The Butler did it: John Butler celebrates scoring the winner in the FA Vase match at AFC Mansfield.
For more photos from the match please click here.
RCA goal scorer: John Butler.
Sunderland RCA travelled to Nottinghamshire and to the Forest Town Arena - home of AFC Mansfield - for today’s eagerly anticipated FA Vase Fourth Round tie.
Here’s how the day the unfolded:
9:45am - An early start - by Northern League standards - to pick up Jackie Callen and head through to Houghton where Dave would take on the drive to the match. The sat nav stated it was 138 miles to Mansfield’s ground, however, in the RCA clubhouse on Boxing Day, after the Ryhope derby, el Queso Grande (or Keith, for those who don’t speak Spanish!) said it was only 135 miles from his house and suggested that I drive to his and set off from there! :D
9:58am - Dave takes over the driving and we are to take a 60-mile detour to East Midlands Airport to collect RCA manager Martin Swales who was expected to land at 11:30am. The journey is a pleasant one - aside from the 16 mile roadworks which slowed progress - and we look ahead to the match and speculate on team selection.
11:15am - My phone rings: “Si, I’ve just landed, where are you mate?”. Me: “we’re 72 miles away from the airport, we’ve just passed Ferrybridge services. We’ll be about an hour mate”.
12:20pm - We reach East Midlands Airport to pick up our jet-setting manager who has cut short a family holiday in Tenerife to take charge of RCA for our biggest match of the season. We pay £2 to get into the pick-up area and promptly drive straight out when we realise he’s waiting outside of the barriers at the side of the road! We chat about Swaz’s holiday, the tan, Northern League football in general, and get an early insight into the team selected for the match.
12:59pm - We arrive at Mansfield’s ground and drop off the manager to take charge of team affairs and Jackie, Dave and I head to the nearby Ravensdale pub for lunch.
2:11pm - Back at the ground and we grab a coffee and enjoy a pre-match crack with the many familiar faces who have made the journey.
2:47pm - Team news: RCA made three changes to the side that beat Ryhope Colliery Welfare on Boxing Day. With Ross Preston and Adam McGuinness both cup-tied, Luke Richardson returned at left back and James Armstrong slotted into central midfield with Craig Hodgson moving from midfield to join Greg Swansbury in central defence. Liam McBryde was ruled out injured and replaced up front by John Butler.
The teams lined up as follows:
AFC Mansfield: White, Annable, Dudley, Plummer, Timons, O’Laryea, Williams, Patterson ©, Fearon, Bradshaw, Ghaichem.
RCA: Carmichael, Davis, Richardson, Hodgson, Swansbury ©, Armstrong, Charlton, Larkin, Butler, Robinson, Callen.
3.00pm - The match gets underway and RCA are straight on the offensive.
3:03pm - Ball in the net - a free-kick lofted into the penalty area is put away at close range by Larkin but the whistle has gone for an innocuous foul.
3:07pm - Charlton receives his obligatory clattering from an opposition player and is flat out. Dudley is booked for the challenge. Charlton continues after treatment.
3:15pm - A Davis throw-in to Larkin down the right forces a corner kick. Robinson’s corner is cleared to Armstrong and his cross from the far side is held by White.
3:17pm - A run down the right by Davis releases Charlton whose shot is straight at White.
3:20pm - Mansfield attack down their right and a cross reaches Williams, who is flagged for offside.
3:22pm - RCA back on the attack as Larkin sends a high ball into the middle which won’t come down in Charlton’s favour and is cleared.
3:25pm - A run and cross down the right from Davis bobbles in the six-yard box but Charlton can’t get the ball out of his feet.
3:28pm - A free-kick to Mansfield midway inside the RCA half taken by Williams is headed over by Annable.
3:33pm - An RCA free-kick after a foul on Callen. Robinson’s kick is cleared.
3:37pm - GOAL: A Davis throw-in to Larkin is played to Charlton who tees-up Butler to finish emphatically from eight yards to give RCA the lead.
3:40pm - A Williams free-kick on the right is held comfortably by Carmichael.
3:47pm - A driving run down the RCA left by Robinson - who plays in Larkin for a shot saved by White.
3:48pm - Half-time: AFC Mansfield 0 Sunderland RCA 1
At half-time we have another cuppa and reflect on a half dominated by RCA and whether one goal would be enough to win the match.
4:04pm - The second half gets underway and RCA pick up where they left off in the first half as Butler attacks down the right - forcing White to rush from his goal to clear the ball.
4:07pm - A Mansfield attack down the right and the cross is cleared by Armstrong.
4:10pm - An Armstrong direct free-kick sails just wide of the upright.
4:17pm - A Mansfield free-kick is cleared and an RCA break results in a shot blocked.
4:20pm - Larkin attacks down the right, playing the ball into Callen, who finds Charlton but his shot is blocked.
4:27pm - Two penalty appeals in five seconds as Bradshaw advances into the penalty area and goes down but the referee waves them away.
4:31pm - A glorious opportunity to seal the match for RCA as Larkin makes a run down the right and plays in Charlton whose shot is blocked. The loose ball falls to Butler who blazes over the crossbar from four yards.
4:33pm - Williams is fouled by Armstrong. The free-kick from Williams is cleared - not for the first time - by the head of Swansbury.
4:44pm - Almost an own goal as a Mansfield defender backpasses the ball beyond White and just wide of the post. From the corner Charlton fires a shot narrowly over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area.
4:50pm - Bradshaw breaks down the middle and is tripped by Davis who is booked. The free-kick is fired over the crossbar.
4:52pm - Mansfield’s last chance of the match as a cross from the left is cleared by the diving head of Hodgson.
4:53pm - Full-time: AFC Mansfield 0 Sunderland RCA 1
Not a great game but a terrific result and RCA are through to the Fifth Round for the second successive season. That’s now six wins in a row and another clean sheet. RCA have played better than today and lost this season. After a largely one-sided first half, Mansfield had a lot more of the ball in second half without ever really testing Carmichael.
5:32pm - After a good crack with some of the RCA management, players and supporters we are back on the road with Stephen Callen joining us in the car for the journey home. We chat about the match, the drama at South Shields and whether we’ll be travelling again in the next round. We hit some extremely dense fog which prompts a fascinating discussion - and a Google search by Jackie - as to the difference between fog and mist. As Dave rightly points out - you don't get Scotch fog!
7:53pm - After dropping Stevie and Jackie off, I’m off out for a few beers to celebrate a cracking day out!
RCA are back in league action on Saturday with a trip to Newcastle Benfield.