Dylan Elliott continued the recent trend of cracking goals at Meadow Park.
For more photos from the match please click here.
Goal scorers - RCA: O'Neill; Elliott; Callen. Team Northumbria: O.G.
Sunderland RCA’s second in another batch of three consecutive home matches was a Northern League fixture against newly-promoted Team Northumbria.
In the three seasons that Team Northumbria had been in Division Two, they have always been there or thereabouts for promotion - in the 2014-15 season they finished fourth, missing out on promotion by just two points. The following season they were even closer: again finishing fourth with 89 points and just a single point behind third-placed Chester-le-Street Town. Last season, however, despite finishing with the same number of points, 89, this was enough for a second-place finish and promotion to Division One. This season has seen one win and three defeats in their opening four matches.
For RCA, Saturday's fabulous victory and performance against Ashington in the FA Cup was the perfect way to get back on track following the disappointment of losing at Marske United last week after playing extremely well.
RCA made two changes to the side that won so impressively against Ashington on Saturday - Luke Richardson made a first start of the season, in place of Clayton Davis at right full back. And Colin Larkin was ruled out with a groin injury and replaced by James Cassidy.
The two sides lined up as follows:
RCA: Bussey; Richardson; Hodgson; McGuinness; Swansbury (c); Elliott; Charlton; Page; O'Neill; Callen; Cassidy.
Team Northumbria: Holden; Mitchell; Read; McNamara (c); Lowrie; Webster; Carr; Spence; Ardelean; Richardson; Jewitt.
It was the home side that had the first opportunity of the match in the 3rd minute - RCA won a free-kick midway inside the Team Northumbria half after Page was upended. Elliott's free-kick was headed back into the danger area by Swansbury at the far post, and Callen fired in a shot which was blocked. Five minutes later and a long ball from the back from RCA was miscontrolled and O'Neill fired in a shot from all of 35 yards that was turned behind by Holden for a corner which was cleared. Three minutes later and Team Northumbria had their first opportunity of the match as a long free-kick was stabbed narrowly wide by Ardelean. In the 18th minute Charlton made a good run down the right and won a corner. McGuinness’ corner was whipped in and Callen rose well but headed the ball over the crossbar.
Midway through the first half and Team Northumbria really got into gear - Richardson made a powerful run down the left and crossed low to Carr who fired in a ferocious shot that was superbly blocked by Bussey. One minute later and this time it was Read who made a good run down the left before crossing to Richardson whose shot was again well blocked by Bussey. The away team were now piling the pressure on RCA and in the 26th minute Richardson made another driving run through central midfield before playing the ball out to the left side of the penalty area where Carr's attempted lob was caught by Bussey.
RCA had weathered the storm and one minute later Cassidy made a good run down the left and crossed but Charlton headed the ball over the crossbar. In the 34th minute RCA were unlucky not to take the lead - Page received the ball before driving into the penalty area, going around Holden, before firing in a goal bound shot that was cleared off the line by McNamara with a terrific piece of covering defending. In the 38th minute, Team Northumbria won a free-kick after a foul by Cassidy. The free-kick was headed by Richardson off the back of the head of Swansbury for a corner which was cleared. In the 43rd minute RCA took the lead - from a corner, Swansbury went to ground in a challenge and the referee awarded a penalty. O'Neill stepped up to hammer the ball home. One minute later and RCA doubled their lead - Elliott received the ball on the apex of the penalty area before unleashing a brilliant shot that flew into the top corner.
Half-time: Sunderland RCA 2 Team Northumbria 0
Two quick, late goals had made the half-time scoreline look much more comfortable for RCA than it really was.
In the 53rd minute Team Northumbria won a corner which was cleared to Carr who fired the ball wide of the post. Two minutes later and Cassidy made a determined run down the left before crossing to Callen whose shot was deflected over the crossbar for a corner. McGuinness’ corner was headed into the side netting by Callen at the far post. Good play from Page and Cassidy in the 65th minute resulted in a corner. Elliott's corner was headed wide by Swansbury. Three minutes later and a free-kick by Read was comfortably held by Bussey. In the 74th minute RCA got a third goal as Callen went on a run and into the penalty area before slotting the ball under Holden from close range.
With six minutes remaining, RCA won a free-kick for a foul on substitute Butler. McGuinness drove the free-kick wide. Two minutes later and Team Northumbria got a consolation goal that their play during the match deserved - a terrific, long, crossfield pass was controlled by substitute Heywood who crossed to the far post and the ball appeared to go in off Swansbury among a ruck of players. In the final minute of normal time Heywood fired over a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area.
A good win tonight and an excellent first half-dozen games for RCA so far this season: four wins, one draw and just one defeat - with two of those wins in the FA Cup! 14 goals scored and just six conceded. All very encouraging.
Tonight's RCA man of the match was chosen by Paul Davis. Paul thought RCA were fortunate to be 2-0 up at half-time after a good spell of play from Team Northumbria, and that there were plenty of good, solid performances from RCA, but no one really stood out tonight. Paul picked Neal Bussey as man of the match for “two excellent saves in the first half when the match was goalless and Team North were on top, which were crucial in RCA going on to win the match”. Well played, Neal!
Next up for RCA, it’s the Ryhope derby as Ryhope Colliery Welfare make the short trip to Meadow Park on Saturday, 26 August. Kick-off: 3:00pm. After being knocked out of the FA Cup by Ashington at the beginning of the season, RCW have since been in splendid form in the Northern League, winning all three of their matches so far - including a notable away win at North Shields. It promises to be a cracker, and, with Sunderland AFC away at Barnsley, it's an ideal chance to come along and see a Sunderland derby match.