By Glen Robertson
Newton Aycliffe’s Durham Challenge Cup run ended at the first hurdle as holders Spennymoor ran out 3-0 winners.
On this kind of form, it will take a special side to stop Moors lifting the trophy for a second successive year after a double from Steven Richardson and Andrew Stephenson’s terrific strike secured victory.
A patched-up Aycliffe looked good in spells and generally kept the ball well, but the reigning Northern League champions were just too strong, scoring twice in the opening and closing six minutes of the first-half before sealing victory in the 81st minute.
With Danny Earl, John Close, Dan Mellanby, Kris Hughes and Mark Peck all missing, Allan Oliver took the opportunity to try out Fred Woodhouse in a lone-striker role, gave Mark Wood a start at right-back and gave 18-year-old Kurt Seymour a debut as a second-half substitute.
The visitors took an early lead. Spennymoor forced a corner and from the delivery Leon Ryan headed back acrodd goal to Richardson who headed home his first of the contest from close range.
Richardson should have doubled the lead three minutes later but couldn’t find the target with his free header.
Aycliffe started to get into the game after this and had a couple of attempts. Martin Butterworth forced Robert Dean into action with a well-struck shot from the edge of the area, before skipper Sean Tarling fired over from the edge of the area.
Scott Pocklington kept Aycliffe in touch in the 25th minute, saving well at the feet of Wayne Phillips who had bee sent clear.
And two minutes later the goalkeeper pulled off a superb stop to prevent Michael Rae’s effort from the edge of the area.
Aycliffe’s best chance of the half came in the 33rd minute as Martin Young found himself in space but he blazed the ball over the bar.
And it proved costly as Stephenson found the top corner from the edge of the area five minutes before the break to double Spenny’s lead.
The second-half turned into a stalemate, with Aycliffe seeing a lot of the ball but never really threatening the Moors backline. Aycliffe sent on Josh Knox, who made his 100th appearance for the club,, David Winskill and Seymour, but the pattern didn’t alter until late on.
Phillips broke down the left and crossed into the centre for Stephenson, who tapped home into an unguarded net.
Aycliffe made their best chance of the half just oen minute later, as Knox released Tarling, but the skipper could only shoot straight at Dean.
It was a disappointing scoreline, but Aycliffe weren’t disgraced against one of the finest sides in the country at this level. Attention now turns back to the leage, as the club aim to secure their first division status.
Aycliffe: Pocklington, Wood, Oliver, Craddock, Hinchley, Tarling, Broom, Butterworth, Woodhouse, Young, Owen. Subs: Knox, Winskill, Lambert, Browne, Seymour.