By Kieran Archer
Ryhope CW were knocked out of the Durham Challenge Cup at the first-round stage, losing 2-1 away to West Auckland.
Alex Francis broke the deadlock for West Auckland early in the second-half and Dan Parker added another for the home side to give Colliery Welfare a mountain to climb.
Carl Jones gave Ryhope a fighting chance deep into stoppage time, but there wasn’t enough time for a sniff at an equaliser.
The Durham Challenge Cup was one of two cups Ryhope remained in, and the recent upturn in league form stood them in good stead for the fixture.
However, they were hit by unavailability issues for the fixture.
It was clear that Colliery Welfare looked to hit West Auckland on the break, and they looked dangerous on the counter early on, but didn’t properly test Shane Bland in the West Auckland goal.
West Auckland dominated the possession and had chances of their own, Joe Atkinson saving smartly from Nathan Fisher one-on-one, while Adam Burnicle and Arran Wearmouth had the ball in good positions but failed to find the target.
Half-time came with both teams looking threatening, but failing to create many clear-cut opportunities.
West Auckland took the lead only four minutes into the second-half. Alex Francis’ spectacular free-kick hit the inside of the post and went in, giving Atkinson no chance.
The home side doubled their lead just 10 minutes later, an Adam Mitchell corner found Dan Parker who rose highest to head powerfully past Atkinson.
Those two combined again for West Auckland, a Mitchell cross finding Parker in the box but this time he hit the bar with his finish.
It took a great save from Atkinson to deny Fisher in the 68th minute.
West Auckland went close again in the 68th minute, Mitchell’s outside of the foot effort hitting the corner of the woodwork.
Joe Atkinson made another great save in the 77th minute, Burnicle with a powerful effort from inside the box that the ‘keeper somehow managed to tip onto the bar.
Carl Jones, returning to the side following an injury, somehow failed to convert a Nat Skidmore free-kick in the 88th minute.
The two combined again from another Skidmore free-kick in the 93rd minute, this time Jones managing to find the back of the net.
However, there wasn’t going to be a final chance for a Ryhope equaliser.
On the performance, Colliery Welfare assistant Stuey Gooden said: “I thought the performance in general was very good, especially in the first-half.
“We’ve had to make a lot of changes and bring people in who haven’t played for several weeks such as Adam Cocks, Elliott Woods and Shaun Pickford.
“Overall against a very good side I thought the performance was very good.”
Ryhope now head into a tough away game against Stockton in the league at the weekend, before heading to Billingham Synthonia in the Northern League cup.