Craig Hodgson retains possession during the second half of the match.
For more photos from the match please click here.
Sunderland RCA travelled to Bishopton Road West, home of high flying Stockton Town in this EBAC Northern league clash.
Almost a month has gone by since RCA’s last match against Bishop Auckland which ended in a 2 – 1 defeat.
A number of enforced changes due to work commitments saw Dorward, Preston and Leonard replaced McNab, Callen and Lilley in the starting eleven.
The teams lined up as follows:
Stockton Town: L Roberts, King, McWilliams, Portas, Nicholson(c); Coulthard, Hayes, Robinson, Mulligan, Owens, M Roberts.
Subs: Craggs, Bulmer, Steele, Risborough, Jackson.
Sunderland RCA: Dean, Allen, Dorward, Preston, Swansbury ©, Hodgson, C Davis, Elliott, Davison, Hennis, Leonard.
Subs: Moan, Ezard, Lilley, O’Neill, Lawson.
RCA started the game at a high tempo pressing high up the pitch and not allowing Stockton to get any rhythm into their game, forcing them to adopt a more direct style early in the game.
In the 5th minute, Stockton broke quickly from defence with Portas playing the ball into the path of Owens but his shot was blocked by Swansbury. RCA turned defence into attack as Elliott picked up the clearance and played it out to Leonard, he slipped his marker before curling an inviting cross into the box but Davison wasn’t able to connect.
Both sides were playing at a high tempo on the quick surface and RCA almost took the lead in the 15th minute when Elliott played Davis in on the right and only a last ditch tackle from McWilliams denied the RCA winger.
The game progressed without any real goalmouth action as the two teams cancelled each other out.
In the 20th minute Stockton were awarded a freekick on the left, M Roberts curled his shot goalward but Dean was able to get a fingertip to the ball to divert it off the head of Mulligan and away for a corner.
At the other end a forward ball by Elliott split the Stockton defence allowing Davis to break into the area but his effort sailed over the bar.
This seemed to have the effect of spurring on Stockton as they poured forward , King played a long ball forward to Owens who turned smartly to shoot but Dean was able to make the save.
Hayes was the next to try his luck weaving his way into the RCA penalty area before flicking the ball into the path of Mulligan but Preston nipped in to pinch the ball before the Stockton striker could get his foot to the ball.
Inside the last minute and RCA had a great chance to open the scoring when a simple ball forward from Hennis into the Stockton penalty area wouldn’t fall for Elliott who looked as if he just had to make contact to score but the ball was collected by L Roberts.
The second half started slowly with neither team threatening either goal, a long range effort from M Roberts which flew wide of the target was the only worthwhile effort in the opening 10 minutes for Stockton while RCA’s only effort came from C Davis who picked up a long ball from Dean before firing wide of the target.
That all changed in the 55th minute when Stockton were awarded a penalty, despite the protests from the RCA players Mulligan stepped up and smashed the ball into the net to give the home team the lead.
RCA brought on Carl Lawson for his debut at the club replacing Dorward in an attempt to give them another attacking option.
It almost worked when Lawson found Leonard on the right wing and the diminutive winger cut inside before unleashing a terrific shot which produced a stunning save from L Roberts tipping the ball over the bar.
RCA made their second substitution bringing on O’Neill for Hodgson and the tall forward was quickly in the action when he chested a long clearance into the path of Leonard, he played the ball to C Davis who whipped in a wicked cross into the box which was met by the head of Elliott but the ball flew inches over the bar.
The game was stopped for a long period while Steel was attended to, it looked like he twisted his knee/ankle and having only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes was substituted.
In the 82nd minute Stockton doubled their lead when a Hayes shot was deflected for a corner, Craggs swung the ball to the far post where Nicholson, unmarked, was able to head back into the goalmouth and Robinson sent a flying header into the net.
RCA were visibly stunned by this goal and it could have been worse as Stockton poured forward and Hayes was guilty of blasting two efforts over the bar when a little composure was needed.
Although RCA continued to threaten in the final minutes it was Stockton who finished the stronger.
It is impossible to say that RCA played badly in this game because they matched Stockton for almost the entire game, a lack of concentration in the final ten minutes which cost a goal was probably the only downside to this performance.
It is easy to see why Stockton are top of the table, what is difficult to understand is why we are not in the top 6 or 7 with performances like this.
On to the next match which is a local derby on Saturday at Ryhope CW, Kick off 3.00pm.