James Cassidy - scorer of RCA's early goal - in a sprint for the ball during the second half of the match.
For more photos from the match please click here.
Goal scorers - Benfield: Brayson. RCA: Cassidy.
Following the huge disappointment of being knocked out of the FA Vase on Tuesday evening, Sunderland RCA were back in Northern League action this afternoon with a trip to Newcastle Benfield.
RCA made two changes to the side knocked out of the FA Vase on Tuesday - Adam McGuinness and Luke Richardson replacing Ross McNab and Dylan Elliott.
The two sides lined up as follows:
Benfield: Grainger; Evans; Novak; Laidler; Esdaille; Mellish; Carr; McEvoy; Brayson (c); Orrell; McCarthy.
RCA: Finch; Noble; Hodgson; McGuinness; Preston (c); Armstrong; Cassidy; Page; O'Neill; Richardson; Callen.
The home side got off to a good start, creating early pressure on the RCA defence as Evans crossed from right and the ball was headed clear by Hodgson. In the 5th minute, RCA won a free-kick for a foul on Armstrong which was cleared. One minute later and RCA had an early lead - a lovely ball inside Evans was latched onto by Callen, who drove down the wing and to the byline before crossing low, where Cassidy finished from close range at the far post at the second attempt. In the 10th minute, Orrell received an upfield ball before cutting into the penalty area and firing in a shot that was well blocked by Hodgson - from the loose ball, a follow-up shot was headed away from danger by Page. Three minutes later and McCarthy fired in a long range effort which was straight at Finch.
In the 24th minute, Benfield won a free-kick for a foul on Carr. The free-kick was half cleared by Hodgson and McEvoy fired in shot that was claimed by Finch at the second attempt. Two minutes later and Benfield won another free-kick for a foul on Carr by Cassidy. Carr himself took the free-kick which struck the RCA wall and was cleared. With five minutes to half-time, Callen made a super run through central midfield before firing in a shot that was turned behind by Grainger for a corner. From Armstrong's corner, Callen headed the ball wide of the post. Three minutes later and Richardson and Callen combined well down the left before Callen played the ball in to O'Neill, whose layoff found Page, who fired in a shot from 25 yards that was saved by Grainger, diving to his right.
Half-time: Newcastle Benfield 0 Sunderland RCA 1
The first action of note came in the 53rd minute when RCA were awarded a penalty after O'Neill was tripped. O'Neill stepped up to take the spot kick but Grainger saved with his feet. From the corner, Grainger made an excellent save from a Callen header. Two minutes later and a ball in from the right was headed wide by McCarthy. And a further two minutes on and Mellish fired in a shot from the edge of the penalty area that was deflected over the crossbar by Preston for a corner which was cleared.
Midway through the second half and Benfield won a free-kick on the right for a foul by McGuinness and the free-kick was cleared by Page. Two minutes later and McGuinness crossed a great ball into the penalty area and O'Neill headed down to Callen who fired in a goal bound shot that was superbly blocked by Esdaille and cleared. Three minutes on and Carr made a good run through central midfield before firing in a shot from 25 yards which was held by Finch, diving to his right. In the 73rd minute, Novak fired in a shot that took a deflection off Preston and was cleared. Four minutes later and the sides looked to be level - a ball was played into the penalty area and McGuinness looked to send the ball towards goal and, although the ball didn't appear to get any further touches, after a delay, the goal was ruled out for offside. One minute later and O'Neill made a good run before attempting to lob Grainger from all of 30 yards but the ‘keeper was able to catch the ball comfortably on the penalty spot.
With five minutes remaining, Richardson made a driving run down the left before crossing low into the penalty area, where Callen flicked on and Esdaille sliced the ball over the crossbar for a corner which was cleared. Two minutes later and O'Neill played a good ball into Callen, who fired a shot over the crossbar from 25 yards. With stoppage time looming, Benfield grabbed an equaliser - a ball in from the right found Brayson with time and space in the penalty area, and the Benfield striker took a touch to control the ball before firing in a fierce shot that flew past Finch. In stoppage time, Cassidy crossed from the left and O'Neill's flicked header was cleared behind for a corner which was also cleared.
A vastly improved performance from RCA this afternoon compared to our previous two visits to Sam Smith's Park where we conceded 12 goals in the two matches and were outplayed.
RCA remain in eighth position in the table, just three points behind North Shields in fourth as we approach the midway point of the season in terms of matches played.
This afternoon’s RCA man of the match was chosen by Jackie Callen. Jackie picked Stephen Callen for “good, attacking runs and setting up RCA's goal”. Well played, Stephen!
Next up for RCA is a Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup Second Round tie at Whitley Bay on Tuesday, 21 November. Kick-off is at 7:30pm.