Goalscorers: SRCA: None Consett: Sweet, Sullivan.
After a hectic pre season by our standards, eight matches, seven wins and only one defeat the management team had difficult choices to make in picking the starting eleven for the first game of the season against a highly fancied Consett AFC outfit.
Problems arose during the warm up when Adam Drysdale pulled up with a problem with his ankle, a reaction to an injury sustained in Wednesday's friendly. Liam Hatch replaced him and Jonathan Carr was promoted to the bench.
The game kicked off in glorious sunshine with Consett taking advantage of the slope in the first half, however it was RCA who created the first chance of the game in the second minute when Jury won the ball in midfield and played the ball forward for Proctor, he slipped his marker before sending a great through ball into the path of Hughes who fired in a low shot which produced a superb save from Jeffries.
Consett's first attack came in the eighth minute when a misplaced pass was picked up by David Brown, he moved forward before passing to Craggs who squared the ball to Sullivan but he shot well over the bar from 25 yards out.
As the game picked up in tempo RCA pushed forward through Callen on the left, he played a quick one two with Armstrong before switching play to the far side where Larkin controlled the ball brilliantly before sending in a cross which was cut out by Madden before Hughes could pounce.
In the 15th minute Consett were awarded a freekick 30 yards out, ex RCA player Megran took it sending the ball into the area where Morris under pressure from Mackay, seemed to lose control of the ball, recovering it before Sweet could get a shot in.
At the other end RCA won a corner which was cleared by Madden, his header falling to Craggs who swept the ball forward to Hawkins and, as RCA backpeddled he fired in a shot which was blocked by Jury, the ball fell to Smith but his first time effort was well saved by Morris.
Consett took heart from this and started to put pressure on the RCA defence, a long ball forward from Jeffries found Mackay on the left his cross into the box was met by Sullivan, but his first time shot was wide of the target.
A minute later and another long ball out of defence found Sullivan on the left this time he cut inside before sending in a wicked low cross which went narrowly wide of the far post with both Sweet and Mackay not able to get a touch.
Having weathered the storm for the time being RCA looked to get back into the game, a quick interchange of passing between Noble, Proctor and Armstrong opened the Consett defence up and Callen, drifting in from the left picked up the ball before sending in a curling shot which drifted inches wide of the upright.
However in the next attack Consett took the lead, Sweet was dispossessed by Brown on the edge of the penalty area but the RCA defenders clearance fell to Mackay who quickly picked out Sweet who was unmarked and he rifled in a low shot which gave Morris no chance.
Consett picked up the pace as the game entered the final 15 minutes of the first half while RCA defended well and broke to some effect with both Callen and Hughes having shots blocked.
Morris in the RCA goal was called into action in the 4oth minute when a speculative effort by Smith seemed to dip late but the keeper got behind the ball and made the save look easier than it was.
In the final flurry of the half Consett were awarded a freekick which Megran drifted into the box. Hatch headed away as far as Sullivan who drove the ball along the ground but Morris again got down well to smother the shot.
The second half saw no changes to the personnel on the pitch and it was again RCA who created the first chance of the half Davis burst past the Consett defence before crossing into the box where Madden cleared for a corner. The corner was taken short and the when the cross came in Hatch couldn't direct his header goalward.
From the goal kick Jeffries played the ball to Hawkins who spread the ball forward to Sweet, his shot was blocked by Brown and the ball spun out of play for a corner, the kick was taken towards the near post where Sullivan met it with a glancing header which rocketed into the net. 2-0 to Consett after 53 minutes.
RCA, although stunned by this setback, tried to get the ball moving forward again and a great ball forward by Noble picked out Callen who dribbled past two defenders before crossing into the box for Hughes but he shot wide of the target.
A minute later and a long ball forward from Proctor picked out Hughes running into the box, he appeared to be pushed from behind by McKinnon, but the referee waved away the appeals for a penalty.
The game quickly switched the the other end with Hawkins threading a great pass to Mackay, but the Consett striker, one on one with the keeper, dragged his shot wide.
Once again the game was picking up in pace and was switching from end to end. Davis picked up a ball from Noble on the right before sending a forty yard cross field ball to Armstrong, his cross was met by Callen but he could only send his looping header onto the roof of the net.
In the 70th minute RCA brought on Charlton and Coe and with their first contribution to the game a minute later they almost scored, Coe picked up the ball on the left, cut inside the full back before crossing into the box where Charlton headed the ball down but somehow Jeffries managed to get a fingertip on the ball and it flew over the bar.
Five minutes later and Jeffries was forced to pull off another great save save, this time some good play on the left by Callen released Armstrong and his cross to the far post was met by the head of Larkin but again Jeffries got a hand to it and then recovered to smother the ball under pressure from Charlton.
Consett regained a little composure after this RCA onslaught and once again produced some stunning football as Craggs and Slocombe combined to set Mackay up, his shot was parried by Morris, but the ball fell to Sweet who thundered in a terrific shot from six yards out which produced a magnificent save from Morris, a truly brilliant double save.
As in the first half Consett tried to kill off the game while RCA looked for the goal that would set up a grandstand finish. It never came.
With the game drifting towards its inevitable conclusion there was an unsavoury incident, in an otherwise well contested match, which saw Dan Madden red carded for a stamp on Tony Coe.
RCA continued to press forward in the final minutes of the game, but Consett stood resolute.
Another learning curve for the young guns of RCA. Consett took their chances when they came RCA didn't.
I believe that despite this set back RCA have a squad good enough to do well this season, Consett are a good outfit and on today's performance they have shown that they can not only score goals but they have a solid defence.