Colin Larkin in action during the League Cup match against Northallerton Town. Photograph by Simon Mears.
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Goal scorers: Larkin, J Butler
RCA made wholesale changes to the team for this Brooks Mileson League Cup tie against Second Division Northallerton Town. Into the team came Gordon, Preston, Swansbury and Cassidy replacing C Davis, Hodgson, Larkin and Butler.
The game kicked off in almost perfect conditions. Northallerton took advantage of the slope in the first half.
Both teams seemed content to play the ball about in the opening 15 minutes and there was little by way of goalmouth action.
After 15 minutes the visitors had their first effort on target when a long ball forward was collected by Owen who made space for the shot but pulled it wide of the target.
This seemed to wake up RCA and they started to get to grips with the midfield, however too many passes were misplaced and for all their possession they didn't trouble the visiting goal until the 25th minute when Cassidy won a corner on the left, the ball was swung in by Armstrong and for the first time in the game the cross beat the first defender and Richardson rose to power a header inches over the bar.
Within minute Armstrong and Martin combined on the right for the latter to cross into the box, but Hewitt was on hand to head away with Callen and Mcbryde ready to pounce on and mistakes.
There was a massive scare for RCA on the half hour when Lovatt played a delightful ball to Hudson who skipped past Carmichael in the RCA goal, but with an open goal to aim at he had a rush of blood and lashed the ball high and wide.
Charlton tried to get RCA moving forward, winning the ball in midfield and sending Martin away on the left wing, he cut back inside before playing the ball to Callen but his shot was blocked.
Back came the visitors in the final few minutes of the half and a Jackson cross was met by McGlade but his glancing header went over the bar.
All in all not a brilliant first half with chances few and far between.
The second half opened with a more direct approach by RCA and in the 47th minute McBryde bundled the ball into the net after Briggs had made a good save. However the assistant referee had flagged for an earlier offside.
The second half followed the pattern of the first half with both defences well on top and little by way of goalmouth action; there were plenty of promising moves by both teams but in the final third there was no creativity.
Both teams made substitutions and Butler made his presence felt immediately when he ran onto a through ball from Preston but had his well struck shot saved by Briggs. The resulting corner found its way to the far corner of the box where Richardson contrlled the ball but shot over the bar.
RCA seemed to be getting up a head of steam and three minutes later Cassidy burst past two defenders before crossing into the path of McBryde; the RCA striker tried to side foot into the net but it was blocked by Lovatt.
In response to this pressure Northallerton turned to their captain, Owen, for inspiration. A long ball forward was headed down by Swansbury and fell to Owen who evaded two RCA challenges before firing in a shot which went just over the bar.
In the 78th minute RCA brought on their final substitute with the introduction of Larkin, his first contribution was to play in a ball to McBryde who flicked it into the path of Butler, but he blasted the ball wide.
In the 82nd minute Cassidy was fouled inside the area and despite the Northallerton protests the referee awarded a penalty to RCA and Larkin stepped up to convert to give RCA the lead.
With eight minutes left RCA looked to wind down the clock with some possession football while the visitors were looking to get the ball forward as fast as they could but the RCA defence coped well with the long ball tactics.
In the final minute of normal time RCA increased their lead when Hodgson played the ball forward to Butler on the edge of the box and he unleashed a shot which Briggs couldn't prevent from entering the net despite getting a hand to it.
An uncharacteristic performance in the first half by RCA, it was a lot better in second half as they tried to dictate the pace of the game. There were too many misplaced passes throughout the match and this caused problems for our defence.
Next up is Consett at home. We will need to be a lot more competitive than in our last two matches if we are to get anything out of this game. Consett are currently on a seven match unbeaten run.