Neal Bussey pictured during the match against North Shields where he kept RCA's first clean sheet of the season.
More photographs from the match are here.
Goal scorers: None.
On the injury front it was a case of three in and two out as Larkin, Charlton and Gordon all passed fitness tests, Hodgson and Armstrong were ruled out.
As the manager was away on business it was down to Assistant Steven Stewart to make his first team selection of the season and it just happened to be against North Shields who are unbeaten so far this season. The eleven chosen where: Bussey, Noble, McNab, Larkin, Lay, J Davis, Gordon, Charlton, Hassan, McBryde, Cassidy Subs: Richardson, Harkess, Butler, Pounder and Stewart. (Well we can forgive him for naming himself as a substitute).
The visitors also had a managerial change although this one was of a more permanent nature as Jon McDonald takes over from Graham Fenton who has joined South Shields.
The game started in beautiful sunshine with North Shields taking advantage of the slope in the first half, not that the slope really is an advatage as more goals have been scored in the Cemetery end of the ground in the last two or three seasons.
The first chance of the game fell to the home side when a maurading run on the right by Larkin saw his cross headed away by Ormston. Noble picked up the loose ball 35 yards out and fired in a terrific drive which took a wicked deflection and went behind for a corner. The Robins defence cleared the ball up field where it was controlled by Holmes, he took on his marker before sending in a cross which was headed wide by Bainbridge.
As the game settled both teams looked comfortable in possession, but with a lack of cutting edge in the final third. Hassan was causing a few problems with his physical presence and in the 20th minute he won a corner with his persistence. The corner was swung into the box by Davis and Ormston just managed to get his head to the ball in front of Lay, at the expense of another corner, this time Davis took the corner from the other side of the pitch, it was headed down by McBryde and Hassan's shot was deflected for another corner, this time MCCafferty took charge claimimg the ball inside the six yard area.
This seemed the spur the visitors on and the started to pile pressure onto the RCA defence. A good move saw Carr switch play and bring in Holmes who square the ball to Coppen who forced a good save from Bussey with a low powerful drive.
The Robins continued to press and it was Holmes and Lancaster on the left who seemed to be instigating most moves, in the 26 minute a cross into the box by Hughes was met by Mason who controlled the ball well before firing in a shot which was blocked, the loose ball was picked up by Carr, but Bussey was able to punch the cross away and it was cleared up field by McNab.
RCA's only reply to this pressure was a breakaway by McBryde who held the ball up well before laying it into the path of Larkin, his deft flick fell to Hassan but his shot was blocked by Donnison.
The match again drifted into a midfield battle with neither team able to take control although with the slope North Shields managed to keep the ball in the RCA half of the pitch for long periods.
In the final minute of the half RCA had a great opportunity to open the scoring when the ball broke to Gordon on the right wing, he sent an inch perfect cross on to the head of McBryde, but he somehow managed to head it wide of an open goal.
The second half was much the same as the first with both teams putting in a lot of effort, but with neither keeper being unduly tested; for RCA Hassan had a shot blocked by Ormston while at the other end Bainbridge fired over the bar from long range.
The nearest RCA came to a chance was from a throw in, McBryde collected the ball and played in Cassidy, his cross was edging toward the far corner when McCafferty managed to palm it away and the ball was hooked clear by Lancaster with Gordon closing in.
The game swung to the other end of the pitch quickly and a cross into the area by Holmes found Mason unmarked but the Robin's striker headed over the bar.
There followed a spell of possession for the visitors as they looked to open the scoring, but on two occassions good moves were halted when Bainbridge drifted into an offside position and in then an excellent move saw Holmes play a quick one two with Glen-Ravenhill only for the flag to be raised on the reverse pass to Holmes.
RCA's response was a long winding run by Richardson which saw him evade four or five tackles before giving the ball to Cassidy wh crossed into the box for Larkin but once again McCafferty was quick to spot the danger and intercepted the ball before it reached Larkin.
In the final minutes of the game North Shields had a massive opportunity to pinch the win when from an RCA free kick, the ball was cleared out the left, the play quickly switched to the other end of the ground where Bainbridge picked up a superb pass before rounding the last defender before striking a low shot which hit the post and went behind for a goal kick.
The game ended all square which, for RCA was a hard earned point and the first clean sheet of the season, both teams were left ruing golden opportunities to win the game, but in a match where there were few chances and neither keeper was forced to make major saves, a draw was probably a fair result.
We look forward to next weekend when we will be at the Daren Persson Stadium for more of the same, before that on Tuesday, we are away to Jarrow Roofing. See you there.