The Stan’s 1st league match of season saw them travel to the wilds of Crawcrook. The afternoon also saw the official debut of new manager Dean Nicholson & 7 new signings in the starting line-up. There was a very familiar face to the substantial Stan Army, with Lee Johnson in the Ryton number 10 shirt.
Both sides were eager to attack although the 1st effort was in 3 minutes when Burn sent a free kick over the bar. 3 minutes later Gladstone in the home goal had to catch followed at the other end by Hall, who had a good afternoon, clearing twice. There was no real threat yet but after some Stan pressure, they had a free kick just outside the box in 15 minutes. It was cleared but came back in and McBride stretched to get his foot to it but couldn’t make contact. Both teams were trying to attack but with the Stan getting slightly more of the ball. In 26 minutes, a long ball saw Hornsby & McBryde both try to get the ball but the keeper got there 1st. Flynn then came out to deal with the 1st proper threat to him in 31 minutes. The home side then had the best chance of the match so far when their free kick was sent across goal & headed from the edge of the 6-yard box, but Flynn made a good save to stop it going in the net. There was then action at both ends as Burn was blocked by the Ryton keeper followed by Esdaille having to clear in the Stan box. In 35 minutes, Flynn punched clear a ball from a Ryton corner. With the ball still inside the left edge of the box, a tackle by Burn was interpreted by the referee as deserving a penalty. A great penalty save by Flynn kept the 2 sides even though. The last 6 minutes of the 1st half saw a sustained period of Stan pressure with the Ryton defence & keeper having to work hard. Hopper made a couple of runs including in 44 minutes when he supplied Carr whose shot was blocked & although McBryde slid in to get the rebound, the ball was blocked by a defender. The Stan were now looking more dangerous after a long period where both sides had cancelled each other out although it was still goalless at half time.
The 2nd half started with pressure from Ryton but the Stan defence were working hard. The 1st Stan effort of the 2nd half in 50 minutes saw Carr’s long range effort easily caught by Gladstone. In 57 minutes he had a similar but more dangerous effort which was deflected making it difficult for Gladstone to judge and he had to punch the ball over the bar. There was not much between the 2 teams now with both trying to attack which included a Stan free kick headed clear & a Ryton counterattack stopped by a good block from Stoddart. In 62 minutes, a Johnson long shot for Ryton went just over the bar. The Stan counter saw McBryde provide Carr whose shot was deflected for a corner. The Stan suffered a blow in 66 minutes when Hopper’s hamstring went & he was replaced by Sharpe. In 69 minutes, after originally booking Esdaille by mistake, the ref showed Dobson a yellow for a challenge. In 72 minutes, a great cross into the box by Hall was punched out by the keeper for a corner. There were a couple of minutes of Ryton pressure with some good defending by Hall. In 76 minutes, the Stan were let off when a Ryton shot across the goal went just wide. Holmes then replaced Carr. In 77 minutes, a Stan corner led to a handball by a Ryton player but it took the referee a while to award a penalty & in 80 minutes it was 1-0 to the Stan when, from the spot, Holmes comfortably sent the ball high into the net. A Ryton player as sin binned & in 83 minutes, a Stan corner was headed clear & Ryton countered & although there was a clear offside, nothing was given & Ryton shot & equalised. Both sides sought a winner & the tension was getting high although the match remained pretty even. Due mainly to the previous long deliberations of the referee, there was nearly 9 minutes of added time. In 93 minutes, a Hornsby cross/shot went wide & 2 minutes later Ryton headed just over from a corner. Gladstone then had to save at the other end. A Ryton chip hit the bar & in 97 minutes they attacked again & a cross from the left led to a winner.
When at least a draw if not a win looked deserved & on the cards for the Stan, the result, like the weather, was cold & grey although there was lots of optimism for Wednesday’s first home league match.