Greg Swansbury comes away with the ball during the first half of the epic 3 -3 encounter with Consett.
More photographs from the match here.
Goal scorers: SRCA: Larkin (2), Robinson: Consett: Nellis, Sullivan, Sweet
The RCA Management team made five changes to the team which played against Northallerton in the Brooks Mileson League Cup in midweek. Returning to the first eleven were C Davis, Hodgson, Butler and Larkin while Mark Robinson was selected in the strating eleven for the first time since he joined the club.
Fifth placed Consett came to Meadow Park on the back of and impressive run of seven unbeaten matches.
The game started excellently for the home team who, for the first time in a long time, had the advantage of the slope in the first half and took full advantage in the opening ten minutes racing into a 2 -0 lead.
With only four minutes on the clock and having survived a bit of a scare at the other end when Sweet's shot was saved by Carmichael, RCA struck with a devastating counter attack, the ball was played through midfield quickly and a great through ball from Hodgson found Callen who evaded two challenges before squaring the ball to Larkin who had time and space to pick his spot and drilled a low shot out of the reach of Young and into the bottom corner of the net.
Three minutes later and a driving run by Larkin saw him outstrip the Consett defence before sending in a terrific cross to the far post where Butler managed to head towards goal, the ball struck the inside of the post and rebounded to Robinson who had the simple task of tapping home from four yards out.
Consett were absolutely shocked by this opening but fought back. Nellis made a good run on the left wing before crossing towards Sweet but Swansbury was ablr to get to the ball first and clear the danger.
RCA had a great chance to increase their lead on the quarter hour. A Consett corner was headed clear by Preston and fell to Charlton who played the ball out to Larkin on the right, he again outpaced the Consett defence before cutting inside to the edge of the box, but as he went to shoot the ball bobbled and his shot flew over the bar.
The visitors started to get a bit more control of the ball as the game progressed and in the 18th minute a ball forward from Hawkins was picked up by Sullivan who drifted into the penalty area before sending a low drive just wide of the post.
Consett didn't have to wait long to get back into the game as a minute later when Craggs picked up the ball on the right and sent in a curling cross which Nellis, with the slightest of glancing headers steered the ball past Carmichael.
The flow of the game increased as Consett went in search of an equaliser, but it was RCA who created the bestter chances. In the 25th minute Butler was played in on the right and although his cross was headed away by McKinnon the ball fell to Callen who crossed back into the box for Richardson, his shot was blocked and flew over the bar for a corner.
Sullivan was causing a lot of problems at the other end as he seemed to be finding space all the time, on the half hour he picked up the ball on the right slipped inside one defender before crossing into the box for sweet but Preston was alert to the danger and cleared.
The game started to get a little scrappy at this point and it has to be said that there were a few late challenges going in two of which from Sweet were particularly unsavoury and earned him a caution from the referee.
With game getting stretched it was the two defences which were holding firm and and neither keeper really had to make a save in the final ten minutes of the half.
Consett came out all guns blazing in the second half but it was RCA who had the first real chance of the half when Butler again won the ball on the right and crossed into the box where Robinson forced a great save from Young.
Consett then started to exert some pressure on the RCA defence, a freekick on the right caused major panic in the RCA defence when Carmichael punched clear the ball fell to Hawkins who who fired in a low shot which rebounded off two players before being forced into the net, however the assistant referee's flag had been raised quite some time before the ball entered the net for offside..
A let off for RCA who almost punished Consett with their next attack: a long ball out of defence fond Callen in space, he slipped inside his marker before blasting a shot wide of the target.
Carmichael was forced into action again in the 63rd minute when Sullivan controlled a pass from Hawkins before turning and smashing in a shot the rCA keeper could only parry the ball away but Swansbury was quickest to react and cleared the danger.
Three minutes later and Consett piled forward again this time Kay intercepted a pass and played the ball forward to Sweet who laid the ball off to Sullivan, his shot struck the inside of the post and fortunately for RCA fell to Preston who hooked it clear.
As in the first half the game became scrappy and physical and the referee resorted to issuing caution for some niggly fouls. one for a pull back on Callen when the RCA striker looked certain to break clear of the Consett defence. the resulting freekick came to nothing.
With the game in the final two minutes the referee indicated that there would be five added minutes; almost as he spoke Consett launched another attack and as the ball seemed to be cleared the referee awarded a controvertial penalty adjudging that Carmichael fouled the Consett forward. Up stepped Sullivan to chip the ball into the net past Carmichael.
A minute later and RCA almost took the lead in this astonishing match when Callen broke away from his marker, slipped the ball past Young in the Consett goal, but within inches of the line Stafford managed to get a foot to the ball and clear it for a corner, Armstrong took the kick which was met by Callen and his powerful downward header was heading for the net when Stafford managed to block it on the line and Kay cleared away.
Deep into stoppage time Charlton picked up the ball on the edge of the box played the ball into the box and was fouled by Lavery, the referee pointed straight to the spot, Larkin stepped up but his well struck penalty was saved by Young but Larkin was first to react sliding the ball back into the net to make it 3 - 2.
That should have been the end of the game, but in the sixth minute of added time Consett mounted another attack, this time down the right with Teasdale who crossed into the box where Sweet outjumped the RCA defence and headed home.
This was a game which was really only played in the opening 20 minutes and the final eight minutes, six goals, two penalties and God knows how many off the line.
Next up at home to Penrith on Tuesday 7.45 kick off, weather permitting.