Sam Smith's Park beckoned for this Ebac Northern League Division 1 clash.
Team selection complicated by the suspensions of O’Neill and Watts, the unavailability of Allen, Armstrong, Carr, Larkin and Davis meant that the formation and selection changed again.
RCA gave a debut in goal to recent signing Keaton Marrs, making it the fourth goalkeeper in four games to play for RCA.
The teams lined up as follows:
Newcastle Benfield: Gordon, Glen-Ravenhill, Parker, Turnbull ©, Varga, Robson, Noble, Slaughter, Brayson, Haley, Salim. Subs: Scott, Slater, Anderson, Cranston, Grant.
Sunderland RCA: Marrs, Forster, Preston, Swansbury ©, Best, Fairley, Elliott, Davison, Callen, Leonard. Subs: Hodgson, Hope, Ward, Larkin, Davis.
A cold miserable evening greeted the teams as they took to the pitch at the Sam Smith’s Stadium and the night would only get worse for the visitors as the hosts tore through the RCA defence at will in the opening 25 minutes.
The opening goal came in the fifth minute when under no pressure Brayson found space in midfield before sliding the ball into the path of Haley who slotted the ball into the net past Marrs.
The home team almost went 2 -0 up when Glen-Ravenhill made a good run before sending in a dangerous cross which was only inches away from being converted by Brayson.
RCA came close to an equaliser when Forster played the ball forward to Callen who turned cleverly, but his effort went narrowly wide.
A minute later and good work on the right by Fairley saw him beat two defenders before passing to Davison, his deft chip into the box was met by Fairley, but his shot was turned round the post by Gordon.
Benfield were awarded a penalty in the 17ty minute when Forster was adjudged to have fouled Brayson inside the box and ex-RCA player Noble stepped up and sent the ball past the outstretched arms of Marrs and into the net.
A good run by Best playing a one-two with Davison created RCA’s next chance, but although Best beat the keeper the ball was cleared off the line.
Benfield’s third goal was simplicity itself a long ball down the touchline by Glen-Ravenhill was picked up by Salim who crossed into the box and Brayson converted from close range.
Within four minutes it was 4-0 when Salim ran through the middle of the RCA defence and flicked the ball past Marrs.
It should have been 5 – 0 a minute later when Brayson raced clear, but Marrs stood firm to block his shot.
On the half hour and run down the left by Leonard saw his cross fall at the far post for Fairley who played the ball square to Callen who forced the ball into an empty net.
Inside the final five minutes of the half RCA looked to get back into the game. Fairley intercepted a pass on the half way line before sliding the ball in the direction of Davison, the ball was cull out by Parker but fell to Callaghan who dribbled into the box before having his shot turned away for a corner which produced a goalmouth scramble and Callen hooked the final shot wide.
RCA started the second half well without really troubling the home defence. A good run by Callaghan down the left saw him switch play through Callen to Fairley and his cross was met at the far post by Leonard who squeezed in a shot which Gordon cleared off the line with his foot.
Although both teams produced some half chances in the second half they were few and far between and mainly fired high or wide of the intended target.
Leonard skimmed the bar with one shot and Best had a dipping shot which landed on top of the net.
In the final minutes it was Benfield who looked the most likely to score when a short corner was blasted against the bar and from the follow up corner Marrs made a point blank save to keep the score at 4 – 1.
Little can be said about this game, after a disastrous first 25 minutes. The offside trap was clearly not working as either the Benfield players were too fast or the assistant referee too slow, who knows. Immaterial really, as you cannot give teams at this level a four goal start and expect to win games.
It is patently obvious from the touchline that there is something fundamentally wrong with the set up of this team at the moment.
We have conceded 18 goals in six games; however we have scored 14 in the same period.
We cannot continue to leak goals so easily.