and Benfield’s Jake Turnbull. As the Stan first team will not be playing again until the 21-22 season, due to covid this was the first Stan match of 2021 and the reserves 10th competitive match of the season.
A sunny Easter Saturday afternoon at Northburn saw the home side start on the attack but Ripken and his defence dealt with them well. After 5 minutes, Poole’s 30 yard free kick was dropped by the home keeper and he just managed to stop it going onto his own net. Cramlington had a similar free kick 3 minutes later which Ripken caught. The Stan were putting the pressure on now and should have had a penalty, but it was the home side who had 2 free kicks after 12 minutes with one cleared and one going over. 3 minutes after that a long range effort beat Ripken but went just wide. The Stan were pressurising again and Mason went off injured for the home team after 20 minutes. The Stan had 2 corners, the first resulting in a great shot by Harris that was saved. Cramlington countered but were blocked by good defending. In 30 minutes, just after a Stan player was held back in the home box, a longball to Harper saw the home keeper get to it just before him. The ball came back in and Bruce shot just wide under pressure when he should have scored. The Stan pressure continued, including good work by Bruce, although it was Cramlington who came closest with a long shot in 36 minutes. It was back to the Stan again although the final ball was letting them down. The Stan deserved to be in the lead at half time but it remained 0-0.
The 2nd half started with Stan pressure although Cramlington should have shot and scored in 50 minutes when Ripken got down and used his feet to block a forward for a corner from which the home side shot over. 4 minutes later and Ripken came out to block again. Both teams were trying to get forward and Turnbull had his 1st run of the match in 58 minutes but was eventually blocked by the Stan defence. In 61 minutes, a long ball was sent to Jones but the home keeper just got to it 1st. Harper was then blocked followed by Bruce being brought down 35 yards out. The resulting free kick from Poole went over. Munir and Foster then joined the action with the former especially working hard to get the ball forward. In 66 minutes, Turnbull advanced down the right wing and crossed the ball to an advancing team mate who sliced his effort over when he should have scored. In 69 minutes Ripken was out of his box to make a great tackle to stop an advancing home player. Doyle, who defended well throughout the match for the Stan, then made a great tackle to stop another attack and started a counter move. Cramlington were now having a period of pressure and had the ball in the net but it was off-side. Turnbull was getting more dangerous but the Stan defence were dealing with him. In 77 minutes, Poole supplied Harper who shot wide when he had the chance to score. Doyle made another great tackle at the other end before the Stan had a shot again through Bruce. In 80 minutes, with 3 defenders behind him, Ripken came out of his box and brought Turnbull down who made the most of it. The keeper was booked but the resulting free kick came to nothing. With 5 minutes to go, the average age of the Stan team dramatically increased when club legend Joe Wear came on and almost immediately made a great tackle. Although Cramlington put the pressure on, the Stan defended well for the last few minutes as well managing 2 efforts through Harper. Although the home side had more of the ball in a slightly quieter 2nd half, and Turnbull appeared to wake up for the last half hour, the Stan still deserved to win but as it was still goalless at full time, the match went straight to penalties.
Both teams scored all of their 5 penalties to send the shoot out into sudden death. Both teams scored again to make it 6-6 before each keeper saved to keep the score at 6-6. The next 3 rounds of penalties were scored by both teams to make the score 9-9. The home side scored their 11th penalty but the Stan’s Munir had his saved to allow Cramlington to narrowly win 10-9 on penalties.
Exactly 35 years after the Stan won the Minor Cup, they were very unlucky not to progress and this young team did themselves and the club proud against higher ranked and more experienced opposition. They showed a confidence greater than their years, especially Ripken in goals, and with some more clinical finishing they can go far.
Stan: Ripken (Y); Doyle; Dunne; Anjos; Harris (Y); Riley; Walker; Poole; Jones; Harper; Bruce. Subs (all used): Munir; Forster; Wear.