Goal scorer Stephen Callen clears the ball under pressure from former RCA player Stuart Thompson. Photograph: Simon Mears.
For more photos from the match please click here.
For Peter Jackson's photos please click here.
Goal scorers - Bishop Auckland: Bennett. RCA: Butler; Callen.
Following the postponement of consecutive home matches against Penrith and South Shields last week, Sunderland RCA were back in action today with a trip to Bishop Auckland.
Both sides had a win and a draw in their previous two matches - RCA drew with Chester-le-Street and beat West Allotment Celtic a fortnight ago. Bishops, meanwhile, beat Seaham Red Star 3-0 at Heritage Park and drew 1-1 with Ryhope Colliery Welfare last time out.
RCA made three changes to the side that won at West Allotment Celtic a fortnight ago. Jonathan Carmichael returned in goal in place of Neal Bussey and Michael Charlton and Jonathan Davis were back in midfield replacing Brad Wilson and James Cassidy, who took a place on the bench.
The sides lined up as follows:
Bishop Auckland: Dawson; Thompson; Hoganson; Colquhoun (c); Madden; Griffiths; Williamson; Bennett; Johnson; Ward; Smith.
RCA: Carmichael; Noble; McGuinness; Preston; Swansbury (c); Hodgson; Charlton; Davis; Butler; Larkin; Callen.
On a wet afternoon it was RCA who had the first chance of the match when Callen made a long run down the left before cutting the ball into Charlton on the edge of the penalty area, who was fouled. Davis drove the free-kick into the wall and the ball was cleared. In the 8th minute some neat play from RCA resulted in a half-volley from Hodgson on the edge of the penalty area going just wide of the post. Three minutes later and Bishops won a corner which was cleared by the head of Larkin. RCA immediately won a free-kick midway inside the Bishops’ half. Noble’s free-kick was met with a looping header from Callen that was comfortably caught by Dawson.
Bishops then had a couple of half chances as first Williamson made a run down the right but his cross was cleared by Noble, and then a good build-up by Hoganson down the left played in Johnson, who found Williamson whose fierce shot flew over the crossbar. In the 20th minute Davis made a good run down the right before switching play to McGuinness, whose terrific cross was headed over by Butler. In the 32nd minute Bishops came close to opening the scoring when Ward fired in a low shot which was deflected away for a corner which was cleared. Two minutes later and RCA came even closer to taking the lead as Callen’s long cross was picked up by Larkin, and his cross skimmed the head of Colquhoun and bounced off the top of the crossbar.
With ten minutes to half-time Hodgson won the ball in midfield before releasing Callen who fed the ball into Larkin on the edge of the penalty area but his shot went over the crossbar. Three minutes later and RCA took the lead - Callen on the right played the ball into Larkin, who played a delightful first-time ball into Butler who smashed the ball home with a single touch from the edge of the penalty area. With a minute until half-time, Bishops equalised after a good ball from Hoganson found Bennett at the edge of the penalty area and his low drive found the bottom corner to the level the match at half-time.
Half-time: Bishop Auckland 1 Sunderland RCA 1
It was an uneventful start to the second half, with the first action of note in the 53rd minute when a Bishops corner was cleared first by Larkin and then by Davis, and then a shot by Bennett was hit straight at Carmichael. One minute later and RCA retook the lead - Davis made a run down the right and his cross was intercepted by Colquhoun, but the loose ball was controlled and side-footed into the net by Callen from six yards.
In the 56th Williamson made a run down the centre before releasing the ball to Johnson but Noble made a timely challenge to clear the ball. Ten minutes later and a free-kick from Davis was met by the head of Preston but straight at Dawson. One minute later and another RCA free-kick, this time from Hodgson, was headed over the crossbar by Larkin. Three minutes later and Swansbury won an aerial challenge before releasing the ball to Charlton, whose lay-off to Larkin resulted in a shot straight at Dawson.
As the match entered the final ten minutes a Bishops free-kick was cleared by Swansbury to the edge of the penalty area where Thompson drove a shot wide. Seconds later and substitute Cassidy made a surging run down the left and won a corner - from the corner Callen headed the ball wide of the post. Three minutes later and Bishops had strong penalty appeals turned down by the referee as Bennett went to ground after a challenge with McGuinness. With five minutes remaining a Johnson cross was cleared for a corner by McGuinness and the resulting corner was cleared by the head of Charlton. In stoppage time Charlton found Callen who fired over the crossbar from 25 yards. The final action of the match saw a Bishops corner cleared by Noble and the subsequent corner was headed wide by Colquhoun.
An excellent team performance from RCA today against a top-six side - resulting in a nomination in the Northern League’s ‘Team of the Week’ competition. And following the win at West Allotment Celtic, a second consecutive League ‘double’. RCA join South Shields, Shildon and Newton Aycliffe as the only teams to leave Heritage Park with three points this season.
RCA move up to 11th in the table with 47 points with a further 30 still to play for - a top ten finish would be a terrific achievement for the whole club.
Next up for RCA is a trip to current FA Vase holders Morpeth Town on Wednesday, March 15th.