RICHMOND Town came back from Cumbria with three points, thanks to an 87thminute goal from Ben Darville.

It was the least the Dalesmen deserved after more than holding their own on a sodden surface against one of the top teams in the Wearside League.

Although the centre back partnership of Jason Newall and Simon Pinkney was reunited for this match, injuries to other defenders meant debuts for James Donaldson, brought in from the reserves, and veteran Jimmy Nesbitt, who usually plays for the over- 40s. But this makeshift back four remained solid throughout.

Early on, it was Richmond who played the passing football, with Scott Ryan causing all sorts of problems in the Cleator defence with his attacking runs down the right.

Liam Darville headed wide from one Ryan cross, while Ryan himself hit the side netting when a square ball to two unmarked forwards might have produced a first-half goal.

Cleator rarely threatened, even though they forced a few corners just before half time.

But it was Town who took the initiative after the break and almost broke the deadlock when Ben Darville skipped past two defenders, took the ball to the by-line and then found his brother, Liam, in the area, only for his shot to roll slowly past the goalkeeper and on to the post.

Richmond continued to press and always looked more comfortable in the increasingly muddy conditions, with Ryan again coming close midway through the second half.

Cleator’s best chance came with eight minutes remaining when Craig Scott’s pile-driver from 35 yards struck one of Cleator’s own forwards clean on the chest right in front of goal, the ball rebounding clear instead of hitting the back of the net.

From then on it was all Richmond. Liam Darville beat two defenders before putting a shot over the bar, then the deadlock was finally broken.

Scott McNichol’s perfectly floated free kick found Ben Darville with his back to goal, but the Richmond forward managed to flick his header backwards into the top corner of the net.

Moments later McNichol almost doubled the lead when another free-kick curled straight on to the crossbar, and in injury time McNichol again set up Liam Darville, whose overhead kick was saved by Brian Miller in the Cleator goal.

Four games in the next eight days will go some way to making up Richmond’s fixture backlog, but this is going to be a hectic run-in through to the season end on May 10.