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Sunderland RCA 1 Runcorn Linnets 2

Submitted by Simon Mears on Wednesday, 15 November 2017
Tuesday, 14 November 2017
FA Vase

Ross Preston gave RCA a half-time lead with a powerful header.

For more photos from the match please click here.

Goal scorers - RCA: Preston. Runcorn: O’Brien; Houghton.

Following the stalemate at the Millbank Linnets Stadium between Sunderland RCA and Runcorn Linnets on Saturday, the sides met again tonight at Meadow Park, with a Third Round tie at home to Marske United up for grabs for the victors.

RCA made one change to the side that drew at Runcorn on Saturday, with Ross McNab replacing Adam McGuinness, who took a place on the bench.

The two sides lined up as follows:

RCA: Finch; Noble; McNab; Hodgson; Preston (c); Armstrong; Cassidy; Elliott; O'Neill; Page; Callen.

Runcorn: Holmes; Atherton; Morris; Moore; O'Brien; Nolan; Holt; Hamid (c); Bryant; Shanley; Houghton.

The match kick-off was delayed 15 minutes as Runcorn were late in arriving, and it was the visitors who got off to a good start, kicking down the slope - in the second minute a ball was played into Shenley who fired a shot over the crossbar from 25 yards. Five minutes later, and, after a good move, Shenley’s cross from the right was headed clear by McNab. One minute later and RCA had their first chance of the match as Page won the ball in central midfield before playing in O'Neill, who fired a half-volley towards goal where Holmes was forced to head the ball - unsure whether or not he was able to use his hands - and Page pounced onto the loose ball but was penalised for a challenge on a Runcorn defender. After being second best in the opening minutes, RCA were getting back into the match, and, in the 11th minute, McNab and Callen combined well down the left, before McNab fired in a terrific cross which was headed over the crossbar by Elliott, with the flag up for offside in any case. Five minutes later and the visitors had a good chance to take the lead as a corner from the right was headed - unmarked - over the crossbar by Shenley from a good position. In the 19th minute, Runcorn won a free-kick which was headed behind by Hodgson for a corner which was cleared by the head of Armstrong. One minute later and Shenley was fouled by Page 25 yards from goal. From the resulting free-kick, Shenley curled the ball over the crossbar.

In the 25th minute, a ball over the top was controlled by Atherton, who drove towards goal down the inside right channel, before firing a shot over the crossbar from the apex of the penalty area. One minute later and Page made a typical, driving run through central midfield before playing the ball out to Cassidy on the right, who delivered a dangerous, low cross into O'Neill who went to ground under a challenge - strong appeals for a penalty from the RCA players and management followed but the referee awarded a corner, which went right across goal and out for a goal kick on the far side. And a further minute on and Page again released O'Neill, whose shot from 25 yards was comfortable for Holmes. In the 33rd minute, Runcorn were reduced to ten men. In an off the ball incident, Bryant clashed with Hodgson, and the RCA defender was left flat out on the turf. The linesman called the referee over and, after a brief discussion, Bryant was dismissed. Hodgson stayed down for three minutes before getting to his feet but looking very groggy indeed. And, after slowly making his way off the pitch, was substituted by Adam McGuinness. In the 39th minute, RCA produced a good move as Page and Callen exchanged passes in midfield before the ball was played out to McNab on the left whose cross was headed wide by O'Neill. Four minutes later and RCA had the lead - RCA won a corner after an Armstrong pass was put behind. Armstrong’s corner was a beauty and Preston rose to power a header into the net from six yards. In first half stoppage time, Callen made a great run down the left, driving into the penalty area and along the byline but his shot went out for a goal kick.

Half-time: Sunderland RCA 1 Runcorn Linnets 0

Two minutes into the second half and Cassidy crossed from the right and Callen shot wide of the post. One minute later and Callen made a super run down the left, cutting into the penalty area before squaring the ball to Armstrong but Holmes was able to intercept and clear the danger. Three minutes later and RCA won a free-kick for a foul on Armstrong midway inside the Runcorn half. Armstrong floated a good ball into the penalty area, where O'Neill turned and fired in a shot the was well saved by Holmes for a corner which was cleared. In the 53rd minute, Runcorn were level - Houghton made a driving run into the penalty area and was tripped by McGuinness. O'Brien stepped up and calmly placed the ball into the bottom corner. Three minutes later and Houghton made a good run down the right before crossing to Atherton who got underneath the shot and the ball went high over the crossbar. In the 63rd minute, Nolan fired in a shot from the edge of the penalty area that took a deflection and was comfortably caught by Finch.

With the match entering the final 15 minutes, Houghton made another good run down the right before crossing into the penalty area, where McNab headed the ball behind for a corner. From the corner, O'Brien headed the ball down and wide of the far post. In the 80th minute, James Cassidy was replaced by John Butler. One minute later and the dangerous Houghton was again in the action, making a driving run before firing in a shot that was scuffed and comfortable for Finch. With the match looking like it was heading for extra-time, Runcorn grabbed a stoppage time winner - the visitors broke quickly down the right and a low cross was swept into the net by Houghton at the far post. Within a few seconds of the restart, the final whistle was blown.

Gutted. Last Tuesday, RCA experienced the ecstasy of a stoppage time winner with a 2-1 win over West Auckland Town. Tonight, though, the boot was on the other foot as Runcorn grabbed an agonising last-gasp winner to knock RCA out of the Vase at the first hurdle.

An excellent second half performance from the Linnets’ ten men to come back from a goal down to win the match - they didn't look or play like a side with a numerical disadvantage.

Tonight's RCA man of the match was chosen by Tony Callen. Tony felt that there were no stand-out performances tonight, but picked Luke Page for "his surging runs, creating numerous opportunities for RCA". Well played, Luke!

Next up for RCA is a trip to Newcastle Benfield, the ground where we have suffered two heavy defeats in our last two visits. It is to be hoped that the lads can recover from tonight's huge disappointment and get back to winning ways on Saturday.