Michael Charlton scored RCA's sixth goal on a memorable night at Hillheads.
For more photos from the match please click here.
Goal scorers - Whitley Bay: Johnston; Cornish. RCA: Larkin; Swansbury; Callen (2); O'Neill; Charlton.
After what has seemed like months without a match - thanks to the 'Beast from the East' and the subsequent heavy rain, which resulted in three postponements - Sunderland RCA were finally back in action tonight with a trip to Hillheads to take on Whitley Bay.
RCA made two changes to the side that impressively beat North Shields on 17 February, last time out - Reece Noble replaced Clayton Davis at right full back and Adam McGuinness replaced Ross McNab at left full back.
The two sides lined up as follows:
Whitley Bay: Harley; Salmon; Walker; Haley; Groves; Summers; Potter; Glen-Ravenhill (c); Brooks; Johnston; Cornish.
RCA: Finch; Noble; Swansbury (c); Preston; McGuinness; Hodgson; Charlton; Page; O'Neill; Larkin; Callen.
RCA got the match off to a positive start, with O'Neill firing in a shot from an angle at the edge of the penalty area that was well saved by Harley - the loose ball was moved quickly upfield by the home side and a low cross from the right was finished well by the unmarked Johnson, who side-footed the ball into the net from around eight yards to give Bay a third-minute lead. Five minutes later and Bay were reduced to ten men - Hodgson made a run towards goal and was tripped on the edge of the Bay penalty area and Summers was dismissed with a straight red. From the free-kick, Larkin curled the ball over the crossbar. In the 12th minute, RCA were quickly back in the match as a ball was played through to Larkin, who raced down the inside left channel and into the penalty area, before firing in a shot across the goalkeeper and in off the far post for a clinical finish. Five minutes later and O'Neill was released by Page and fired in a powerful shot that was beaten away well by Harley.
Midway through the first half and Bay reclaimed the lead after a stray pass from Noble into central midfield was intercepted by Brooks, who advanced to the edge of the RCA penalty area before picking his spot with an excellent finish into the bottom corner. Within four minutes, RCA again restored parity - RCA won a corner which Harley attempted to punch clear and the ball dropped into a packed six-yard area, where Swansbury was quick to react and fire the ball into the roof of the net. Two minutes later and RCA had a great chance to take the lead for the first time in the match - a ball was played over the Bay defence by Hodgson to O'Neill, but Harley came racing out of his goal and, as O'Neill played in Larkin on the right, O'Neill was clattered by the Bay ‘keeper, fully 40 yards from goal. The referee played a good advantage and Larkin advanced a couple of strides before guiding the ball along the ground towards the unguarded net, but a Bay defender was able to get back and clear the ball from the edge of the six-yard area.
In the 37th minute, RCA produced some nice build-up play and released O'Neill on the left side of the Bay penalty area, who cut the ball back to Larkin who fired a first-time effort over the crossbar from 12 yards. Three minutes later and Bay won a free-kick 25 yards from the RCA goal after a foul by Page. Potter curled the free-kick over the crossbar. With five minutes to half-time, Page, in central midfield, played the ball out wide on the right to Charlton, who delivered a pinpoint cross to Larkin, whose header was comfortably held by Harley. RCA were not to be denied, though, and took the lead on the stroke of half-time - McGuinness advanced down the left wing before whipping in a superb cross which Callen guided into the net at the far post with a stooping, close-range header.
Half-time: Whitley Bay 2 Sunderland RCA 3
It was the home side who had the first sight of goal in the second half as Potter fired in an early shot which was saved by Finch. In the 50th minute, more good build-up play from RCA resulted in a shot from O'Neill from the edge of the penalty area which was tipped around the post by Harley for a corner which was cleared. Three minutes later and RCA extended their lead as a ball was played in from the left and Callen fired in a shot from the edge of the penalty area which took a deflection and flew into the bottom corner, with Harley stranded. In the 56th minute, Bay had a good chance to reduce the deficit as Potter played a terrific cross field ball out to Johnston, who controlled the ball on the right apex of the RCA penalty area but blazed his shot high over the crossbar. Two minutes later and a Bay free-kick on the right was whipped in by Potter and skimmed the far post of the RCA woodwork and went behind for a goal-kick.
In the 62nd minute, RCA effectively finished off the match with a fifth goal - Page made a typical driving run through central midfield before playing the ball out to Larkin on the right - Larkin then crossed and O'Neill finished well, firing in a shot from eight yards across Harley and into the far corner. And four minutes later it was six - Larkin made a good run through central midfield before firing in a shot from the edge of the penalty area that Harley did well to save, but the loose ball fell straight to Charlton who had the relatively simple task of guiding the ball past the last defender and into the net. In the 70th minute, Charlton was replaced by Kieron Parnaby. And seven minutes later Luke Page was replaced by Dylan Elliott as RCA looked to finish the match without conceding and avoiding any injuries. In the final ten minutes both sides created openings, with Bay forcing a couple of late corner kicks but nothing to test either goalkeeper, to give RCA an impressive third away win in a row.
An excellent win for RCA tonight, taking full advantage of the extra man and what was a young Whitley Bay side.
RCA move up to 7th in the table and onto 50 points - just seven short of last season's total, with 36 points still up for grabs.
This was the first time that RCA had finished a match with six goals for just over three years, when we thrashed the now defunct Celtic Nation 6-1 at Gillford Park on 7 March 2015.
Tonight's RCA man of the match was chosen by John McClements. John picked Stephen Callen for his “excellent work rate and scoring two goals”. Well played, Stephen!
Next up for RCA is the visit of Consett to Meadow Park this Saturday, 17 March. Kick-off is at 3pm. Hope to see you there.