Newton Aycliffe 2, Billingham Synthonia 3
Cup holders Aycliffe went out of this year’s Durham Challenge Cup competition in a thrilling semi-final tie at Moore Lane.
Aycliffe took an experienced Billingham Synthonia side to the wire, but went out 3-2 when the Synners scored a last-minute winner.
Aycliffe suffered a massive setback before the game when captain Jamie Owens wasn’t well enough to start.
They then went a goal down in the fifth minute when they failed to clear their lines after a corner and ex-Darlington player Nathan Mulligan rifled a strong shot into the corner of the net.
The Synners went further ahead on 11 minutes with a similar goal. Aycliffe had chances to clear, but didn’t and this time ex-Aycliffe player Connor Winter took advantage with a shot which was deflected past Phil Pentony in the home goal.
A minute later Pentony made a good save to keep the Newtonians in the game. They started to settle into their game and Stuart Banks put a shot over the bar on 23 minutes.
Then a Charlie Raby free-kick was tipped over the bar by Synner’s keeper McClaren.
A minute later Alan Harrison put a shot past the post. Then Raby fired a shot just over the bar.
Aycliffe were on top at this stage, and were rewarded when Raby fired a free-kick into the top corner for 1-2 in the 36th minute.
Both teams continued to attack, but there were no further scores before half-time.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first, with end-to-end play, as both sides went for a goal.
Aycliffe brought on Owens for the last 20 minutes in an attempt to find a breakthrough.
Stuart Banks was then up-ended in the penalty area, but the referee waved away Aycliffe’s protests.
Minutes later they got the goal they deserved when Ben Wood went on a mazy run and sent a screamer into the top corner of the net.
Synners were counterattacking now, as Aycliffe risked pushing numbers forward to get the winner.
Synners had a shot deflected onto the post during one counter-attack with five minutes to go.
Aycliffe were doing most of the pressing, but couldn’t get a killer ball through to Owens.
They paid the price with a minute to go when Synner’s skipper Peacock led another swift counter-attack before putting in a low cross for Gateshead FC-bound McCaulay Langstaff to turn it in.
Synners now face South Shields in the final on May 3 at Hartlepool United Victoria Park.
Aycliffe now have two away games, at Newcastle Benfield & West Auckland, before returning to Moore Lane on Tuesday March 14 to play Seaham Red Star.