RCA’s management team were forced to make one change to the team who played in the mid-week FA Cup win over Ryhope CW with Sam Lilley coming in for the injured Ross Preston. They also had new on-loan signing Ryan Leonard on the bench.
The teams lined up as follows:
SRCA: Dean, Allen, McNab, Lilley, Swansbury ©, Hodgson, C Davis, Elliott, Davison, O’Neill, Callen. Subs: Charlton, Croft, Dorward, Leonard, Moan.
Whickham: Bartlett, Howard, Kay, Little, Galbraith, Newton, McAndrew, Burrell ©, Bulford, Pattison, Thear. Subs: Finnigan, Cowburn, Grieve, Gibbon, Robson.
The opening minutes of the game saw both teams looking to go on the offensive but both sets of defences coped with the early pressure and the only shot on target in the opening 15 minutes was a free kick by Davison which was easily saved by Bartlett in the Whickham goal.
With 16 minutes gone Kay moved forward with some purpose, Played the ball to Newton who laid it off to ex-SRCA player Howard who struck a low shot which was blocked by Swansbury, the ball rebounded to Kay who sent a fierce shot goalward but Hodgson managed to get his body in the way.
A minute later and Whickham were awarded a free kick on the left, Pattison stepped up and unleashed a terrific shot which looked destined for the top corner but Dean somehow managed to get a hand to the ball and tip it onto the bar, a brilliant save. RCA responded with a series of attacks down the left, Callen slipping past his marker found O’Neill in space and the tall striker was fouled before he could get his shot away, Elliott took the freekick but again Bartlett saved comfortably.
The game was developing into a midfield battle with neither side giving much away, on the half hour mark a good run by Davis took him to the edge of the box where he crossed to O’Neill, he pulled the ball back into the path of Elliott but he drove the ball over the bar.
Shortly after RCA missed a golden opportunity to take the lead, Callen made a great forward run down the left before cutting inside and then playing a reverse ball into the path of Davison who squared the ball to O’Neill who was inside the six yard area but his shot lacked power and was saved by Bartlett.
The final chance for RCA fell to Davison from a Davis cross but his shot was well saved by Bartlett.
The visitors then mounted a sustained attack on the RCA goal in the final minutes of the half. A through ball from McAndrew found Bulford with his back to goal, he turned sharply and fired in a low shot which Dean did well to save.
Then a spectacular overhead-kick by Burrell flew just wide of the post.
In the 43rd minute McAndrew picked up a loose ball and hit shot was deflected for a corner, the resulting corner saw the ball land invitingly for Thear to volley but once again Dean brought off a fantastic save to keep the scores level. Thear took the resulting corner and found the head of Burrell, his powerful header hit the head of Lilley and deflected for third corner which was met by Kay but he fired wide and the referee called time on the first half.
RCA with the wind at their backs in the second half made a good start to the half and should have taken the lead when Callen dribbled his way past three defenders before picking out O’Neill who was a yard out from an empty net but somehow managed to hit the bar and the ball was scrambled away for a corner.
The home team's disappointment was short lived however as Callen met the resulting McNab corner to power in a downward header which crashed into the back of the net to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
The “Lang Jacks”, felt that they should have been awarded a penalty five minutes later when a strong challenge by Lilley on Pattison was deemed fair by the referee.
In the 57th minute Davison and Callen combined to play in O’Neill but his shot went across the face of the goal and out for a goal kick.
On the hour mark RCA were denied a second goal when Bartlett produced a brilliant one hand save low down to his right from a Callen shot which was destined for the bottom corner. Davison headed the resulting corner over the bar.
Whickham’s only effort on goal in the period was a header by Pattison from a cross by Thear.
Whickham introduced Finnigan and Robson into the game and they had an immediate impact as the match seemed to change dramatically from that point.
Davis pulled up with a recurrence of his hamstring problem and was replaced by SAFC loanee Ryan Leonard.
The youngster’s first touch almost produced a goal, he latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the box and hammered in a shot which bobbled just in front of Bartlett but the Whickham keeper was able to collect at the second attempt.
The visitors were seeing more of the ball now and were pushing men forward looking for an equaliser.
In the 75th minute a cross by Kay was met with glancing header by Finnigan, but Dean was once again equal to it and again tipped the ball onto the crossbar.
The visitors equalized in the 82nd minute when a cross into the box by Kay somehow found its way through a body of players and ended up at the feet of Robson who fired the ball across the goal and into the bottom corner.
Within three minutes the visitors took the lead. Pattison did well on the right before crossing into the box where McAndrew managed to flick the ball over Dean and into the top corner of the net.
RCA, for all there endeavour in the final five minutes could not muster enough to get back into the game. In a final throw of the dice Charlton and Moan were introduced, but it was too little too late, although Leonard can think himself unluck not to get on the scoresheet with the last kick of the game when his strike from the edge of the box hit Charlton and flew over the bar.
The home team tired in the final 10 minutes of this game, in much the same way as on Tuesday, unfortunately this time it cost them the game.
Next up is Northallerton away on Wednesday 21 August 2019. 7:30pm kick off.