Dylan Elliott scored a late winner for RCA with another cracking strike.
For more photos from the match please click here.
For Ashington's match report please click here.
Goal scorers - RCA: Preston; Elliott. Ashington: Stephenson.
Following the excellent cup victory over Seaham Red Star in midweek, Sunderland RCA were back to Northern League action this afternoon with Ashington the visitors to Meadow Park.
RCA made one change to the side that beat Seaham Red Star in midweek, with Ross Preston returning to captain the side, replacing Ross McNab, who took a place on the bench.
The two sides lined up as follows:
RCA: Finch; Noble; Hodgson; McGuinness; Preston (c); J.Davis; Charlton; Page; O'Neill; Larkin; Callen.
Ashington: Grant; Christensen; Salmon; Sampson; Buchanan (c); Bell; McAndrew; Downey; Chilton; Stephenson; Pearson.
On an extremely blustery afternoon, the Colliers had the wind at their backs, kicking down the slope and got off to a strong, positive start. In the fourth minute, a ball in from the left was controlled in the six-yard area by McAndrew but Finch was able to make an interception. One minute later and McAndrew made a good run down the right and forced a corner after McGuinness blocked the cross. Three minutes later and Downey made a driving run through central midfield but his shot from 20 yards was scuffed and comfortable for Finch. In the tenth minute, McAndrew made another good run down the right and crossed to Pearson, whose effort was blocked by Preston and cleared. And one minute later, Downey fired in a second shot which was also blocked. In the 13th minute, Larkin made a good run down the right before crossing low into the penalty area but the ball was cleared under pressure from Callen. Three minutes later and RCA won a free-kick for a foul on O'Neill. Davis took the free-kick but the ball was cleared.
Midway through the first half and Ashington had a good chance to open the scoring as a ball forward from Christensen dropped to McAndrew who fired a fierce shot from 20 yards narrowly over the crossbar. Three minutes later and RCA were forced into an early substitution as Jonathan Davis pulled up with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Dylan Elliott. In the 27th minute, the visitors were awarded a free-kick for a foul on Stephenson by Preston. Downey's free-kick was cleared back to Downey, who fired in a second attempt that was saved by Finch. Two minutes later and Ashington were reduced to ten men - O'Neill was released in on goal and was fouled by Bell who was given a red card by the referee. From the resulting free-kick, McGuinness fired in a terrific effort that was tipped over the crossbar by Grant for a corner. From the corner, Callen had a header well saved by Grant and Larkin, following up, saw his shot cleared off the line.
In the 32nd minute, Callen was put through down the inside left channel, but dragged his shot wide from the edge of the penalty area. Two minutes later, and from an Ashington corner, McAndrew fired a shot wide from the left apex of the penalty area. Four minutes later and Preston played a good ball forward to Callen, who controlled well before firing in a shot that was blocked by Grant for a corner which was cleared. With half-time approaching, the visitors took the lead - Finch received a back pass and, as he went to clear, the ball was charged down by Stephenson, who was left with simple task of knocking the ball into the empty net. In stoppage time RCA equalised - RCA won a free-kick for a foul on Callen. From the free-kick the ball was headed down by Elliott in the penalty area and Preston drove the ball through a crowd of players and into the net for his first goal of the season. There was still time for RCA to have one final attack as Page played in Callen down the left, who cut into the penalty area and along the byline before firing in a shot which was saved by Grant, and Callen followed up with a second shot into the side netting.
Half-time: Sunderland RCA 1 Ashington 1
RCA, now kicking down the slope, got off to a good start in the second half. In the 50th minute, Page played an excellent ball forward to Charlton who, from the edge of the penalty area, lifted the ball over Grant, getting clattered in the process, but the effort was cleared by a defender as the ball bounced towards goal. Seven minutes later and Salmon made a good break down the left, driving into the penalty area before firing in a shot that was well saved by Finch and cleared by Page. RCA then broke back and O'Neill fired in a shot which was blocked for a corner which was cleared. In the 67th minute, RCA were awarded a free-kick for a foul on Page but the free-kick was cleared. Four minutes later and Callen made a driving run down the left, cutting into the penalty area, but his cross was cleared. In the 73rd minute James Cassidy replaced Michael Charlton. Two minutes later and Ashington had a good opportunity to retake the lead - the dangerous McAndrew made a good run down the right, before twisting and turning in the penalty area and playing the ball back to Downey, who blazed high over the crossbar from just inside the penalty area.
RCA were piling on the pressure by this stage looking for a winning goal and it almost arrived in the 85th minute as Elliott played a great ball forward to Larkin, who was in on goal, but Grant did very well to block the shot - Callen picked up the loose ball and turned, firing in a follow-up shot which was deflected behind for a harmless corner. Two minutes later and RCA made the breakthrough - Callen made a run down the left, and was fouled but the referee played the advantage and the ball fell to Elliott, who fired in a terrific shot from the edge of the penalty area that dipped over Grant and into the back of the net. A cracking strike and Dylan's ninth goal in 22 appearances for RCA. In the aftermath of the goal, Chilton was shown a straight red by the referee for dissent as Ashington finished the match with nine men. In stoppage time, RCA created a further chance as players were queuing up for a shot and O'Neill played in Callen who fired over the crossbar from inside the penalty area.
A hard-fought win for RCA this afternoon, made more difficult by the strong gales. RCA remain in eighth position in the table but are now level on points with West Auckland and just a point behind Consett in sixth place.
Thank you to the 92 connoisseurs of football who chose to come to Meadow Park today to see another home win, RCA's eighth of the season in all competitions.
RCA's home record for the first three months of the season reads as follows:
P13, W8, D3, L2, F28, A14.
This afternoon's RCA man of the match was chosen by John and Michael Vincent. John and Michael chose Ross Preston for a “solid display at the back and scoring a goal”. Well played, Ross!
Look out for announcements on the website and social media regarding the Second Round draws of the League Cup and Durham County Challenge Cup on Tuesday and Thursday evenings respectively.
Next up for RCA is a short trip to Seaham Red Star on Saturday, 4 November, as the two sides meet again, this time in the league. Kick-off is at 3pm.