A windy Sunderland LGV Park greeted today’s visitors Whitley Bay. Both teams were in FA Cup action during the week with Whitley Bay winning 3-2 against Witton Albion to set up a match against Blyth Spartans while our fate was settled by an injury time blitz by Prescot Cables.
Today’s game saw the introduction of a 150 limit on the gate, the late announcement of this meant that it was not viable to issue tickets for the game.
Injuries to Preston and Hodgson meant a change in the team formation for the match:
The teams lined up as follows
Sunderland RCA: Dean, Davis, Callaghan, Forster, Swansbury ©, Best, Fairley, Elliott, O’Neill, Hope, Callen
Subs: Hodgson, Leonard, Watts, Carr, Agnew.
Whitley Bay: Bannon, Lowery, Dunn, Hennis, Hamilton, Gillesphey ©, Orrell, Robinson, Shanks, M Weirs, J Weirs. Subs: Taylor, Coulson, Jasper, Thompson, Annang-Colouhoun.
With the wind blowing diagonally across the pitch RCA took advantage of the slope and the wind in the first half.
After a quiet opening ten minutes the game sprang to life when a Shanks picked up the ball on the edge of the box controlled it well before firing in a shot which took a wicked deflection off a defender wrong footing Dean and squeezing into the net.
RCA were level three minutes later when Elliott played the ball to Fairley 25 yards out and the RCA Striker directed hit shot into the far corner of the net past the outstretched hand of Bannon.
There was little in the game as both teams looked for opening, the next chance fell to RCA when Elliott found Callen on the left who cuts inside but shoots wide of the upright.
The blustery wind was starting to affect the game with a lot of misdirected passes and a lot of niggly fouls resulting in the referee starting to book players.
The “Bay” almost broke the deadlock on the half hour when Lowery rose to head a Robinson corner over the bar.
RCA immediately broke to the other end and when O’Neill was fouled they were awarded a free kick, Elliott’s delicate chip was headed down by Swansbury to Callen but he blasted the ball over the bar.
The visitors re-took the lead in the 33rd minute when a cross into the box by Dunn was chested down by J Weirs into the path of Shankes who made no mistake from 8 yards out.
Once again, the lead only lasted three minutes before Fairley dispossessed Hennis before playing the ball through the middle for O’Neill who slid the ball past the advancing Bannon.
The only other chance in an absorbing first half fell to Orrell who fired wide from a good position on the edge of the penalty area.
Whitley Bay kicking down the slope had the first shot on target in the second half when Orrell had a long shot well saved by Dean.
RCA attacked from the restart with Callahan forcing a corner on the left, Elliot’s in swinging corner was headed goal-ward’s by O’Neill but Robinson managed to chest the ball off the line and cleared the danger.
Whitley Bay were forced to make a substitution when Gillesphey was injured and Taylor replaced him.
In the 55th minute, a through ball by Hope sends O’Neill into the box but two Bay players conspired to bring him down and the referee awarded a penalty. Elliott struck the penalty hard but Bannon managed a good save and O’Neill was unable to get to the rebound. O’Neill limped off injured to be replaced by Watts.
Once again the match was interrupted by a number of niggly little fouls and the referee was left with little alternative but to caution offenders.
In the 75th minute RCA were reduced to ten men when Best was booked for the second time for a trip.
With a man advantage the visitors applied some pressure but only a long range effort from Robinson which flew over the bar.
In the 85th minute a loose clearance from Bannon was picked up by Callen who hit a tremendous drive forcing a magnificent save from Bannon who somehow managed to palm the ball away.
“Bay” then went down the other end and were awarded a free kick, M Weirs lined it up before curling it over the wall and beyond the reach of Dean and into the net.
RCA mounted a spirited final few minutes and it took a last ditch block by Taylor to deny Watts in the final minute.
This has been a disappointing week for RCA with two defeats.
Today we didn’t play to our strengths and the midfield looked disjointed. Continuously pumping long balls forward was not the answer against this Bay defence.
Next up Penrith on Tuesday, 29th September 2020; 7.45pm kick off.