RCA's Ross Preston defends Benfield's John Campbell in the second half of the match. Photograph: Simon Mears.
For more photos from the match please click here.
Goal scorers - Benfield: Campbell (5); McEvoy.
Sunderland RCA travelled to Newcastle Benfield this evening for another rearranged Northern League fixture. The original match, on January 14th, was abandoned after 21 minutes due to a part of the pitch being frozen. RCA had weathered early pressure from the home side to take the lead in the ninth minute with a well-worked goal from Stephen Callen. Michael Charlton hit the post with a lovely chip, and then, shortly after, the captains gathered with the referee over the part of the pitch that was causing concern and it was handshakes all round - match abandoned.
The two clubs have remarkably similar records so far this season: Both have 48 points, made up of 13 wins and nine draws. RCA have a game in hand, but Benfield have a superior goal-difference.
Benfield were worthy winners, 3-1, in the reverse fixture at Meadow Park back in September - although the RCA side was severely depleted that night.
RCA made two changes to the side that drew nil-nil with Newton Aycliffe on Saturday - Craig Hodgson and Michael Charlton were both ruled out injured and were replaced by James Armstrong and James Cassidy.
The sides lined up as follows:
Benfield: Grainger; Turnbull (c); Dummett; McArdle; Tobin; Scorbie; McCarthy; McEvoy; Brayson; Campbell; Cornish.
RCA: Carmichael; Richardson; McGuinness; Preston; Swansbury (c); Armstrong; Cassidy; Hubbard; Butler; Larkin; Callen.
The match got under way in torrential rain and RCA had the first attack as Callen made a good run down the left wing but his cross went out for a goal-kick. In the 3rd minute Benfield had their first attack as McCarthy received the ball on the right but his attempted cross was blocked by Callen for a corner. From the corner Carmichael made a diving save to his left from a header on the edge of the penalty area. One minute later and a Benfield free-kick produced a scramble in the RCA penalty area - the loose ball was fired over the crossbar by McEvoy. In the 8th minute RCA produced a good move as Callen and Armstrong exchanged passes before releasing Butler down the left but is cross was headed behind for a corner which was cleared. Four minutes later and RCA had a good chance to open the scoring after Callen made a driving run through central midfield before being fouled. Larkin’s free-kick from 22-yards curled narrowly over the crossbar. And a further RCA free-kick a minute later saw Armstrong play the ball to Callen in midfield who released Butler at the edge of the penalty area but his shot was sent high over the crossbar.
In the 20th minute RCA won a corner - from the corner Armstrong fired in a shot that was blocked for a subsequent corner which was glanced wide by the head of Swansbury at the front post. One minute later and Benfield launched a slick attack as Campbell made a run down the left before exchanging passes with Brayson and firing over the crossbar. In the 27th minute Benfield took the lead as a misplaced RCA pass was intercepted by Dummett who released Brayson down the left, who played the ball into Campbell and he made no mistake from the edge of the penalty area.
On the half hour mark RCA won another free-kick, this time for a foul on Butler. Armstrong’s free-kick fell to Preston but his shot was blocked. One minute later Campbell was released in on goal and, just as he was about to pull the trigger, was superbly dispossessed by a sliding challenge by McGuinness. With seven minutes to half-time Callen released McGuinness down the left - his low cross fell to Larkin but his shot was saved by Grainger.
Half-time: Newcastle Benfield 1 Sunderland RCA 0
Five minutes into the second half and Benfield had the first attack after the interval as Brayson fired in a shot that dipped viciously for a corner that was cleared after a frantic goalmouth scramble. Two minutes later and Benfield doubled their lead - Brayson fired in a shot was that turned away by Carmichael for a corner. McEvoy’s corner was low to the front post and seemed to deceive everyone and finished up in the net. In the 56th minute Brayson was again on the attack as he cut in from the right and fired in a fierce shot that produced a terrific save from Carmichael. And three minutes later Brayson once more fired in a shot which was parried by Carmichael but Campbell was on hand for a two-yard tap-in to put the home side in a commanding position. In the 61st minute RCA won a free-kick for a foul on McGuinness. Armstrong’s free-kick was cleared.
By this stage Benfield were rampant and in the 65th minute Campbell made a terrific run down the left, cutting in, and firing a ferocious shot just over the crossbar. Campbell, however, didn’t have long to wait to complete his hat-trick - two minutes later and the Benfield frontman beat the offside trap and drilled the ball past Carmichael emphatically for a 4-0 lead. In the 73rd a brilliant ball from Campbell, switching play, released Brayson who returned the ball to Campbell whose shot was well blocked by Carmichael. With Benfield now attacking at will, McCarthy was put in on goal but again Carmichael came to the rescue with another brave block at the feet of McCarthy and the loose ball was cleared.
As the match entered the final fifteen minutes Benfield increased their lead still further, and again it was Campbell who got in behind the RCA backline before going around Carmichael and almost walking the ball into the unguarded net. With three minutes remaining RCA’s miserable night was completed when Brayson made a run down the right and, instead of opting to shoot, squared the ball to Campbell who was presented with a second tap-in of the match.
A night to forget for RCA - particularly the second half which was easily the poorest 45 minutes of the season so far. That’s not to take anything away from Benfield, especially Brayson and Campbell, whose movement, pace and finishing were superb. And, had it not been for Carmichael - whose kit changed colour from pink to a delicate shade of mud brown - brilliantly diving and blocking, Benfield could have finished the match in double figures.
Football has a knack of throwing up coincidences and this was RCA’s heaviest defeat since - you guessed it - last season’s trip to Sam Smith’s Park when RCA were beaten by Benfield 6-1 on March 26th.
RCA’s next match is against near neighbours Seaham Red Star this Saturday, when RCA will be looking for a positive reaction to this result.