Greg Swansbury competes for the ball with former RCA striker Liam McBryde.
For more photos from the match please click here.
For Seaham Red Star's match report please click here.
Goal scorers - RCA: Larkin (2); O'Neill.
After five weeks without a home match, Sunderland RCA were back in action at Meadow Park this afternoon, with Seaham Red Star the visitors.
RCA made four changes to the side that lost to Ashington on Tuesday. Ross McNab, Greg Swansbury, Dylan Elliott and Nathan O'Neill returned in place of Adam McGuinness, Jonathan Davis, James Armstrong and Luke Page.
The two sides lined up as follows:
RCA: Finch; Noble; McNab; Preston; Swansbury (c); Hodgson; Charlton; Elliott; O'Neill; Larkin; Callen.
Seaham: Harkess; Munro; Price; Croft; Scorer; Staunch; Lawson; Chapman; McBryde; Bailey; Bird (c).
It was the visitors who had the first attempt on goal in the second minute as Croft fired in a fierce shot from all of 30 yards that had Finch backpedaling but the ball whistled over the crossbar. Four minutes later and RCA had their first opportunity of the match as Callen played a good ball forward to Larkin, who turned and fired in a shot that was well saved by Harkess. Two minutes on and an Elliott corner was headed towards goal by Callen but comfortably held by Harkess. In the 10th minute, RCA produced a good move as Larkin and O'Neill neatly exchanged passes before Larkin released O'Neill who fired a fierce shot over the crossbar from 12 yards. RCA had dominated the opening half of the first half without making the breakthrough. Midway through the first half and Seaham won a free-kick 25 yards from the RCA goal - Bird's free-kick was comfortably held by Finch. There then followed a long delay after Finch and Croft collided. In the 36th minute, Bird made a good run down the left and crossed to Chapman, whose shot was straight at Finch.
The match turned RCA's way in an eventful five minutes as half-time approached - in the 38th minute, RCA were awarded a penalty kick after Charlton was tripped latching on to a through ball. Larkin stepped up to confidently give RCA the lead. Just four minutes later and RCA doubled their lead as a corner from Elliott was headed home by O'Neill inside a crowded six-yard area. And then, barely one minute later, Chapman, who had just been booked for showing dissent for the award of the penalty, was given a second yellow for a challenge in the centre circle. In stoppage time Larkin had a shot from the edge of the penalty area that went narrowly wide of the post. And two minutes later RCA won a free-kick midway inside the Seaham half - Elliott's free-kick was flicked on by Callen to Preston who drove a super shot from an angle that flew across the face of goal and narrowly wide of the far post.
Half-time: Sunderland RCA 2 Seaham Red Star 0
The second half got off to a fairly uneventful start, with neither side having a meaningful attempt at goal. In the 55th minute, RCA extended their lead still further with a slick counterattack - the move was started by McNab, who made a good interception to break up a Seaham attack. McNab then played the ball inside to Larkin on the halfway line, who played in Hodgson, who made a driving run down the left, before delivering a terrific cross to Larkin, who had raced to the far post to head the ball back across Harkess and into the net. Seven minutes later and Seaham produced a good move which resulted in McBryde firing a shot wide from the edge of the RCA penalty area.
In the 67th minute, Reece Noble was replaced by Luke Richardson. And five minutes later, Stephen Callen was replaced by recent signing Dimitri Limbo, who was making his debut. Three minutes later and Seaham were awarded a free-kick which Bailey fired wide from 25 yards. In the 80th minute, Dylan Elliott was replaced by James Armstrong. In the final minute, Larkin had a glorious chance to claim a hat-trick after being put clean through, the RCA striker slotted the ball past the advancing Harkess, but the ball went agonisingly millimetres wide of the post.
A rather scrappy affair, but, nevertheless, a very good win for RCA and a first clean sheet since the 2-0 victory at Team Northumbria on 23 December.
RCA move back up to 7th in the table and on to 53 points - winning 16 of 32 league matches this season.
This afternoon's RCA man of the match was chosen by RCA legend Joe Dixon. As always when Joe picks man of the match, there was praise and positivity for all the lads, and, in particular, for Nathan O'Neill for “a great work ethic in what is a difficult position to play”. For Greg Swansbury, who Joe said “didn't put a foot wrong all match”. But for man of the match, Joe picked Colin Larkin as “a player who has everything - superb passing and positional play as well as scoring two goals. A top quality performance “. Well played, Colin!
Your correspondent would also like to give a special mention to Keith Finch who played at least 70 minutes of the match with a suspected broken nose. Superb commitment, Finchy, rewarded with a clean sheet!
RCA are back in Northern League action on Tuesday, 27 March, when we travel to Dunston UTS for a 7:30pm kick-off.