Colin Larkin - tracked by former RCA defender Wayne Buchanan - fires in a terrific shot, minutes before opening the scoring.
For more photos from the match please click here.
Goal scorers - Ashington: Stevens (2); McAndrew. RCA: Larkin.
Sunderland RCA were back on the road again for tonight's Northern League match at Ashington, with both sides looking for at least a top eight finish at the end of the season.
RCA made two changes to the side that won handsomely at Whitley Bay last Tuesday - Greg Swansbury and Nathan O'Neill were replaced by James Armstrong and Jonathan Davis, with Craig Hodgson switching from midfield to central defence to partner Ross Preston, who captained the side.
The two sides lined up as follows:
Ashington: Grant; Christensen; Salmon; Stephenson; Scott (c); Buchanan; McAndrew; Downey; Stevens; Cartwright; Pearson.
RCA: Finch; Noble; Hodgson; Preston (c); McGuinness; Davis; Charlton; Armstrong; Larkin; Page; Callen.
The match got off to a cagey start, with neither side able to get a sight at goal in the opening exchanges. In the tenth minute,RCA had the first serious attempt on goal as McGuinness played a good ball down the RCA left to Larkin, who, swiveling, fired in a terrific shot from the left apex of the Ashington penalty area which flew inches wide of the far post. Four minutes later, though, and RCA had the lead - Davis, in central midfield, played in Charlton, who cut in from the right and fired in a shot that was well saved by Grant, but the loose ball fell to Larkin on the edge of the penalty area, and the RCA striker finished superbly through a crowd of players. In the 20th minute, Ashington had their first attempt at goal - after a neat build up down the right, Pearson crossed low to the edge of the penalty area and Stevens fired his shot over the crossbar.
Four minutes later and RCA were unlucky not to double their lead when Larkin was played in on the right, and, from a narrow angle, lifted the ball over Grant, but the ball bounced off the top of the crossbar and bounced back into play but was hacked clear. A further four minutes on and Christensen played a good ball to Pearson down the right, who fired in a shot from the edge of the penalty area that was well saved by Finch. On the half hour mark, the home side got back into the match - a shot from Cartwright from the just outside the RCA penalty area went through a crowd of players and took a big deflection on its way, which left Finch stranded. The goal was given to Stevens. In the 40th minute, RCA won a free-kick for a foul on Larkin, 22 yards from the Ashington goal. Armstrong's free-kick struck the Ashington wall and was cleared.
Half-time: Ashington 1 Sunderland RCA 1
The home side came out strongly for the second half, taking the match to RCA and creating a couple of good, early chances - in the 52nd minute, a good cross from the Ashington left was headed onto the post by Stevens. One minute later, and Stevens turned provider, playing the ball into Stephenson, who fired a shot across Finch and narrowly wide of the far post. In the 58th minute, the Ashington pressure finally told as McAndrew picked the ball up on the edge of the RCA penalty area before firing in a shot that a looked comfortable for Finch, but the ball slipped through his hands, and legs, and rolled into the empty net. Midway through the second half and Adam McGuinness was replaced by Ross McNab.
In the 71st minute Ashington extended their lead after a penalty was awarded for a foul. Stevens slotted the penalty home, giving Finch no chance. Four minutes later and James Armstrong was replaced by Kieron Parnaby. In the final ten minutes, Pearson had a couple of good chances - first he drove into the RCA penalty area but Finch was quick to smother the ball with a good save. Then a couple of minutes later, fired in a shot from the edge of the penalty area that was turned around the post by Finch, superbly diving to his right. In the final minute of the match, RCA made their final change, with Michael Charlton being replaced by Luke Richardson.
An extremely disappointing night for RCA - after taking the lead during an excellent opening quarter of the match, the home side fought back well, just as they did last season, when RCA surrendered a 2-0 half-time lead to lose 3-2.
Ashington move upto 7th in the table, one place ahead of RCA on goal difference, although RCA do have two games in hand.
Tonight's RCA man of the match was chosen by Dave Rochfort. Dave picked Colin Larkin for “scoring RCA's goal and being a constant threat”. Well played, Colin!
Next up for RCA is a home match as Seaham Red Star are the visitors to Meadow Park this Saturday, 24 March, with a 3pm kick-off.