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Sunderland RCA 2 Penrith 1

Submitted by Simon Mears on Wednesday, 9 August 2017
Tuesday, 8 August 2017
Northern League 1

Reece Noble clears the ball during the second half of the match.

For more photos from the match please click here.

Goal scorers - RCA: Charlton; Elliott. Penrith: Coleman.

Following Saturday's excellent 3-1 victory at home to Garforth Town in the FA Cup, Sunderland RCA began their Northern League campaign with a match at home to Penrith. Penrith also had a good win at Frenchfields on Saturday in the FA Cup, beating West Auckland Town 2-1.

RCA made two changes to the side that beat Garforth Town on Saturday - Adam McGuinness returned after serving a one-match suspension and Luke Page made his full debut, replacing Jonathan Davis and James Cassidy, who were both on the bench, and RCA reverted back to a more familiar 4-4-2 formation.

The two sides lined up as follows:

RCA: Bussey; Noble; McGuinness; Preston; Swansbury (c) ; Hodgson; Charlton; Elliott; Larkin; Page; Callen.

Penrith: Dixon; N. Davidson; Dickinson; G. Davidson (c) ; Bowman; Crozier; Lawson; Main; Coleman; Wraighte; Bousfield.

Just like the match at home to Penrith at the end of last season, this evening's match was played under incessant rain. But, despite the weather, RCA got off to a blistering start. In the fourth minute Larkin was released in on goal and as he attempted to go around Dixon, the Penrith goalkeeper was able to smother Larkin's effort. Four minutes later and Larkin received the ball on the left before crossing to Page in the penalty area, who, sliding, could only guide the ball wide of the post. Three minutes later and RCA had a great chance to open the scoring - Larkin advanced through central midfield before releasing Page in on goal. Page attempted to go around Dixon but, again, Dixon was able to block the attempt. Amazingly, one minute later, Page again found himself clean through and again Dixon came out to block the shot - the ball this time rebounded back to Elliott, who, from 25 yards on the apex of the penalty area, whipped in a tremendous shot that struck the crossbar and the ball was cleared. In the 20th minute RCA produced another good move which resulted in Charlton firing in an effort from close range that was again well saved by Dixon.

It seemed like it would only be a matter of time before the deadlock was broken, and, in the 22nd minute the goal finally came - but for Penrith! Completely against the run of play, Wraighte received the ball on the left wing and made a driving run into the penalty area before cutting the ball back to Coleman who finished emphatically to give the visitors the lead. Main then had a shot just over the crossbar and, just before half-time, Coleman made a good run down the right and delivered a good cross that was cleared by Noble under pressure in the six-yard area.

Half-time: Sunderland RCA 0 Penrith 1

After failing to capitalise on a whole host of chances in the first half, RCA took just two minutes of the restart to get back into the match - Callen made good progress down the left and crossed and, after a short scramble in the six-yard area, the ball broke to Charlton, who smashed an unstoppable shot into the top, right corner. It was always going to take something a bit special to beat the inspired Dixon tonight. In the 57th minute, RCA won a free-kick on the right after a foul on Page. McGuinness whipped in a great ball and Callen fired in a shot brilliantly saved by Dixon and from the rebound Callen crashed a shot off the post. One minute later and Penrith won a free-kick 20 yards from the RCA goal. Wraighte’s kick clipped the RCA wall and went behind for a corner which was cleared. Back came RCA as Callen crossed to Charlton who stabbed the ball narrowly wide and into the side netting.

In the 65th minute RCA took the lead - Charlton’s cross from the right went right through to Callen on the left who crossed back in and Elliott was on hand with the finish from close range. RCA kept pressing for more goals and Larkin was put in on goal and chipped the advancing Dixon but a defender cleared before the ball reached the goal line. Two minutes later determined play by Charlton down the right forced a corner after retaining possession after two strong challenges. The 70th minute produced a terrific passage of play - Elliott picked the ball up in his own half before releasing Larkin with (arguably) the ball of the match, a 40-yard slide rule pass in behind the Penrith back four. Larkin won a corner and from McGuinness’ corner, Larkin sent a free header off the face of the crossbar.

The scoreline may suggest a narrow victory, but RCA could have had many more tonight, hitting the woodwork on four occasions and having numerous clear-cut chances throughout the match.

For the second time in just a few days, RCA have come back from being a goal down to win. There is a great resilience and team spirit in this side and heads haven't dropped when we have conceded the first goal in these opening two matches. Bravo!

Tonight's RCA man of the match was chosen by Mark Cowan. Mark picked Michael Charlton for his “non-stop endeavour” up and down the right wing and the “quality of the finish for his goal”. Well played, Michael!

But, Mark being Mark, he also wanted to give a second RCA player a mention - Dylan Elliott who also had an excellent game. Well played too, Dylan!

RCA's next match is another home game against Washington, this Saturday, 12 August.