RICHMOND Town reached the semi-final of Wearside League Cup after a thrilling win over Ryhope CW last Saturday.

The visitors from Sunderland came into the game unbeaten this season and settled quickly in the muddy conditions at Earls Orchard. They managed to pass the ball around in spite of the sticky surface and dominated possession in the opening 15 minutes without ever testing Richmond’s debutant goalkeeper Luke Newton. In fact, Richmond’s back three of Ben Palmer, Simon Pinkney and Jason Newall held a solid line of defence throughout the first half.

The best of the early chances fell to Richmond’s Ben Darville, but his snap shot was comfortably saved by Niki Lawson in the Ryhope goal.

Another Town attack found Richard Thompson clear down the left but his effort from the edge of the penalty area hit the side netting.

However, Richmond took the lead through Scott Ryan late in the first half. He met Chris Pattison’s perfectlyplaced cross from the right with a bullet of a header, giving Lawson no chance.

Ryhope again started the stronger after the break. They almost equalised straight away with a fearsome shot that beat Newton but cannoned off the upright, from which Pinkney was first to react to clear the danger.

The Ryhope pressure paid off, though, in the 70th minute when substitute George McCain calmly made it 1-1 with a shot from inside the area.

With 20 minutes to go, the game could have gone either way, but it was Town who upped their game to press for the winner.

On the wings, Pattison down the right and Ryan on the left were running rampant, and the chances came thick and fast. Ryan forced a fine save from Lawson, who then blocked another effort from Kalum Holbrook after fine work from Pattison; and a neat back heel from new signing Jamie Clarke found Ryan a few yards out, but his shot flew wide.

Town’s pressure finally told in the 85th minute. Clarke’s pace saw him round the defender and swing a perfect cross into the path of Darville, who finished with a diving header. The 2-1 win takes the Dalesmen into the semi-final of a tournament in which they were finalists last season.

They return to league action this weekend, but then have a run of cup games which will see them take on Skybet League Two side York City in the North Riding Senior Cup on January 18 and then Ryhope CW again in another cup competition a week later.