Dylan Elliott and Luke Richardson combine to set RCA up for an attack late in the match.
For more photos from the match please click here.
Goal scorers - RCA: O'Neill. Washington: Shaw.
Sunderland RCA’s third home match in a row saw the visit of Washington to Meadow Park for a Northern League fixture.
The very fact that the match was played is thanks to Washington being saved at the end of last season after resigning from the League for this current season. The club has since forged strong links with Washington AFC and continue to play their home matches at the Nissan Sports Complex. It’s great to see clubs like Washington and West Allotment Celtic not only surviving but also still playing at Northern League level.
RCA have had a cracking start to the season - after winning all five pre-season friendlies, the form has continued, winning both competitive matches against Garforth Town in the FA Cup, 3-1, and Penrith in the league, 2-1. Furthermore, it's good to see that the five goals in those two games have been scored by five different players.
Washington, meanwhile, have only played one competitive match so far and were knocked out of the FA Cup last Saturday after a 3-0 home defeat to Dunston UTS. Their scheduled midweek fixture against Whitley Bay was postponed due to Whitley Bay's FA Cup replay with Seaham Red Star.
RCA made one change to the side that beat Penrith in midweek - Craig Hodgson was ruled out with a knee injury and was replaced by Nathan O'Neill. Luke Page moved into midfield to allow O'Neill to play up front.
The two sides lined up as follows:
RCA: Bussey; Noble; McGuinness; Preston; Swansbury (c); Page; Charlton; Elliott; Larkin; O'Neill; Callen.
Washington: Gladstone; Evans; Parker; Gardner; Laws; White (c); Edwards; Shaw; Shanks; Pickard; Brown.
RCA had the first opportunity of the match in the second minute after Callen was fouled and from the free-kick, Preston’s header was comfortably saved by Gladstone. In the fifth minute RCA were awarded a penalty kick - Noble played a good ball into Callen in the penalty area, Callen controlled the ball superbly but was tripped as he took a second touch and the referee pointed to the spot. Larkin's well-struck penalty was superbly turned onto the post by Gladstone for a corner. From Elliott's corner, O'Neill rose and brought another good save from Gladstone. In the 14th minute, Washington had their first real attack, after good play down the left and Shaw fired in a shot that was cleared by Noble. Four minutes later and RCA had another good chance to open the scoring - Page made a good run, driving through central midfield, who played in Larkin, who attempted to chip Gladstone off his line, but, backpedaling, Gladstone was able to hold the ball under the crossbar. Seconds later and Washington were on the attack as Shaw played the ball into the RCA penalty area. The ball was half cleared by Preston to Evans who fired in a fierce volley from the edge of the penalty area over the crossbar.
In the 20th minute RCA took the lead after winning a free-kick for a handball down the left wing. Elliott's free-kick was whipped in and cleared to Callen, who crossed to O'Neill who stabbed the ball home from inside the six-yard area. Two minutes later and Page put O'Neill in on goal and, as Gladstone raced from his line, the pair met at the edge of the penalty area for a good old-fashioned, full-blooded 50-50 challenge and the ball ricocheted to safety - Gladstone stayed down, but was able to continue after treatment. Three minutes later and Charlton played the ball up to Larkin and, continuing his run, Larkin held the ball up before playing in Charlton whose shot was fired wide of the post.
On the half hour mark, Washington had a good spell of play, forcing a couple of corners which were cleared by Noble and then Larkin. RCA produced a lovely move one minute later - Elliott, on the right, played a first-time ball to Larkin, who switched play, spraying a glorious 40 yard pass to Callen on the left who made a driving run into the penalty area and sent a low cross along the six-yard area but no one could get onto the end of it. Six minutes later and Shanks fired in a well-hit shot that was saved by Bussey. Seconds later and a shot by O'Neill was scrambled clear.
Half-time: Sunderland RCA 1 Washington 0
Four minutes after the restart RCA had a good chance to double their lead - a free-kick was whipped in by Elliott and Callen rose to head the ball inches wide. In the 55th minute, RCA were reduced to ten men - Noble was fouled by Pickard and then reacted to the challenge and was given a red card. Pickard was booked, either for the original foul or for his part in the altercation that followed. It only took Washington two minutes after the sending off to get back into the match - a stray pass from Larkin was picked up and ex-RCA player Shaw ran through midfield to slot the ball past Bussey. It looked like it was going to be a long 30 minutes for RCA at that point, but the ten men were galvanised and chased and closed down the Washington players superbly for the remainder of the match.
Midway through the second half and RCA won a free-kick for a foul on Charlton. McGuinness went for goal, firing in a shot from 30 yards that was held by Gladstone at the second attempt. In the 80th minute Washington were unlucky not to take the lead - after good play down the right the ball was picked up by substitute Jewson, who fired in a thunderbolt of a shot from 25 yards that rattled the crossbar and rebounded to safety. In the 86th minute, and with both sides pushing for a winner, Larkin played in a great ball to Charlton who fired wide from inside the penalty area.
Today's RCA man of the match was chosen by Geoff Bussey. Geoff picked Greg Swansbury for his “never-say-die attitude”, rallying the lads, particularly in the second half when RCA played 35 minutes with ten men. Well played, Greg!
Next up for RCA is our first away match of the season at Marske United on Tuesday evening, 15 August, kick-off at 7:45pm.