RCA travelled to Consett with a depleted side missing no fewer than eight regular first team players, Swansbury, O’Neill, Davison and Moan are at a wedding abroad, Callen is on his honeymoon, Hodgson and Preston are both injured and Allen was poorly, so it was a very youthful and fairly inexperienced looking team that took to the pitch against a resurgent Consett team looking to win promotion.
The RCA management team was left with little choice in their selection of the team with only 14 players available to play.
Consett: Hayes, Metz, Holden, Stafford, Purewal ©, Wilkinson, Smith, Slocombe, Pearson, Carr, Alshabeeb. Subs: Jakab, Hawkins, Vasile Ardelean, McAloon, Allen.
SRCA: Dean, C Davis, McNab ©, Storey, Lilley, Croft, Leonard, Elliott, Slack, K Davis, Gray. Subs: Dorward, Ezard, Charlton.
RCA almost got off to a dream start in the opening minute when Croft played a lovely forward ball to Leonard who controlled the ball well raced clear of the Consett defence but he shot straight at Hayes.
Consett then took control of the game with some slick passing and movement that caused problems for the RCA team. Smith and Slocombe were combining well in the middle of the park and the free roaming Alshabeeb was a constant threat on the left in the opening minutes of the game.
With five minutes gone, Alshabeeb cut in from the left before hitting a low shot which was blocked by Storey, Pearson following up had his shot blocked by Lilley before Carr fire inches wide of the upright.
A minute later and Alshabeeb latched onto a ball from Purewall, dribbled his way into the penalty area before being tackled by C Davis, the ball rebounded to Carr who again shot wide from a good position.
The pressure finally told on the RCA defence when a great move started with Metz playing the ball to Slocombe who in turn played the ball into the path of Pearson who drove the ball past the despairing dive of Dean and into the bottom corner of the net.
It could have been worse for RCA two minutes later when Pearson beat the offside trap and it took a great sve from Dean to prevent the hosts from going 2 – 0 up.
The visitors started to make a fight of it and on 15 minutes a good run by Gray was spotted by Elliott and the ex Consett winger picked up the ball in space before curling his shot wide of the far post.
Alshabeeb continued to be a thorn in the side of the RCA defence this time jinxing past two tackles before laying the ball off to Smith who fired in a low cross which went wide of the target.
A minute later and Consett doubled their lead when Alshabeeb played a first time ball forward and Pearson beat the RCA offside trap and made no mistake placing the ball out of the reach of Dean and into the net.
Consett were now in almost total command of the game and RCA were defending wave after wave of Consett attacks. The only reprieve came from the boot of Elliott when he sent a long range effort over the bar.
The home team was enjoying most of the possession and it appeared that it would only be a matter of time before they scored again.
However the determination of the RCA youngsters kept them a bay and restricted them to long range efforts.
Consett were playing some very fluent football and in the 27th minute Alshabeeb played the ball to Carr who played a quick one two with Smith before playing the ball to Pearson who smashed in a fierce drive which Dean saved brilliantly.
After a drinks break the game seemed to lose momentum as both sides struggled to put any meaningful passing moves together.
In the 38th minute a poor clearance by Dean fell to Smith who broke forward before hitting a low shot but Dean redeemed himself with a supurb save to deny Constt a 3 -0 lead.
As the game moved into the last 5 minutes Dean was called upon once again as the RCA defence stood mesmerised when a good passing move between Carr and Pearson saw the ball moved to Smith but once again Dean made a brilliant save with his feet.
Two minutes before the break Consett got their third goal when Metz broke down the right hand side before crossing into the box where Carr was on hand to fire home.
Charlton replaced the injured Gray at half time.
RCA started the second half, well a good run down the right by Leonard resulted in a corner, Elliott took the kick and Slack was unlucky to see his flicked effort fly over the bar.
A minute later and McNab played a good ball forward to K Davis who laid the ball off to Elliott but he fired his shot straight at Hayes.
Back came Consett to put pressure on the RCA defence, a shot from Smith went narrowly wide, then a shot from Pearson was tipped over the bar by Dean. From the corner the ball Alshabeeb had a shot blocked for another corner this time the header by Wilkinson went wide of the target.
RCA were still plugging away and K Davis forced a save from Hayes after Slack had dribbled past two defenders to lay the ball into his path.
As the game went on it became stretched as play switched from end to end. In the 70th minute a long ball forward by Purewal was picked up by Carr but his shot was brilliantly blocked by Storey.
A minute later and a long range effort by Metz was tipped over the bar by Dean.
RCA eventually started to get some possession and when Elliott played the ball over the top of the Consett defence Slack ran onto it and looked certain to score, he fired in a shot which struck Hayes’ boot and looped up onto the cross bar before being cleared by Allen.
Although Consett continued to have a lot of possession their shooting was nearly always wayward and when they did get a shot on target Dean was on hand to help out his defence.
RCA almost got a consolation gaol in the 85th minute when Elliott spotted the run of Leonard who slipped past his marker before cutting inside the penalty area and unleashing a terrific shot which Hayes managed to get a fingertip to and deflect onto the post and away for a corner.
In the 89th minute the visitors did eventually get a consolation, Leonard was set free on the right by Slack and his cross was met by Elliott who guided the ball home from close range.
No excuses Consett were by far the better team on the day and RCA did not perform at all in the first half, they were better in the second half and the introduction of Charlton at half time gave the midfield a little more steel than in the first half. Deano was outstanding all match without some superb saves from him this could have been a cricket score.
Next up we entertain top of the table Hebburn Town to LGV Park on Wednesday, 25th September 2019. Kick off: 7.30pm.