Goalscorers: SRCA: Hope, North Shields: Parker
We welcomed North Shields to Meadow Park for the first round of the League Cup, a second meeting in six days: last Wednesday RCA were victorious at the Daren Persson stadium with a late strike from substitute Luke Proctor. Tonight’s encounter would be just as competitive and with the added bonus that the winner would face a Willington team who have had an indifferent start to the season.
RCA’s selection problems continued with Hughes, Hatch, Larkin, Brown and Armstrong all out through injury and Callen and Harkess unavailable. The management team could made one change from the team which drew on Saturday, McNab replaced Larkin, Carr and new signings Scott and Barton occupied the bench with the latter crying off due to work commitment an hour before the game.
After last week’s excellent match the 100+ crowd were looking for more of the same as the Robins kicked off taking advantage of the slope.
The early pressure came from the visitors as they went in search of a quick goal, but the RCA defence remained resolute and dealt with everything thrown at it. With no quarter asked or given the two teams went toe to toe and the game flowed from end to end without any real chances until in the eighth minute the Robins were awarded a freekick 25 yards out. The kick was taken by Pounder who floated in a great cross which beat everyone and drifted wide of the far post.
Four minutes later and the visitors keeper, McCafferty, was called into action. When a cross from McNab was cleared by Parker the ball fell to Noble who fired in a first time shot which the keeper held comfortably.
The visitors were attacking predominantly down the right wing and when Walker slipped the ball inside to Pounder the winger looked to try a cheeky chip over Talbot, but the RCA keeper was alert to the danger and collected the ball. However a minute later Talbot and the rest of the home defence stood helplessly and watched as a cross from Ormston took a deflection and looped into the path of Carr who thundered a header against the bar and Buchanan was able to clear the rebound.
Two minutes later RCA were on the attack on the left. Richardson picked up a cross field ball from Charlton before he played a delightful ball to McNab who picked out Gordon inside the six yard area, but he totally miscued his shot and the ball was cleared.
The pace of this game was phenomenal with both teams playing fast, attractive football and always looking to get the ball forward. RCA were back on the attack after a driven shot from Pounder was collected by Talbot, the on-loan keeper picked out Charlton on the right and he forced a corner off Lancaster. Hope took the kick which Walker headed back to Hope, this time he picked out Proctor on the edge of the area, but his low shot flew wide of the post.
You certainly couldn’t take your eye off this game for fear of missing something. RCA were having their best spell in the game and some confident passing by Noble and Hope released Gordon on the right. He skipped past two tackles before sending in a wicked drive which went straight across the face of the goal.
Back came North Shields. Parker sent a long ball forward to McGorrigan who turned and fired in an effort which Talbot caught. Within minutes the same player was guilty of a bad miss when the ball was played into the area and he blasted the ball against the bar from six yards out. Forgive me if this sounds like a tennis match, but the ball was immediately up the other end for a corner to RCA. Hope took the kick and Richardson rose highest, but could only direct his header over the bar. RCA seemed to finish the half on the up with a shot across the box by Gordon quickly followed by a McNab shot which went narrowly wide.
The Robins started the second half as they did the first, pressurising RCA with a flurry of efforts on goal. Bainbridge fired wide from 20 yards out, then Carr hit a shot over the bar when team mates looked in better positions.
An injury to Charlton in the 50th minute heralded the first change of the game with Carr replacing him. The home team started to make in roads into the Robins defence with a well worked passing move between Proctor and Hope setting up the first chance of the second half to Gordon but he shot wide. Both defences looked solid as time and again good passing moves by both teams broke down on the edge of the box. In the 75th minute Davis slipped the ball to Carr on the right wing and the substitute floated in a cross which drifted agonisingly wide of the far post (did the keeper get a touch possibly but nothing given.) RCA opened the scoring a minute later when Proctor picked up a loose ball and sent it forward to Gordon who was brought down inside the area by McCafferty and a penalty was awarded. Up stepped Hope to slot the ball home. The visitors started desperately sending bodies forward in an effort to get back on terms and should really have equalised in the 80th minute when a long ball over the top found Forster unmarked 20 yards from goal, however his effort went well over the bar.
RCA should have doubled their lead five minutes later when new signing Scott, on as a replacement for McNab, slipped his marker inside the box, but with only the keeper to beat mishit his shot and McCafferty plucked the ball out of the air. Then in the 88th minute the Robins were awarded a corner when Talbot turned a Bainbridge shot over the bar. The corner was headed goalwards and cleared off the line by Richardson then punched away for another corner. This time when it came in the ball was blocked but fell to ex-RCA man Parker who volleyed it into the roof of the net. It could have gone from bad to worse in the last minute of injury time when Wilson blasted in a shot which needed a superb save from Talbot.
With both teams looking a little leg weary the first half of extra time was a fairly evenly contested midfield battle with neither team really creating anything in front of goal. The second half although a little more competitive only sprang to life when Lancaster picked up a loose ball on the half way line and carried the ball forward before unleashing a shot which went narrowly wide. The same player had another effort which was blocked by Drysdale. RCA were now happy to settle for the penalty shoot out and North shields only had one further shot which was fired wide by Bainbridge.
So to Penalties.
Bainbridge took the first for North Shields and Talbot saved
Hope who had already scored a penalty stepped up for the first one for RCA and McCafferty saved it.
Next up for the Robins was Ormston who slotted home.
Proctor made it 1 – 1 blasting the ball into the roof of the net.
Wilson scored for the Robins 2 - 1
Noble made it 2 - 2 with a cool finish.
Then Holmes stepped up to send the ball wide.
RCA’s Captain Davis made it 3 - 2 to the home team.
Lancaster made it 3 - 3.
Richardson missed for RCA.
Coppen then missed for the Robins leaving it up to Drysdale to take the next penalty which would see RCA through but he missed.
Up stepped Walker to blast home and unfortunately Gordon also missed to send North Shields into the next round and a trip to Willington.
No doubting the commitment from the home team they were absolutely superb throughout. Davis led by example and was brilliant throughout the game. There is no need for anyone to be down after this performance, it was just the end result and once again being undone by an ex-player in the last minute. Close at Newton Aycliffe and Parker in this match. We now need to re-group and take the performance levels through to the match on Saturday against Norton and Stockton.