RCA's Glen Lane in action late in the match.
Goalscorers: SRCA: Buchanan, Hatch. Norton: Martin, Nelson, Williamson.
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RCA made the trip down to Norton and Stockton Ancients who are currently bottom of the League with only five wins all season.
Work commitments and injuries once again disrupted the team with McNab, Cummings and Proctor all unavailable for the start of the game. The management team brought in Richardson, Hatch and Gordon.
Norton started the game well putting pressure on the RCA defence from the off. A good early move saw Mitchell send the ball wide to Elgie who played in Martin and he in turn laid the ball into the path of Caley, but Harkess was able to make a routine save diving to his right to smother the ball.
RCA's first attack saw Davis pick out Wightman as he moved into the penalty area, he made space for himself before firing in a shot which Campbell did well to save at the second attempt.
Norton were causing the RCA defence no end of problems as their nippy front men caused havoc with darting runs which were not picked up. In the sixth minute they were awarded a freekick when Martin was fouled on the edge of the box. Caley blasted the dead ball round the wall, but it struck the post and rebounded to Walton who produced a great save from Harkness.
RCA were under constant attack from Norton and after three corners were unsuccessfully cleared they won a throw in from the fourth. The ball was thrown to Martin who skipped through three challenges before running the ball out of play. However the referee deemed that the first challenge inside the area was a foul and awarded a penalty. Martin stepped up and fired the ball low into the bottom corner of the net.
It was all Norton at this point as RCA went to the long ball game which was not working as time and again the ball was not retained by the front men and came straight back. Norton by contrast were playing the sort of football that RCA were playing only a couple of weeks ago, fast passing football, good control and always going forward.
In the 20th minute RCA had Harkess to thank again when he made a terrific save from Walton after the Norton winger had been sent clear of the RCA defence. Two minutes later and RCA had a great chance for an equaliser when Gordon sent in a cross to the far post where Wightman directed an effort on goal, but Collantine somehow managed to get a head on the ball to clear for a corner with his keeper beaten.
This was RCA's best period of the first half and only an excellent save from Campbell prevented Wightman from scoring when he was played through by Larkin.
Disaster struck on the half hour when Norton won yet another corner. This time it was sent into the six yard area and Nelson, completely unmarked, headed home from five yards out.
It could have been worse five minutes later as Norton set up another attack. Collantine and Elgie combined down the right and when the ball came low into the box Martin was the first to react clipping his shot wide of the upright.
As the game headed towards half time Norton made a substitution, bringing on Williamson for the injured Walton and he made and immediate impact as he picked up the ball from a throw in and sent in a curling cross which was controlled by Martin and laid off to Caley, but he fired high over the bar.
The second half started in dramatic fashion for RCA: awarded a freekick 40 yards out Wightman took responsibility and sent in a cross to the far post where Buchanan rose highest to head home and give the visitors some hope.
How the equaliser didn’t come five minutes later is a mystery. Noble played Callen through and he burst past two defenders before cutting back inside the box. He looked to be fouled as he went through and off balance he squared the ball to the advancing Jennings, unfortunately the ball was just behind the striker. He recovered the ball and as it bobbled about in the six yard area Callen could not get a shot on target and the chance disappeared.
RCA were now the team putting pressure on Norton and it was they who were resorting to a more direct approach. In the 56th minute Gordon played in Jennings and the RCA striker, although under pressure from two defenders, managed to force a save from Campbell.
Three minutes later and RCA had the ball in the net again. Another well taken free kick by Wightman was floated to the far post where Campbell looked to spill the ball under pressure from Hatch and the ball went into the net. The referee adjudged that Hatch had fouled the keeper and awarded a freekick.
RCA did equalise in the 76th minute when another freekick, taken by Wightman, was directed to the far post the ball was cleared, but only as far as Noble who clipped the ball back into the box and Hatch rose above Campbell to head home. The momentum had swung in RCA’s favour but Norton continued to be dangerous on the break.
In the 80th minute a trademark Callen run was picked up by Lane and he broke into the box one on one with the keeper. Two months ago he would have buried this chance, but tonight he chose the wrong option and the ball flew agonisingly wide of the post.
Then, with both teams tiring, Wightman almost conjured up something from nothing when he slipped his marker on the left before sending in a cross which beat Campbell, but bounced on the top of the bar - an inch the other way and it would have dipped under the bar.
With RCA pushing forward for a win they left themselves exposed at the back and in the 88th minute, after a corner was cleared by Nelson, the ball fell to Williamson on the halfway line. He moved the ball forward before cutting back inside and firing in a shot which flew past Harkess and into the back of the net to give the home team a well earned victory.
By RCA standards this was a terrible first half display, there was no pattern to the play, they were trying to force every pass, every time any of the forwards controlled the ball it was a movement away from goal. Norton outclassed us in every department.
The second half was a bit better and on the balance of play a draw might have been a fair result but why oh why do we commit men forward for corners in the dying minutes of a game when we are drawing. There have been so many times this season when we have been hit by a quick counter from our freekick or corner and thrown away one or two points. Points are all that matter at this stage of the season, we still need possibly another four or five to make sure of safety; that should not be a problem given we still have 14 games to play. However we all thought that we would have had six points from the last two games. It’s a funny old game, football.
Next up Newcastle Benfield away, not always been a happy hunting ground in the past.