Thomas Best scores RCA's third goal of the match.
For more photos from the match please click here.
Sunderland RCA welcomed Thornaby to a very blustery Sunderland LGV Park for this EBAC Northern League Div. 1 match.
Thornaby have had an indifferent season with some good performances where results have gone against them including our meeting earlier in the season. They did, however, have a very good FA Cup run early in the season.
The RCA ground staff worked wonders to get the pitch ready for today’s match and it was a relief when the referee pronounced the match was on despite the high winds which would undoubtedly spoil what promised to be a competitive match.
After three matches with an unchanged team the management team was forced to make changes with Preston and McNab injured in Wednesday’s match and O’Neill pulling up during the warm-up so into the starting eleven came C Davis, Hodgson and Hennis.
The teams lined up as follows:
SRCA: Dean, C Davis, Hodgson, Allen, Swansbury ©, Best, Hennis, Lawson, Davison, K Davis, Elliott. Subs: Leonard, Ezard, Slack, Moan, Dorward.
Thornaby: Dawson, Johnson, Howes, Green, Guru, Posthill, Scaife-Wheatley ©, Rowe, Preston, Ward, Cooke. Subs: Bailey, Jackson, Chapman, Drummond, Foley.
RCA, having won the toss, decided to take advantage of the strong wind blowing down the slope.
In the early stages of the match neither team seemed able to get to grips with the conditions, RCA sent to many long balls forward which drifted away on the wind which was making it difficult to control the ball.
The first real chance came in the 5th minute when Davis broke down the right and his cross was met by Elliott but he skewed his shot high over the bar.
In the 13th minute RCA were awarded a freekick well inside their own half, Dean, spotting his opposite number off his line, tried an audacious shot from fully 60 yards however Dawson managed to re-position himself and made a comfortable save.
As the visitors dug in to defend they were guilty of a number of niggly fouls, however RCA didn’t take advantage of any of them as they fired shot after shot over the bar.
On the quarter hour mark Best intercepted a pass and played a lovely through ball to K Davis who burst forward into the box before hitting a terrific shot which was palmed away for a corner by Dawson.
Further injury problems hit RCA when Hodgson was hurt in a collision with Ward and although he was able to continue it was obvious that there was something not right and he was eventually replaced in the 23rd minute by Leonard, with Hennis dropping back into the centre of defence.
With 30 minutes gone Thornaby started to get into the game Scaife-Wheatley picking up the ball on the right cut inside before smashing a low shot which was half blocked by Allen, the ball looped up and Dean had to be at his brilliant best to flick the ball over the bar for a corner.
In blocking the shot Allen was injured and he was replaced a minute later by Dorward.
RCA continued to push forward looking for the opening goal but they were leaving themselves open to the quick counter attacks of Thornaby and in the 38th minute the visitors should have opened the scoring when Guru sent a long ball forward and Preston out muscled the RCA defence but sent his shot wide with only the keeper to beat.
The deadlock was broken in the 41st minute when RCA were awarded a freekick 35 yards out, Elliott drove the ball to the far post where Davison rose to deftly head home past Dawson and record his 5th goal in the last four games.
Thornaby responded through Cooke who produced a scintillating turn of pace to beat C Davis before cutting inside and drilling a shot inches wide of the upright.
In the final minute of the first half RCA increased their lead when C Davis’ forward ball was controlled on the right by K Davis who crossed into the box where Elliott was on hand to steer the ball into the net. Preston then became the first player to be sin-binned at Sunderland LGV Park after remonstrating with the referee over the goal.
The task of kicking up the slope against the continuing strong wind was made easier two minutes into the second half when K Davis intercepted a clearance from Dawson, fed the ball to Lawson who squared the ball into the path of Best who finished sublimely sending the ball into the far corner of the net past a despondent Dawson.
Almost immediately Thornaby hit back when a flowing move saw Cooke pick up the ball on the left before cutting inside and shooting, the ball was blocked and rebounded to Rowe whose shot was turned in by Ward from close range.
Thornaby were now looking to take control and forged forward, Cooke seemed to be the instigator of most of their attacks and he was unlucky not to score in the 57th minute when he was played in by Posthill, he hit a terrific shot which Dean was happy to parry away and when the ball was played back into the box Dean was able to pluck the ball off the head of Preston.
RCA, like Thornaby in the first half, were being reduced to counter attacking and on the hour mark a long ball forward from Hennis was brought down by Leonard who then showed a clean pair of heels to his marker before whipping in an inviting cross which evaded both Davison and Lawson by inches.
The Cooke - Dean Competition resumed a minute later with a long range effort by Cooke easily saved by Dean, low down to his right.
With the wind subsiding a little RCA were getting back on top, a forward ball from Swansbury was won by K Davis who slipped the ball inside for Davison who shot first time, producing a great reaction save from Dawson.
RCA restored their 3 goal cushion in the 68th minute when C Davis floated a ball up the line for Leonard who outpaced the Thornaby defence before cutting inside and unleashing an unstoppable shot into the far corner of the net.
Into the final 15 minutes and both teams had visibly slowed down, a freekick on the edge of the box for Thornaby and Scaife-Wheatley fired the ball harmlessly wide of the target.
However, with 13 minutes remaining, Thornaby were awarded a dubious penalty when Preston fell to the ground under a challenge. Preston stepped up and smashed the ball into the net.
RCA reacted to this with another great run by Leonard down the right, his cross into the box was blocked by Guru with Davison ready to pounce on any mistake by the Thornaby defender.
The later stages of the game saw some solid RCA defending with both Hennis and Swansbury making some terrific tackles and headed clearances.
In the final minute Best picked up the ball in the centre of the park and skipped past two defenders before playing the ball to K Davis who in turn dribbled between two defenders then played the ball inside to Davison who shot wide.
This was a game which was dominated by the blustery conditions. RCA took a grip of the game in the five minutes either side of half time when three goals effectively sealed the game. Thornaby for their part put up a spirited performance especially in the first half when they battled against the wind.
However five wins in a row has transformed RCA's season, there is a strength in depth which has been missing and we are now converting chances into goals. Long may it continue.
Next up is Billingham Town at Home on Wednesday, 15 January 2020 kick off 7.30pm.