Garstang FC's match report is here.
A lovely little town in rural Lancashire for Sunderland RCA to visit, and a super sports set up right at the head of the High Street, with football, rugby, cricket, bowls and tennis all available to the sports minded of Garstang. The football pitch looked in very good condition although was bound to be a bit slippy with the light rain that was falling on and off, the clubhouse was packed with locals as well as the excellent and noisy RCA following, and all looked set for a classic Vase tie, with RCA clearly favourites but Garstang, enjoying their first ever Vase campaign, well up for keeping their run going. Couldn’t wait!
Garstang FC: Kitchen, Birch, Nagy, O’Connor, Swindlehurst, Sailor, Graham, Entwistle (captain), R. Coar, Hothersall, McKenna. Subs Ross, Barrett
Sunderland RCA: Tsapolos, Jury, McNab, Preston, Swansbury (captain), Hodgson, Moan, Page, Davison, O’Neill, Larkin. Subs Armstrong, Ramshaw, Lilley, K. Davis, C. Davis
Around 200 people were in attendance as the game kicked off in a light drizzle that was to come and go throughout the game. RCA quickly settled into a smooth rhythm, keeping the ball well and moving it around, but without causing too much in the way of problems for the Garstang defence, despite winning a few corners. That changed after 19 minutes as the game burst into life. A Luke Page shot from around 15 yards took a wicked deflection and the Garstang keeper was left completely wrong footed as the ball ballooned into the net. Two minutes later and the advantage was doubled. It had been fairly obvious from the off that the RCA attack had a real advantage in the air and so it proved as a ball into the box was won, and although the keeper did well to parry the effort he could only knock the ball into the path of a diving Nathan O’Neill, who wasn’t likely to miss from around one yard. To their credit the Garstang heads didn’t drop, but playing into the wind and rain and against a dominant RCA midfield they were finding it hard to cross the half way line.
Colin Larkin playing wide left had realised that the simplest way for RCA to attack was to lift the ball across goal and he unleashed cross after cross, many of which were desperately cleared for corners. From one such corner in the twenty seventh minute Mark Davison rose powerfully to head towards goal. Kitchen, the Garstang keeper, made another good attempt to beat the ball away but it dropped for Greg Swansbury who lashed home from close range.
Three nil up before the half hour mark was a wonderful position for RCA. And before half time it got better with the best goal of the game. Yet again Colin Larkin was able to look up and place a perfect cross onto the head of Nathan O’Neill outside the far post and Nathan’s beautifully placed header came right back across goal and just inside the post.
HT Garstang 0 Sunderland RCA 4: a great position and a chance to see out the game comfortably.
In the last few minutes of the first half Luke Page had looked in some discomfort from his groin and sure enough he failed to appear for the second half, with James Armstrong taking his place. Garstang had clearly made their mind up to have a real good go and they started after the break showing great determination to try and get back into the game. Dimi Tsapalos in the RCA goal was booked for a foul on a Garstang forward wide of the box, which could have been dangerous. Even so they had not created much until the 54th minute when a Garstang forward broke forward into the box and Ross Preston’s tackle was deemed to be worthy of a penalty. Probably fair enough. Tom Entwistle made no mistake and the Garstang faithful roared into life after being quiet until that point. The goal lifted the team as well as the crowd while RCA looked to be caught in two minds whether to sit on their lead or push on. Garstang upped their work rate and RCA, for the first time in the game, looked ruffled.
The pressure told and on 66 minutes Tom Entwistle was again the scorer with an excellent run and effort into the bottom corner. For the next ten minutes it looked as if Garstang could have got the third which would have made it too interesting. Inevitably though the Garstang charge started to run down and RCA began to get more chances on the break.
Clayton Davis replaced Dom Moan and it was his run in the 83rd minute which was stopped by the keeper pulling him down. Penalty and keeper sent off. Colin Larkin made no mistake and it looked like that was definitely that. There was time for Kyle Davis to replace Mark Davison and then get himself booked in a minor kerfuffle with the Garstang defence before an unfortunate twist for Garstang in the 88th minute when a badly misplaced back pass gave Nathan O’Neill a tap in for his hat trick.
In the end a good win for RCA, but by no means as comfortable as it had looked like being at half time and all credit to Garstang for that, a gutsy performance from them but a solid win nonetheless with RCA playing to their strengths and keeping it simple.
On to Shildon on the 1st of December!