Michael Charlton scored what turned out to be the winner for RCA.
For more photos from the match please click here.
Goal scorers - RCA: O'Neill (2); Charlton. Seaham: Scott; Davis.
Following Saturday's Northern League victory at Jarrow Roofing, Sunderland RCA were back in action tonight with a Durham County Challenge Cup First Round match at home to Seaham Red Star.
RCA made three changes to the side that started at Jarrow - Neal Bussey, injured in the Jarrow match, was ruled out and replaced by Keith Finch. Ross Preston was away and replaced by Adam McGuinness, and Luke Page, who had served a one-match suspension, returned in place of Dylan Elliott, who took a place on the bench.
The two sides lined up as follows:
RCA: Finch; Noble; McNab; McGuinness; Hodgson (c); J. Davis; Charlton; Page; O'Neill; Larkin; Callen.
Seaham: Harkess; Munro; Price; Hodgson; Staunch; Scorer; Hetherington; Bramley; Scott; Davis; Bird (c).
RCA started the match well, firing in a couple shots that didn't seriously test former RCA goalkeeper Jordan Harkess, now in the Seaham goal. In the 9th minute, it was the visitors who came close to opening the scoring as Davis fired in a shot from the left side of the edge of the penalty area which produced a terrific one-handed, full-length diving save from Finch and the loose ball was cleared. Nine minutes later, and RCA were awarded a free-kick for a foul on Charlton down the right wing. Noble's free-kick was half cleared to O'Neill, who fired a shot wide from the edge of the penalty area. On the half hour mark, a long ball was headed backwards by Hodgson and Bird latched onto the loose ball and fired a shot over the crossbar. In the 39th minute, RCA won a free-kick after a good run by Larkin was halted 25 yards from goal. McGuinness took the free-kick which was punched clear by Harkess, and O'Neill's effort, following up, was cleared off the line by Scorer. With half-time imminent, RCA took the lead - good play by Callen forced a corner which was perfectly delivered into the six-yard area by Davis, and O'Neill rose to head the ball home.
Half-time: Sunderland RCA 1 Seaham Red Star 0
Within five minutes of the restart, RCA had doubled the lead - Larkin made a super run down the right, cutting into the penalty area and playing a low cross into the danger area where O'Neill finished for his 19th goal in 19 appearances, and a third double in his last four matches. Superb! Three minutes later and Seaham won a free-kick for a foul by McGuinness and Bird curled his effort wide of the post. On the hour mark, Seaham got back into the match as another former RCA player, Thomas Scott, scored with a well directed header. One minute later and a ball over the top put Larkin in on goal but Harkess, advancing off his line quickly, was able to block the shot with his legs and the ball was cleared. In the 64th minute, Scott had another chance, this time his shot was blocked for a corner which was headed clear by O'Neill. One minute later, and RCA restored their two goal advantage - Callen made a terrific run down the left and crossed but the ball was cleared for a throw-in. From the throw, Page fired in a shot that was fumbled by Harkess, and Charlton was in the right place to put away the loose ball.
Midway through the second half and Dylan Elliott replaced Luke Page, who had been booked. Eight minutes later and Scott was released on goal but his shot was blocked by Finch and cleared. In the 77th minute, Jak Ashton replaced Reece Noble. As the match entered the final five minutes, Scott once more fired over the crossbar from a good shooting position on the right side of the edge of the penalty area. One minute later and RCA conceded a penalty as Bird cut in from the left and was upended by Ashton, and Davis made no mistake from the spot and to set up a nervy last few minutes for the home side. In the final minutes, Callen made a good interception in central midfield before playing the ball up to Larkin whose shot was blocked for a corner. RCA took a short corner, attempting to run the clock down and successfully saw the match out.
Another excellent match at Meadow Park and a very good win tonight for RCA, taking us through to the last 16 of the Durham County Challenge Cup.
Tonight's RCA man of the match was chosen by Iain Robb. Iain thought that there were a few worthy winners, but picked out Craig Hodgson for “a captain's performance, marshalling the back four superbly”. Well played, Craig!
RCA return to Northern League action on Saturday, 28 October, as Ashington are the visitors to Meadow Park. Kick-off is at 3pm.