Luke Page on the ball during the first half of the match.
For more photos from the match please click here.
Goal scorers: Stockton: Owens; Hayes.
Sunderland RCA made the trip to Stockton Town for a first competitive Friday night match in over three years.
A 30-strong team had done a tremendous job of clearing the snow off the pitch to get the game on.
RCA made three changes to the side that won at Team Northumbria last Saturday, with Craig Hodgson, Adam McGuinness and James Cassidy replacing Jack Vaulks, Greg Swansbury and Dylan Elliott.
The two sides lined up as follows:
Stockton: Jordan; Garbutt; Ward; Mulligan; Nicholson (c); Coulthard; Hayes; Craggs; Woodhouse; Owens; Risbrough.
RCA: Bussey; Noble; Hodgson (c); McGuinness; McNab; Davis; Charlton; Page; Callen; Larkin; Cassidy.
RCA had the first real chance of the match in the 7th minute as a ball was played up to Larkin whose shot from inside the penalty area was palmed away by Jordan. 11 minutes later and Charlton made a good run down the right before playing the ball into Page whose shot from the edge of the penalty area was charged down. Callen fired in a follow-up shot from close range which was well saved by Jordan Two minutes later and a long ball upfield was flicked on by Page and Larkin lifted the ball over the crossbar. In the 21st minute, Hayes made a driving run down the right before crossing low to Risbrough, whose shot was blocked and cleared for a corner, which, in turn, was cleared. Four minutes later and the home side won a free-kick which Craggs drove straight at Bussey. RCA then launched a slick counterattack as Bussey found Callen on the halfway line, who played in Page, who then swept the ball out to Cassidy on the left, who cross was headed wide by Larkin.
In the 27th minute, Risbrough made a driving run down the left before crossing a dangerous, low ball into the front post which was cleared by McNab. And one minute later Risbrough was again in on the action with another run down the left, but on this occasion, cutting in and firing a super shot just over the crossbar from 20 yards. In the 31st minute, Page made a good run through central midfield before playing the ball up to Larkin, whose shot from the edge of the penalty area was blocked for a corner which was cleared. RCA had the match by the scruff of the neck at this point and it seemed a goal would surely come. In the 35th minute, Callen made a good run from the halfway line before playing the ball out to Larkin on the right - Larkin's cross found Page on the edge of the penalty area whose initial shot was blocked before Page drove the loose ball wide at the second attempt. Three minutes later and Hodgson won the ball just inside the RCA half before playing a terrific ball in behind the Stockton defence to Larkin on the right. Larkin crossed and Charlton fired wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Half-time: Stockton Town 0 Sunderland RCA 0
The first chance of the second half came on the 54th minute as the lively Hayes made a good run down the right and crossed to Craggs, whose shot from the edge of the penalty area was blocked and cleared. Two minutes later and Hayes again made a good run down the right, this time cutting in himself, and firing in a high shot that was turned behind by Bussey for a corner which was cleared. Stockton had made a strong start to the second half and, on the hour mark, kept up the pressing as Owens fired in a shot that was deflected behind for a corner which was again cleared.
In the 69th minute, RCA had their first real chance of the second half as Larkin, on the right, delivered a lovely cross to the far post where Cassidy’s effort was blocked for a corner which was sliced narrowly wide by a Stockton defender and behind for a subsequent corner which was cleared. In the 71st minute and a cross from the right was side footed over the crossbar by Larkin under pressure. Two minutes later and Stockton took the lead as a ball in from the left was swept home by Owens from close range. And a further two minutes on and Owens was again in on the action but this time his shot was fired across the face of goal and out for a goal-kick. In the 78th minute, Michael Charlton was replaced by Nathan O'Neill. Eight minutes later and RCA produced a good move which resulted in Page firing in a cracking shot from 25 yards which was well saved by Jordan for a corner which was cleared and put Stockton on the break, with Hayes going around Bussey to slot the ball into the net and win the match. In the 88th minute, Colin Larkin was replaced by recent signing Kieron Parnaby. In stoppage time, RCA created two further chances as first Callen made a good run down the left before cutting in and firing in a shot that was palmed away by Jordan. And then, from a throw-in, Callen had another shot blocked by Jordan.
A frustrating night of missed opportunities tonight for RCA, particularly in the first half.
Tonight's RCA man of the match was chosen by Mike Carter. Mike picked Luke Page for an excellent first half, making driving runs and creating numerous chances. Well played, Luke!
Next up for RCA is a third attempt to host league leaders Morpeth Town at Meadow Park next Saturday, 6 January. Kick-off is at 3pm.