2007-08

The 2007-08 season

The First Team

The first team in the 2007-08 season

First team results from the 2007-08 season

League table

The 2007-08 ANL Division 2 League Table
- this is an external link to the Northern League site

Key

ANL - Arngrove Northern League - Division 2
ATMC - Alan Thompson Memorial Cup
DCCC - Durham County Challenge Cup
EAMC - Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup
FAC - FA Cup
FAV - FA Vase
LC - League Cup

Home
Away





Date
Time
Opposition Venue Competition
F - A
July
         
Saturday 14 July 2007
3:00 PM
Bedale Away Friendly
3 - 0
Tuesday 24 July 2007
7:30 PM
Durham City Home Friendly
0 - 2
Saturday 28 July 2007
3:00 PM
Seaham Red Star Home Friendly
3 - 4
Tuesday 31 July 2007
7:30 PM
Washington Away Friendly
1 - 0
August
         
Wednesday 01 August 2007
7:30 PM
Ryhope CW Away ATMC
2 - 1
Saturday 04 August 2007
3:00 PM
Chester-le-Street Home Friendly
0 - 6
Saturday 11 August 2007
3:00 PM
Horden CW Away ANL - 2
1 - 2
Saturday 18 August 2007
3:00 PM
Crook Town Away FAC
2 - 2
Tuesday 21 August 2007
7:45 PM
Crook Town Home FAC - replay
0 - 3
Saturday 25 August 2007
3:00 PM
Prudhoe Town Away ANL - 2
2 - 3
Monday 27 August 2007
11:00 AM
South Shields Home ANL - 2
0 - 3
September
         
Saturday 01 September 2007
3:00 PM
Hebburn Away ANL - 2
0 - 1
Saturday 08 September 2007
3:00 PM
Stokesley Away ANL - 2
2 - 5
Tuesday 11 September 2007
7:30 PM
Team Northumbria Home EAMC
2 - 0
Saturday 15 September 2007
3:00 PM
Thornaby Away ANL - 2
2 - 2
Saturday 22 September 2007
3:00 PM
Seaham Red Star Away FAV
0 - 7
Tuesday 25 September 2007
7:30 PM
Shildon Home DCCC
3 - 2
Saturday 29 September 2007
3:00 PM
Marske United Home ANL - 2
3 - 2
October
         
Wednesday 03 October 2007
7:30 PM
Bishop Auckland Home Friendly
1 - 0
Saturday 06 October 2007
3:00 PM
Prudhoe Home ANL - 2
1 - 3
Tuesday 09 October 2007
7:30 PM
Guisborough Town Home ANL - 2
4 - 1
Saturday 13 October 2007
3:00 PM
Esh Winning Away ANL - 2
2 - 1
Wednesday 17 October 2007
7:30 PM
Consett Away DCCC
0 - 7
Saturday 20 October 2007
3:00 PM
Penrith Home ANL - 2
0 - 1
Wednesday 24 October 2007
7:30 PM
Brandon Home ANL - 2
5 -1
Saturday 27 October 2007
3:00 PM
Norton & Stockton Away ANL - 2
1 - 0
Wednesday 31 October 2007
7:30 PM
Birtley Town Home League Cup
0 - 1
November
         
Saturday 03 November 2007
3:00 PM
Darlington RA Home ANL - 2
3 - 1
Wednesday 07 November 2007
7:30 PM
Marske United Away EAMC
2 - 1
Saturday 10 November 2007
3:00 PM
Whickham Away ANL - 2
1 - 2
Tuesday 13 November 2007
7:30 PM
Crook Town Home ANL - 2
2 - 2
Saturday 17 November 2007
3:00 PM
Birtley Town Home ANL - 2
2 - 0
Saturday 24 November 2007
3:00 PM
North Shields Home ANL - 2
3 - 0
December
         
Saturday 1 December 2007
3:00 PM
Team Northumbria Away ANL - 2
2 - 0
Saturday 08 December 2007
3:00 PM
Hebburn Town Home ANL - 2
3 - 2
Saturday 22 December 2007
3:00 PM
Horden CW Home ANL - 2
3 - 2
January
         
Saturday 12 January 2008
3:00 PM
Stokesley Home ANL - 2
6 - 1
Saturday 19 January 2008
3:00 PM
Thornaby Home ANL - 2
3 - 1
February
         
Saturday 09 February 2008
3:00 PM
Guisborough Away ANL - 2
2 - 1
Saturday 16 February 2008
3:00 PM
Esh Winning Home ANL - 2
1 - 1
Saturday 23 February 2008
3:00 PM
Penrith Away ANL - 2
2 - 3
March
         
Saturday 01 March 2008
3:00 PM
Norton & Stockton Home ANL - 2
1 - 0
Wednesday 05 March
7:30 PM
Brandon United Away ANL - 2
4 - 0
Saturday 08 March 2008
3:00 PM
Darlington RA Away ANL - 2
2 - 0
Saturday 15 March 2008
3:00 PM
Whickham Home ANL - 2
3 - 1
Wednesday 19 March 2008
7:30 PM
Marske Away ANL - 2
2 - 2
Saturday 22 March 2008
3:00 PM
Birtley Town Away ANL - 2
3 - 0
Tuesday 25 March
7:30 PM
Ryton Away ANL - 2
0 - 5
Saturday 29 March 2008
3:00 PM
North Shields Away ANL - 2
7 - 3
April
         
Saturday 05 April 2008
3:00 PM
Team Northumbria Home ANL - 2
3 - 0
Tuesday 08 April 2008
7:30 PM
Penrith Town Away EAMC QF
4 - 3
Tuesday 15 April 2008
7:30 PM
South Shields Away ANL - 2
0 - 1
Saturday 19 April 2008
3:00 PM
Ryton Home ANL - 2
0 - 1
Tuesday 22 April 2008
7:30 PM
South Shields Home EAMC SF
4 - 1
Saturday 26 April 2008
3:00 PM
Crook Town Away ANL - 2
2 - 0
Monday, 5 May 2008
11:00 AM
Esh Winning Ryton EAMC Final
0 - 3

Reports

20007-08 season reports from first team matches

July

Bedale 0 Sunderland RCA 3

Pre-season friendly

Saturday 14 July 2007

In their first friendly of the season Sunderland RCA travelled to North Yorkshire to face Bedale FC. Playing 4-4-2,

RCA started very brightly and at a great pace and had the home side under constant pressure from the off. Within five minutes of the start RCA were rewarded with a corner and from a great delivery by Robinson, Anderson soared above the home defence only for the keeper to produce a full length save. Butler reacted quickest and a shot on target was cleared off the line. Further pressure was applied and from a free kick on the left hand side of the box Robinson's curling effort hit the bar. RCA quickly retrieved the ball and some neat passing between Dixon and Jarvis played Matthews in down the left hand side. He went past two defenders before playing the ball to Butler who crossed to the far post, where the inrushing Middleton blazed over.

With the away side comfortably in charge they seemed too take their foot off the pedal and allowed Bedale some respite. RCA's passing now became long and scrappy and this resulted in attacks breaking down or shots being fired in from the ambitious 30-yard plus range. Bedale mounted a couple of attacks of their own as the half drew to a close, and Lawson was forced to pull off a full length tip over the bar, after Anderson and Massey were caught ball watching and their big centre forward latched onto the loose ball.

Half Time 0-0

With thee subs entering the fray, RCA seemed much more determined to get the ball down and press home their superiority. From the start of the half they were on top and Crew and Robinson were causing all sorts of problems for the home defence. The introduction of Hembrough on the right hand side was becoming a more and more influental factor as the extra injection of pace was overwhelming the home side.

It was no suprise the red and whites took the lead, a great through ball from Dixon was jumped on by Crew who beat the last defender, rounded the keeper and rolled the ballinto an empty net. With almost unanswered pressure RCA increased their lead when Robinson released Hembrough down the right hand side. He raced to the bye line, fired in a low cross, and Matthews, coming in from the left, hammered low and hard past a stranded home keeper.

Better was to come for the away side, now showing by far the better fitness levels as the best goal of the game was scored. Lawson rolled the ball to Peel at right back who, having dummied two forwards played the ball to Jarvis. He in turn sent it first time out wide to Hembrough who left the full back in his wake before again delivering a great ball for 18 year old debutant Richie Rowe to slot in from six yards. A great move covering the full length of the pitch in just four passes. From this point RCA remained comfortable, and keeping the passes short, easily played out the game for a good return to action and a clean sheet.

N Lawson, A Laidler (C Peel), M Lundy, GD Anderson, B.Massey (N Dodd), A Middleton (S Hembrough), K.Dixon, K.Jarvis, I Matthews, J.Butler (W Crew), P.Robinson (R Rowe)

Sunderland RCA 0 Durham City 2

Pre-season friendly

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

A very tough test for RCA indeed.

It was clearly evident that Durham were on their sixth competitive friendly and they did have a big array of non-league talent on show. In fact with a couple of dominant central defenders and a direct centre forward, Durham will go close this year. They can certainly pass the ball.

RCA certainly matched them for effort though and full credit for getting to half time 0 - 0. Could have even sneaked the lead just before the interval as well.

The second half was generally one way as match fitness showed and we got pushed deeper. No surprise when Durham took the lead and I dont think we will see a better strike at Meadow Park by Tom English (I think). A goal of massive quality.

The last fifteen minutes saw the RCA have some belief and we could have sneaked a consolation....late on!

Certainly some positives and this is going to be a tough fitness week with Nissan Thursday then Seaham Saturday.

Sunderland RCA 3 Seaham Red Star 4

Pre-season friendly

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Sunderland RCA entered the game with no fewer than 13 players missing due to holidays, work commitments and injuries. However there were massive plusses with Wayne Henderson playing his first game for over a year and Kev Dixon making his home debut.

The game started at a good pace and both sides showing a competitive edge. RCA started well and were looking lively, and played some neat and crisp football. After five minutes Butler won a great header, flicking into the path of Crew who released Middleton down the right, but with time and space he crossed straight into the keeper's hands. In their next attack Middleton was fouled, Jarvis swung in a great cross that Butler headed just wide of the far post.

On 10 minutes Seaham attacked, but Bell shot from some 40 yards and this rolled tamely through to Lawson. Seaham attacked down the left hand side on 15 minutes, Toft beat two defenders and rolled the ball to Lumsdon who fired high and wide.

The next 15 minutes saw Seaham forcing the pace and when RCA lost the ball through Henderson, Byrne raced clear, beating the offside trap only for Lawson to save well. Seaham then took advantage of some dreadful play from Hembrough, who gave the ball away, Bell crossed from the right, Lawson completely missed the cross and Toft picked out Jennings on the far post to head into empty net from three yards. RCA went straight on the attack and Butler released Crew, a low hard drive produced a great save from Finch, and as Jarvis followed up he unleashed a pile driver from 12 yards that was somehow brilliantly turned away by Finch.

Just before the half hour mark Seaham increased their lead, when a ball into the box was not dealt with. Anderson hacked weakly clear and Lumsdon fired into the bottom right hand corner. RCA again pushed forward and from a cross from Peel on the right hand side Butler fired wide.

On 37 minutes Seaham won a corner and again a misjudgement from Lawson saw the kick directly hit the back post and be cleared to safety by Anderson. On 42 minutes Laidler and Hembrough combined down the left hand side, some swift passing got Hembrough free in the box but Finch saved well, low to his left. From the resulting corner Anderson climbed above everyone only to see his header thunder onto the bar and behind to safety.

Half Time 0-2

The second half saw RCA change to a 3-5-2 formation with Henderson pushing up into the midfield. This brought a big improvement for the home side who started to really press. Two minutes in Henderson and Jarvis combined, only for the latter to fire wide from the edge of the box. On 52 minutes Dixon and Jarvis played some quick passes. Jarvis skipped past Goodwin but again shot wide.

On the hour RCA were finally rewarded for some good attacking play when Henderson played in Butler, who in turn rolled Maw inside the box only to be pulled down from behind. From the resulting penalty Crew fired low and hard into the bottom right hand corner sending Finch the wrong way.

On 65 minutes RCA levelled when Crew played Middleton in behind the Seaham defence, and as he headed towards goal he was clumsily brought down for another penalty. Crew again fired low and hard to the same corner, easily beating Finch.

On 65 minutes Goodwin flicked the ball forward for Seaham, Byrne collected and spun Anderson on the edge of the box, only to fire wildly over the top. RCA went on the attack again and a great ball out wide from Henderson released Butler, who skipped passed the defender and crosses cleverly for Crew to fire under Finch from six yards, giving him a hat trick and RCA a 3-2 lead.

In the 79th minute Dixon spread the play wide to the left, Butler evaded a challenge from Toft, and fired a great drive towards the far corner. With Finch well beaten the ball thudded off the far post and out for a goal kick. Seaham again lost the ball in the opposition half and with time and space to play RCA needlessly went backwards to Lawson. Unchallenged Lawson scuffed his attempted clearance straight to Jennings, he then squared to Byrne who rolled it into the empty net to level again at 3-3. With Seaham having made several changes and RCA's attacking efforts, the shortage of bodies was now starting to tell on the home side. As the game was drawing to a close Peel stumbled on the ball just outside the box, Newby picked up the loose ball and ran straight past a static home defence to slot past Lawson and give Seaham the lead. As the clock ticked down RCA produced the final attack of the game and when the ball was crossed in, Crew looked certain to score. But from two yards out and with the goal at his mercy, he somehow managed to fire wide.

Washington 0 Sunderland RCA 1

Pre-season friendly

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Sunderland RCA travelled to First Division Washington continuing their hard pre-season fixture schedule. Manager Steve Smith went with a 3-5-2 formation following on from their excellent second half performance against Seaham Red Star on Saturday.

The side saw a few changes in the line up with Paul Moss returning, Dave Hills playing as a trialist, Dean Goodwin making his debut and Flash starting up front after returning from injury. Also in the squad was defender Steve Williams, another defender playing on trial after being recommended by Kev Dixon. With Deano excellent throughout the 90 minutes, Dave calm and talkative at the back and Steve performing admirably after his introduction at half time, another great deal of plusses can be taken from the game.

Washington lined up with the prolific and vastly experienced pairing of John Milner and Willie Moat up front, but barring one or two half chances our back three performed really well. RCA attacked at every opportunity and had good chances with Butler and Hembrough in particular, but a free flowing and competitive game reached half time at 0-0.

In the second half RCA continued to get the ball down and play some swift and good football. Flash had a header well saved, then what looked a certain goal hacked off the line, but not to be stopped he fired in a great header on 75 mins after getting across the front of the defender to give the visitors a deserved lead. Play continued at a good pace, with both sides still looking to attack and Washington had a goal disallowed for offside when a shot from the edge of the box cannoned off the post to be headed in, only for the forward to be flagged offside. In the last ten minutes, Butler and Matthews went close for the visitors, and with the midfield on top they comfortably saw out the game to record a good victory.

August

Ryhope Colliery Welfare 1 Sunderland RCA 2

Allan Thompson Memorial Cup

Wednesday, 01 August 2007


Two-goal hero Jon Butler is presented with the Allan Thompson Memorial Cup
by Allan's brother Jimmy.

Sunderland RCA made the short journey up the bank to face neighbours Ryhope CW in the annual Alan Thompson Memorial Cup match. Having played the previous night against Washington, this was likely to be a long night for the RCA, with numbers already short due to injuries, holidays and work, RCA lost Moss, Hill, Matthews and Anderson from the previous night's squad.

The game started with RCA playing a 3-5-2 formation and from the outset taking the game to the CW. With some sharp interplay between Dixon, Goodwin and Jarvis, RCA should have been three up in the opening 20 minutes, but wasteful finishing saw the CW stay in the game. Jarvis fired wide from the edge of the area when unchallenged, Andrews shot wide when in a great position from a Dixon through ball, Butler headed wide from a corner when unchallenged three yards out, and from the move of the game Goodwin was put clear by Dixon only to shoot straight at the keeper.

The CW were starting to work their way into the game, and their direct route up to the front two unsettled a new, untried RCA back three. A shot saved by Lawson was pushed straight to former RCA man Gareth Hill, who, with the keeper still on the ground, fired wide of the far post. Hill then had a volley hit the post, and Jordan lashed the rebound high and wide. RCA continued to be on top, although however their passing became more sporadic and attacks repeatedly broke down around the CW box.

The CW toool the lead opwards the end of the first half. A long ball was launched down their right hand side, and when this was not dealt with, RCA's Laidler and Henderson both got sucked out of their central areas and a ball into the box, left the CW forward with a free header that just rolled into the far corner via the post.

This sparked a frenetic last few minutes of the half. When the ball dropped it was played forward to Andrews, whose collision with the full back resulted in a free kick to the CW. This produced an angry response from former RCA player Hill, and after prolonged and repeated warnings from the referee, he was substituted right on half time.

At the start of the second half and galvanised by the lead the CW were working and closing down RCA with great endeavour. The game lost a lot of its shape, and RCA began to go long and hopeful, resulting in scrappy play, and very little in the way of controlled possession and goalscoring chances.

With 20 minutes of the game remaining, RCA keeper Niki Lawson was fouled when he came for a high ball into the box, and although he continued for five minutes, he was replaced in goal by Barry Massey. Lawson was taken to hospital and has sustained concussion and damaged ribs.

RCA brought on Peel and reverted to a 4-4-2 system in the hope of shortening their passing. Laidler and Jarvis were now gaining good ground down the left, and RCA began to get back on top. From a clearance by Massey, Andrews flicked on and with hesitation in the CW back four, Butler burst through the back line and fired emphatically past Burlinson.

RCA were now looking for a winner and right at the end of the game Laidler and Jarvis combined down the left. Laidler raced towards the box only to be blatantly tripped from behind. Jarvis swung in a great free kick to the far post. Butler attacked the ball, easily climbing above a static defender to head firmly home for the winner.

Sunderland RCA 0 Chester-le-Street 6

Pre-season friendly

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Sunderland RCA were playing their fourth game of the week and were severely depleted yet again. Niki Lawson, Mark Lawton, Wayne Henderson, Karl Jarvis, Nathan Dodd, Phil Hall and Paul Robinson were all absent due to injuries and holidays had robbed the squad of Steve Thomas, Simon Hanlon, Marcel Lundy and Willie Crew.

The last thing the home side needed was to concede after three minutes, however due to some dreadful decision making by the referee, that's exactly what happened. Chester ran the ball out down their left hand side, the assisstant referee awarded the throw to RCA, however when a Chester player took a quick throw, the ball was crossed into the box for the unmarked forward to roll home. This resulted in long and loud protests from the home players, however to the consternation of all in the ground, the referee allowed the goal to stand.

Worse was to follow on 10 minutes when the Chester number 10 left Laidler floundering on the edge of the box, ran through unchallenged, and calmly slotted past the exposed Hall.

Hall then suffered a hip injury when colliding with a Chester forward as he came to collect a low cross into the box. After lengthy treatment, although obviously struggling, he managed to continue.

At the other end Hembrough cut in from the left, unleashed a shot which beat the Chester keeper, only for it to hit the post and bounce to safety. Butler also had a great chance to reduce the arrears, but failed to test the keeper with a free header from six yards. Further knocks to Dixon and Moss on 25 minutes saw them both replaced, and a complete reshuffle of the side as numbers were stretched to the limit.

Chester increased their advantage when Andrews and Hill were totally out-foxed inside the box, and again unchallenged the Chester forward scored past the exposed Hall. RCA were still attacking and had two great chances when Matthews was released, however on both occassions, heavy first touches allowed the Chester keeper to race off his line and smoother the ball.

The second period started with Hall giving way to injury, and full back Barry Massey taking over between the sticks for the home side. With Andrews playing at the back, RCA only had one defender on the pitch, and their sporadic possession was being wasted and given away cheaply.

Chester increased their options by introducing March, Draper and Shields into the fray - three experienced first division players. RCA were now looking a tired side both physically and mentally, and Chester dominated the rest of proceedings.

With some swift and flowing football Chester went on to score three more unanswered goals to record a deserved and comfortable 6-0 victory. RCA now have a week to nurse their walking wounded back to fitness, see the return of players from holiday, and get ready for a tough opening fixture away to last season's relegated side Horden CW.

Horden CW 2 Sunderland RCA 1

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Sunderland RCA began their ANL Division 2 campaign with a tough away fixture to Horden CW.

As has been the case throughout pre-season, the RCA were again severely disrupted with no less than 9 players missing. With Niki Lawson, Karl Jarvis, Mark Lawton, Phil Hall, Paul Robinson, Nathan Dodd, Dean Fox and Andy Middleton injured and Simon Hanlon away, there was also Marcel Lundy and Willie Crew returning that morning from holidays and Steve Thomas coming back after a month out with a foot fracture.

So with an unfamiliar starting eleven, and a great deal of experience missing it was no surprise RCA started slowly. Horden were moving the ball well and the away side were finding it difficult to get a foot hold in the game. Horden went with three up front forcing Laidler deep, so RCA pushed Andrews up front and brought Butler out to the right.

Horden's forwards, particularly Martin and Allan, were looking lively and causing the RCA defence some anxious moments. However with all the possession the home side had there were very few chances being created.

All that changed when a ball down the home side's righthand side was played forward by Di Lella, Lundy came across and scuffed his clearance, Anderson swung wildly and sent the ball high but no distance, and Martin latched onto a header into the box to fire wide from six yards. With RCA allowing Horden all the freedom in the world the home side were increasing the pressure. Egbe and Stephenson both fired over from the edge of the box, Allen shot tamely wide from eight yards out.

Horden finally took the lead when Dixon lost possession to Stephenson, he played the ball forward, and a static RCA back line, stood with hands in the air appealing for offside. With play waved on Allen raced claer, rounded Hall and tapped into an empty net. Horden comfortably ran down the remaining five minutes of the half to go in leading 1-0.

The second period was only a couple of minutes old when Horden attacked down their left. Anderson never got near the winger who flighted a cross into the box, Moss was sucked under the ball allowing Martin a free header which caught out Hall. A late reaction saw Hall tip onto rather than over the bar. The rebound fell straight to Laidler at the back stick and only six yards from his own goal. With Allen closing in Laidler should have cleared first time, but took a touch, allowing Allen to pinch the ball and hammer high into the net.

RCA made a triple substitution on the hour introducing Thomas, Hembrough and Crew for Laidler, Dixon and Andrews. This seemed to bring a renewed determination and much quicker tempo to the away sides play, and going thee at the back they now started to dominate the game.

RCA's passing was shortened, quicker and much more effective and Thomas began to exert some control to the play. With 20 minutes to go RCA got themselves back into the game. Thomas rolled the ball out wide to Matthews who in turn found Butler in the box. He turned the defender and when he fired goalwards, a deflection saw the ball roll into the bottom left corner to reduce the arrears.

Horden now seemed to lose their shape and began to pump long balls forward, these were being picked up by the away side and the pressure was being increased. Hembrough and Butler combined down the right hand side, the former producing a superb cross to the far post after leaving the fullback in his wake. Crew rose unmarked two yards out, and with the goal at his mercy managed to head straight across goal and back out wide.

RCA had three freekicks in quick succession, Thomas each time delivering with quality into the box. However two were headed clear unchallenged and when Moss reached the other he headed wide. Right at the death RCA were awarded a freekick 25 yards out and just right of centre of the goal. Thomas bent the kick over the wall, and with the keeper beaten saw it drift narrowly wide.

Crook Town 2 Sunderland RCA 2

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FA Cup

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Sunderland RCA travelled to ANL 2nd Division Crook Town in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup. With the revenue and exposure generated by a good run in the competition, RCA were looking to record their first win of the campaign.

Again hampered by injuries RCA were missing no less than 11 players from the squad, (Lawson, Hall, Lawton, Laidler, Jarvis, Goodwin, Fox, Robinson, Andrews, Dodd and Middleton) however they did include Winspear, Hanlon and Thomas, all making their first starts of the season.

The game started brightly and the visitors should have taken the lead in the first four minutes when some good play and a great ball into the box found Crew unmarked six yards from goal. His header was easily saved by the keeper diving to his right. The game was being played at a frantic pace with Crook going direct at every opportunity to the tall forward and trying to play off the bits.

RCA had another good opportunity when Winspear delivered from the right. Crew flicked on at the front post, but nobody reacted quickly enough and the home keeper came and collected low in the six yard box. The visitors took the lead when Crew fired in from the left hand side of the area, after beating the offside line and being played in with a clever ball over the defence from Dixon.

Crook restored parity on the half hour when awarded a free kick on the left hand side. The ball was swung into the box, the knock down bouncing high for the Crook forward to head in off the post with Moss caught flat footed. RCA attacked hard and almost took the lead again when Winspear drove past the fullback, raced into the box, but just overran the ball for the keeper to come and collect.

The second half started with RCA in the driving seat, Thomas becoming a pivotal figure, and passing the ball much better and shorter than the home side. They again took the lead with some decisive passing down the left, good interplay between Dixon, Hanlon and Thomas who delivered a quality ball to the back stick for Butler to head home above the defender.

Crook leveled for the second time when awarded a corner on their left hand side. The ball was thrown to the back post and the Crook forward was allowed a free header. Hanlon headed clear and Henderson completed the clearance. However the linesman flagged and indicated the ball had crossed the line, resulting in the referee awarding the goal.

In the final 10 minutes RCA attacked with great purpose. Dixon beat two defenders before firing a great drive just wide from 20 yards, Thomas passed to Butler, who spun and fired goalwards, a deflection seemed to wrong foot the keeper, who changed direction and produced a top quality save. The corner resulted in Moss just heading wide.

So, a draw and back to Meadow Park for the replay on Tuesday night, when RCA hope to have four or five players returning.

Sunderland RCA 0 Crook Town 3

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FA Cup replay

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

A very bad night for RCA as a committed and determined Crook outfit deservedly progressed to the next round of the FA Cup, and collected the £500.00 prize in doing so.

Honours even in the first half of what was not a great game, with Paul Robinson lasting only 15 minutes on his return from injury before a bad tackle forced him to limp off, but things changed rapidly in the second half.

Within five minutes of the restart Crook were two goals to the good as a mistake by keeper Simon Hall gifted them an early lead was followed within a minute or two by a recklessly conceded penalty, which effectively sealed the tie.

Crook had more chances and eventually notched a third, while the RCA misery was completed as Steve Thomas missed a penalty in the 89th minute. A bad night, made worse by the knowledge that the draw had been kind and we could and should have won the game at the first time of asking at the Millfield ground.

Good luck to Crook at Hall Road in the next round, they have every chance of progressing. Few positives for RCA on the night, and big games in the League to come.

Prudhoe Town 3 Sunderland RCA 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Would the Crook result be out of the boys' systems for the away trip to Prudhoe?

A few changes saw Steve Winspear return to the team for his second game, John Butler and Wayne Henderson also returned after missing the replay and Glen McCartney made his debut, at left back rather than his usual right side.

Again the first half was goalless, although RCA had the best of the few chances and looked strong. Prudhoe did hit the bar, which was a warning.

The second half again saw goals conceded early with a frantic four minute spell seeing Prudhoe score twice with John Butler replying with a penalty for RCA.

All to play for but it was Prudhoe who extended their lead before a goal keeping blunder pushed a Scott Hembrough cross into the net with 10 minutes left to set up what might have been a hectic finish.

Prudhoe saw the game out comfortably enough however and RCA remain pointless in the league, with a tough bank holiday fixture to come at home to South Shields.

Sunderland RCA 0 South Shields 3

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Monday, 27 August 2007

With two down in the league and two defeats, Monday morning was a good time to get the season started.

More changes with Simon Andrews acting as an emergency keeper in the absence of all three signed on specialists, and Paul Moss missing out through injury, along with Paul Robinson and Wayne Henderson. Andy Allen came into midfield for his first start since returning to the club, Anth Laidler came back after injury on the left hand side and Steve Winspear moved forward to partner John Butler up front.

The first half followed the pattern of recent games, staying goalless as RCA battled hard against a good quality and confident Mariners side, given vocal, if not always coherent, backing from their usual band of devoted followers.

Sadly the second half started the way we are beginning to dread with Shields establishing a three goal lead, that never looked threatened, within the first 20 minutes of the half. A full range of substitutes was used with Scott Hembrough, Kevin Dixon and Gary Anderson getting into the action for Steve Winspear, Simon Hanlon and Steve Thomas, but Shields were always well on top, and could have extended their lead on a number of occasions in the final quarter, much to the delight of their fans.

September

Hebburn Town 1 Sunderland RCA 0

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 01 September 2007

A dour struggle at the Old Reyrolles ground saw RCA come out on the wrong side of a single goal result against Hebburn Town, who will not expect to feature high in the league this season.

Hebburn took the lead half way through the first half and, despite a lot of pressure in the second period, RCA could not get back on level terms. Willie Crew had a goal disallowed for offside as the ball came back of the keeper, always a contentious decision, but when Karl Jarvis went off with what looked a bad shoulder injury the RCA effort faltered and Hebburn saw out the last 20 minutes quite comfortably.

Young Michael Robertshaw made an encouraging debut in goal and looked comfortable throughout, as well as making a couple of fine saves early on, while the return from injury of Mark Lawton was another bright spot on another disappointing day as the bad early season form continues for RCA.

Stokesley SC 5 Sunderland RCA 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 08 September 2007

Stokesley is a lovely little town, the sports club is a great set up, with fans having the choice of football or cricket to watch on Saturday, plus England later on the clubhouse telly. That's where the positives end for Sunderland RCA, as our second ever visit ended the same way as the first, with a 5-2 beating.

Stand in boss Graham Defty went with five at the back, and recalled Kevin Dixon in place of the injured Karl Jarvis, and the first half hour was entertaining as RCA came close on a number of occasions and took the lead through a well worked Andy Allen goal, following good work after a corner by Anth Laidler and Kevin Dixon.

Dean Fox saw a great strike rubbed out a few minutes later for a marginal hand ball call, but that was the end of the good news as Stokesley hit back with three goals in eight minutes to take a 3-1 lead into the break.

Within 10 minutes of the restart the game was all over as sloppy defending let Stokesley in twice more to take a decisive 5-1 lead in the game. A couple of changes at the back saw things settle down, and a scrambled Willie Crew effort gave the scoreline a slightly better look, but it was still a miserable visit to North Yorkshire, as our bad start continues.

Sunderland RCA 2 Team Northumbria 0

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Ernest Armstrong Memorial Trophy

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

With new manager Neil Hixon watching from the stand before beginning his duties on the following morning, Sunderland RCA recorded their first win in any competition this year with a well deserved victory over Team Northumbria, as the playing staff took the opportuntiy to show their new boss that they had some qualities in the team for him to build on.

A solid performance saw goals from Anth Laidler before the break and Willie Crew half way through the second. Team Northumbria worked hard, but the RCA squad matched them and played some very good possession football at times. Hopefully the start of better things to come!

Thornaby 2 Sunderland RCA 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 15 September 2007

What looked like a very tough start on paper for new boss Neil Hixon ended with RCA disappointed not to collect all three points from a good all round display.

The manager showed his intentions from the start, bringing in three new players for their debuts. Craig Sheilds and Graeme Brown, both signed from Nissan the day before came into goal and central defence respectively, while Luke Ball slotted in at right back after his move from Durham City.

A very even first half saw few chances, but RCA broke the deadlock immediately after the restart with a smart
Willie Crew finish, and when the recalled dveteran striker Simon Andrews notched a super second on the hour things looked good for RCA.

Thornaby were undaunted however and sloppy marking at the back post let them in for a quickfire brace within the next ten minutes.

The game continued to be entertaining with Thornaby pressing hard before Willie Crew had two golden opportunties to settle the match in the last few minutes, with a great Dean Gordon tackle defying him right at the end.

A first point of the season though, with hopefully many more to come!

Seaham Red Star 7 Sunderland RCA 0

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FA Vase

Saturday, 22 September 2007

(The home side, Seaham Red Star, are in red and white stripes.)

Well, we knew the return to Seaham Town park would be interesting, as Neil Hixon made his first visit to Red Star only 10 days after stunning them by leaving the club to come to RCA. It was interesting all right, as the side Neil built were right up for the battle against his new charges. Sadly the same could not be said for the Sunderland RCA team. We conceded the first goal early, as Seaham's giant centre forward, Andy Jennings, looked like he didn't believe the space he had found in the six yard box; neither did any of the spectators.

Always second best, the RCA lads kept it down to two goals at the interval, but afterwards the floodgates opened and within 10 minutes of the restart Red Star had stretched their lead to five. It got worse, and with the local fans and officials more or less quietly jubilant, Seaham notched two more. Jennings, who we found unplayable throughout, got his hat trick, and by the end RCA were a thoroughly beaten outfit, and out of another national cup competition, only the All England Sunday Cup still to go... Its not all bad news though, I managed to puncture the excitement a little by pointing out that we would be a good deal more worried if we had won 7 - 0 against a team put together by our new boss! 

Just a short comment on quotes you may have seen from Seaham Red Star suggesting we were less than honourable in our approach to Neil Hixon. This is simply not true. I personally rang John Smith the Seaham secretary to tell him we were going to try and talk to Neil, and as far as I am concerned that was all I needed, although was not required, to do. It is not my job to interfere in internal relations at another club, or to tell them if someone has decided to leave and come to us. I don't know what was or wasn't said between Neil and Seaham Red Star, and I don't want to know, that is their business. We are just pleased he is now on board with us at Meadow Park.

Mind, they got their own back. Against all the normal conventions and courtesies, and in order to make my match notes, I had to buy my programme at the game last Saturday, there was none available for this particular visiting secretary. Ah well, whatever floats your boat...

Sunderland RCA 3 Shildon 2

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Durham County Challenge Cup

Tuesday, 26 September 2007

On the first really cold night of the autumn, Sunderland RCA were hot stuff - certainly too hot for ANL First Division outfit, Shildon. The 3 - 2 victory was well deserved and went a long way in restoring club pride after the defeat at neighbours Seaham Red Star.

In a frantic first ten minutes, RCA, kicking up the slope, got a free kick on the right, which was cleared for Shildon to break away and from a cross hit the side netting. On 10 minutes, following good work in midfield, veteran Si Andrews was put clear in the Shildon penalty area and scored to make it one - nil to the lads. The goal stung Shildon, who gained three corners in a row, the third one cleared twice by Gary D Anderson, who was playing an unfamiliar role in midfield. A minute later Niki Lawson ran out bravely to deflect the ball from an on-rushing Shildon forward. On 22 minutes Gary Anderson was back in action, clearing the ball off the RCA goal line.

On 33 minutes, Shildon equalised. From a corner the ball pinged around the RCA penalty area eventually falling to John Hutton on the 18 yard line, who made no mistake firing strongly through a crowd of players. Three minutes later Shildon had the ball in the net again, but the whistle had gone for off-side.

In the second half, Craig Shields took over in the RCA goal. Manager Neil Hixon was soon forced to make more changes. Luke Ball was booked for what looked like a fair 50:50 tackle and went off for treatment. The injury proved too severe for Luke to continue and John Butler, who has been recovering from an injury over the past few weeks, was thrown into the fray.

Shildon were showing determination to get themselves ahead. On 55 minutes, Craig Shields dived to push a shot around the post for a corner. On the 60th minute Shildon got their breakthrough. A long shot was deflected for a Shildon corner. The ball was cleared, but pushed back into the RCA penalty area where it broke to Karl Everitt on the 18 yard line. His well hit cross shot found the net to put Shildon ahead.

Seven minutes later RCA were back on level terms. Under-18 player and ANL debutant, Nathan Johnson, went through one-on-one with the Shildon keeper. There was an audible clash between them, but it did not stop Nathan heading the ball into the net to make it 2 - 2. Well done Nathan, with an attitude like that you will go far in the game - let's hope it's with us. Chairman Owen Haley, who devotes a lot of time to the Under-18s, was delighted and it is certainly an inspiration to the other young lads at RCA.

RCA went ahead on 75 minutes. Intelligent and quick thinking from captain Glen McCartney meant that an RCA free kick from 25 yards was taken early and with the Shildon keeper asleep the ball was in the back of the net. Terrific!

Shildon did not give up. The next minute they brought an excellent reaction save from keeper Craig Shields and RCA more than hung on for a deserved victory.

Well done to all the lads. We needed that. It's a funny old game!

Sunderland RCA 3 Marske United 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Two wins on the trot are very welcome to RCA supporters and will have raised eyebrows elsewhere as we trebled our league points tally against a tough Marske side, who were eighth in the league, with no away losses, going into this match. Things are changing at Meadow Park as new manager Neil Hixon's early work takes effect. There's more heart, more belief and more ability on show. RCA can go into the next two home ANL encounters with Prudhoe (Saturday) and Guisborough (Tuesday week) with a positive frame of mind.

RCA began the match kicking up the slope. Marske were first to show, heading over the bar from a right wing cross after two minutes. In the next minute RCA had a corner, but this was cleared. On five minutes there was a long stoppage as a Marske player was knocked out when competing for a header in midfield. When play was resumed, Wayne Henderson made a good and crucial tackle as a Marske forward ran clear on goal. Six minutes later, Wayne was in action again, managing to disturb a Marske forward who was clear through on goal, weakening the shot that was comfortably saved by keeper Craig Shields.

Marske were having success down their left wing and on 17 minutes shot just past the far post. RCA were also threatening. Lee Owens collected a good diagonal ball, but his shot was straight at the keeper.

On 26 minutes Marske got the goal that their play had been threatening. Again the problem was on the RCA left side of defence, with a Marske forward having far too much freedom to run through to slot past Craig Shields.

Two minutes later it looked like it was not going to be RCA's day as Wayne Henderson conceded a penalty, but the shot was way wide past the right post.

RCA were getting some joy down their right, with good work from new signing Lee Owens. Unfortunately his cross on 37 minutes was just over hit. On 41 minutes Si Andrews challenged the keeper on his line and inevitably the referee blew in favour of the keeper.

Marske will have been frustrated that there lead was only 1 - 0 at half time, although any neutral would not have felt much sympathy for their constantly mythering fans, who were giving the match officials a ridiculous level of abuse.

Manager Neil Hixon made some key changes for the for the second half bringing on Gary D Anderson and Paul Moss to tighten up the right side of the defence. Both players did very well and the changes had the desired effect, as would the introduction of new signing Lee Bell on to the right wing.

On 48 minutes Gary Shields won a penalty, which he then took to score and put RCA on level terms. Ten minutes later though Marske were ahead again scoring from their second penalty.

RCA were back in the match on 59 minutes. A terrific ball from the ever-improving Kevin Dixon put Gary Shields in good space on the right of the Marske penalty area. His cross was half-stopped by the keeper, but Si Andrews was on hand to bundle the ball into the net.

On 75 minutes RCA went ahead for the first time in the match. Tricky footwork from new boy Lee Bell was too much for the Marske defenders and he slotted home to make it 3 - 2. Three minutes later a good ball from Dean Goodwin set up Lee on the right, but all missed his tantalising cross.

There was more woe for Marske on 82 minutes as David Onions was stretchered off. Let's hope he's OK.

On 82 minutes another good ball from Kevin Dixon to Lee Bell was crossed, but Si Andrews did not connect effectively enough with his header and the keeper pushed around the post.

A good win and with a friendly against the Bishops arranged for Wednesday night Neil Hixon will have more opportunity to assess his squad.

October

Sunderland RCA 1 Bishop Auckland 0

Friendly

Wednesday, 4 October 2007

This quickly arranged friendly suited both clubs. For RCA it was the opportunity for manager Neil Hixon to get more of a look at his squad and to introduce the new left winger Ashley Davis, who has signed for RCA from Jarrow Roofing. The Bishops have a new management team and Brian Honour and Assistant Player Manager Steve Howey were equally keen to assess their team.

The Bishops started brightly, but as RCA settled in to the match new signing Ashley Davis was showing some good touches and threatening positions on the left in an RCA side that started with Anth Laidler taking a central midfield role, Gary Anderson on the right and Paul Moss and Gary D Anderson in central defence.

Matthew Raine continued his solid start with RCA at left back, but unfortunately was injured in the 35th minute and had to leave the field. The substitute's first action was to concede a penalty. Niki Lawson brought off a good save diving to his right to palm the shot away and the danger was eventually cleared.

In the second half Si Andrews came on for Dean Fox to partner new signing Lee Bell in attack. Midfielder Kevin Dixon also entered the fray alongside Karl Jarvis who was making his comeback after a lengthy shoulder injury.

The Bishops created a good chance in the 60th minute when a right wing cross was volleyed across goal and wide. It was RCA who made the breakthrough, though, courtesy of its new boys. Ashley Davis carried the ball forward and passed to live wire Lee Bell in the penalty area. Lee controlled the ball well and shot past the Bishop's keeper.

This was a good workout and will encourage the players for the next completive action - a clean sheet as well!

Sunderland RCA 1 Prudhoe Town 3

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 06 October 2007

What a disappointment. An opportunity to avenge our defeat in August, and we created more than enough chances to do so, but found it hard to score in the face of some solid defending, good goalkeeping, and a few slack efforts.

Prudhoe opened the scoring in the 10th minute, and within another 60 seconds their keeper managed to block a Gary Shields effort from close range when he looked certain to score. We had the better of the rest of the first period, and some good chances but went into the break still a goal down, confident we could turn it round in the second half.

No doubt Neil and George told the boys at half time the importance of starting the second half wide awake, but a few weren't listening, as within two minutes Prudhoe players were allowed to turn on the ball and stroll through retreating defenders before coolly finishing to double their advantage. What a shocker.

Neil made all three changes before the mid point of the half, and Jif Dickinson came on and got his first ever goal for the club with a well taken effort after a confident run into the box but, despite several more openings, the equaliser just wouldn't come.

Paul Moss came up from the back and could have scored twice, with a solid header from a corner and a turn and shot in the area, and sub Willie Crew also went close, but with seconds remaining a corner on the right looked like being our last chance. Keeper Craig Shields came up to add his height to our effort, and as sometimes happens, Prudhoe took advantage to break away and notch with the last kick of the match. Not our day!

Sunderland RCA 4 Guisborough 1

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Tuesday, 09 October 2007

A great result for Sunderland RCA to celebrate the launch of their new partnership with GENTOO. A good crowd, including a good contingent from GENTOO, had turned out in pretty awful weather, but the omens before the game were realistically not good. A team being rebuilt week by week, a poor result against Prudhoe, and now a game against a side who had won seven and drawn one of their eight League games to date. This had some fearing a very tough night.

How wrong can you be? Left back Mathew Raine started things rolling for RCA after only seven minutes, when he rocketed a 25 yard shot through the keeper's hands as he latched onto a ball knocked out of the area from a corner. This was something special for the lad's first goal for the club! Goals from Ash Davis with a neat header, and Lee Owens with a far post finish, both again with their first goals for the club, saw RCA into a comfortable 3-0 lead inside the first half hour. However, debutant Matt Hyson, signed the day previously from Spennymoor Town, and who had looked very solid at the back alongside evergreen, play anywhere, stalwart Simon Andrews, was then sent off for a second bookable offence a minute before the break, to leave RCA facing 45 minutes with 10 men.

Guisborough produced the expected barrage at the start of the second period, but found goal keeper Craig Shileds in tremendous form, pulling off three top class saves. It was not all one-way traffic, as Gary Shields, James Dickinson and Lee Owens showed great pace on the break to keep the Guisborough defence on their toes, ably prompted by the returning Karl Jarvis in midfield. Perhaps they took the caution too far, as Gary, playing as a lone striker, often found himself with three or even four defenders for company.

An unfortunate mistake by Si Andrews gave the Teessiders a little hope, but within five minutes Si put things right himself, with a great turn and shot in the box to restore the three goal margin. RCA played out time without further alarms, and could have scored again as they burst forward against a visibly deflated Guisborough team.

Esh Winning 1 Sunderland RCA 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 13 October 2007

A bit of a smash and grab! The game started at a good pace, and the first half was very evenly contested. Gary Shields gave us the lead after 10 minutes with a well struck goal following a quality passing move.

Esh Winning were always dangerous, playing patient possession football, but lacking a real cutting edge. After 25 minutes Jif Dickinson hit the bar with a diving header when he probably should have scored, and RCA went into the break with the single goal lead, reasonably happy with the performance, and with little inkling of the second half to come.

Jif was hurt late in the first half, taking a blow in the ribs, so Willie Crew replaced him for the second period.

Esh Winning came at us in waves from the restart. There must have been five corners in the first five minutes. Constant pressure, but thankfully not many real chances created.

On the hour a super move on the break saw Lee Bell finish coolly and if Willie had scored from a great chance after another quality move a few minutes later it might have been a different story. As it was the pressure from Esh intensified again, they got one back after 70 minutes and then it was all hands to the pump for the last 20. Craig Shields pulled off a couple of great saves, there were crosses and half chances galore, but we held on to take all three points. Phew!

Consett 7 Sunderland RCA 0

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Durham County Challenge Cup

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Nothing much to say: a top First Division side who gave us a comprehensive lesson. 2-0 at half time; and then the pace of the Consett front men was too much for us as they went nap in the second half.

Hicka treated the game as a good training session, and at least we now how far we have to go, if we do manage to get promoted one of these days!

Sunderland RCA 0 Penrith Town 1

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 20 October 2007

A tough old game. RCA had most of the play from start to finish, but Penrith looked dangerous on the break throughout.

Scott Richards and Scott Thompson came in for their debuts and both fitted in well, with Richards prompting from midfield and Thompson holding the ball up well from the front, although he took a knock and had to leave the field after an hour to be replaced by Willie Crew.

Overall, we looked a little short of pace with some of our quick players missing, and to be fair, until late in the second half the goalkeepers were largely spectators, and a single goal as always likely to be enough.

The game turned on an incident in the 75th minute when Matty Hyson could only lift a header into the roof of the net as he tried to clear for a corner. The goal lifted Penrith and Craig Shields had to make a couple of smart saves in the next few minutes, but RCA went for broke in the last ten and camped out in the Penrith area. A goal mouth scramble might have seen the ball into the net, but in the end Penrith held on and ran out narrow winners. The Cumbrians are always competitive and we were by no means second best, so let's hope it is just a temporary set back as we look to continue our improvement of recent weeks.

Sunderland RCA 5 Brandon United 1

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Brandon scored in the first minute as their player turned on a short corner and flighted the ball past a stationary Craig Shields in our goal, and for a minute or two we looked rattled.

But the team soon settled, and were 2-1 up by the break, before easing clear in the second half with three more goals, including a marvellous volley from Jif Dickinson and an equally superb chip from all of 40 yards from Dean Goodwin, one of a brace for the midfielder.

Brandon never gave up, always tried to play football and were a credit to their club. For us it was a solid display, and a welcome improvement to our goal tally.

Norton and Stockton Ancients 0 Sunderland RCA 1

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Any trip down to Teesside and returning home with the points is always satisfying, and this was particularly so.

A couple of players missing meant an emergency role up front for Matt Hyson which he carried out well.

The game started with Norton having most of the possession without threatening too much, before a quick break and good passing led to a well taken goal for Gary Shields after eight minutes.

The pattern was set for the game and did not alter much throughout. Norton huffed and puffed while only looking like scoring on a couple of occasions, while we defended well and looked very dangerous on the break, with the pace of Shields and Lee Owens always a threat.

No more goals, job well done, and back up the A19!

Sunderland RCA 0 Birtley Town 1

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League Cup

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Neil Hixon reshuffled the pack again for the league cup tie vistit of league leaders Birtley, Jon Innis making his debut as goalkeeper. After being informed that Birtley had not lost an away game in league or cup this season, the Chairman was wondering if the opposition management had deliberately conceded home advantage! Very few spectators at 7.25 PM, but a late surge of visiting supporters, decked out with hats and scarves gave the atmosphere a real boost at kick-off time.

A very tight game with both defences very well organised and space was at a premium all over the pitch. Very keenly contested with SRCA shading possession with main threat coming from deep runs from Lee Owens and Ash Davis. A lot of great crosses were flying into the Birtley box but unfortunately no RCA forwards getting on the end! Attacking with the slight wind and slope advantage, SRCA were regretting not scoring first half - 0-0 at half time.

Second half Birtley upped the pace a little realising SRCA were going to be tough opposition to overcome and a couple of long range efforts were well saved by the home keeper Innis who was certainly enjoying his debut. Game was still finely in the balance. At 80 mins the visiting Secretary approached the Chairman to confirm that the tie had to be settled tonight - extra time and pens looked on the cards. The Chairman retort was that if it were to be a replay would Birtley want to play at Meadow Park again; this brought a wry smile from all the visiting committee party!

On 82mins the controversial decision by the Referee. A Birtley midfielder hit a free kick just inside the SRCA half straight at head height towards SRCA midfielder Laidler. Unable to get out of the way and covering his face the ball hits his defensive hand. Very harsh indeed ...then unbelievably he was also booked. This meant a second free kick approx 25 yards from goal. Hepple then stepped up to drill home a superb free kick. Ouch!

The home Manager brought Gary Shields on for the last 10 minutes as we piled forward in search of the equaliser, alas it was not to be.

Only one more Cup left to go for this season; hopefully we are due a change of luck!

November

Sunderland RCA 3 Darlington RA 1

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Another good win for RCA, the third league win on the trot, fourth in the last five matches, and one which pushes into the top half of the league table for the first time in a few years.

Darlington RA came into the game having lost their manager during the previous week, but they looked up for things and started strongly with most of the possession in the first quarter of an hour. Mossy and Wayne held firm at the centre of defence and then, with our first real attack, Gary Shields gave us the lead in the fifteenth minute as he reacted quickest to a ball that found its way right across the six yard box, and squeezed his shot into the corner.

Darlington continued to press, but RCA were looking lively on the break as the pace of Shields and Owens stretched the RA defenders time after time. At the other end Craig Shields in the RCA goal had little to do bar catch a few hopeful crosses and field backpasses.

The score stayed 1-0 at the half time interval.

The second half started in much the same vein as Darlo pressed, and we looked sharp in return.

Gary got his second on the hour with a quick break, and the side relaxed and played their best football of the game. The two substitutes combined for the third as Lee Bell made a great run into the box and found Taz Raine at the far post to slot home. RA got a consolation late on but RCA saw out time very comfortably to secure the vital win.

Marske United 1 Sunderland RCA 2

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Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

RCA travelled down to Marske United for the second round of the Ernest Armstrong Trophy, hoping to repeat the victory secured over Marske at home in the league last month. Manager Neil Hixon shuffled his pack with Matt Hyson returning for Wayne Henderson in defence, Glen McCartney replacing Gary Anderson at right back, Taz Raine coming in for Ash Davis at left back, with Ash pushed forward to left wing to replace the unavailable Jif Dickinson. In attack Lee Bell played in the hole behind debutant Craig Lines. With Gary Shields, Scott Richards and the returning Jon Butler joining Wayne and Gary Anderson, the bench looked strong if needed.

The game started with Marske enjoying a lot of possession without ever looking comfortable. the new partnership of Bell and Lines looked dangerous up front while Lee Owens begin to torture the Marske backline on the break, as he would continue to do all night. By half time the pressure was 60/40 in favour of Marske while the chances were all ours although the scoreline was still 0-0. Goodwin and Hyson had been booked, Matty not helped by the disgraceful intervention of the Marske manager. In a rare moment of danger from the home side Craig Shields was lucky to escape unharmed from a very late challenge.

Within a minute or two of the restart Lee Owens set off on another long run into the Marske defence, shot from the edge of the box, and saw the hapless Marske custodian fumble the ball under his body and into the net. A soft goal, but no more than our enterprising attacking play, particularly from Owens, had deserved. Marske were rattled by this, and the game should have been out of sight in the next 20 minutes as we wasted several excellent chances.

The balance of play turned to Marske as Paul Moss went off injured, and Marske finally made the breakthrough to equalise after 80 minutes. However, it had been good to see Jon Butler make his return on 70 minutes and, within a minute of Marske scoring he made the winner with a strong run to the line and excellent cutback across the keeper which Ash Davis bundled into the net.

That was that, job well done, a quarter final to look forward to, and onto Whickham on Saturday.

Whickham 2 Sunderland RCA 1

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 10 November 2007

A tough afternoon on Tyneside!

As we arrived the clubhouse was full of Newcastle supporters, optimistically hoping to see their team prevail at the Stadium of Light. All of the bonhomie, good grace and intelligent analysis one has come to expect from our friends in the north was on display; until of course Sunderland took the lead! The boys couldn't hold on however, so it was up to Sunderland RCA to fly the flag against the black and whites of Whickham.

Whickham are a tough act to contend with. Much improved from last season, fast and direct, they put us under pressure from the off, and went ahead in the 15th minute with a super strike as a ball was cleared from a corner.

It took us a long time to get to grips, but as the half wore on we came more into things, although still finding it difficult to get it down and pass it, not helped it much be said by Whickham's awful pitch and the strong wind. Still 1 - 0 at the break, and Neil reacted immediately, with all three subs used by the 50th minute. Simon Andrews came on to add more height up front for Lee Bell, while Wayne Henderson and Glen McCartney came in at the back to replace the injured Matt Hyson and Taz Raine.

Now playing into the wind we came more and more into things and began to really press the Whickham back four. Craig Lines held it up well while Gary Shields dropped deep to turn and run at defenders. The goal looked like it would never come, but finally a clever ball from Simon set Craig away and he finished well to bring things level with 12 minutes to go.

There looked to be only one winner at this stage, and it wasn't going to be Whickham, or so we thought. But a quick break exposed a lack of pace at the back and the chance was buried, to leave us with only five minutes to try and salvage things again.

It was not to be, and Whickham celebrated like a cup final on the whistle. They expect to be in contention at the end of the season, and on this performance, particularly since we know we can do much better, so should we.

Sunderland RCA 2 Crook Town 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

A cold and wet night was no deterrent to a good turn out at Meadow Park, where attendance was helped by a strong Crook contingent. The weather was no deterrent to an action packed match either, with both teams keen to get a maximum points. In the end, the points were shared and this will be a cause of frustration to both teams.

Crook began the match kicking down the slope. The first significant action was on ten minutes when a Crook free kick on their right was floated into the box, but the header went over. On 12 minutes, Gary D Anderson got a long lecture from the referee. Crook wasted the opportunity by over hitting the free kick. Two minutes later an RCA corner caused problems for the Crook defence, but they eventually cleared the danger. On 15 minutes, RCA were living dangerously as they failed to clear from their box. The ball fell to a Crook forward, but from a difficult angle he hooked over the bar. More Crook pressure followed. RCA countered with a swift beak feeding Lee Owens on the RCA right. The header from his cross was unfortunately off-target.

RCA were cursing their luck on 20 minutes. A terrific through ball from Anth Laidler found winger Adam McGuiness in space on the left. His cross evaded everyone and was eventually cleared by Crook for an RCA corner on the right. A good delivery saw captain Paul Moss head against the post.

On 25 minutes it looked like RCA had a real opportunity when the referee awarded a free kick on the Crook D, but he reversed his decision after consulting his assistant. This did not dampen RCA's ambitions. Two minutes later they had a clear break on the right, with the shot on goal being defected for a corner. The delivery was cleared despite Paul Moss getting a touch. Two minutes later Adam McGuiness has a strong run down the left, but his cross was eventually cleared.

On 34 minutes it looked as though Crook must score as the ball broke to them on the edge of the six yard box, but it was somehow cleared. Two minutes later Crook had another clear opportunity, but the shot was pushed around the post by keeper Craig Shields, who then punched clear from from the corner. At half time it was hard to believe that it was 0 - 0.

Manager Neil Hixon made one change for the second half, with Jon Butler coming on for Gary Shields. Everyone will be pleased to see Butts back after his injury lay off. It was RCA's other forward who broke the deadlock. New boy Craig Lines ran on to an excellent through ball which split the Crook defence and slotted clinically under the advancing Crook keeper to make it 1 - 0 to the RCA.

Crook continued to threaten and RCA got a clear warning on 60 minutes when a strong Crook shot from outside the area went just past the post. On 65 minutes a slip by Paul Moss caused danger and the quick running of Ashley Davis meant the ball was cleared just in time.

On 70 minutes RCA thought they had got a crucial second goal. A slick move ended with Lee Owens putting the ball into the Crook net, but the linesman's flag had been raised for off-side. This turned out to be a sickner, because a minute later a Crook corner ended in an equaliser from a glancing header across the RCA goal. On 75 minutes it was too easy for Crook to cross and RCA were relieved when the shot went wide.

On 76 minutes RCA had a free kick on the Crook D. It was well struck by substitute Matthew Raine, but was deflected for a corner.

On 83 minutes Crook took the lead as poor defensive work meant that the ball broke for them to shoot past Craig Shields to make it 2 - 1.

On 87 minutes RCA were awarded a free kick on their right. Si Andrews came on for Ashley Davis to add height and power to the massed ranks of RCA players waiting to receive the ball just inside the Crook penalty area. The cross broke well for RCA and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty for pulling. Lee Owens scored strongly from the post kick. What a relief!

Sunderland RCA 2 Birtley Town 0

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 17 November 2007

RCA had new signing Paul Sammons making his debut in a five man midfield for the visit of league leaders Birtley. The game started at a decent pace, and as has been the way of recent games, RCA defended solidly while Birtley had much of the possession in the first half hour. Chances were at a premium however, Craig Shields tipping one over after 20 minutes being the best chance for the visitors, who also saw a good long range drive go narrowly over the bar late in the half. For RCA the pace of Shields and Owens began to cause Birtley a lot of problems as the half wore on, and both Lee Owens and Craig Lines went close in a two minute spell just before the break.

Into the second half and RCA began to take more control, with Lee Owens outstanding as he tormented the Birtley back line. A hand ball in the box saw Gary Shields give RCA the lead after 54 minutes. Birtley rallied briefly but still had no answer to the pace of RCA wide. Lee Owens should have scored a great goal after a marvellous run saw him go past three defenders before blasting over the bar in the 72nd minute, but he was not to be denied and sealed the game with a solo run and shot in the 87th minute. A well deserved victory as Sunderland RCA goalkeeper Craig Shields was a well protected spectator behind a solid back three of Moss, Anderson and Henderson, despite Birtley's possession. Paul Sammons made a pleasing debut in a combative midfield where Anth Laidler and Dean Goodwin also worked hard.

Sunderland RCA 3 North Shields 0

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 24 November 2007

RCA produced an excellent performance against a North Shields team who were in good form themselves.

Only one change from the team against Birtley, with Scott Richards coming in for the suspended Dean Goodwin. Richards signed a few weeks ago from Bishop Auckland with a good reputation and first division pedigree, but his appearances have been restricted due to injury and suspension, so knowledgeable fans were looking forward to seeing him perform.

RCA started brightly and Richards had the first attempt on goal with afine effort in the 4th minute. Shields had some decent possession early on, but RCA always looked more dangerous, and should have taken the lead after an excellent Gary Shields run left Lee Owens with a good shooting position in the 10th minute, but the North Shields keeper pulled off the first in a string of fine saves. More efforts on goal came up at regular intervals for RCA, before the deadlock was broken by Gary Shields in the 37th minute when a good ball from midfield left him in on goal and he finished coolly.

1-0 at the break, and a few spectators were thinking that RCA might regret not taking the chances they had through the half, as North Shields would surely offer more as the game wore on. The second period however started in the same vein as the first, and the only surprise was that those spectators had to wait until the 63rd minute before a superb Anth Laidler long range effort was too hot for the keeper to hold and Paul Sammons followed in smartly to net the rebound.

Sunderland RCA continued to have all the chances and many fans were pleased to see Jon Butler, slowly getting back to form after a long break through injury, finish the job by getting on the end of a good Lee Owens diagonal ball to slide it past the keeper and make the final score 3-0. A very good display against a side that were made to look quite ordinary despite their recent good run. RCA were solid at the back, aggressive and creative in midfield and, despite missing a few, had a good conversion rate from the front men. Very promising!

December

Team Northumbria 0 Sunderland RCA 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Sunderland RCA continued their recent good form by securing three valuable points, and another clean sheet, at Team Northumbria, despite a dogged and workmanlike performance from the home side. Team Northumbria played good possession football throughout, threatened occasionally, particularly from set pieces, but never really looked like breaching the RCA defence.

For the third game in a row the only change in the Sunderland side was enforced as Dean Goodwin returned from suspension to replace the unavailable Anth Laidler. The game started at a good pace with chances at a premium but Gary Shields might have given RCA the lead as he struck a shot over the bar after five minutes. Ash Davis did the same after 15 minutes as the ball broke from a corner, but for the most part it was a tough midfield battle with Dean Goodwin, Paul Sammons and Scott Richards working hard to contain a hard working and skillful Team Northumbria midfield. Late on in the half Team Northumbria went close with two headers from corners, but thankfully both flew wide.

For the second period RCA significantly upped the tempo, and now having the benefit of a bitter wind, pressed hard. Craig Lines was just off target before Neil Hixon changed his attacking options by replacing Gary Shields with John Butler after 55 minutes. Almost immediately Butts broke free on a chase to goal before his control let him down and the defence got back to cover. On the hour Adam McGuiness came on to replace Ash Davis as RCA moved to a more attacking formation but despite a lot of pressure the goal wouldn't come and, to be fair to Team Northumbria, they continued to respond with calm and precise football. In the 80th minute Taz Raine replaced Craig Lines and a couple of minutes later the Team Northumbria goalkeeper had to be helped from the field and replaced after a collision with John Butler. Thankfully despite some nasty cuts and bruises the goalie did not look too badly hurt. Two minutes later his replacement brought down Butts as he went round him and Lee Owens scored from the resultant penalty. Matters were settled in the 89th minute when Adam McGuiness went round the keeper after a good run onto a pass from midfield. A good win but by no means easy!

Sunderland RCA 3 Hebburn Town 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday 8 December 2007

Another good win for Sunderland RCA who made it four wins in a row with this victory over Hebburn Town. A miserable, wet, cold day saw only die hard fans making the effort to get to Meadow Park for this clash. RCA started brightly attacking with the advantage of the slope, and chances came and went at regular intervals through the first period. After four minutes a ball from the left flashed across the box with no one reaching it and after seven minutes Lee Owens had his first attempt of the afternoon, shooting wide from the edge of the box.

Hebburn broke occasionally and looked dangerous in the 17th minute as their centre forward, Garry McCartney, turned and shot smartly, but just wide. In the 21st minute the long serving Hebburn keeper, Gary Rogers dropped the ball from a corner and RCA skipper Paul Moss should have done better than to poke it wide. More chances followed, mostly for RCA before Lee Owens broke the deadlock in the 29th minute, pushing the ball home from a yard in the middle of an enormous scramble. Four minutes later Lee doubled the lead with a superb goal for his and RCA's second, waltzing past 2 defenders and planting a shot past the Hebburn keeper from 12 yards.

RCA pressed from then to the break but the score stayed level. Early in the second half however the game seemed to be in the bag as, in the 52nd minute, Craig Lines got the faintest of touches onto a Lee Owens cross and directed the ball into the far corner. RCA seemed well on top at this point, but Hebburn were handed a lifeline by a good Mick Younger header after the hour, and, when Paul Donaghy made it 3-2 in the 69th minute, it was definitely game back on! From then until the final whistle it was end to end stuff, with chances being created and spurned by both sides. The referee found five minutes of injury time from somewhere, and right at the death Craig Shields made a tremendous save to keep RCA in front. For the resulting corner the Hebburn keeper joined the attack and the game ended with him stranded as RCA broke and looked certain to score into an empty net, but the ref saved Mr Rogers blushes, blowing for time before the goal could be scored. A very entertaining contest in tough conditions, very well done to both sides, Sunderland RCA up to 7th and march on!

Sunderland RCA 3 Horden Colliery Welfare 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday 22 December 2007

With new signing Andy Jennings making his debut in the number nine shirt, RCA kicked off with a promising start, but Horden were quickly back and could - should - have scored with their first break. RCA defender Paul Moss did enough to make the Horden forward pass the ball instead of shooting. The resulting cross was somehow cleared when a goal looked certain.

On ten minutes, RCA got a free kick on the left 25 yards out from the Horden goal. A good cross was cleared for a corner kick, but RCA failed to capitalise as the referee blew for a Horden free kick.

On 15 minutes Horden missed their second clear chance. An under hit back pass meant that the Horden forward got the ball ahead of keeper Craig Shields, but he could only shoot high and wide when more composure would have given him a clear chance against the out of position keeper.

Andy Jennings did not have to wait long to take his first goal for RCA. On 25 minutes a good cross from the right saw Andy rise at the far post to head just over the line.

Five minutes later and Andy Jennings had his second turing the ball into the net from six yards following good work from Lee Owens, who beat a player of the right and then crossed from the by-line.

A minute later RCA keeper, Craig Shields made a good save following a Horden corner.

Five minutes into the second half saw Andy Jennings turn provider as he broke clear on the left and crossed for Gary Shields, who was in acres of space, to score easily past the isolated Horden keeper. 3 - 0 did not reflect the balance of play and Horden fought back. On 74 minutes, an excellent shot hit the bar and rebounded for the Horden substitute to strike the ball firmly from close range, giving Craig Shields little or no chance.

In the 83 minute things got more nervous still for RCA, who were playing too deeply and inviting Horden on to them. Good work from a Horden corner saw them peg RCA back to 3 - 2.

On 87 minutes the stage seemed set for Willie Crew, returning to his old club, to seal a draw for Horden, but Craig Shields pulled off a terrific save from his well hit shot.

There was further danger on 89 minutes when Paul Moss conceded a free kick 22 yards out, but all Horden could do was sky it.

The final whistle came as a relief to RCA. How Willie Crew would have loved to mark his return to Meadow Park with a goal, but it was not to be his day. Instead it was RCA fans who went home happy for Christmas. Well done Andy Jennings - scoring two and making the third - not a bad debut!

January

Sunderland RCA 6 Stokesley SC 1

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 12 January 2008

An excellent display of attacking football from RCA, although the final scoreline is undoubtedly harsh on a strong Stokesley team who contributed much to a very entertaining game.

RCA gave debuts to Sean Davies, newly signed on loan from Newcastle Blue Star for the remainder of the season, Steve Houlahan and Andrew Hoban, joining on a permanent basis from Ryton and Willington respectively. Davies started in the left back spot as RCA lined up in an unfamiliar 4-4-2 formation, while Houlahan and Hoban had to settle for places on the bench.

The game started with Stokesley the brighter side and after 10 minutes they could have taken the lead as Sonny Andrews saw his effort strike the post and run away to safety. RCA began to settle and took the lead after 14 minutes as Adam McGuinness met a Lee Owens corner to plant the ball past the Stokesley keeper with a powerful header.

Five minutes later Andy Jennings made it 2-0 with a smart finish after an excellent break down the right by Lee Owens. Shortly after Stokesley hit the post again, and began to have that sinking feeling that it wasn't going to be there day!

A tremendous Jennings effort, which saw him juggle the ball along the edge of the box before firing in a great shot which the keeper just managed to parry onto the bar, brought applause from the crowd before a rare Wayne Henderson goal, again a header from a corner, saw RCA into the break with a comfortable 3-0 lead, although the Stokesley fans were wondering how they hadn't managed at least one themselves.

The second half started busily until Paul Sammons seized on a loose ball to fire into the net from the edge of the box, to make it 4-0 after 58 minutes. Andrew Hoban replaced Gary Shields for his debut after 63 minutes and the game meandered a little, until a superb Lev Yalcin free kick gave Stokesley a flicker of hope in the 78th minute.

Steve Houlahan came on for Adam McGuinness in the 80th minute, and then two goals in a minute from Andrew Hoban and Paul Sammons, in the 87th and 88th minutes, finished Stokesley off. A super game, and evidence of the potency RCA now possess going forward, but sympathy for Stokesley, who competed hard throughout.

Sunderland RCA 3 Thornaby 1

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 19 January 2008

A 3-1 scoreline looks comfortable enough, as RCA stretched their league winning run to an impressive seven on Saturday, but as the week before, it doesn't tell the whole story. Thornaby were strong opponents, and pushed us all the way.

The game kicked off on a heavy pitch after all the recent rain, but weather conditions were good, and the game started in a very lively fashion, with both sides trying to create chances with intelligent football. The first real chance fell to Thornaby when their impressive left back, Paul Harvey, hit a powerful free kick which Craig Shields dealt with at full stretch. Gary Shields then had a couple of good chances to break onto balls from midfield for RCA, but it was Thornaby who took the lead after 29 minutes, taking advantage of defensive slips for their number 10, Dane Wilson, to slide home. The lead was shortlived however, as RCA replied as Gary Shields converted a 34th minute penalty given at the second time of asking when he was bundled over in the box. 1-1 was the score at the break.

The second half was an impressive affair as both sides produced some quality football. For RCA, Gary Shields should have done better after 47 minutes with a shot inside the box, and Scott Richards shot tamely when well placed on 51 minutes. At the other end the front runners for Thornaby were keeping the RCA defenders fully occupied until, on 57 minutes, RCA took the lead with a goal of rare quality. Lee Owens raced down the right, turned his marker beautifully and centred precisely for Adam McGuinness to smash a superb volley past the Thornaby keeper, from around the penalty spot area.

From then to the end of the game it was Thornaby asking the questions against some, at times desperate, defending from RCA. Steve Houlahan came on for Gary Shields to shore up the midfield, and Adam McGuiness made some strong runs in possession as the game wore on, but for the most part, Thornaby dominated, despite the non stop efforts of Paul Sammons and Scott Richards to gain some control through the centre. Craig Shields was well covered however, and made few real saves, although he tipped one over the bar well, and was relieved to see two good efforts fly narrowly wide.

Up top centre forward Andy Jennings had been quiet for most of the game, well marshaled by centre backs Leon Carling and Gareth Wake for Thornaby, until in the 88th minute, as RCA staged a late rally, he made his mark on the game, smashing an unstoppable 15 yard shot past Stu Trotter in the Thornaby goal to settle the match.

A real good game, and the run goes on!

February

Guisborough Town 1 Sunderland RCA 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Get a high resolution copy of the team photo, with credits and partners' logos, taken just before the Guisborough match and celebrating eight wins on the trot. Please right click on this link and select 'Save Target As...' Please note that the file is very large at 3.57 MB. The file is set up for 10 X 8 printing.

RCA finally got a game on Saturday when they faced Guisborough after a frustrating couple of weeks of postponements. Craig Shields failed a fitness test with another recurrence of his increasingly troublesome leg problem, and may face further surgery and be out for some considerable time. Hard luck for Craig who has been rock solid since returning to the club, but an opportunity for Jon Minniss to step in and show his worth. Dean Goodwin returned in central midfield for the suspended Scott Richards.

The game started scrappily, with RCA showing the effects of their break in some sloppy play, while Guisborough failed to make much headway against rugged defending from the RCA back line. Andy Jennings had the ball in the net after five minutes but was rightly pulled back for offside, the first of a large number of such calls, both right and wrong, which were to frustrate the RCA strikers all afternoon. Jon Minniss made a good save after 12 minutes, before RCA took the lead with a goal of real quality. Lee Owens carried the ball 60 yards past three defenders before playing in Gary Shields with a superb pass. Gary went past the last defender, rounded the keeper and slotted the ball home with great confidence. The goal clearly boosted RCA who began to play with more fluidity, and after having a strong shout for a penalty turned down, Shieldsy doubled the lead with a good turn and finish from 12 yards after 33 minutes.

It looked like plain sailing for RCA, but a minute later the referee, who did not have the best of games, turned the match on its head, first harshly dismissing Lee Owens after mishearing a shout from the bench, then sending manager Neil Hixon to the stand for expressing his frustration. Guisborough were lifted by the prospect of facing 10 men for an hour, and after Sean Davies had blasted a dangerous free kick over the bar, the referee intervened again on 41 minutes to award a controversial penalty to the home team for a challenge in the box. Jon Minniss very nearly saved the spot kick, getting a good hand to the ball which just crossed the line, but nonetheless a 2-1 scoreline at the break looked less than secure under the circumstances.

The second half was goalless as Guisborough huffed and puffed without threatening very much or very often, against the RCA back four of Davies, Henderson, Wardle and Anderson, well in command of things with a no nonsense display, and Jon Minniss proving a more than capable deputy in goal on the rare occasions he was called into action. On the break RCA always looked dangerous, and Jon Newton, who was always lively, could have marked his debut as a 65th minute substitute for Andy Jennings with an immediate goal, but his close range shot hit the side netting. Ash Davis, who had replaced Adam McGuinness at the half time interval, always looked to carry the ball on his trademark long runs, and Gary Shields adapted well to life out wide as RCA went to a one up formation. Paul Sammons, man of the match for me, was his usual tigerish self at the heart of the RCA midfield. Shieldsy should have got what would have been a well deserved hat trick when played in by Newton after 73 minutes, but chose power when a careful place might have done better, and the game finished with Anth Laidler, on for Dean Goodwin, holding the ball well in the corners to count down time. A solid if unspectacular performance, against the odds for a lot of the time, and the run goes on, now eight wins on the spin. Come on Esh!

Sunderland RCA 1 Esh Winning 1

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 16 February 2008

The run comes to an end! After a fantastic eight consecutive wins, a hard working and skillful Esh Winning team held RCA to a 1-1 draw in Saturday's encounter before a decent and appreciative crowd of around 100. Let's hope we can get such gates from now until the end of the season.

A draw was no more than Esh deserved for a very tidy and solid display, which saw them have the majority of possession, although on another day RCA would have taken more advantage of the chances created, and stolen the spoils.

The game started in bright but cold conditions, with Esh starting as they intended to go on, with good possession and swift passing, without posing too many problems for Jon Minniss in the RCA goal. Play was scrappy until Esh took the lead in the 17th minute with a soft penalty awarded for a clumsy foul in the box.

On 22 minutes Gary Shields should probably have equalised when a good pass from Andy Jennings gave him a clear shooting opportunity, but he shot straight at the keeper, who saved comfortably. The leveler came however in the 30th minute when a good Lee Owens run and excellent pass saw Gary Shields cross and Adam McGuinness slide home from a few yards out.

Between this and the break chances were few, although Lee Owens made a good opening with one of his trademark runs, and Jon Minniss had to save smartly from an Esh effort. The second half continued in the same vein, with good Esh possession being matched by RCA with breaks from deep. The game came alive in the last quarter as both keepers starred, showing great anticipation and good hands to make several saves as the game opened out. It could have been settled either way as Esh created chances while Lee Owens made a number of excellent runs only lacking the final ball, but the keepers had the last word. Honours even, still 10 games unbeaten, and into a real testing part of the season, where our destiny for next season will be decided, I can't wait!

Penrith 3 Sunderland RCA 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 23 February 2008

SRCA's long unbeaten run came to an end in disappointing fashion at league leaders Penrith last Saturday, when two late Penrith goals in the 77th and 85th minutes gave the home side a 3 2 win in a game Sunderland RCA should have won comfortably. Andy Jennings will rarely score two easier goals, and, while leading 2 1 through most of the second half, RCA spurned a string of good chances to settle the game. Penrith though are nothing if not game and kept going to steal victory in the last 15 minutes with two sloppy goals that the RCA defenders will be very annoyed about, not to mention the manager...

The pattern of the game was settled early on, with Penrith seeing a lot of possession, but failing to trouble Jon Minniss in the RCA goal while when possession was won, RCA threatened on nearly every occasion. Gary Shields crossed dangerously in the second minute, Paul Sammons lifted a shot over the bar in five minutes, and a sustained spell of RCA pressure had Penrith defending hard around the ten minute mark.

The deadlock was broken after 20 minutes when Gary Shieids crossed superbly from the right for Andy Jennings to nod home unmarked at the far post from a couple of yards out. The pattern stayed the same with Penrith edging possession but Lee Owens threatening with long runs and good crossing.

Penrith equalised after 33 minutes when a hopeful effort from outside the box took a deflection from the challenging Paul Sammons and left Minniss helpless in the RCA goal. The score stayed that way until the break.

The second half started in the same fashion as the first with Penrith possession, and their first really threatening attack of the game coming in the 52nd minute when a header narrowly went over the bar, but a superb ball from Paul Wardle in the centre of defence was the early highlight as he sent Lee Owens away. As that attack broke down a great piece of Owens skill from the throw in saw Lee beat three men and cross low for Jennings to slide home from close range in the 54th minute to restore the lead. The next twenty five minutes was the decisive period of the game, as RCA spurned a number of excellent chances to make the game safe, with all the forwards at fault at one time or another.

The consistently excellent Lee Owens failed to round the keeper when he looked certain to score and a few minutes later Penrith, who always battled away, while only occasionally looking likely to score, capitalised on their let offs to score from a close range header. Although clearly rattled by this RCA continued to create chances, but were left dumbfounded when five minutes from time Penrith took the lead for the first time in the game with a low shot that escaped everybody to nestle in the corner. It was too late to come back, and RCA were left to rue their finishing, while Penrith march on at the top of the league, no doubt as surprised by the win as anyone.

March

Sunderland RCA 1 Norton and Stockton Ancients 0

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Sunderland RCA got back to winning ways against Norton and Stockton Ancients on saturday, but it was a close run thing. An Andy Jennings close range header from a Scott Richards cross in the 84th minute was all that separated the sides. The game was always going to be tough, with a strong wind blowing down the bank, and RCA had to play into it in the first half.

Jon Newton came in for the suspended Lee Owens, with Gary Shields moving out wide to accommodate him, and Scott Richards returning from suspension in place of Dean Goodwin. As was to be the pattern of the game, RCA started brightly playing into the gale, with Jon newton having good chances in the seventh and ninth minutes to break the deadlock. Norton then used the wind to have a succession of corners, but Jon Minniss's handling was exemplary and we got through it.

After 19 minutes Newton had the ball in the net for RCA, but it was adjudged offside. RCA continued to have the best of the play, but Jon Minniss needed to save sharply as he pushed a shot round after 27 minutes. RCA got in a number of good crosses without reward, and the ame was still goalless at the break.

As with RCA, Norton found it easier to play into the wind after half time, and pushed quite hard, with Jon Minniss pulling off a tremendous save after 57 minutes to keep things level.

The home team began to push Norton back, winning a number of corners, and with Ash Davis and Andy Middleton brought into things, RCA pressed hard. it looked like it was going to be in vain until Scott Richards took a corner from the right, had the ball played back out to him, and dropped a cross on Jennings head for the big target man to break through from a yard out. Norton couldn't come back and RCA held out well for a vital three points.

Brandon United 0 Sunderland RCA 4

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

A couple of changes were made to the RCA forward line that started on Saturday against Norton. Gary Shields was unavailable due to a family bereavement (all our thoughts are with you Gary) and Jonny Newton pulled out at the last moment through sickness. As Lee Owens was suspended, Neil Hixon was forced to shuffle the pack opting to bring Andy Middleton (wide right) into the starting line up for the first time in months and playing Ash Davis on the left.

RCA certainly had the better of early exchanges as both Davis and Middleton were enjoying space on the flanks culminating in good crosses in the 10th and 15th minutes, ending in headed efforts from Jennings and a shot by Richards. Brandon cleared their lines from three corners and were proven to be no shove over as they competed very well in all physical challenges. Although RCA were having most of the play, Brandon were looking to break at any opportunity playing some very neat football. After their best spell of play on 18 minutes the ball was exchanged quickly from defence to attack and Brandon left winger Ian Pritchard was unlucky when breaking into the RCA box, beating two defenders before pulling his shot wide across Minniss.

After a scrappy five-minute period a long ball was hit from the half way line from Henderson towards the penalty spot. Jennings ran forward to beat the offside trap and gleefully headed over the advancing keeper on 23 minutes. From the Brandon kick off RCA quickly looked to gain possession with a couple of strong challenges by Sammons who took a bad knock after winning a couple of fifty-fifties. On 25 minutes the ball was crossed out wide right to Middleton who pushed the ball past the left full back only to be pulled down. The ball was knocked in by Richards, the keeper punched out, then a defender headed out to Ash Davis who slammed the ball home to make it 2 – 0; it looked like game, set and match. RCA were stroking the ball about confidently and Brandon looked a little subdued. However just after half an hour Scott Richards pulled up with hamstring trouble and Paul Sammons was also struggling with a knock. Dean Goodwin replaced Scott on 32 minutes. Andy Middleton seemed to be involved in a lot of the nights proceedings and was proving too fast for the Brandon defence. (He was not rewarded for his efforts as he took a defender’s clearance right in the proverbials and will have to check today if his family allowance is still in tact! Certainly will be feeling blue this morning.

Brandon then enjoyed their best spell with some very good football, but struggled when getting into the RCA box. Against the run of play the ball was pushed out to left full back Sean Davies who from inside the Brandon half launched a long ball into the Brandon six yard box; the Brandon keeper seemed to lose the ball in flight and under pressure from Jennings pushed the ball into the net. One for the dubious goal review panel but for me should count as Davies’ first for RCA.

Robert Clarkson entered the fray as a replacement for Sammons on half time.

The second half petered out as Brandon reformed their defence and RCA whilst in control could not break them down.

The wind got up to make playing football more difficult, but Jennings was guilty of a couple of glaring misses and was holding his hands up to his service providers. In particular he will regret the opportunity on 60 minutes of beating two defenders, passing the keeper, but then hitting the shot at an empty target weakly allowing the keeper to recover. Not to be denied though: on 70 minutes some good play down the left resulted in the ball getting crossed to the back post to find Jennings, who fired home to his and the away supporters relief.

Darlington RA 0 Sunderland RCA 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Again changes were made in the SRCA starting line up with Lee Owens returning from suspension and replacing Andy Middleton, whilst Jonny Newton retuned up front with Ash Davies replacing Adam McGuinness in left midfield. Anth Laidler started in central midfield for Paul Sammons who was unavailable.

In far from ideal weather conditions, SRCA kicked off facing a strong wind and in the early stages it was clear that playing football was going to be difficult on a hard, bumpy pitch. Like Brandon on Wednesday, Darlington RA were showing full commitment in the tackle as both midfields grappled for control. In the eighth and 11th minutes similar moves were played by the RCA midfield when passes were exchanged quickly, but as the final ball was threaded though for Jennings he was pulled up offside. The Darlington RA defence were holding a very high line, which was restricting the midfield area and frustrating RCA as we looked to breakdown the trap. In the 22nd minute a long ball was hit for Newton to chase on to and from 25 yards he hit a strong shot, but this cleared the RA bar by quite a few yards.

RA then put their first real threat together in the 25th minute and when the ball was put into the box, RCA defenders were guilty of leaving the ball for one another and a half chance was shutdown by a clearance from Wayne Henderson.

The game then came to life in the 26th minute, Laidler playing a short ball to Richards in the centre circle who then fed in Owens up the right wing. He sprinted past the full back before firing in a perfect cross to the penalty spot where Andy Jennings planted a firm header over the RA keeper. 1 – 0 and on our way.

Both teams then tightened up further with Darlington RA hitting hopeful balls which, if not running through to Minniss in the RCA goal, were running out for throw ins or goal kicks. A messy period of play resulted in the ref blowing a lot for free kicks and having to calm the players. Laidler for RCA was the first name taken when a yellow card was issued on 40 minutes. The game petered out until halftime with RCA clearly having the edge.

Darlington kicked off the second half and were immediately on the attack, but when a good cross was fired in the attacking number 10 fired over from close in – a warning that the game wasn’t over yet.

RCA quickly responded and had two corners in quick succession and Jennings was unlucky when heading over the bar. Henderson also headed wide during this period.

Andy Middleton came on for Newton on 60 minutes and his extra pace gave more momentum to RCA’s attacking force. On 65 minutes some excellent midfield play resulted in Ash Davies sprinting through with the advancing keeper to beat. As the keeper advance he opted for a chip when the ball could have been squared to Laidler to pop in. The keeper saved and a corner resulted.

After 68 minutes McGuinness came on for Ash Davies. RCA were dominating now and after 70 minutes were camped in the RA box. There were three consecutive corners after saves and clearances with Henderson’s header glancing the bar.

On 75 minutes, though, efforts were rewarded with Richards again firing in a great corner which was glanced home by Jennings: 2 – 0 and game set and match.

RCA were in control until the end with Jennings attempting to find his hat trick on 82 minutes with a spectacular 35 yard half volley effort which had the RA keeper running backwards to cover his goal. The effort was not that far way.

A good day was rounded off with the news coming quickly from our Southern correspondent Les Dodd: both Whickham and Thornaby had lost. The league table makes for interesting reading now.
Arngrove Northern League Division 2.

Sunderland RCA 3 Whickham 1

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Although a big crowd turn out was expected at Meadow Park on Saturday for this crunch match, kick off approached with only steady numbers arriving through the turnstiles. All could feel the tension however, as it was one of those games that neither side wanted to lose.

SRCA winning the toss opted to kick up the slope with a slight wind facing them. Whickham, hoping to take the slight conditions advantage, were quick out of the stalls and in the early exchanges their centre forward Hay and left-winger Fairless were showing good strength and pace. Paul Stout, making his debut at right back for SRCA, was certainly involved quickly as a lot of the play was coming down the left and he had to make a couple of last ditch tackles. On seven minutes the first time effort from Whickham’s central midfielder King was extremely unlucky, when the ball played quickly to his feet was curled with his left foot towards goal, with the keeper beaten the ball just missed the post, hugging the outside of the net.

Tackles were fast, occasionally furious, as the referee was called into action in quick succession and the visiting supporters found voice. RCA were restricted to playing long balls to Owens on the right- wing, which resulted in the winning of consecutive corners, Jennings heading goalwards on 15 minutes, but the Whickham defence was not to be breached.

Whickham shouted claims for a penalty on 25 minutes, but the referee was having none of it after the linesman was in good viewpoint. After a messy period of play, with both defences on top, the referee stopped the game on the half hour to have words with the Whickham manager who was objecting to many decisions made by the officials, good and bad. Whickham forced consecutive corners again from the left, which appeared to be their main threat.

David Wells, making his debut on the left for RCA, was now involved a lot in our attacking play and after exchanging passes with Ash Davis he beat the offside trap, the keeper was rushing out quickly as he lobbed, but the covering defender made a goal-line clearance – the best chance of the match so far!

From 40 minutes onwards there was action in both goalmouths, good play between Richards and Jennings ended up with Newton getting the ball, but from 22 yards he fired into the keeper’s hands. Whickham broke on 44 minutes when a defensive mix up nearly allowed the Whickham centre forward Hay through. The game was certainly in full life now, but the referee blew for half time: 0-0 with Whickham shading overall forward play.

The second half started similarly to the first, with Whickham again looking to score the opener and on 49 minutes a dangerous cross was fired in from the right, which was cleared but resulted in a Ryhope defender colliding with Minnis in the RCA goal. Anxious glances all round – he was down for approximately five minutes – and no second keeper was on the bench. Fortunately he got up to restart. The play was stretched from end to end with half chances being created and corners at both ends.


Goal machine Andy Jennings rounds the Whickham keeper to open the scoring for
RCA

In the 65th minute came the key moment of the game when Whickham again from the left cut into the RCA penalty box, a weak shot was not dealt with resulting in the ball dropping on the six yard box and when it looked easier to score a last ditch tackle saved the day. The ball fell to left full back, Davis, who wasted no time in getting the ball to Owens who quickly got the ball through to Jennings; he burst through, side stepped the keeper and fired home gleefully with his left foot. 1 –0 and game on.


Livewire Lee Owens takes the other way around the keeper to score RCA's second
and to put us ahead again

Whickham responded quickly after moving the ball up the left and Fairless ran strongly into the box when Stout made a challenge from behind: a clear penalty. King fired home to level the scores.

Gary Shields, who had been brought on a substitute for Newton, was causing many problems for the visitors as the game swung RCA’s way. On 76 minutes Wells and Davis combined again with the ball fired through to Owens who, from the right, pushed the ball wide of the keeper then fired home to make it 2-1. The game was totally going our way now as Shields also got into the same position a few minutes later, but when he hit a good shot from the right, the ball was glanced onto the post by the keeper.


Marskman Gary Shields makes the game safe for RCA from the penalty spot

As Whickham gambled for the equaliser, RCA broke again down the right. After some swift passes the ball was fed to Jennings who beat the offside trap and when moving the ball to his left to hit home he was upended on 93 minutes. Gary Shields picked the ball up for the penalty and made no mistake. 3 – 1, game over and a massive three points for the Red and Whites.

Marske United 2 Sunderland RCA 2

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Given that for midweek games team sheets have to be in at 6.45 for a 7.30pm kick offs, it was rush time for many at SRCA to get to Marske. Many of the committee, Neil and George, plus players were supporting Gentoo employees who had volunteered to carry out works at our home ground to improve Meadow Park ready for the Northern League inspection later this month.

Fortunately most arrived on time other than Scott Richards who could not get to the ground until 7:20 and was on as substitute. So from Saturday’s line up Anth Laidler replaced him in central midfield whilst Craig Shields returned for Minniss in goal (after a lengthy lay off). Veteran Gary Ventress who last played in goal for the club over three years ago was on the bench as reserve goalkeeper.

Sky TV were in the ground with cameras having previously interviewed League Management and staff about the new proposals to rid bad language from the Northern league. Lively indeed!

And rushing we were straight from kick off, ball pushed to Ash Davies at left back he played a 35 yard pass up the left to David Wells, he ran 10 yards on and fired a terrific ball to the back post. Lee Owens who had raced up the right was there and volleyed unstoppably, keeper getting a hand to, but no chance of saving. The fastest goal I have ever witnessed from SRCA and barely 20 seconds on the clock. 1-0 to us and what a start!

It seemed to unnerve Marske, the team with the best goals against record in the division. However both teams could find no pattern with the home side showing good movement and willing. After five minutes it was they who started gathering momentum and sending balls to the flanks quickly, which resulted in the winning of two early corners. The centre forward Thompson was proving to be a handful as he fired two headers in, one just a metre over the SRCA bar. All the possession was with Marske at this stage, but quite unbelievably on 10 minutes RCA got hold of a loose ball in the centre circle via Laidler who pushed it quickly forward to Jennings; he reverse passed in space to Newton on the right, who ran with the ball about 10 yards before drilling a low 25 yard screamer down to the keeper’s left and into the right corner of the net. Screams from the away crowd, Newton’s debut goal and overcome, he pulled his top off, swung it around his head…and was promptly booked. 2-0 and all our supporters were too excited too care.

The goal lifted Marske though who controlled the game again and for the next 15 minutes they dominated with some fantastic ground football with all round movement. Three corners won and SRCA were defending with true grit. Clearly becoming frustrated with the away defending the Marske centre forward Johnson spoilt his team’s good rhythm by making an off-the-ball challenge on our left full back Ash Davis. The referee approached his linesman and both agreed elbow was raised, debated for two minutes, then the ref raised yellow. Very surprising and the centre forward had been given a let off. SRCA lifted their game and realised that they would have to stand up for themselves. Pushing forward SRCA were improving, but only had one corner as reward for their efforts.

After 35 minutes Marske were making progress again and enjoying possession on both flanks and on 37 minutes, after good play on the left, the ball was hit against the RCA left post with a cracking effort from Thompson. RCA were unnerved and it was no surprise when Marske pulled a goal back on 39 minutes, but the goal was a real soft one to concede. Some good passes on the 18 yard area resulted in the ball been played to Skelton who appeared to take the wrong option in shooting when well marked, however the mishit shot appeared to deceive Craig Shields in goal, who was partially unsighted as the ball squeezed past to make it 2 – 1. Football was restricted until half time as both clubs tackled hard, but were not giving up any territorial advantage.

The second half commenced similar to the way the first ended and the first real chance fell to Jennings who hit an excellent shot from distance, but this cleared the home bar. A couple of corners were won by the away team, but both sides were refusing to give in as the referee commenced blowing for trivialities and the free kick awards going with the home team.

On 65 minutes Neil Hixon showed his hand and brought on Scott Richards and Gary Shields replacing Paul Sammons and Jon Newton. SRCA were lifted with both immediately gaining possession of the ball and exchanging excellent passes down the right side. RCA had three corners in quick succession and Richards was hitting excellent balls, which Marske were scrapping to defend. The improvement in play meant that Lee Owens was finally coming into play and he raced past the left full back with ease. One-way traffic now and RCA looked like a new force. Jennings was also receiving the product of this good play and on 76 minutes played in from the right he beat the full back, looked up at goal but pulled the ball sideways instead of shooting. A great opportunity wasted.

However the game was broken down again with SRCA winning good challenges, but the referee was giving needless free kicks, generally against RCA. Unbelievably Richards, who was now controlling the midfield, got pulled up when winning an excellent 50:50 and was booked. This took the wind out of the RCA sails as no team was now finding any headway. For the next 10 minutes the game was flat and it appeared that there would be only one winner. However in the last five minutes needless fouls were given away giving possession to the Marske team. The clock was ticking, but then in the fourth minute of injury time, Davis gave away a foul close to the bye line on the left. Marske raised the troops forward, then the long ball was hit to the back post, Shields was deceived by the flight and the ball was headed by central defender Taylor, who gleefully planted it over the advanced keeper. 2 –2: a real sucker punch! SRCA kicked off and immediately won a free kick 25 yards from goal. Richards chipped in, Jennings challenged keeper, ball in net – but the ref blows for a foul and then full time.

Football can be kind and cruel. Reminds us that we still have a long hard journey before the season ends.

Birtley Town 0 Sunderland RCA 3

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Full photo set

After defender Wayne Henderson failed a fitness test, manager Neil Hixon was again forced into making changes for today’s match at Birtley Town. Paul Stout was switched from the right back roll that he has enjoyed in his first couple of SRCA appearances, to central defence. Anth Laidler who finished the game at Marske in central midfield was switched to right back with captain Scott Richards returning to his normal role in the middle.

Although kicking off in very decent playing conditions, it was not long before the skies darkened and the wind began swirling. The early game pattern was similar to many of our away games this season with strong challenges from both sides and the SRCA midfielders were immediately showing that they were up for the challenge. In fact after 10 minutes it was the result of consecutive good challenges by Sammons that resulted in possession being gained via Richards who fed Lee Owens in down the right. Linking with Jennings corners were forced, the second of which resulted in Jennings heading from distance into the hands of the Birtley keeper. SRCA were growing in confidence and beginning to control the game and half chances fell to Owens and Newton who both shot tamely at the keeper. However after 24 minutes SRCA were not to be denied with good work again down the right resulting in the ball being crossed by Owens to the back post, finding Newton who half volleyed home giving the keeper no chance. 1 – 0 and on the way!

Straight from kick off the skies darkened further and snow was the order of the day. Both sides seem to grit their teeth and the football on display was no longer for the purists. On the half hour, Birtley made their first clear opportunity when the ball was passed between midfielders, then a piercing ball was played through the centre to number seven, Barrie Smith. He raced to the edge of the 18-yard box and pushing the ball a touch too far met the advancing Shields in goal who saved well, pushing the ball sideways for it to be cleared by central defender Stout. Birtley then resorted to playing longer balls, which were dealt with well by centre half Wardle.

On 40 minutes a late tackle on Davis by the Birtley winger went unpunished and the RCA full back went into the book for arguing with the decision. Things were a little frantic up to half time and Manager Hixon was keen to get the players inside to settle.

For the second half Gary Shields took to the pitch as replacement for Newton who had turned his ankle. The away team appeared to have fresh impetus and on 49 minutes Davis found Wells on the left who, running forward, played a swift one two with Shields and found himself running onto goal from the corner of the 18 yard box. Options were available in the middle, but Wells looked at goal and struck an unstoppable shot across the keeper and in off the far post. 2 – 0 and SRCA looking well likely now!

Confidence all over the pitch and all the football from SRCA as both full backs looked to join in and attack the home side. Davis on the left won a corner, Laidler on the right had a mazy run playing one-twos and also winning a corner. Richards was firing the crosses in and the Birtley keeper saving well. On 64 minutes Richards hit a long free kick which nearly deceived the keeper when he had to retreat quickly to palm over the bar. Another goal was likely and this came after 68 minutes. A ball was intercepted from a rare Birtley breakaway by Sammons on the half way line who hit a tremendous ball out to the left where Wells again cut inside and ran on to chip the advancing goalkeeper. 3 – 0 and game over.

On 70 minutes Gary Anderson replaced Wardle at the back, who walked off holding his groin. SRCA were still looking to get forward, this time down the right with Shields putting Owens through who hit a strong shot straight at the keeper. Birtley were becoming frustrated in not getting out of their own half and this showed when the centre half Sherlock attempted a 40 yard effort which was never going to find the net. On 76 minutes Adam McGuiness replaced centre forward Jennings and the same player was quickly involved in the best move of the match when five different SRCA players exchanged passes and advanced culminating with the ball arriving to Owens in the box who shot low, but the keeper smothered.

Birtley who had not done that much in 80 minutes seemed to enjoy their best spell in the last 10 and raised great efforts to pull a goal back. Shields pulled off two outstanding saves in the latter stages and the SRCA rearguard stood strong in defending resulting corners.

The referee blew to end a match in which SRCA showed good strength in readiness for Tuesday’s crucial away game at Ryton.

Ryton 5 Sunderland RCA 0

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Key changes were required by the SRCA Manager for this vital promotion match with both regular central defenders, Wayne Henderson and Paul Wardle, unavailable. Gary Anderson was brought into central defence for the first time under Neil Hixon’s leadership. Up front Gary Shields passed a very late fitness test and came in to replace Jon Newton who was sidelined through injury.

A crowd in excess of 100 was in attendance as SRCA kicked off and moved the ball around brightly, attacking down the right twice before winning a corner in the fourth minute. Gary Shields headed the Richards’ corner a yard wide at the front post. On the next RCA attack Shields appeared to be through and well onside only to be called back by the referee.

However the early good signs were extinguished quickly as Ryton looked to win possession at all opportunities and their midfield and forward movement began to cause problems in all areas for the SRCA team. Ryton won their first corner on eight minutes and a good header brought keeper Shields into action to push wide of the post. In fact three corners were won by the home team who were showing their intentions and SRCA were defending well. On 12 minutes the ball was cleared from the SRCA box to Laidler who quickly moved the ball to full back Davis who went on an eighty-yard sprint with the ball winning a free kick wide of Ryton’s penalty area.

Respite was short lived though as Ryton again pushed forward from the wasted free kick and in the 16th minute their captain, Forbes, played short one-twos before pushing the ball to forward Burrell, who turned quickly to hit a good shot from 18 yards which went in the corner past Shields: 1 – 0 to the home side.

The game tightened up for a while with the best opportunity coming SRCA’s way in the 25th minute with Lee Owens crossing well from the right by-line onto Jennings’ head which brought Shields into play, but on getting the ball above the keeper, it also sailed well over the Ryton cross bar. If anything this lifted the home team again who dominated with possession before a ball was knocked into the SRCA penalty box. The central defenders appeared to get a call from the keeper, but the indecision allowed Ryton number 10, McBride, to ghost in, spin and hit a terrific connection onto the underside of the crossbar and into the net: 2 – 0!

There was no time for SRCA discussions to take place as Ryton were upping the pace and the second goal appeared to galvanise them. Tackles were fast and furious and then a bullet was fired! Ryton midfielder Steven Shaw picked the ball up just inside the SRCA half, pushed forward and with few choices available, decided to strike the ball from clearly 35 yards. The ball ripped towards the target crashed against the underside of the crossbar and over the line. The celebrations summed up the quality of the strike and it was a real kick in the teeth for all involved with SRCA. 3 – 0 and half time needed quickly. Would there be any way back from this?

The second half could not be as bad as the first! Well Ryton set their stall out and were quickly getting men forward and into the away team’s penalty box, winning consecutive corners. Manager Hixon then replaced Laidler with another central defender, Purcifer, for his debut on 52 minutes. Ryton then won a free-kick very wide right, which was contentious to say the least.

The ball was then drilled in diagonally and low across the pitch to the front of the 18 yard box where the stooping centre forward Walton managed to glance firmly and this flew into the left top corner of the SRCA goal. 4 –0 and things were really hurting now. No time to bolt the doors though, as Ryton, knowing now that it was to be their night, bolted forward again winning a further corner. The corner was fired in and really poor marking allowed defender Parker to head into the net. 55 minutes gone and 5 – 0 down. It was going to be a very long night for SRCA.

On 60 minutes Gary Shields was booked for a late challenge that was no different to a number that had gone before. This brought a stiffer reaction from SRCA, who at last began to stand up for themselves and show more grit. Ryton appeared to be happy with what they were holding and sat back, which allowed SRCA to play. Middleton replaced Owens and McGuinness came on for Wells, as manager Hixon looked to salvage something from the game. A couple of corners were won and there was an unlucky header by Jennings as Ryton defended well. After winning a couple of free kicks, Richards drilled the ball in well, but the home keeper held out ably after glancing efforts.

The referee blew to end SRCA’s misery. It’s still in our hands, but a real tough run in. A top three spot is still achievable, but Ryton will no doubt be looking forward to their visit to Meadow Park in three weeks' time.

North Shields 3 Sunderland RCA 7

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 29 March 2008

SRCA welcomed the return of central defenders Paul Wardle and Wayne Henderson for today’s game, whilst Jon Minnis was selected in goal. Defender Paul Stout who was used as a central defender at Ryton in midweek returned to his normal right back role.

In the opening exchanges North Shields started the most brightly and were passing the ball through the midfield to both flanks very impressively. After five minutes SRCA keeper Minnis had to be at his best when the North Shields number 6 hit a great effort at him from 20 yards, which was pushed round for a corner. SRCA responded with Henderson clearing long to find Jennings who glanced a header into the path of Owens who beat the full back, but pushed the ball too close to the North Shields keeper. The game was very open as both sides looked to attack at every opportunity and the home team won corners in quick succession, which were cleared desperately by SRCA. However the first clear-cut chance came to Shields on 11 minutes, who after playing an excellent one-two with Jennings, found himself with the keeper to beat, but opted to side foot, which the keeper smothered comfortably.

On 16 minutes though, SRCA were not to be denied when right back Stout played a 30-yard ball to Jennings who flicked the ball to the right ring. Owens running on beat the left fullback and a cross cum shot was fired across goal, racing in at the back post was Shields who gleefully slotted home: 1 – 0 to SRCA. North Shields were not to be put off though and on 20 minutes were having success up the left, which ended up winning successive corners. On 24 minutes they got the reward for their endeavour, but it was a very soft goal to concede. SCRA after a period of good defending allowed Robertson in to head home with a simple header and no man marking. 1 – 1 and game back on.

North Shields had a good possession period of play with SRCA looking to counter attack. In the 33rd minute the tactics paid off when Owens fed the ball through to Jennings who with back to goal, flicked up, turned and hit a 25 yarder over the advanced keeper. 2 - 1 to SRCA. The home team were rattled now as three minutes later a five man SRCA move ended with the ball at the feet of Owens on the edge of the box who shaped to shoot with his left foot, but then fired a shot in with his right which glanced off Shields, past the keeper who got a hand on it but could only push into the net. 3 – 1 to SRCA.

Minutes later Stout who appeared to pull his hamstring had to be replaced by Laidler. The change did not affect SRCA who were dominating now. The best move of the game involving Wells, Davis, then Jennings who fed Shields down the left before crossing in quickly, found Sammons who raced into the box and fired home. 4 – 1 and game over!

At half time Craig Shields replaced Minnis, who had strained his groin, in goal. He was quickly in action having to save on 50 minutes from a good drive by Dean Lee as North Shields refused to throw in the towel. In fact like the opening stages of the first half Shields were putting impressive moves together with no end product. However SRCA killed the game totally in the 60th minute when impressive play by Jennings fed the ball out to Owens on the right, he played a one-two with Richards before hitting a great cross on to the head of Jennings which flew into the net. 5 – 1 and definitely on our way now.

Newton replaced Gary Shields after 62 minutes and he was involved quickly having two efforts on goal, which the keeper saved well. It was one-way traffic as Jennings, in search of his hat trick, was pushing forward and also testing the keeper. On 74 minutes the inevitable happened when Richards fed Jennings. He turned the last defender, ran on goal and drew the keeper who partially saved before his follow up. Third goal to him and the beaming grin said it all; top of the Division Two scoring charts as well.

Was it all over? Not quite as Jon Newton fired in for seventh heaven on 88 minutes. 7 – 1. Our highest score of the season. Rain streaking down, but smiles all over for the away support.

However there were further twists after 90 minutes when first Dean Lee fired in an excellent free kick over the wall and into the bottom corner. Immediately afterwards a North Shields attack won a corner and somehow this was also turned into the net by Hitfell. 7 – 3 and a real strange scoreline! The referee then blew the whistle. Phew!!

But up to 4th now in the league and all supporters of SRCA are not complaining. Real test ahead. Can we still get into that top 3 position?

April

Sunderland RCA 3 Team Northumbria 0

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Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 5 April 2008


RCA captain Scott Richards shields the ball in midfield

Conditions were cold and blustery as RCA prepared to start this vital game aganst a Team Northumbria side who had thumped Whickham the previous week, despite being destined to finish second bottom of the league this season.

Manager Neil Hixon made three changes to his starting line up, resting Paul Sammons and his troublesome ankle problem, by bringing Anth Laidler into the midfield slot, and replacing the injured Paul Stout with stalwart Gary Anderson, while Craig Shields returned in goal for Jon Minniss.


Ash Davis carries the ball foward for RCA!

Team Northumbria started brightly, and the first incident of note saw them denied what looked like a good penalty appeal in the third minute as their striker was tumbled off the ball. RCA replied with a good Lee Owens effort which was smartly saved and as the game settled Owens flashed a cross over without a RCA player being able to make contact. Andrew Jennings was troubling the Northumbria back four with his power in the air, but RCA were unable to profit from his good flicks. After 23 minutes however Jennings was responsible for one of the misses of the season as he rounded the keeper and then hit the bar from three yards out.


RCA's Anth Laidler battles for the ball

RCA were now well on top but struggling to make it count, with Gary Shields breaking clear of the defence and firing wide, while Team Northumbria always played enterprising football on the break. After 37 minutes David Wells just failed to connect with a ball across goal from Lee Owens, and that was followed by Team Northumbria's best spell to date, as they kept RCA under pressure for several minutes, culminating in a free kick from the right which caused chaos in the box and brought two smart stops from Craig Shields in the RCA goal in the resulting scramble. RCA had the last word of the half however, taking the lead as David Wells finished his own good run with an excellent finish from a tight angle. 1-0 at the break.


David Wells opens the scoring for RCA

The second period started slowly with little goalmouth action, but Team North pressing, and after 56 minutes Hixon replaced David Wells with Adam McGuinness. The game continued to be scrappy and the RCA fans were nervous at the slim lead, particularly so when Team North winger John Redhead ran well and shot narrowly wide. RCA roused themselves and should have extended their lead when Scott Richards followed in a free kick and struck the bar from six yards. Jon Newton replaced Gary Shields for the last 20, and a Scott Richards free kick produced a scramble as RCA finally mounted some pressure.


Andy Middleton mounts an attack on the Team Northumbria goal

Andy Middleton joined the fray replacing Lee Owens, and the game was finally secured as Andy Jennings ran menacingly into the box and, although he shot weakly, the hapless Team North defender could only help the ball over the line. 2-0 after 77 minutes.

The game was clearly over now, and Jennings put the icing on the cake, and strengthened his charge for the second division goalscorers crown, with a run across the edge of the box and a fine finish to make the scoreline 3-0 in the 84th minute. Not a pretty game in fairly miserable conditions, and Team Northumbria certainly made RCA work hard, but a win is what matters now and the points are on the board. Three to go!

Penrith 3 Sunderland RCA 4

Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup - Quarter-Final

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

A classic cup tie in Cumbria as RCA came back with two late goals to snatch a tremendous 4-3 victory.

Manager Neil Hixon rang the changes in light of the tough games coming up, with Andy Middleton coming in for a start wide right, Adam McGuiness wide left and Andy Jennings, Paul Sammons and Lee Owens starting on the bench, Gary Shields and Jon Newton brought pace and control up front and Steve Purcifer started the game at centre half for the cup tied Paul Wardle.

RCA began brightly on a cool clear night, but Penrith had the best of the early chances with a header and shot in the first five minutes before Anth Laidler, who grafted ferociously in midfield all night, shot over from a free kick, followed by a dangerous cross shot from Andy Middleton, and a good effort from Gaz Shields as RCA showed they meant business and settled to their work.

It was no surprise therefore when RCA took the lead in the 20th minute with a quality finish by Shields from a Scott Richards free kick. Penrith were stung into action and began to press, but keeper Craig Shields and his defenders will think they should have done better as the hosts turned the game upside down with two goals in three minutes, both back post headers which should have been dealt with in the 29th and 32nd minutes.

RCA were rattled by this, and Penrith dominated from then to the break with only a Scott Richards free kick, which flew over, coming back from RCA.

2-1 to Penrith at half time.

Hixon had obviously had words as RCA came out strong for the second half, and it was no surprise when the referee gave a 50th minute penalty for a blatant block on Jon Newton after a superb Ash Davis run from deep. Gaz Shields, who was excellent all night, was never going to miss, despite the antics of the Penrith coach, making a fool of himself behind the goal. Absolutely disgraceful.

2-2 and game on.

This was now a cracking cup tie with both sides wanting to win without the dreaded extra time or penalties. End to end stuff, and then a bizarre goal as Craig Shields was deceived by the softest of shots from a Penrith striker, and could only watch as it trundled into the net. 3-2 to Penrith on the hour, and looking bleak for RCA.

Neil Hixon had made a double change just before this bringing on Paul Sammons and Glen McCartney for the injured Scott Richards and Steve Purcifer, and now he went for broke, bringing Andy Jennings into the fray for Jon Newton and going with three up front, with Adam McGuinness joining Jennings and Shields. RCA were now the stronger but could not break through, despite surging runs from Ash Davis getting forward as well in support of the front men, who were now well on top of the home defenders.

The game was now frantic until, with 10 minutes to go, Andy Jennings showed what he is all about with a superb turn, run and shot from the edge of the box which gave the home keeper no chance, 3-3. RCA tails were up now and the winner came in the 88th minute, as Adam McGuiness challenged for a high ball punted forward, and as it broke into the box the keeper was wrong footed and Paul Sammons sprinted forward to gleefully run it into the net from three yards. The referee played five minutes of added time, and the ball was rarely out of the RCA penalty area during it, but the lads were resolute and held on for a famous win, and our first semi-final for many a year!

South Shields 1 Sunderland RCA 0

Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

SRCA supporters have waited a long time for nights like this. Actually in with a chance in the promotion frame, going into the last week of the season, it was important to arrive early at Filtrona Park for this one. At kick off there were over 300 supporters already in the ground, the atmosphere was cutting as the players took to the field. A game with that little bit extra with Shields having former RCA forwards, crowd favourite Jonny Wightman, who once scored seven goals in a league match for RCA, in their line up as well as Willie Crew on the bench.

Immediately from kick off on a very wet and heavy surface, strong challenges were made from the opposition central midfield players, Richards and Sammons for SRCA showing they were up for the task in hand. In the third minute Richards won the ball and moved it quickly to the left where Wells fired in quickly to Jennings who tested the keeper with a half chance. If the opening was anything to go by RCA were definitely up for this, but South Shields also showed their quality in the sixth minute when consecutive passes allowed space for full back Craig Russell (former Sunderland AFC star) who drilled an excellent ball from the left to the back post which skimmed over the onrushing forwards. Minutes later Wells for RCA found more space on the left and hit a decent effort at goal from 25 yards, but the home keeper was untroubled. South Shields responded in the 11th minute winning a corner which was well cleared by Wardle on the penalty spot. RCA were then enjoying a lot of room down the right , with Owens, Gary Shields and Stout linking well. The good passing resulted in Shields having a half volley effort on goal on 12 minutes..

Then a cracking move from the away team allowed room for Owens on the right; dummying the defender he cut inside and disguising a cross he then fired at the target with a left foot effort from 25 yards that the keeper was pleased to see move past his right post. Immediately after the same player was in again with a good cross that found Jenning’s head, but he could not make good contact towards the goal. On 18 minutes RCA with their second corner of the game again created half chances for Wells and Jennings, but again no end product.

On 26 minutes RCA conceded a free kick in a dangerous area 30 yards from goal. After possibly taking the wrong option in floating the ball towards the penalty spot, the ball was cleared back to the same South Shields midfielder who had a good effort from the same distance, but this cleared the bar by a couple of yards. Play was end to end now with one corner for either side, but on 35 minutes Wells intercepted on a Shields attack, raced through and again tested the keeper who held well. Davies for RCA also attacked down the left and his good run resulted in a further corner. Henderson had a header towards the home goal before Jennings and Wells again could not get good contact on. Half time: 0 – 0 an excellent game to watch, defences strong but a half definitely edged by SRCA.

The second half started as lively as the first with RCA winning a corner and Richards again testing the keeper. On 49 minutes however Jennings was booked on the half way line after a tackle with the central defender. For the next few minutes RCA were in disarray as a good midfield move from the home side ended up with the ball fed to centre forward Johnson who raced through with keeper to beat, hit a good effort that was very well saved by Minnis when pushed for a corner.

On 60 minutes Jon Newton replaced Gary Shields up front and immediately after Scot Richards was booked in a spell where the referee lost his way a little. A couple of decisions in favour of the home side caused upset and it was the home side who took the game forward. Indecision in the RCA defence, who up until this time had looked very solid, allowed South Shields in via Wightman and Johnson who were blocked with last ditch tackles.

Given that a drawn result was no good to RCA, manager Hixon brought McGuiness on for Wells on 68 minutes in search of the opening goal. The plan nearly worked with Newton benefiting from good work on the left and finding room on the right he had a clear sight of goal, but screwed his shot across the face of the goal. On 70 minutes disaster happened when a hopeful clearance deceived Wardle who had been solid all night, the ball fell to the dangerous Mark Johnson who cut into the box and fired past Innis in goal. 1 – 0 and a feeling of hurt for the RCA.

RCA had further chances with Newton and Jennings again having efforts at goal, but it was clear that this was not to be our night. All out attack nearly backfired as South Shields were coping well in defence and nearly caught RCA out again in the closing minutes.

The referee blew the whistle and promotion celebrations at the end for Shields supporters with a bitter pill to swallow for all involved with SRCA. Must lift ourselves again though as promotion is still in our hands with two games to go, together with a semi final tie against Shields to come at Meadow Park. Hopefully the crowd will be is as big, then a lively night is ahead of us. Book your ticket now!

But up to fourth now in the league and all supporters of SRCA are not complaining. Real test ahead … can we get into that top three position?

Sunderland RCA 0 Ryton 1

Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Saturday, 19 April 2008

There was bitter disappointment for RCA today as all hopes of promotion went with a single goal defeat to rivals Ryton. To be fair the scoreline flattered RCA as Ryton were the better side throughout the game, as many RCA players failed to raise their game against determined opponents in good form.

Our bad run has come at just the wrong time, when we had no room to spare. Ryton started the game playing up the hill and with a good contingent of their supporters in the crowd. The early exchanges were fairly even, but Ryton soon began to get on top, and it was no surprise when they took the lead after 25 minutes, but with what was a very sloppy goal.

A bad clearance from keeper Minniss, who struggled badly with his distribution all game, was followed by loose passing in midfield and led to RCA giving the ball away in their own half as a Ryton player sprinted forward. He still looked second favourite to get to the ball but fatal hesitation from Jon Minniss in the RCA goal let Ryton's Liam McBryde in for a simple finish.

This stung RCA and we pressed a little, but Ryton always looked the stronger side, and the home team faced a mountain at the break, needing a win to stay alive.

The second half followed the pattern of the first with Ryton always the sharper side, and it looked like being a terminal blow when Sunderland RCA skipper Scott Richards was sent off in the 60th minute as a Ryton player made a meal of minimal contact.

Strangely the dismissal had the opposite effect as RCA came more into the game with ten men, possibly as Ryton realised how close they were to their promotion goal. Even so it looked too little too late when RCA were awarded a penalty in the 88th minute, but matters were settled when the usually deadly Gary Shields slid the spot kick wide.

On the final whistle the Ryton players and fans celebrated as RCA faced up to at least another year in the second flight.

Sunderland RCA 4 South Shields 1

Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup - Semi Final

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Sunderland RCA faced South Shields for the second time in a week, looking for revenge for last Tuesday's narrow defeat which saw Shields confirm their promotion. Following our failure to try and do the same on Saturday with a poor show against Ryton, Neil shuffled his pack a little and brought in Jon Newton up front to partner Andy Jennings, with Gary Shields in a free role. Andy Middleton also started on the right, and Glen McCartney replaced the cuptied Paul Wardle.

The game started very evenly with Shields maybe settling the better, until after 10 minutes Andy Jennings just failed to connect with a floated cross from Jon Newton. Jennings then fired over from 18 yards, synchronistically after 18 minutes. A tough territorial battle ensued until RCA broke the deadlock as Andy Middleton, relishing his chance, deftly played in Jon Newton who calmly slotted home on 27 minutes. South Shields were rattled and were quickly on the attack, with Craig Shields bringing off a fine save from Michael Rodenby.

RCA went close as Newton again had the keeper in action, then in the 32nd minute Gary Shields jinked into the box and crossed for Jennings to power home a header. RCA began to play with freedom and made it three in 39 minutes as Jon Newton got his second with a close range header. 3-0 to RCA at the break.

The second half began like the first, lots of industry, but few chances, until in the 62nd minute, Jon Newton completed an excellent hat trick, placing the ball into the corner from 12 yards, afeter being set up by Ash Davis - game over.

The large away support were deflated and contented themselves with good humoured abuse of the officials, while the RCA faithful looked forward to the club's first cup final since 1981 in the Northern Alliance, happy days!

South Shields restored some pride with a goal from substitute Dean Patton close to the end, but it was RCA who were looking forward to a Bank Holiday Monday morning date with Esh Winning at Ryton. They won't forget old Ernie!

Crook Town 0 Sunderland RCA 2

Arngrove Northern League Division 2

Crook Town 0 Sunderland RCA 2

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Sunderland RCA signed off the 2007/08 league season with a competent performance against Crook Town up at the historic Millfield ground. Jon Newton again partnered Andy Jennings up front, as Andy went head to head with Crook Town No 10, Darren Kokes for the Second Division goalscorer's crown. With both players on 24 goals for the season today's individual performance would decide the trophy. At the back Paul Wardle returned in place of the injured Paul Stout.

ANL DIvision 2 leading goal scorer Andy Jennings slots home RCA's opener after being played in by Jon Newton (left)

The game started with an early goal as Jon Newton unselfishly rolled the ball across the goal line in the second minute for Andy Jennings to take the lead in his personal battle, 1-0 to RCA. Crook looked lively and fought back from this early setback with plenty of work in midfield but few real opportunities came their way. One dangerous effort went past the post with Craig Shields watching, while at the other end Paul Sammons came close after a good move.

Ash Davis on one of his trademark attacks down the left

On the half hour Jon Newton had the ball in the net for RCA, but the liner pulled it back for a marginal offside. 1-0 to RCA at the break, and we would need to hold that lead to keep our fourth place finish in the league.

Andy Jennings challenges with the Crook keeper

For the second half Neil replaced Jon Newton and Paul Wardle with Adam McGuinness and Gary Anderson, being cautious with slight knocks in light of next week's cup final.

Jon Newton leads an RCA attack

Crook came out fighting, and a great block from Wayne Henderson was needed to avert an early equaliser. Around the hour David Wells came on for Gary Shields and a moment later Adam McGuiness was booked for a foul, although at this point most spectator interest was being taken by an irate Crook spectator launching a tirade of abuse against RCA captain Scott Richards, a personal matter it seems.

Adam McGuiness attacks down the left in the second half.

On 64 minutes Adam McGuiness went to the goal line and crossed for David Wells to go close, and as play went back and forth Jennings made the game safe with an excellent run and shot; 2-0 and his 26th goal of the season, in the 78th minute.

Andy Jennings breaks through the Crook defence.

The game finished with a flurry of efforts by both sides, but no addition to the scoreline. Fourth place for RCA, and the best season since our relegation from the top flight in 1988. Next season?

May

Esh Winning 3 Sunderland RCA 0

Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup Final

Monday, 5 May 2008

RCA's season ended with another big disappointment as we lost fairly tamely in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup Final at Ryton on Bank Holiday Monday. It was a lovely day and Ozo's bus load of the Ryhope faithful turned up to cheer the lads on, but it was not to be. Hicker had a few problems naming a side, with Paul Wardle cup tied, Andy Middleton off to Hawaii and Lee Bell heading for Poland, while on the morning of the match Glen McCartney reported sick. So it was a thin bench but a reasonably strong first eleven, with Gary Shields slotting into right wing back.

RCA started brightly enough, with decent pressure and a couple of corners in the first ten minutes and half chances for Jon Newton and Andy Jennings, before Esh showed for the first time after ten minutes with a sharp header from a corner which Craig Shields gathered well.

Paul Stout was having a bit of trouble with the Esh wide left man, Chris Smith, and it was Smith who opened the scoring after 17 minutes with a great strike from wide which curled past Shieldsy into the goal, 1-0.

Esh grew in confidence with the goal as RCA, despite having plenty of possession struggled to create real chances. A Gary Shields effort close to the half hour mark was better, and lead to a series of corners from which Wayne Henderson finally blasted over, but all the time Esh looked lively with the ball. Coming up to the break Gary Shields stole the ball in midfield and made a great run and cross, which Jennings couldn't reach, and it seemed as if we were finally coming to life. Lets get to the break at just 1-0 and see how the second half goes. Right on the stroke of half time however Esh made it 2-0 with a fine goal from Craig Coates, a real killer as the Ref immediately blew for half time.

We desperately needed to start the second half well, and we did, with Andy Jennings shooting wide, then heading a great chance straight at the keeper from a Scott Richards free kick.

And that sadly was that, Esh broke immediately, Wayne brought a striker down, the Ref gives the pen, and i'ts 3-0 after 51 minutes, game over.

The game wandered from now to its end, David Wells came on for Stout and did well with some sharp passing and movement, Ash Davis got himself sent off for a rash stamp on an opponent, and Jennings had a number of attempts which didn't trouble the keeper. Esh knew the game was won and saw it through with few alarms for a deserved victory in which they took their chances and worked hard.

Well done to Esh Winning, off we go for the summer, before coming back to make next year a year of achievement, not nearly boys next time!

Statistics

Season 2007-08 first team statistics.

Club news

Sunday Team

Rawdon FC 3 Sunderland RCA 3 AET - Rawdon went through 3 - 0 on penalties

Carlsberg All England Sunday FA Cup First Round

Sunday, 14 October 2007, played at Pool FC, in Wharfdale

RCA travelled to Yorkshire for their first try at the All England Sunday FA Cup and came home feeling slightly agrieved, having lost on penalties after a 3-3 draw at 90 minutes and no further scoring during extra time.

The first half was pretty much even, with both sides creating openings only to waste the chances or have both keepers making decent saves, but RCA went ahead on 40 minutes, thanks to an own goal 1-0 up at half time.

In the second half Rawdon started to exert more pressure but the RCA back line held firm and Willie Crew increased the lead on 60 minutes scoring after a mix up in Rawdon's defence let him in to walk the ball into an empty net. Rawdon pulled a goal back after putting two subs on and catching out the RCA defence with a well known 'dummy' corner routine that allowed a free run into the box, a cross to the far post and a free header. Rawdon then equalised with a deflected strike to set up a cracking last 10 minutes. RCA then re-took the lead when Andy Gilbert tucked a low shot into the net and it looked like RCA were about to go through to the second round, but a quick throw in again caught us napping and a cross into the box found a Rawdon sub, who had no trouble volleying home in the 93rd minute, with the last action of the game.

Extra time produced no further scoring and RCA then proceeded to miss all three of their penalties taken and Rawdon scoring all three of theirs, despite goalkeeper Chris Errington going the correct way every time, but just not getting enough to prevent the goals.

All in all, a very good game that has whetted all our appetites for next year's competition and we should be rightly proud of the club and the supporters who tavelled and represented Sunderland RCA. This can be confirmed by club chairman Owen Haley who travelled down with us. Roll on next year.