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51 St Lukes Terrace, Sunderland SR4 6NF

Ashington 1 Sunderland RCA 1

Submitted by Rob Jones on Wednesday, 4 March 2020
Tuesday, 3 March 2020
Northern League 1

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RCA travelled up to Ashington for this Northern League Division 1 fixture. Only a month ago they had beaten Ashington 5-1 but how fortunes seemed to have changed with RCA only winning one of their last five matches while Ashington had won one and drawn two of theirs.

The management team made three changes to the team beaten by Seaham Red Star at the weekend with Allen, Best and J Leonard replacing, Green, Hennis and Davison and a change of formation to 3-5-1-1.

The teams lined up as follows:

SRCA:Dean, Allen, R Leonard, Hodgson, Swansbury ©, Best, J Leonard, Elliott, K Davis, O’Neill, Lawson. Subs: Davison, Ezard, Slack, Hennis, Green.

Ashington: McHugh, Kalthoeber, Gaffney, Luke, Gourley, Bramley, Johnston, Emmerson, Taggart, Price, Hanson. Subs: Anderson, Edwards, Eastlake, Ross, Scott.

The Colliers started well as RCA’s defence struggled to adapt to the new formation and an early chance fell to Johnston who forced a corner off Swansbury. Two minutes later and Johnston was sent free on the right again this time finding space and time to fire in a shot which thankfully flew over the bar.

As the game developed it was like a one man show with Johnston looking to break forward every time he got the ball, in his next effort only a partial block from Swansbury made the save by Dean a formality.

The visitors switched wingers and suddenly looked a better team, R Leonard subdued the attacking threat of Johnston and J Leonard started to become a threat on the right wing.

However with quarter of an hour gone an RCA attack broke down and Ashington broke quickly, Johnston finding Taggart in space on the edge of the box, but the Colliers striker dragged his shot wide of the target.

RCA started to get more confidence and when they were awarded a free kick midway in the Ashington half Lawson clipped the ball forward to O’Neill his header brought off the first save of the night by McHugh. He then turned defence into attack with a long ball forward which split the RCA defence and fell straight to Johnston but his lob over Dean also cleared the bar.

The game was opening up now with both teams looking to attack all the time. After a period of pressure by RCA a good run by R Leonard on the left saw him beat two defenders before cutting the ball back to O’Neill but his shot cleared the bar.

Within minutes Lawson picked up a loose pass, broke forward and played in J Leonard but his curling shot went wide of the far post.

RCA took the lead on the half hour when J Leonard picked up the ball on the left and floated in a cross which O’NEILL brought down on his chest before smashing a low drive into the bottom corner of the net.

The visitors, buoyed by this success almost went 2-0 up when Lawson played and inch perfect pass to K Davis who hit a terrific low shot which was creeping inside the near post until McHugh made a magnificent save tipping the ball onto the post and away for a corner.

If the first 15 minutes were all Ashington, the final 20 minutes of the half belonged to RCA. The hosts' only contribution in this period was a freekick which went straight through for Dean to make a simple save.

By contrast RCA piled on the pressure, a K Davis through ball set up J Leonard but he fired wide with only the keeper to beat, then an Elliott corner was headed forward by Swansbury to J Leonard but his shot again went wide of the goal.

Within the final minutes of the half a great move saw Best, Lawson and R Leonard combine to get the ball forward quickly, the ball was then pulled back into the path of Eliiott whose drilled effort flew agonisingly wide of the Ashington goal.

In the last move of the half Best played the ball out to J Leonard on the right and his whipped cross missed the outstretched leg of O’Neill by inches any contact would have been a certain goal.

RCA started the second half as the finished the first and were quickly on top, a good ball into the box by Allen was diverted by O’Neill into the path of Lawson who fired in a low shot just wide.

There was still the threat by the home team when Johnston picked the ball up on the right and ran at the RCA defence but his pass inside to Emmerson ended with the a long range shot going wide.

On the hour mark and with RCA forcing a corner the lights went out.

The break in play of 20 minutes did nothing to help RCA and everything to assist Ashington who came out on fire.

Johnston, a thorn in RCA’s side all night, picked out a good run of Taggart's but the striker's shot was off target.

A few minutes later and a through ball from Bramley was picked up by Price and he was also off target from a promising position.

Both teams were throwing caution to the wind which meant that the game opened up and there were plenty of mistakes.

Sometimes substitution can change games and on this night Ashington brought on EASTLAKE for his debut and he duly obliged four minutes later when he picked up a long cross field ball from Price before clinically drilling a low shot the ball past Dean.

It could have been worse for RCA two minutes later when Price again picked out Eastlake but his first touch let him down and the ball ran out for a goal kick.

As the game entered its final 10 minutes a number of poorly timed tackles resulted in injuries to Lawson and Hodgson.

RCA made late substitutions in an effort to bring fresh legs to their attack but although there was plenty of long balls played forward there was little quality in the final third by either team.

A draw in the end was probably a fair result but RCA will have rued the missed chances in the first half while the floodlight failure seemed to give Ashington more impetus for some reason.

The insistence of RCA to continually attack when in the lead in the final quarter of the match has again been their downfall.