Jonathan Carmichael kept a third clean sheet in four matches in the Ryhope derby victory on Boxing Day.
For more photos from the match please click here.
RCA goal scorer: Callen (2).
The Ryhope derby - Sunderland RCA versus Ryhope Colliery Welfare. A High Noon shoot-out between the two highest ranked non-league clubs in Sunderland. Back on August Bank Holiday Monday it was honours even on a baking hot day at the Recreation Ground as RCA failed to capitalise on a host of first half chances and paid the price as RCW finished the match strongly.
Following a dismal run of results in October - seven straight league defeats and conceding a whopping 32 goals in the process - immediate relegation for RCW was looking like a distinct possibility. But the last couple of months have seen somewhat of a revival, with notable wins against the likes of Seaham Red Star, Marske United, Washington and most recently, and remarkably, a win at West Auckland Town in which three late goals saw RCW from 3-1 down to win 4-3 in one of the comebacks of the season. These results have propelled them to lower mid-table and given much-needed breathing space over the three teams currently in the relegation zone - who are now beginning to get cut adrift from the rest.
RCA are currently on their best run of the season - one defeat in eight now, winning the last four and playing some terrific stuff that’s great to watch.
Prior to the match a quick glance at the current form guide revealed that both RCA and RCW have accrued 10 points from their last six matches - with three wins and a draw apiece.
RCA made two changes to the side that won at Dunston in midweek. Ross Preston was fit to return to the centre of defence and Mark Robinson returned to the starting line-up after an impressive performance off the bench at Dunston.
The teams lined up as follows:
RCA: Carmichael, Davis, McGuinness, Preston, Swansbury ©, Robinson, Charlton, Hodgson, McBryde, Larkin, Callen.
RCW: Ball, Francis, Gordon, Bott, Ryan ©, Trewick, Chapman, Braithwaite, O’Neill, Weirs, Ellis.
The match got under way with RCA kicking up the slope and against some high winds which threatened to ruin the match as a spectacle. In the opening minute RCW were on the attack when a run and shot from Chapman went a yard wide of the post. RCA had their first attack after winning a free-kick midway inside the RCW half after a foul by Bott. The kick was lofted into the penalty area where Callen headed towards goal but Ball collected easily. In the eighth minute Callen received the ball from the Charlton on the right and turned, but his shot was just wide. Four minutes later RCW were on the attack as a cross from the left was sliced over his own crossbar by Preston for a corner. From the corner the ball was cleared to the edge of the penalty area, where Braithwaite drove in a shot that was blocked for another corner which was caught by Carmichael.
In the 18th minute Bott came very close to opening the scoring for RCW when a dipping shot from 25-yards skimmed the crossbar - although Carmichael looked to have it covered. Two minutes later an RCW corner was cleared and Bott again fired in a shot that went just over the crossbar. Midway through the first half Charlton made a run from the halfway line before releasing McBryde whose shot from the edge of the penalty area went over. Three minutes later and RCW were again on the attack as Swansbury headed a long ball into the air as it came back down Preston and Swansbury got into a mix-up as both challenged and missed the ball allowing Ellis to nip in and shoot straight at Carmichael.
RCA enjoyed a good spell of play as first a corner was headed over by Callen and then a subsequent corner was headed high by McGuinness with McBryde flagged for offside. The pressure finally told in the 35th when RCA took the lead as Charlton made a run down the right, playing the ball into Callen at the edge of the penalty area, who, first-time, fired in a precise right footed shot into the bottom corner. With five minutes to half-time Braithwaite fired in a long-range shot which was to be the last action before the interval.
Half-time: Sunderland RCA 1 Ryhope Colliery Welfare 0
At half-time Preston had an injury recurrence and was unable to continue and was replaced by Armstrong, who slotted in at left back, with McGuinness moving to centre back.
The second half got underway with RCA now kicking down the slope and with the wind behind them and they immediately forced a corner after a run down the left from Callen. The corner was won at the far post by Swansbury who crossed back in McGuinness but his header was saved. In the 54th minute RCA thought they had doubled their lead when Charlton fired in a shot from 25 yards which rebounded off the post to Mcbryde for a simple tap-in - but the flag had gone up for offside. Four minutes later a run and shot from Robinson was saved comfortably by Ball.
On the hour mark RCW substitute Melvin shot from the edge of the penalty area which went out for a corner that was cleared by Robinson. Four minutes later and again it was Melvin on the attack for the visitors as the former RCA player attacked down the left and sent in a hanging cross but no one could get onto the end of it. RCA then produced a lovely move when a ball from Charlton on the halfway line was headed first-time into the path of Robinson, who drove into the penalty area but his shot hit the side netting.
In the 65th minute Callen made a run down the middle and played a reverse pass to McBryde whose initial shot was saved by Ball and then his follow-up bicycle kick went wide. With 15 minutes remaining a free-kick from Armstrong hit the wall, Larkin’s follow effort was blocked, before Butler shot wide. RCA kept up the pressure on the visitors as a clearance in the RCW half was held up in the wind allowing the ball to land at the feet of Charlton whose shot from 25 yards was straight at Ball. Then Larkin made a driving run down the right and crossed to Butler but his shot was blocked.
In the final minute of the match RCA doubled their lead when Callen made a run into the penalty area and - as Ball came out to clear - the ball took an horrendous bobble, deceiving the ‘keeper and allowing Callen to tap the ball in from one yard to seal the points. Callen’s brace takes his total to 12 goals for the season - just two behind Larkin on 14 in the race to finish the season as RCA’s leading scorer. Personally, i’d be happy with a score draw with both lads finishing on 30 goals each!
What a December it has been for RCA! Five wins in a row, with three clean sheets, scoring 13 goals and conceding just three. A magnificent effort by the whole management team and all of the players. Yesterday’s victory sees us reach the ‘magical’ 40 points mark and climbing to 10th position in the League table.
I look forward to more Ryhope derbies next season - in Division One. The two matches have been great for the supporters and hopefully helped raise the profile of football in SR2.
Next for RCA is the biggest match of the season so far with a trip to AFC Mansfield for the FA Vase Fourth Round on Saturday, January 7th. It should be a cracking day out - hopefully we can take a good few down to support the lads.