Michael Charlton in the thick of the action during the 3-1 win against West Allotment Celtic.
More photographs from the match are here.
Goalscorers: SRCA: Charlton, Hassan, McBryde. WAC: Pearson
Once again injuries and holidays forced changes to the starting line-up. Ross McNab (foot), James Armstrong (groin) and Stephen Callen (holiday) were all unavailable and club captain Clayton Davis is working away, so the management team gave a fit again Kieran Graham his first start of the season and brought back Reece Noble on the left side of the defence, while Danni Lay, returning after holiday, was on the bench.
West Allotment arrived at Meadow Park having only played three league games, however a win against Seaham Red Star would, no doubt, have boosted their confidence ahead of the game.
West Allotment took advantage of the slope in the first half and went straight on the attack, Swansbury broke up the first attack and played the ball to Davis, his accurate pass to Hassan was played wide by the RCA striker to Cassidy and his cross was picked up by Charlton on the edge of the box and he fired in a low shot which beat Bannon and nestled in the bottom corner of the net.
The home team continued in their attacking mode with Gordon breaking past the last defender before playing the ball back to Larkin, he then cut the ball back toward Graham but Bramley intercepted the pass and cleared the danger.
RCA increased their lead in controversial circumstances in the 11th minute. Noble won the ball on the left and played it forward to Davis who sent the ball forward, it came off a West Alloment defender's head and fell at the feet of Hassan, who looked to be in an offside position, as he fired the ball into the net the assistant referee raised his flag. After consulting his assistant, the referee awarded a goal. This was a harsh blow to the West Allotment team.
In the 15th minute Cassidy made a great run on the left flank and sent in a cross cum shot which completely bamboozled Bannon in the visitor’s goal, the ball struck the underside of the bar and rebounded to Dobson who cleared the ball up field.
Two minutes later and RCA were back on the attack this time forcing a corner. Davis took the kick which was headed towards goal by Swansbury, Larkin in an offside position helped the ball over the line and the goal was rightly ruled out.
West Allotment were struggling to cope with the relentless pressure being exerted by the RCA forwards, their cause was not helped by the early substitution of Locke who picked up a knock very early in the game and was replaced by Parkinson. There was a further injury worry for the visitor in the 25 minute when Hindmarch limped off and was replaced by Pearson.
As West Allotment reorganized RCA tried to take advantage and it was only some excellent saves by Bannan that kept the score at 2 - 0. He pulled off a great save from Cassidy who tried to curl a shot round him and from the save he set up West Allotments first real effort on goal, sending the ball forward to Pearson who slipped it to Young and the striker hit a low shot which Bussey saved diving to his left.
RCA responded with a slick passing move between Cassidy and Davis before Cassidy was brought down on the edge of the box. Davis stepped up to take the kick which looked to be dipping under the bar until Bannon managed to get a finger tip to the ball and it went for a corner.
Once again the instigator of the next attack was Bannon, his quick distribution sent Young away and when his shot was blocked by Hodgson the ball fell to Reay he fired in a low shot which was also blocked this time by Swansbury, the ball fanally came out to Young again but his curling shot was easily saved by Bussey.
The forced changes made by West Allotment seemed to be working as they pushed forward putting RCA on the back foot in the closing minutes of the half, a through ball from Dunn split the RCA defence and it was left to Bussey to make a terrific save from Young’s low drive.
RCA started the second half with a flourish, from the kick off the ball was played to Gordon who sent a delightful ball across to the left side of the penalty area where Larkin controlled it before cutting inside his marker and squaring the ball to Hassan, who, with only the keeper to beat sliced his shot wide.
In the 48th minute West Allotment shocked the home team with a well worked goal, an interception by Hall in the centre circle saw him pick out Laidler on the right wing his cross was met by Pearson who under pressure from Gordon managed to squeeze his header into the net.
It could have been all square a few minutes later when a long ball forward looked to be cleared easily by the RCA defence but the final ball out of the box struck Swansbury on the back and luckily into the arms of a relieved Bussey.
The aerial power of Hassan was brought into play when a high ball was played forward amnd the RCA striker out jumped everyone to head into the path of Larkin who returned the ball into the box for Hassan but Bannon pulled off another fine save to deny the striker.
RCA increased their lead in the when a fantastic 50 yard pass from Noble was controlled by Charlton inside the penalty area, his shot was blocked, but the ball fell to substitute McBryde who side footed the ball past the despairing dive of Bannon.
The game should have been put to bed in RCA’s next attack. Davis playing the ball forward to Larkin keeper but his shot was cleared off the line by Dobinson who followed the ball out and made a rash challenge on Pounder. A free kick was awarded and to everyone's amazement a straight red card produced for dissent.
This wasn’t the end of the action in the first minute of added time West Allotment were awarded a penalty when Gordon fouled Pearson inside the area. Pearson picked himself up and took the spot kick. He smashed the ball against the post and the RCA defence cleared.
This was another game in which we created enough chances to win three games but didn’t take them.
However it is another three points and keeps us on the heels of the leaders.
Next up, we are away to Whitley Bay, who, like ourselves, have had a decent start to the season.