Albion travelled to Ironworks Road full of optimism after an upturn in form, while the Lawyers were in a desperate scrap for survival at the foot of the table. David Backhouse was back facing his old club while recent Tow Law signing Michael Watson was facing his former employers again after playing for Hebburn against RACA already this season.
The game played in a typical Tow Law biting wind straight off the North Pennines, was slow to get going though Will Forsyth did dispossess a dawdling home defender early on, popping a useful ball into the box, only to find no other Albion players in the danger area.
Phil Hodges & Gustavo Silva both had shots from distance for Ryton & Tow Law respectively around the quarter hour mark, but both efforts were narrowly over the bar.
The home side in particular were guilty of giving the ball away with wayward passes & while Albion were playing the slicker football, it was Tow Law who had a decent opportunity to score on 21 minutes. A quickly taken free kick found Scott Brassell who’d sped past the dozing Albion backline, but he wasn’t able to get enough contact on the ball & it trundled safely to RACA keeper Conor Gillespie.
The homesters were appealing for a penalty on 28 minutes when Ryan Cummings looked to be tripped in the box, but his theatrical descent may have swayed referee Ian Freeland into thinking it was a dive & the vehement protests were ignored.
On 32 minutes, Albion got the opening goal their play deserved when Hodges made a move down the left wing & after beating his marker, took the time to weigh up his options, squaring the ball to Sam MOORE who despite the attentions of several black & white shirts, managed to dink the ball past Bryan Potts in the Lawyer’s goal.
The visitors continued to play the more incisive football, while Tow Law’s attempts to get into the final third were being thwarted by Albion’s defence who were comfortably mopping up all the errant passes that were becoming the trademark of the first half. It came as no surprise when Ryton extended the lead on 40 minutes when a one-two move between Hodges & BACKHOUSE ended with the latter drilling in a low shot that rippled the net, the curse of the ex player coming to strike Tow Law on this occasion.
Daniel Maddison brought a save from Gillespie who’d been fairly redundant until then, on 44 minutes & soon after Albion captain Leigh Shickle’s shot brought an elaborate save from Potts at the other end just before the interval with the visitors seemingly in complete control.
HT TOW LAW 0 RACA 2
The second half saw a much more tenacious home side & stated their intentions on 52 minutes when Silva skipped past two defenders & played the ball to MADDISON who shot past Gillespie to halve the deficit. Albion were looking strangely lethargic & the fluency of the first half had completely evaporated. Silva had a chance to level on 58 minutes when a high ball was lobbed forward to him. Gillespie beat him to the ball, but the wind caught the clearance in the air & the ball fell in front of Silva, the Brazilian swung at it, but missed & the back-pedalling keeper was spared having to make a save.
Gillespie was called into action minutes later, pulling off a fine save from Silva. From the resultant corner, Tow Law hit the bar, then had a shot blocked on the line before Simon ORD managed to blast the ball past the sea of legs to pull the home side level.
Rather than galvanise the Albion side, the equalizer only served to make them look more nervy & on 71 minutes they could have fallen behind when following a corner, Gillespie could only clear the ball as far as Brassell. Fortunately for the visitors, Brassell shot very weakly from his good position, & the ball was cleared away.
Albion’s last scoring chance of the game came on 85 minutes when Shickle shot a free kick narrowly wide, but the sting in the tail was to come at the other end when MADDISON grabbed all three points for Tow Law in the 90th minute following poor defending which gifted him possession, & he cut in from the wing & coolly slotted the ball past Gillespie to win the match to the obvious delight of his teammates.
FT TOW LAW 3 RACA 2
Yet another two goal lead thrown away by Albion in a game they looked to be cantering to victory in, while it was a fine afternoon for Tow Law especially with Brandon losing their match in the battle for survival in Division 2.
RACA – Gillespie, McMeekin, Shickle, Upperton, Turnbull, Chrostowski, Holland (Burnyeat 75), Backhouse, Moore (D Robinson 67), Hodges, Forsyth (C Barker 75). Subs not used- P Robinson, Mundy
TOW LAW – Potts, Bowes, Watson, Grant, Dixon, Brassell, Hewitson, Ord, Maddison, Silva, Cummings. SUBS – James, Kileen, Henderson, Smith, Lee
REFEREE – Ian Freeland
Attendance – 60