A bumper crowd of nearly 150 demonstrated that on Saint Valentine’s Day, the romance of the Northern League was not dead. Part of the increase might have been thanks to the True Faith and nufc.com websites playing cupid and encouraging Toon fans to attend the match. There was to be no Saint Valentines Day massacre though as both teams provided a competitive and entertaining display for the watching crowd which included an eleven month old baby at his first ever match and, unlike former player Jon Jon, did not spit his dummy out! There was only one change to the team from last Saturday with Pearson replacing Stoddart.
Both teams started positively with Ryton putting the ball across the Stan goal in the third minute followed by a shot that went over. The Stan then had a couple of attacks themselves. The early period saw Stan getting slightly the better of things although Ryton had the clearer chances. This included a header caught by Rule in twelve minutes, followed by another headed just wide four minutes later. Ryton had the ball in the net another minute later although a free kick had already been given for a foul on Rule. Pearson was getting forward whenever he could for the Stan and Hoggins was also making good runs. This included one after twenty one minutes when he out paced two Ryton players and crossed into the box only two see the ball missed by both Yates and two Ryton defenders. A similar thing then happened at the other end when the ball went across the Stan goal and was missed by everyone followed a minute later by a long shot by Ryton that went just over. Another minute later and Hoggins was at the end of a two footed tackle by the Ryton keeper outside the box as they both ran for the ball. The keeper, who was yellow carded, caught but dropped the resulting free kick by Johnson. Campania tried to get to the ball but was blocked. Ryton shot over in the twenty seventh minute but it was the Stan who scored a minute later. A through ball to Hoggins saw the Ryton keeper get down for the ball but failed to hold it which allowed Ritchie to continue on his route to the net and make it 1-0. A minute later and Bailey shot just wide and four minutes later Ryton battered the Stan box but ended the move with a shot that went just over. In the thirty seventh minute, a Campania counter attack saw him run and cross the ball into the box only for Burns, under pressure from a defender, shooting over the bar. Two minutes later and a Hoggins shot was blocked and a Burns overhead kick from the resulting corner went over. A minute later and Telford shot just over but this was then followed by a good move by Burns who crossed to Yates who then hit the post. Ryton put the pressure on the Stan in the final minutes of the first half but it ended 1-0 to the Stan.
Both sides started the second half with attacks on each other’s goals although it was Rule in the Stan goal who had more work to do. Fifteen minutes into the half and Ryton had two headed chances followed by a shot just wide. Hoggins had an effort four minutes later at the other end followed by another Ryton shot that went over. The Ryton pressure paid off in the sixty eighth minute when one of their forwards running in had their shot blocked by Rule but Moore put the rebound away to make it 1-1. The Ryton pressure continued although it was the Stan who retook the lead in the eightieth minute. A Burns run saw him put the ball into the box for Hoggins who put it away to make it 2-1 and get his fourth goal in two games. It was then again end to end although it was Ryton who scored with a fluke goal in the eighty sixth minute. Crowswolski, on the right touchline, put a cross into the box which went over Rule and into the back of the net. Both sides then went for the winner with attempts at either
end. Ryton came closest though in the dying seconds when, from a corner, the ball was put into a crowded Stan box and Rule made a brilliant save by punching the ball just wide of the goals. The match ended 2-2 with assistant manager Geoff Walker commenting that although it was a fair result he was disappointed that the Stan did not hold on to their late lead.
Stan Team: Rule; Telford; Pearson; Ray; Wear; Bailey; Campania (Deagle); Johnson, L; Yates (Carr); Hoggins; Burns. Sub unused: Johnson, A; Cairns, G; Lowson.