Report: West Auckland 1-3 Spennymoor Town
Tom Berj saw red again as West's Vase dreams were dashed for another year despite a brave second half performance against Spennymoor.
Spennymoor underlined their Vase prospects with an impressive start. Keeper Billy Hanson blocked with his legs from Michael Rae before Spennymoor took a fourth minute lead. West could not clear a corner and when it was turned into the middle, an unmarked Richardson acrobatically fired into the roof of the net.
Anthony Peacock saw his deflected shot easily saved, then a stunning Alex Francis 18th minute run past 3 men saw the midfielder slip the ball to an unmarked Rae but his shot was too weak and Hanson was able to cover across his goal and kick the ball to safety.
However the Moors doubled their lead in the 24th minute when a superb Michael Laws cross on the volley picked out Steven Richardson, unmarked and from close range, he planted his header in the top corner.
West seemed subdued compared to the battling performance in the Durham Challenge Cup and things were to get worse when Tom Berj picked up a quick couple of bookings to seemingly kill off any hopes of a comeback. The first came in the 35th minute and arguably could have been red, scything through the back of Lewis Dodds, who himself had earlier gone in a tackle with his studs up, making no contact although booked for the intent. Berj received a caution but shockingly received a second just four minutes later. This though astonished most, as he bundled into a defender who nipped into clear the ball from the midfielder's run. It was an extremely harsh decision to give a yellow for that type of foul, especially given it was his first foul following his first booking.
In between the bookings, Mattie Moffat shot wide but Leon Ryan could have put the game to bed when he thundered a header against the underside of the bar as Spennymoor looked as if they were to comfortably progress. West though, fought in adversity and pulled a goal back in the 44th minute when Mattie Moffat set up Chris Renshaw whose strike took a deflect and nestled in the bottom corner.
HT: West Auckland 1-2 Spennymoor Town
Moors keeper Craig Turns had been suffering a groin injury since late in the first half and despite West pressure, he was well protected by the back line. West had good spells of possession against the visitors despite the man disadvantage but had little chances of note to bring themselves level. At the other end, Billy Hanson punched a dangerous cross off the head of Richardson looking for a hat trick. Leon Ryan headed a free kick wide before West had a great chance to equalise.
With 12 minutes left, Mattie Moffat raced clear into the area but hit the outside of the post and 7 minutes later the tie was over. Following a corner, there was a goalmouth scramble and Francis' shot was adjudged to have been stopped by Ian Maddison's hand and Michael Laws' coolly fire into the corner from the spot to seal the win.
Stuart Banks had a late shot held as they tried to respond again but the Moors saw out the game to progress and end more West Cup hopes whilst Spennymoor will take their place in the 3rd Round draw on Monday.
HT: West Auckland 1-3 Spennymoor Town