Goal scorers: Marske: Kelly, Butterworth, Mulligan: SRCA: None.
RCA travelled to current League champions Marske and with only twelve fit/semi-fit players, two of whom were goalkeepers, it made team selection pretty straightforward. The team that lined up was as follows, Would, Noble, Hope, Buchanan, Richardson, Butler, Graham, Charlton, Larkin, Callen, Lane, with McCulloch the only sub available at kick off although Hughes and Armstrong were delayed on-route from Leeds.
The Marske ground staff had worked hard all afternoon to get the pitch fit and the condition of the playing surface was excellent at kick off.
The game started with Marske taking advantage of the wind and they were soon on the attack. A ball forward from Wheatley was picked up by Bythway, but his effort lacked any power and was easily saved by Would. RCA’s first attack saw Butler play in Callen and the RCA frontman drifted past three defenders before hooking his shot wide of the far post with Dean struggling.
All the good early defensive work by RCA was undone in the ninth minute when Preston burst forward before crossing into the box for Bythway, he was tackled on the edge of the box, but the ball fell to Kelly who rifled in a low shot out of reach of Would and into the bottom corner of the net. The visitors reacted to this with a spell of sustained attacking. Larkin set up Hope, but his shot was saved by Dean then two minutes later a clever ball from Butler to Charlton saw the ball played into the centre where Brockbank was happy to concede a corner with Larkin looking to get on the end of the cross.
In the 18th minute the home team looked certain to increase their lead when a cross into the box wasn’t cleared properly and the ball fell to Preston six yards out, but he blasted the ball over the bar.
Markse looked to settle into the game and were happy to play the ball forward for Bythway to chase and in the 20th minute the striker was unlucky with a shot from the edge of the box which went narrowly wide. The home team were starting to get to grips with the game and restricting RCA to breakaway attacks. In the 25th minute a good ball from Wheatley found Preston on the right, he cut inside before firing in a low shot which went inches wide.
Having weathered the storm RCA produced a good passing move to place pressure back on the home defence, Noble picked the ball up off Would, played the ball to Butler who sent the ball wide to Graham, who cut the ball back to Charlton, but he shot wide from 20 yards out.
Further injury problems came for RCA when Richardson went down with no one anywhere near him, twisting his ankle, and he limped out of the game to be replaced by substitute goalkeeper McCulloch who went up front as a makeshift centre forward. Larkin moved to central defence. The delay and substitution seemed to unsettle both teams and the game became very scrappy up to the interval.
Markse took the game to RCA at the start of the second half. A good run by Mulligan to outpace the RCA defence saw him turn the ball inside to Bythway, but the Marske striker’s shot was blocked by a great tackle by Buchanan. Two minutes later and Hood forced a superb save from Would, tipping over his dipping shot. RCA broke from the corner and Graham almost found a way through the heart of the home team’s defence, but his final pass was intercepted by Grier.
The home side increased their lead in the 51st minute when Mulligan once again broke down the right. His cross into the box was met by Bythway, whose shot was blocked but the rebound fell into the path of Butterworth who made no mistake from 12 yards out. This goal had the effect of rejuvenating the RCA team and from the kick off they almost got a goal back. Graham, who was causing problems on the left, played a one-two with Hope, before sending in a deflected cross which had Dean scrambling to tip over the bar. The resulting corner was met by Buchanan but his header went wide of the target. Five minutes later and a searching pass from Butler was met by Charlton who played in Graham on the left, he laid the ball into the path of Lane, but his effort flew wide of the target.
A good run by Preston saw his cross into the box chested into the path of Mulligan, but he curled his shot wide. In the 75th minute a long ball forward from Larkin saw Callen control the ball before setting off on a mazy run before slipping the ball to Charlton who was fouled on the edge of the box. Butler took the free kick to Charlton who produced a decent save from Dean. Two minutes later and the nail was finally put in the coffin when Buchanan fouled Bythway on the edge of the penalty area. Mulligan stepped up a curled and exquisite free kick into the top corner of the net.
In the final minutes of the game Lane almost got a consolation goal for RCA when he drove in a shot which had Dean scrambling across his goal, but it went inches wide of the post.
In the end 3 - 0 was a good result for Marske, but from RCA’s point of view this was a very good display by 12 committed players, five of whom were carrying knocks. A special thank you to stand in centre forward Cameron McCulloch who did a sterling job for the team.
A massive thanks to everyone who turned up for this match without your commitment we could have received a hefty fine from the league.