James Cassidy scores the winner for RCA on the stroke of half time. Photograph: Simon Mears.
For more photos from the match please click here.
Goal scorers - RCA: Larkin; Cassidy. Pickering: Parker.
Following the postponement of last Saturday's pre-season friendly with Hartlepool United under 23s due to player availability problems, and the midweek trip to Esh Winning being called off because of the excessive rain, Sunderland RCA were back in action with a final pre-season friendly at home to Pickering Town looking for a fifth win to round off the pre-season positively.
The two sides lined up as follows:
Sunderland RCA: Bussey; Noble; McNab; Hodgson; Swansbury (c); Davis; Charlton; Elliott; Larkin; Callen; Cassidy.
Pickering Town: Lawrie; Marshall; Belt; Taylor; Denton; Tilsley (c); Thompson; Birch; Blott; Parker; Dalton.
It was the visitors who had the first attack in the opening minute as Parker made a good run down the right and delivered a dangerous cross which was well cleared by Noble under pressure. In the fifth minute, RCA had their first attempt on goal when Callen made a run through central midfield before firing in a shot from 20 yards that was comfortably saved by Lawrie. In the 13th minute RCA took the lead - RCA won a free-kick on the right which was whipped in by Davis and Larkin rose unmarked to head the ball home from eight yards for his fifth goal of pre-season. Five minutes later and Pickering were on the attack as Dalton made a run down the left but his cross was gathered by a diving Bussey.
Midway through the first half and Pickering equalised - Thompson picked up the ball in midfield before releasing Parker with a perfectly-judged pass and Parker, on the apex of the penalty area, lifted the ball over the advancing Bussey and the into the net. Two minutes later and RCA won a free-kick for a foul on Cassidy. Davis whipped in the ball which was headed behind for harmless corner. In the 34th minute Taylor made a good run down the right and crossed to Dalton whose shot looped over the crossbar. Three minutes later and Callen made a run down the right, driving into the penalty area, cutting the ball back just behind the onrushing Larkin and the ball was held by Lawrie. One minute later and RCA had a great chance to retake the lead - Callen released Larkin in on goal but Larkin's shot from the edge of the penalty area was superbly saved by Lawrie for a corner which was cleared. With half-time approaching, RCA did retake the lead when Cassidy was released down the inside left channel and, after driving into the penalty area, finished beautifully across Lawrie and into the far corner.
Half-time: Sunderland RCA 2 Pickering Town 1
RCA had the first meaningful attack of the second half as Cassidy made a good run down the left to win a corner which was headed clear. In the 52nd minute Dalton attacked down right but his cross was cleared by Hodgson. Five minutes later a Pickering substitute fired in a powerful shot from 25 yards that was smartly held by Bussey diving full length to his right.
The 70th minute produced RCA's best move of the half - Callen made a good run down the left before playing the ball into Larkin, who, first-time, played in O'Neill who drove in an effort narrowly over the crossbar. With five minutes remaining, and Pickering pressing hard for an equaliser, another substitute fired in a shot that took a heavy deflection off Noble, attempting to charge down the shot, and the ball looped over the crossbar for a corner which was cleared.
Another excellent and confidence-building win to make it a five wins from five matches during the pre-season. Pickering played very well and had plenty of possession and look a good side, providing a valuable test for the lads going into the new season. But it's next Saturday that the real stuff begins with Garforth Town visiting Meadow Park for the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round.
Dave Rochfort’s man of the match was Craig Hodgson who was, quote, “as solid as ever”, performing well in both central defence and central midfield during the match. Well played, Craig!