Goalscorers: SRCA: Gordon, Melvin, Coe. N&S Ancients: Braithwaite
RCA’s selection woes improved slightly today with the signing of Joe Melvin from South Shields and the return of Tony Coe and was further helped when Kevin Gordon past a fitness test before the game.
With most of the management team unavailable, it fell to Gee Errington to select the team and his selection saw McNab switch to left back in place of Richardson, he also gave a debut to Melvin who would partner Gordon up front with Hope switching to the left wing.
Norton and Stockton Ancients included ex-SRCA player Harrison Davies in their team.
The visitors kicked off with the advantage of the slope and were quickly on the attack with Davies sending a diagonal pass to Williamson who took the ball in his stride before shooting well over the bar. RCA were kept on the back foot for most of the opening 10 minutes as the “Ancients” pressed forward. A ball from Poole was picked up by Davies who crossed into the box where Martin stuck out a foot and the ball deflected for a corner. The corner was taken short and when the ball came out to Williamson he curled in a wicked cross which Martin was inches away from connecting with.
Having been under pressure RCA suddenly sprang to life, a throw out from Talbot was picked up by Davis who played the ball forward to Charlton. His cross into the box caused confusion in the visitors defence as Wilson headed past his keeper but Thackeray was able to recover in time to stop the ball going over the line.
Martin had a great chance to open the scoring a minute later when he was given the ball by Cocks, but the normally lethal striker took far too much time to shoot and Buchanan was able to get a block on the shot.
With 13 minutes of the game gone RCA finally got their passing game in gear and a flowing move saw Davis combine with Charlton who played in Proctor, there followed a quick one two with Melvin before Proctor curled a shot just wide of the upright.
The visitors were seeing a lot of the ball but were not able to produce the final pass and RCA’s defence was looking really solid. In the 22nd minute RCA took the lead, another flowing move saw the ball brought forward by Noble, who picked out Melvin on the edge of the box he played a great ball inside the defender to Gordon and he fired low past the outstretched arm of Thackeray.
Talbot in the RCA goal was required to produce an instinctive save from Martin when a quick break by the visitors saw the ball played forward to the striker and he turned and shot from the edge of the box.
The pace of the game had quickened significantly in the last few minutes and when RCA won a corner on the right Hope sent in a cross which was punched back to him by Thackeray. The RCA winger cut inside before shooting low to the near post but Thackeray was able to get a hand to the ball and the danger was cleared Poole.
Two minutes later RCA were back on the attack and when Poole handled the ball on the edge of the box it was left to Hope to take and he struck a superb shot which went inches wide of the target.
The visitors were finding it hard to get any joy against a resolute RCA defence, their only half chance fell too Cocks but his effort was cut out by Drysdale.
As the game entered the final five minutes of the half RCA almost doubled their tally when Noble played the ball to Melvin, he held the ball up before releasing Hope on the left and his cross was met by Charlton but he could not direct his header into the net and the ball flew wide.
Davis collected the ball from the goal kick and sent the ball forward to Melvin who deftly flicked the ball into the path of Gordon but his first touch took the ball away from him and Thackeray was able to make a comfortable save.
In the final minute of the half Hope latched onto a loose ball after a mix up in the visitors defence and was unlucky to see his shot go narrowly wide of the far post with the keeper beaten.
The second half opened with the “Ancients” once again attacking and two minutes into the half they were awarded a freekick on the edge of the box, Davies took the kick and it looked to be heading for the top corner but Talbot produced fantastic one handed save to tip the ball over the bar.
In the 52nd minute a piece of exquisite skill saw RCA take a 2 -0 lead. McNab won the ball deep in his own half and played a ball up to Melvin in the centre circle, with three defenders round him he clipped the ball round the first defender and chased the ball picked it up and carried it until he was inside the penalty area before curling a shot into the net. This was a great individual debut goal for the striker.
Whether RCA took their foot off the pedal or Norton and Stockton upped their play is debatable, but certainly in the next 10 minutes the visitors had a number of chances to get back in the game, a cross into the box by Lovegreen found Martin but his close range effort was punched clear by Talbot.
RCA’s only effort in this period was when Melvin again played in Gordon and the forward fire inches wide of the post. Back came the visitors and Braithwaite, who had been a thorn in the side of the RCA’s defence all afternoon, received a pass from Williamson but his shot was clocked by Drysdale.
A minute later and Williamson burst past two defenders before squaring the ball to Pennal but the Substitute striker shot wide from an excellent position.
Norton got back into the game in the 83rd minute when Williamson dribbled into the box before crossing into the six yard area where Braithwaite, under pressure managed to stab the ball home.
This gave the visitors a boost and they went looking for an equaliser, however this meant that they were leaving gaps at the back which RCA’s keeper Talbot started to exploit with long searching balls forward.
In the final minute of the game a long ball forward was chased down by Hope and when the keeper mis-kicked his clearance the ball fell to the winger who, unselfishly, squared the ball into the path of Coe who volleyed into the net.
This was a well earned three points and one that had to be fought for it extends our undefeated league run to five.
The defence did brilliantly today and are really playing as a unit now, in midfield we look quietly composed and up front today we had the benefit of two players who looked like they enjoyed playing together.
Unfortunately we will be missing the services of on loan goalkeeper James Talbot for a couple of weeks. Although his loan deal does not finish until 12 October he is unavailable for next week’s FA Vase match (loan players cannot play in the competition) he is then flying off to Ireland to meet up with the Under 21 squad. We will be looking to extend his current loan put should this not be possible then we wish him every success in his future career.
Next up the little matter of the FA Vase match against Bridlington Town.