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Sunderland RCA 7 Bishop Auckland 0

Submitted by Simon Mears on Tuesday, 1 May 2018
Tuesday, 1 May 2018
Northern League 1

Stephen Callen scored a sensational five minute second half hat-trick.

For more photos from the match please click here.

For Peter Jackson's photos from the match please click here.

Goal scorers - RCA: Elliott; Swansbury; Page (2); Callen (3).

With a fourth-place finish in the league still within reach, Sunderland RCA went into tonight's home game with Bishop Auckland with plenty to play for in this busy final week of the season.

Scott Pocklington returned in goal, replacing Keith Finch, in RCA's only change to the side that beat Guisborough Town on Saturday.

The two sides lined up as follows:

RCA: Pocklington; Armstrong; McNab; Preston; Swansbury (c); Elliott; Charlton; Hodgson; O'Neill; Page; Callen. Subs: Larkin; Morris; Jonathan Davis; Ashton; McEwan.

Bishop Auckland: McHugh; Tait; Hart; Dinsdale; Hassan; Grant; Thompson; Richardson; Winn; McAloon; Goundry.

It took just seven minutes for RCA to break the deadlock - a ball was played up to Charlton, who advanced into the Bishops' penalty area before firing in a shot that was well saved by McHugh, but the loose ball fell to Elliott, who had the simple task of knocking the ball into the unguarded net from six yards. One minute later and McNab fired in a shot which was saved by McHugh. And seconds later RCA produced a good move which resulted in a shot from Page that was again saved by McHugh. Two minutes later and Bishops won a corner which was headed behind for a subsequent corner, which was just too high for Richardson to direct towards goal. In the 11th minute, Callen fired in a shot from the edge of the Bishop penalty area that was just wide of the post. And one minute later, Hodgson made a driving run through central midfield before playing in Page, whose shot was again well saved by the busy McHugh.

RCA kept up the pressure on the visitors, and, in the 13th minute, Callen made a good run down the right and to the byline before crossing low into the six-yard area but the ball was just out of reach of the sliding O'Neill. Seven minutes later and RCA were awarded a free-kick on the halfway line for a foul on Charlton. Callen challenged for the free-kick with McHugh but was penalised. In the 22nd minute, a long kick out from Pocklington bounced near the edge of the Bishops' penalty area and O'Neill sent a looping header over McHugh, but it went narrowly wide of the post.

Midway through the first half and Thompson made a good run through central midfield before playing the ball out to Goundry, whose shot was wide. In the 24th minute, RCA doubled the lead as good play down the right by Charlton forced a corner. Elliott's corner was driven in with pace and at the perfect height for Swansbury to score with a towering header from around the six-yard area. Five minutes later and Bishops forced successive corner kicks but neither troubled Pocklington. In the 42nd minute, RCA made it three with a goal out of nothing. Page chased down a ball in the Bishops’ penalty area before winning a 50-50 challenge with McHugh. Page then got to his feet and curled in a shot from an acute angle into the far corner for a sublime finish. A magnificent, individual goal!

Half-time: Sunderland RCA 3 Bishop Auckland 0

The opening minutes of the second half were low-key, until the match burst back into life with a remarkable ten minute passage of play in which RCA ripped into the visitors, scoring four goals in ten minutes. First, in the 54th minute, RCA were awarded a free-kick on the right for a foul on Charlton. Elliott whipped a super ball into the Bishops’ six-yard area, where Callen got ahead of his marker to finish well with a stooping header at the front post. Two minutes later and RCA made it five as an Elliott corner kick was headed home by Callen. And then, barely two minutes after getting his second, Callen claimed a hat-trick in less than five minutes after receiving a through ball on the edge of the penalty area, taking a touch, and confidently slotting the ball past McHugh.

In the 60th minute, RCA made a double substitution, with Jonathan Davis replacing James Armstrong, and Colin Larkin on for Dylan Elliott. Two minutes later and RCA made it a magnificent seven - Callen this time turned provider, unselfishly squaring the ball to Page in the Bishops’ penalty, and Page made no mistake, again confidently slotting the ball past McHugh and into the net. A breathtaking spell of play from RCA. In the 75th minute, RCA made their final substitution, with Jak Ashton replacing Michael Charlton. Two minutes later and Larkin made a driving run through central midfield and to the edge of the Bishops’ penalty area but his looping shot was comfortably held by McHugh. Three minutes later and Bishops had a rare effort on goal, after a good move resulted in a shot from Richardson that was well saved by Pocklington. And a few minutes later, a free-kick from Richardson produced an excellent save from Pocklington, diving at full stretch to his left to turn the ball around the post for a corner which was cleared, meaning RCA kept a second successive clean sheet.

Another magnificent performance from every one of the lads tonight. That's 10 goals scored without reply in two home games in two days. Brilliant stuff!

Tonight's win means that RCA have won 11 of 20 home matches so far, scoring 41 goals in the process. Plus a further 11 goals in the five various cup games - making an RCA season ticket one of the bargains of the season!

RCA remain in fifth position, but, crucially, if we can win our last two matches, we'll guarantee a fourth-place finish (after West Auckland lost their final match of the season, 3-1, at Ryhope Colliery Welfare tonight), equaling our best ever finish in the Northern League in the 2011/12 season. And, if Shildon were to slip up in their double header with Ryhope Colliery Welfare, we could still finish third. What an achievement that would be!

Tonight's RCA man of the match was chosen by RCA assistant manager Gary ‘Gee’ Errington. In picking Stephen Callen, Gee said “the kid's on fire, with exception work rate, a danger going forward, and a hat-trick to top it off”. Well played, Stephen!

Next up for RCA is a trip to Newton Aycliffe on Wednesday, 2 May, with a 7:30pm kick-off.

And then, the following evening, RCA's final match of the season is at home to Jarrow Roofing on Thursday, 3 May, again kick-off is at 7:30pm.