After a week full of uncertainty surrounding football at all levels and our specific injury problems off the pitch we were finally attending a much rejuvenated Teesdale Park for this FA Cup Preliminary round match against a much changed Thornaby team who have started a massive rebuilding exercise both on and off the park in the close season.
There was a crowd of 300 to watch the match and it was brilliant to see so many familiar RCA supporters at the ground with around 50 making the trip down the A19.
The ever growing injury list has been compounded by the withdrawal of loan players and work commitments which left 11 players unavailable for selection.
This meant that the side selected was one of, if not, the youngest team ever selected for RCA with an average age of 25. The management team brought Thomas Bell into the squad. Tom played in the under’17s team which won the league cup last week.
The teams lined up as follows:
Sunderland RCA: Dean, Carr, Callaghan, Forster, Swansbury ©,Hodgson, Dorward, Elliott, Leonard, Hope, Fairley; Subs: Watts, Ward, Bell, Armstrong.
Thornaby: Konstantopoulos, Roddam, Flounder, Drummond, Frazer, Taylor, Beddows, Kenny, Murphy, Hopson © Robinson; Subs: Hannah, Gardener, Foley, Rye, Carter, McGukin.
The teams took to the pitch on a gloriously sunny day to warm applause from both sets of supporters.
There was little of note in the first 10 minutes as the two teams tested each other out, with neither keeper having to make a save and both defences holding their own.
A Thornaby free kick produced the first shot on target when Drummond played the ball quickly to Kenny and his snap shot flew low to Dean’s left but the RCA stopper managed to hold onto the ball at the foot of the post.
RCA were guilty in these early stages of a number of niggly fouls and in the 13 minute Robinson sent a wicked free kick into the box, the goalmouth scramble that followed was frantic and eventually
Swansbury hooked the ball clear for a corner.
Robinson took the corner whipping it into the box but it evaded everyone and went out at the far side for a goal kick.
The visitors were working hard to contain a well drilled Thornaby attack and were showing signs of being very dangerous on the counter attack.
A good run by Leonard was spotted by Callaghan and his pass into the opposition’s box was met by Leonard but he was unable to get any power on the shot and it went wide of the target.
RCA appeared to be getting to grips with the midfield and when Hope tried to thread the ball through for Leonard, Taylor used his handto prevent the ball reaching its destination and was quiet rightly booked.
Two minutes later a long ball forward from Elliott found Fairley on the edge of the box, he dribbled his way into the box before winning a corner. Fairley took it short to Hope who floated a cross to the far post where Forster rose to head the ball but his effort went inches over the bar.
Thornaby pressed again and a good ball forward by Drummond found Beddows who crossed into the box for Murphy to stab home, unfortunately the Assistants flag was raised well before the ball entered the net.
The home team looked to be running out of ideas on how to break down the stubborn RCA defence and the visitors were starting to get into their passing game.
A lovely weighted free kick by Elliott was headed down by Swansbury into the path of Hope who couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and his weak shot was collected by Konstantopoulos.
The first half ended in a flurry of activity, a wonderful move by RCA saw Elliott play the ball to Callaghan, he slipped the ball inside to Leonard who ran at the Thornaby defence before releasing the ball to Elliott who hammered in a thunderous shot which hit Roddam and was cleared up field by Frazer.
In the final minute of the half a good move down the left by Thornaby saw Beddows shot blocked by Carr and the rebound fell to Drummond but his shot went just wide of the upright although Dean looked to have it covered.
The first chance of the second half fell to Thornaby after an RCA attack broke down and the ball was played quickly forward to Murphy who was through 1 on 1 with Dean who pulled off a tremendous save at the expense of a corner.
Ten minutes into the second half and RCA should have taken the lead, a brilliant run and through ball by Swansbury found Hope inside the penalty area but his shot, destined for the bottom corner was somehow blocked by Roddam.
Thornaby’s defence was beginning to have to work hard as the young guns of RCA started to impose their midfield dominance.
A Hope freekick was met by Fairley whose flick header hit Frazer and the ball was cleared.
Hope, who had been instrumental in stopping the threat of Drummond, was now finding space for himself and in the 69 minute was unlucky not to score with a curling shot from the edge of the area.
The magic of substitutions worked again in favour of RCA. In the 73rd minute RCA introduced Layton Watts for his debut with the club and a minute later he controlled a superb cross field pass from Callaghan before curling the ball into the box where Hope was on hand to head pastex Greece and Middlesbrough goalkeeper Konstantopoulos to give the visitors the lead.
In the 78 minute Hope found Watts on the right and he played the ball first time into the path of Fairley who made a great run into the box before slotting the ball past Konstantopoulos and into the far corner of the net.
To their credit Thornaby went back on the attack and in the 85 minute it was only the superb athleticism of Dean that stopped them from scoring, firstly saving a thunderbolt of a shot from Gardener and when the ball was squared into the box from the rebound he managed to get a hand on the shot from Hannah and divert it for a corner.
This was a very good team performance under extremely testing circumstances.
As one supporter said after the game “A great team performance proving hard work, dedication and team spirit can overcome the odds and succeed”
We are in the hat for the next round of the FA Cup on Monday.
Then it’s back to league action on Tuesday at Home to Stockton Town FC. Kick Off 7.30pm.
The next round of the FA Cup is on Tuesday, 22 September 2020 kick off will be advised later.
Note: Our arranged league match away to Thornaby on Wednesday, 23 September will be postponed.
Covid-19 track and trace: entry to our home matches
Once the app has been downloaded, registration is quick and easy: input your name, phone number and email address and that’s it.
When entering Sunderland LGV Park, open the app on your phone, scan the QR Code select number in your party and close the screen, it’s simple as that. You will be automatically logged out when you leave. This is a contactless, GDPR compliant check-in which enables us to adhere to the current government guidelines regarding track and trace and to help everyone who visits, stay safe.