Goalscorers - Runcorn: Wellstead. RCA: Elliott.
Sunderland RCA made the long trip to Runcorn Linnets for the FA Vase Second Round tie. Runcorn had won their previous Vase match against fellow Northern League Division One side Team Northumbria after a replay. For RCA, this was our first taste of Vase football this season after being exempt from the previous rounds for reaching the Fifth Round last season.
RCA made three changes to the side that beat West Auckland Town on Tuesday - Reece Noble and Adam McGuinness returned in defence, replacing Luke Richardson and Ross McNab, and Colin Larkin, injured early on in Tuesday's match, was ruled out and replaced by James Armstrong.
The two sides lined up as follows:
Runcorn: Holmes; Atherton; Lawton; Morris; Moore; Nolan; Simpson; Hamid (c); Houghton; Shanley; Wellstead.
RCA: Finch; Noble; Hodgson; McGuinness; Preston (c); Elliott; Callen; Page; O'Neill; Armstrong; Cassidy.
The match got off to an eventful start - inside the opening ten minutes, O’Neill had the ball in the net but the goal was ruled out for offside. One minute later and Runcorn were down to ten men as Linnets captain Hamid was given a straight red card for a challenge on O'Neill. In the 17th minute, RCA took the lead from a terrific free-kick from Elliott. RCA had been well on top in the opening half hour or so and might have been more than one in front. But Runcorn, to their credit, equalised in the 29th minute with a long range shot from Wellstead. Runcorn’s excellent outside left had an extremely direct approach which was always difficult for RCA to handle, although Preston and Hodgson at the heart of the RCA defence did very well. With Half-time approaching, RCA were also reduced to ten men as Elliott was given a straight red for a challenge, which looked more than a little harsh, as both sides went into the break a man down.
Half-time: Runcorn Linnets 1 Sunderland RCA 1
The second half was very even, without any decisive breakthroughs and the match and both sides looked increasingly tired. However, both O'Neill and Callen could have given RCA the lead at different times, while the lively Runcorn front men tested Finch in goal occasionally. For RCA, Cassidy always looked dangerous out wide.
The match went into extra-time nicely poised. Runcorn hit the post in the first minute of extra-time, but RCA got back on top as the half wore on, although on the break Runcorn were always dangerous. RCA substitute Clayton Davis became a major influence with his driving runs. The second half of extra-time saw an immense spell of RCA pressure largely well dealt with by Runcorn before the game burst into life in the last half of extra time. A driving run saw Callen brought down on the edge of the box and the ensuing free-kick well saved by the Runcorn keeper before a great Davis break with 6 minutes to go was stopped illegally by the Runcorn keeper a long way out of his box. The ref had no doubt and sent him off. His replacement by an outfield player clearly ill at ease gave RCA new life with increasing pressure looking certain to bring a winner before another classic break saw Runcorn hit the post with a minute or two to go. Sighs of relief all round and let's settle for a replay; Great game and fantastic entertainment.
The replay will take place at Meadow Park on Tuesday, 14 November. Kick-off is at 7:45pm. Please come along and support the lads in what promises to be a cracking night of cup football.
The draw for the FA Vase Third Round will take place on Monday lunchtime - see the website for an announcement on who the winners of this tie will meet in the next round.
This afternoon's RCA man of the match was chosen by Michael Charlton. Michael picked Ross Preston for a “solid display - pure class”. Well played, Ross!
*Many thanks to RCA club secretary Colin Wilson for assisting with this report in my absense.