Richmond Town progressed into the first round of this year’s Shipowners Cup after a 3-1 preliminary round victory over Durham United at the Dave Clark Arena on Saturday.
With the university-based side currently occupying fifth position in this season’s Wearside League Premier Division, it was set to be a tough test for Jason Newall’s men who produced a pleasing performance and were the better side for most parts, showing some fast and direct attacking play, as well as tenacious defensive and midfield battling.
Having overcome some visitors’ pressure in the opening minutes, Town found their stride and Tafari Nicholas was gifted a chance after a defensive slip.
The striker’s shot looked good but went just wide. Lewis Cocks then sent a free kick into the box from which Jamie Harwood’s header was pushed behind by Joseph Baker, the Durham keeper.
Town went ahead after 25 minutes, when from a Tom Kavanagh corner, which Durham failed to clear, Harwood found James Coatsworth who’s shot found its way through a crowded box into the net.
The lead was doubled six minutes later. Nicholas, again having been played through on goal this time made no mistake with a strong finish. One minute later he was through again, but the ball just outran him and was gathered by Baker.
Durham were trying to battle their way back into the match, and in an end-to-end period had a chance, but Town keeper Lee White pushed the ball away away superbly at the near post.
After an entertaining first half of cup football, Town fans were hopeful of seeing more of the same as the second half got under way.
Within the first minute, Nicholas beat the defensive line and managed to round the keeper, but with defenders assembling in the goalmouth his shot only managed to hit the post. The remainder of the game turned out to be a scrappy affair but with 75 minutes played, some messy Town defending proved costly when Maxen Garagia made the score 2-1 with an excellent shot from the edge of the box.
With Durham stretched, substitutes Eddie Lewington and Joe Martin caused problems on the break. Martin was denied by Baker, however, from the resulting corner the ball fell to Nicholas who fired home to make it 3-1 and with it, a place in the first round proper.
The two teams will meet again on 18th November in the second round of The Alan Hood Cup, again at the Dave Clark Arena, but before then, Town have two league matches.
Firstly they travel to Wolviston on Saturday and then a week later are at home to Windscale.
The win helped the team overcome the disappointment of a 2-1 midweek league defeat at second placed Norton & Stockton Ancients where they were beaten with the penultimate kick of the game ten minutes into added time.