Dominic Moan makes a driving run down the wing during the second half of the match.
For more photos from the match please click here.
The Mitre Brooks Mileson League cup format has been changed this season and is now played, in the initial stages, in Groups. In our first match of the competition we travelled to the Tom Cowie Millfield Stadium to face second division Crook Town.
The RCA Management team decided to give Kieron Ezard his debut in goal replacing Robert Dean, while at the other end of the spectrum Michael Charlton was recalled to the team for his 200th appearance replacing Henry Dorward. Also recalled to the starting eleven was Kyle Davis who took the place of Stephen Callen.
Our best wishes are extended to Connor Slack who having impressed in a number of matches was called up to Sunderland AFC’s under 23 squad - good luck to the lad.
The teams Lined up as follows:
CROOK TOWN: Makepeace, Crossen, Gavin, Duell, Wilson, Dunwell, Hillerby, Eltringham, Kent, Maddison, Petitjean. Subs: Verity, Shevels, Hume, Smith, Connelly.
SRCA: Ezard, Allen, Lilley, Croft, Swansbury ©, O’Neill, Charlton, Elliott, Davison, K Davis, Leonard. Subs: Moan, Dean, C Davis, Preston, Hodgson.
RCA kicked off on a bitterly cold evening and were quickly on the attack, a probing run by Leonard down the right caught the Crook defence napping and the diminutive winger cut inside and hit a low shot straight at Makepeace in the Crook goal.
Lilley was the next to test the home defence when he made a run from his own half, played a one two with Leonard then played the ball forward to Davis who held the ball up before laying it into the path of Lilley but his effort was well blocked by Wilson.
A minute later and Elliott picked up the ball from Davison but fired straight down the throat of Makepeace.
Having been on the defensive for most of the opening 10 minutes Crook found their attacking flair, Hillerby picking up a throw from Makepeace turned and ran at the RCA defence and it took a good block from Allen, at the expense of a corner, to stop the speedy winger. Swansbury headed the resulting corner clear.
The visitors almost opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Elliott picked out Leonard on the right, he cut inside before playing the ball to Davis but he scuffed his shot from inide the penalty area and Makepeace was able to make a comfortable save.
An injury to Wilson forced the first change of the evening with Verity coming on as his replacement.
Crook seemed to be gaining in confidence and produced some good football with Duell playing the ball to Petitjean on the left he slipped past his marker before crossing into the box where Swansbury headed clear, the ball fell to Duell 30 yards out and his speculative effort didn’t trouble Ezard as it flashed high over the bar.
The next attack from Crook saw then take the lead, good build up play on the right by Hillerby saw his cross partially cleared by Croft but the ball hit Eltringham who reacted quickly to hook the ball into the net from 10 yards out. 1 – 0 to the hosts after 20 minutes.
They say that teams are at their most vulnerable straight after they have scored and so it proved here as from the kick off the ball was played forward by Elliott and played on by Davison to Charlton who hit a thunderbolt of a shot from the left edge of the penalty area into the far top corner of the net giving Makepeace no chance. This was a special goal on a special occasion.
RCA took the game by the scruff of the neck at this point and applied constant pressure on the Home side’s defence.
With 26 minutes gone Allen won the ball in midfield and played it forward to Davis, he flicked the ball on to O’Neill who laid the ball between two defenders to Leonard but his first time shot was deflected wide by Dunwell.
Two minutes later Elliott played a superb 40 yard pass to Leonard on the right, he controlled the ball with his first touch before slipping the ball inside to O’Neill, his shot was blocked by Dunwell and Elliott following up hit his shot wide of the target.
Crook responded on the half hour with a flowing move which saw Crossen receive the ball from Makepeace, play it inside to Maddison before overlapping on the right to pick up the return ball and crossing into the box where Kent, under pressure from Croft could only steer his shot wide of the post.
RCA took the lead in the 33rd minute when a long ball into the box from Lilley slipped through the hands of Makepeace and Davison was quickest to react to the error and slotted home from close range.
It could so easily have been 3 – 1 five minutes later when O’Neill played the ball forward to Davis, he jinxed past two tackles before passing to Charlton who fired in a terrific shot which ricocheted off Verity for a corner.
The visitors continued to play their attacking brand of football while Crook looked to break quickly on the counter attack.
In the 43rd minute RCA increased their lead when Leonard attacked down the right again this time his low cross into the box was met by Davison on the edge of the penalty area and he swept the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
The defensive injury crisis worsened at half time when Swansbury was replaced by Moan and RCA were forced to re-shuffle their back line.
However, they came out all guns blazing at the start of the half, Leonard was straight into the action on the right as he carved out another opening for Davison with a well weighted cross which was headed straight at Makepeace.
A minute later and Charlton played the ball to Elliott but his shot was blocked and cleared by the Crook defence.
Crook responded through the lively Hillerby on the right, his cross into the box was headed goalwards by Kent and Ezard was forced to tip the ball over the bar. The resulting corner was whipped in and and Ezard managed to punch away before the ball was forced behind for another corner which was cleared by Allen.
The home team took heart from this spell of pressure and produced some of their best attacking football, PetitJean and Maddison combined on the edge of the box and Maddison eventually took a snap shot which flew wide of the post.
A minute later with RCA unable to clear the ball effectively Hillerby broke to set up Maddison who looked certain to score but Ezard pulled off a tremendous save to deny the Crook frontman.
RCA were awarded a freekick just inside their own half which Moan took quickly to Elliott, his slide rule pass split the Crook defence and into the path of Leonard who took the ball in his stride before curling past the outstretched arm of Makepeace and into the net.
Crook didn’t stop playing and came back with a vengeance, Gavin played the ball forward to Hillerby who turned quickly before shooting from the edge of the box and forcing another good save from Ezard.
A minute later and substitute Hume was unlucky when he latched onto a cross from Hillerby but had to watch as his effort flew narrowly over the bar.
Crook pulled a goal back in the 69th minute when they were awarded a corner Hillerby swung it in and Petitjean converted.
As in the first half RCA responded within a minute, Leonard picking up the ball an the left wing from the kick off, beat his marker, looked up and played the ball into the box for Davison who smashed home his third of the night to make it 5-2.
This seemed to knock the stuffing out of Crook and for the final 15 minutes it was almost all RCA as the crook players tired.
Leonard was causing all sorts of problems on the right and he was instrumental in most of RCA’s attacks in the latter stages of the match. He played in Elliott but RCA’s leading goalscorer sliced the ball wide, he then had a golden opportunity himself when he was sent clear by O’Neill, his shot was partially blocked by Makepeace and as the ball bounced toward goal the Crook keeper managed to recover to scoop the ball away.
In the final minute of the game O’Neill won the ball on the half way line and played it forward to Elliott who in turn found Leonard with a defence splitting pass but once again Makepeace was able to deny the RCA winger.
A entertaining match which RCA looked reasonably comfortable winners of. Good performances from Ezard, Davison and Leonard and a workmanlike team effort.
Next up is a short trip up the road to Seaham Red Star on Saturday, 5 October 2019. Kick off 3.00pm, we look forward to seeing you there. (Can Nathan O’Neill open his account for the season on his 100th appearance for the club).