Football: Ripon City 2-0 Boroughbridge

Ripon City v Boroughbridge from an earlier clash
Ripon City v Boroughbridge from an earlier clash

Ripon City secured a West Yorkshire League Cup semi-final place after they edged out rivals Boroughbridge 2-0 at Mallorie Drive.

Goals either side of half-time from striker Tom Leeming and substitute Joe Knowleson clinched victory for Paul Vincent’s side after both teams had cancelled each other out early on.

City will face either the Premier League’s top side, Bardsey or Division One strugglers Wyke Wanderers in the semi-final in two weeks time.

A healthy crowd turned up to cheer on the sides as they took to the field for the rearranged quarter-final, after snow postponed the original clash last Saturday.

The inclement weather of the last couple of weeks had left the surface bobbly and both sides took time to adjust in a cagey opening quarter.

‘Bridge boss Daz Ekin had labelled his side as underdogs before the match and they set their stall out to shock from kick-off as they stifled City’s possession.

Vincent’s men looked to set striker Duncan Terry free through the middle as they played an attacking formation pronged with three forwards.

But it was ‘Bridge who forced the first opportunity when Martin Hutchison met a Matty Thompson knock down, only to plough his shot into the ground and into the arms of City’s Mark Rimmer

Ripon right-back Rob Mortimer offered the greatest threat going forward for the home-side in the first half an hour but he failed to hit the target with a flicked header.

Coming into the match, Ekin had complained of an injury crisis which had swept his side in the past few weeks. And his troubles were made worse when his right-back, Mark Burniston, pulled up with a hamstring injury.

Ripon began to grow more confident on the ball and pacy striker Duncan Terry caused problems running beyond the last line of defence.

They began to pass the ball with authority and worked it into the wide areas. And their improvement was rewarded when Leeming headed in a well worked short corner.

Darren Simpson whipped in a fine cross and, with the ‘Bridge defence statuesque, Leeming placed a free header into the top corner.

‘Bridge could have equalised before half-time as Thompson continued to prove a handful. But centre-back Steve Paffitt headed into the side netting and Chris Stephenson blasted a free-kick narrowly wide.

After the break the temperature at the ground dropped, but with it, the intensity of both sides rose.

The midfields tussled for the ascendency but the games’ flow was broken by a referee intent on awarding a series of niggly fouls.

‘Bridge keeper Josh Donnelly parried a corner off his line before he was called into action again to beat away a strong shot from Terry, when the striker looked well-placed to double his side’s advantage.

Boosted by their ‘keeper’s showing, Ekin’s side improved in attack and began to grasp a foot hold in the game.

Paffitt caused Ripon problems with his presence at set-pieces. But the defender missed with two headers and he failed to turn a corner in at the back post.

James McDaid then marauded forward but his strike from distance settled harmlessly in Rimmer’s gloves.

With the away-side on top Vincent made a change, bringing Knowlson on for Liam Horton.

And with his first involvement the substitute made an instant impact, nonchalantly slotting home.

The ball had dropped to the midfielder from a long throw and, after setting himself, he casually poked the ball into the corner.

It would have been easy for ‘Bridge to fall away and accept their quarter-final exit. But Ekin’s men plugged on and searched for the goal which would bring them right back into the game.

Paul Eagling, playing alongside Thompson up front, started to find more space in front of the back four and he forced Rimmer into a sprawling save with a powerful effort.

Ekin then threw on striker Alistair Hogg as he switched to playing three at the back. And the extra attacking force asked questions of Vincent’s defence in the final 15 minutes.

But City’s defence remained resolute with Rimmer, and centre-backs Jason Mason and Simon English, desperate to maintain a clean sheet.

The ‘keeper produced a fine save to deny Eagling when he tipped the striker’s header onto the post before his defenders somehow cleared a mad scramble in the six yard area.

A minute later, the Boroughbridge forward was left cursing his luck again after another header was blocked on the line.

Vincent’s team took the ball into the corner as they ran down the clock and a resounding cheer from their faithful support warmed the air as the referee blew for full-time.

Elsewhere, Harrogate Town’s Blue Square North clash at Bradford Park Avenue was postponed after the pitch failed a 10.30am inspection.

Harrogate Railway’s match at Cammel Laird survived weather concern’s but Billy Miller’s ‘Rail side suffered a 3-1 defeat.

On Friday, Knaresborough Town climbed to third in NCEL Division One after beating Hemsworth Miners Welfare 4-0, with Joel Freeston and Steve Bromley both bagging two each.