Ross McNab in first half action for RCA.
Please click here for more photos from the match. Thanks very much to Simon Mears for the photos from tonight.
After another sweltering day more suited to Perth in Australia than Perth Green in South Tyneside, RCA took the short trip to Northern League Division 2 side Jarrow for their sixth pre-season game. We had played Jarrow in a friendly before last season and they gave us a good game. That was the club's first season in the Northern League where they finished 12th. I expected a proper game which would give some indication of what we might expect this season.
RCA began with a strong side: Keith Finch, Clayton Davis, Ross McNab, Ross Preston, Sam Lilley, Craig Hodgson, Michael Charlton, Luke Page, Stephen Callen, Mark Davison and Colin Larkin. We made a lively start on one of the best playing surfaces I've seen in the Northern League, but after four minutes the home side took the lead with the Jarrow forward allowed to turn and fire home from six yards, giving Finch no chance. This set back piqued RCA who went on to dominate physically and territorially, carving out chance after chance. On nine minutes, Stephen Callen hit a long shot which was tipped over by the Jarrow keeper. On 17 minutes a right wing cross from Michael Charlton was cleared over the crossbar and from the first corner RCA forced two more before the ball was cleared up field for Davis to win a close race for the ball and to clear upfield.
On 22 minutes RCA won another corner, which was headed home at the near post by Stephen Callen to make the score 1-1. Seven minutes later and another cross from the right was headed down powerfully by Luke Page for RCA to take the lead. On 32 minutes in another RCA attack, Callen headed on for Colin Larkin to fire home. Two minutes later, Larkin scored again from a Charlton pass to make it 4-1 to RCA. The score line at half time reflected RCA physical and attacking dominance.
RCA made no changes for the second half.
On 47 minutes very good work from Luke Page, driving into the Jarrow penalty area on the left, led to a pass to Davison in front of goal, which he hit home to make it 5-1. Five minutes later and it looked as though Larkin would get his hat trick as he brought the ball down and curved a shot which beat the keeper, but came down and back from the crossbar. Andy Kokoska came on for Keith Finch on 54 minutes. On 58 minutes, Davison beat the offside trap, but poked his shot wide.
On 63 minutes, James Armstrong, Adam McGuinness and Dom Moan came on for Hodgson, Charlton and Davis.
On 70 minutes a McNab corner was headed home by captain Ross Preston.
Phil Hall came on for Preston and Jak Ashton came on for McNab. Dimitri Limbo, Reece McEwan, and Luke Richardson came on for Page, Callen and Sam Lilley.
Final score: 1-6.
There are two frustrations from the evening's work: the early goal conceded and we should have scored more given the dominance we enjoyed. But such negatives are easily outweighed by the quality of attacking football and some very strong individual performances. You shouldn't try to read much into pre-season, but it was clear from tonight that the manager has got some tough choices. A good problem to have.