Luke Page rises high in typically dynamic fashion. (More photos from the match here, where the photographer has been distracted by the Whickham sunset.)
Morden, Lancaster, Hedley, Martin, Clasper, Peareth (C) (74), Wharton, Burrell (70), Teasdale, Collins (74), Mole. Bench: Brown, Jelley (74), Belford, Norton (74), Fisher (70).
Pocklington, Clayton Davis, McNab, Lilley, Swansbury (C), Armstrong (65), Charlton, Elliott (75), Davison (78), Page, Callen. Bench: Larkin, Finch, McGuinness (78), Preston (65), Jonathan Davis (75).
Referee: Mr Craig Dean. Assistant referees: Mr David Fittes and Mr Karl Barron.
Sunderland RCA: Stephen Callen (2), Luke Page.
This was a match - far from a classic, to put it politely - where RCA deservedly came out on top, but were challenged by a determined and physical Whickham side. The home team had good openings to both halves of the match. RCA captain Greg Swansbury and his central defensive partner (later right back), Sam Lilley were both singled out for praise by manager Martin Swales, along with Stephen Callen, who after scoring a goal in each half, frustratingly missed out on a hat trick in added time. I would also mention Luke Page, who played number 10 before dropping back to a more familiar midfield position after RCA's second goal, for a typically dynamic performance. There was some discussion of whether it was Luke or Adam McGuinness who scored RCA's third, but RCA secretary Chris Lowther was on hand to say it was Page's goal.
Whickham kicked off the first half playing into the sunset. They won a throw in on their left, which was cleared to Page who did well to get RCA on the attack. The move was ended by a foul on Armstrong, but the free kick was hit too long. Not long after, Davison hit the Whickham post when it looked easier to score. Four minutes later, a Whickham free kick was held by Pocklington at the second attempt.
On 19 minutes good play from RCA led to the ball being moved around in the Whickham penalty area. It fell to Elliott who hit his shot over the bar.
On 25 minutes, RCA took the lead. A ball down the RCA left was collected by Davison who laid it into the path of Callen who hit home well from 12 yards. A good goal, but Whickham will rue the marking.
On 34 minutes Davison won a corner after excellent work from Page, but the kick was cleared.
For Whichkam, Dale Burrow's shot was pushed onto the post by Pocklington.
HT Whickham 0 Sunderland RCA 1
RCA's second goal came on 62 minutes. The visitors won a free kick in a central area about 25 yards from goal. Armstrong hit a goal bound shot which was deflected for a corner on RCA's left. Dylan Elliott took the kick and Stephen Callen, with lots of space in the Whickham penalty area, rose to to put a great header past Morden for his second of the night.
After RCA's second goal, Ross Preston came on for James Armstrong, with Sam Lilley moving to right back, Clayton Davies moving into midfield, Stephen Callen going upfront and Luke Page dropping back into midfield.
On 75 minutes Jonathan Davies came on for Dylan Elliott.
On 77 minutes a Whickham corner from the left was met for a free header and put wide of the far post.
On 78 minutes Adam McGuinness came on for Mark Davison in a straight positional swap.
On 82 minutes Whickham again put the ball wide of the RCA post.
On 85 minutes, RCA won a free kick on the edge of the box after a heavy foul on Clayton Davies. Ross McNab fired a left foot shot to the near post which was well saved by Morden.
On 88 minutes, McNab crossed from the left. The ball bounced high and Page turned the ball into the net from close range to make it 3-0 to RCA. Callen should have got a deserved hat trick in added time, but the lay off from Clayton Davies was not quite right for him to get his shot away cleanly.
After Saturday's disappointment the most important thing from tonight was a win. It was a clear win and, after the second goal, RCA increasingly had control of the game and arguably should have added more than one more goal to their tally. After two matches it's difficult to make any grounded assessment of how we are doing. Whickham are not like Benfield and did not really trouble RCA's defence in any penetrative way.
Now, roll on Saturday for the not at all small matter of a Ryhope derby in The Emirates FA Cup. See you at Meadow Park.