Supermac: the photographer’s man of the match, Ross McNab, fires in a shot.
Please click here for more photos from the match.
The Durham Challenge Cup tie against Durham City FC at Belle View, Consett was the only game to survive the weather last night.
The RCA management team made a number of forced changes due to injuries and work commitments; into the starting eleven came Davis replacing the cup tied Pounder, In central midfield and making his debut for the club was Lee Cresswell who replaced the injured Proctor, McNab replaced Hatch and Gordon returned to replace the injured Callen.
There was also three unfamiliar names (this season) on the bench, New signing James Cook, back after injury Joe Hughes and the returning Stephen Bogie alongside Armstrong and Proctor.
Durham City started very well, forcing RCA onto the back foot from the off. A pass forward from Flynn found Haley in space and his forward pass fell into the feet of College who drifted across the edge of the penalty area before firing in a shot which Hunter saved at full stretch.
Two minutes later and RCA’s defence was once again breached as Allen burst down the left before crossing in low to College who hit the ball first time. Hunter saved well, but the ball rebounded to College but Buchanan was able to get a last ditch block on the striker’s follow up shot.
RCA, having weathered the early pressure of Durham’s “young guns” started to create chances for themselves. A searching pass from Noble found Larkin on the edge of the box; he controlled the ball before forcing a good save from Flynn.
The slippery 4G surface was causing a few problems to both teams as the ball skipped over the surface and play became confined to a scrappy midfield battle.
In the 25th minute RCA should have taken the lead when a poor kick out by Flynn fell to Larkin 25 yards out. He set off for goal with defenders in his wake, but when Flynn narrowed the angle the RCA striker stabbed the ball wide.
Within a minute Durham could possibly have taken the lead when Flynn’s clearance was headed on by Williamson and fell to Haley who was one on one with Hunter, however, the diminutive midfielder could only manage to hit his shot straight at the RCA keeper.
On the half hour mark the game swung the way of RCA as they mounted attack after attack in an effort to get a half time lead. A good move on the left saw McNab play the ball forward to Larkin who turned and fired in a shot which was parried away by Flynn and Noble from the edge of the box shot straight at the goal keeper.
Two minutes later and another left wing attack saw McNab feed the ball to Charlton who sent in a terrific cross which was met with a glancing header by Larkin, but he directed it wide of the far post from inside the six yard area.
It was then the turn of the two forwards to create an opening. Cress well played the ball forward to Larkin who spotted the run of Davis and played an inch perfect pass to the frontman, but his final shot went into the side netting.
The only respite from the pressure was a quick counter attack which saw Haley collect a ball from Lawrence before blasting in a shot which had Hunter again saving at full stretch.
The first half closed minutes after arguably RCA’s best effort of the match thus far. When McNab sent another excellent cross into the box, it was Cresswell who met the ball with a diving header but sent it inches wide of the upright.
The start of the second half saw the game moving from end to end as both teams looked to get an early goal to settle the game down.
However it was not until the 53rd minute that either keeper was seriously tested and it was Flynn who made a tremendous block from Davis’s shot before pulling off a second save when Charlton drove the rebound goalwards.
Once again Flynn turned defence into attack as his quickly taken kick out was collected by Patton and played into the path of College who hit the ball low, but Hunter was able to make a fine save diving to his right.
A misplaced pass in midfield led to Durham’s next attack when Haley picked up the loose ball, played a one-two with Patton before forcing another fabulous save from Hunter.
On the hour mark a slick move by RCA almost broke the deadlock. Charlton, on the left wing, was picked out by Hunter, the RCA winger broke past two tackles before slipping the ball to Larkin, he turned the ball round the corner to Davis who squared the ball back to Charlton who blazed the ball over the bar.
As in the first half the game became scrappy with neither team creating much by way of goalmouth action.
RCA took the lead in the 71st minute when they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. The captain called for McNab to take it left footed. He delivered a sublime free kick which, despite the valiant efforts of Flynn, curled into the top corner of the net.
RCA immediately made substitutions bringing on Hughes and Cook to replace Charlton and Gordon. The impact was felt with the first touch of the ball for cook as he sent a brilliant pass into the path of Hughes, who outpaced the Durham defence before slotting past Flynn into the net.
Durham tried to rally as the game went into the final five minutes and maybe should have scored when Allen took an in-swinging corner which was met unopposed at the back post by College, but he directed his free header well wide of the target.
The RCA youngsters showed that they can compete at this level and will certainly have pleased the management team with their commitment tonight. There was also the added bonus of seeing Hughes and Bogie returning after long lay-offs and looking almost at home from the off.
Our next game is the little matter of a local Boxing Day Derby against Seaham Red Star. REMEMBER THAT THE KICK OFF IS 12.00 NOON.