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Sunderland RCA 4 Dunston UTS 1

Submitted by Rob Jones on Thursday, 17 March 2016
Tuesday, 15 March 2016
Northern League 1

RCA's Luke Richardson holds up Dunston's former RCA striker Aristote Guerin-Lokonga.

Goalscorers: SRCA: Larkin (2), Wightman, Jennings Dunston: Richardson

Please click here for more photos from the match.

The repercussions of Saturday’s exertions were evident tonight with Charlton side-lined with an ankle injury and Armstrong failing a fitness test on a groin injury pick up during the 2 -1 win over Washington. Added to these was the unavailability of Brown and Hatch due to work commitments and the management team had few options but to make changes to a winning team. So Jennings, McNab and Proctor were included in the starting eleven.

The visitors tonight, Dunston UTS, like us, are having an indifferent period in the season with mixed results of late and only two wins in their last six games.

Both managers would be looking to build on their respective weekend performances.

Dunston decided to kick up the slope in the first half and after RCA’s opening attack fizzled out when Jennings was dispossessed after a promising run and they went on the attack winning a corner on the right after Speedy had threatened, the corner was whipped in to the near post where Francis got in front of Buchanan but slipped his shot wide of the upright.

In Dunston’s next attack a hopeful ball into the box was dealt with by Cummings, but in heading away he was accidentally caught by a flailing arm. Although he appeared to have recovered and took his place back on the pitch it soon became clear that all was not well when he signalled to the bench that he could not continue and after 6 minutes he was replaced by Luke Richardson (Richo).

The visitors took advantage of the time that it took for RCA to regroup, Ex RCA striker Guerin made a dribbling run on the right before crossing to Speedy who volleyed wide of the upright.

RCA’s first real attempt at goal came in the 15 minute when Davis played in Larkin whose shot was blocked by Gilhespy, Wightman, following up could only direct his header straight at Clark.

The home team took heart from this little flurry of activity and Noble produced a telling forward pass which dissected the Dunston defence and the ball was picked up by Jennings who, one on one with Clark, tried to steer it into the net but Clark managed to palm the ball away for a corner.

In the 22 minute a quality move saw Callen pick up a throw in from Davis before sliding the ball back into the path of his captain, Davis drove in a cross which Wightman met on the full heading past Clark and into the top corner.

The lead was short lived however as Dunston pushed forward and although RCA looked to have stopped an attacking move a wayward pass was seized upon by Thear who played the ball into space for Speedy who was then challenged inside the area by Noble. The referee deemed that the contact was enough to award a penalty and dismissed Noble for denying a goal scoring opportunity. Speedy stepped up and blasted the ball home to bring the scores level after 26 minutes.

For the second time in the opening half an hour RCA were forced to re-shuffle the team, the decision to push Jennings forward and drop Larkin into a central midfield role was made and almost immediately RCA had a great chance to take the lead when McNab took a corner on the right and Larkin rose at the near post to flick a header goalward only to see Pearson head away with Clark beaten.

Francis and Speedy combined in the visitors next attack and when Speedy’s cross was headed away by Richo it fell invitingly for Thear but he volleyed wide of the far post.

Unbelievably RCA were playing the better football with 10 men and regained the lead in the 34 minute when a cross field ball from Davis was laid off by Wightman into the path of McNab, with everyone expecting a cross into the box he played a lovely low ball to Jennings who cleverly beat two players before curling a shot out of the reach of Clark and into the corner of the net to record his first goal for RCA.

As expected Dunston where stunned by this turn of events and pushed forward once more looking for an equaliser. In the 40 minute Pearson cleared the ball up the field to Francis who in turn swept the ball out to Gilhespy, he moved forward toward the penalty area before crossing toward “Speedy” but his namesake “Richo” made a timely interception and headed away for a corner.

A minute later and a good through ball from Guerin found Francis unmarked in the box but he curled his shot wide of the target.

Dunston with the advantage of the slope forced the pace at the start of the second half and it took a superb save from Harkess to deny Richardson who looked odds on to score from close range, Guerin reacted quickly to the rebound but his shot was held by Harkess.

RCA were looking to counter attack quickly in an effort to exploit the gaps being left in the Dunston defence as the over committed players in attack looking for the equaliser.

In the 52 minute Dunston were awarded a corner which was taken short to Gilhespy, his cross into the box was picked up by Francis who flicked the ball into the path of Thear, his first time shot was blocked by McNab at the expense of another corner.

A minute later and the pressure looked to be telling on the RCA defence as they scrambled the ball clear after another Dunston attack, unfortunately a sliced clearance fell to Harrison who, with acres of space in front of his decided to try his luck from 25 yards out and shot well wide of the RCA goal.

RCA were slowly getting back into the game and in the 55 minute almost extended their lead, Larkin took a quick freekick sending the ball long to the far post where Wightman looked to have time to bring the ball under control elected to head the ball and it flew just wide of the upright.

The pattern of the game was established as Dunston pushed forward and RCA looked to use their speed to counter attack with Jennings willing to hold the ball up when he was able and press defenders into making mistakes.

Most of Dunston’s attacks were directed through Richardson but he was well marshalled by Buchanan, while Guerin and Francis seemed unable to get any meaningful shots on goal.

In the 71 minute RCA extended their lead when Wightman burst into the box but was fouled before he had the chance to cross the ball to the unmarked Callen. The referee awarded a penalty and Larkin stepped up to convert putting the ball beyond the reach of Clark.

Dunston responded immediately from the kick off and it was Richardson again this time latching onto a Gilhespy cross but heading over the bar.

RCA should have put the game to bed in the 75 minute when Wightman picked up the ball from a McNab throw in, he played a pass in to Pounder who turned his marker before playing a sublime ball to Larkin who had the goal at his mercy but shot inches wide of the far post.

Larkin made amends 5 minutes later when scoring again from the penalty spot, this time it was Pounder who was pulled back by Martindale and the Assistant referee flagged immediately for the infringement. Larkin calmly slotted the spot kick into the opposite corner with Clark again guessing right but not able to stop the shot.

It was now RCA who were creating the chances as the Dunston players looked demoralised.

Pounder, who had been causing Dunston’s defence all sorts of problem since he came on almost scored as he was played in by Proctor but Clark made a magnificent save to deny the RCA substitute.

It was left to RCA to wind the clock down as we entered 3 minutes of injury time and this they did to great effect.

What an effort from the whole team, down to 10 men after 25 minutes and with the scores at 1 -1 the RCA faithful can be forgiven for thinking that it might not be our night. However there is a dogged determination about this squad of players and they never give up. They have showed great character in the last two games, a competitiveness which has been missing since our FA Vase exit. It’s great to see it back.

Next up we travel to Consett to play Durham City bring your thermals its bound to be chilly.