Tonight we welcomed our Cumbrian friends from Penrith to Sunderland LGV Park.
With mounting injuries and unavailability on the night the management team only had 14 fit players to choose from.
Injuries to Preston Davison and Hodgson and the unavailability of Elliott, and Callaghan meant there were a number of changes to the squad.
The teams lined up as follows:
Sunderland RCA: Dean, Davis, Carr, Forster, Swansbury ©,T Best, Fairley, Hope, O’Neill, Callen and Leonard.
Subs: Watts, Armstrong, Bell, Davison, Preston.
Penrith: Miller, Harker, Metcalfe, May, Hewson, Davidson ©, Storey, Law, Brown, Williamson and Errington.
Subs: Clarke, Forrester, J Best, Grandison
After the disappointment of Saturday, RCA come out of the blocks on fire and as early as the second minute should have taken the lead when Hope played the ball to Leonard on the left, his cross to the far post was picked up by Fairley whose shot was parried by Miller, the ball rebounded to T Best whose shot struck Davidson on the hand but the referee waved away the penalty appeals.
Two minutes later and T Best intercepted a pass on the half way line and plays in Fairley whose shot was deflected for a corner. The corner is cleared as far as Davis who sends the ball to Leonard who hits a screamer of a shot which smashes against the crossbar and rebounds to safety.
RCA took the lead three minutes later when a Hope and Davis combined to win the ball before squeezing the ball to T Best he sent in a cross to the far post where O’Neill rose to head home despite the close attention of Miller.
The home team poured forward and looked as if they would increase their lead at any time, Hope won the ball in the opposition half and gave the ball to O’Neill who in turn squared it to Leonard but Miller was equal to the shot making a good save.
A minute later and O’Neill chased down a ball into the box, dispossessed a defender before squaring the ball to Carr but his hooked effort went wide.
It had been one way traffic for the first 15 minutes RCA continually on the attack, Penrith’s first attacking move saw Errington fouled, he picked himself up to take the free kick which he floated to the back post where Williamson headed the ball into the side netting.
The Penrith defence was called into action on 20 minutes when Carr played a sublime ball for Leonard who again raced clear on the left before crossing deep to Fairley, he controlled the ball before drilling a low shot into the box which was blocked by Hewson and cleared by May.
The T Best O’Neill combination almost increased RCA’s lead when Swansbury won the ball and played it forward for best, his pinpoint cross was met by O’Neill but didn’t have enough power to beat Miller.
As half time approached Penrith started to put some pressure on the home defence and it took a good block by Forster to stop Brown’s shot from causing a problem for Dean.
RCA responded to this spell of pressure with a quick break by Fairley and his square ball reached Hope who fired in a terrific shot which hit the post.
The rebound was picked up by Metcalfe who hooked the ball forward to Errington who was free on the edge of the box, he chipped the ball over the advancing Dean but the ball drifted well wide of the target.
RCA started the second half where they had left off the first as the mounted the pressure on the Penrith defence.
A ball from Dean found Leonard in space on the left wing he crossed the ball wickedly across the face of goal where Callen was inches away from connecting to make it 2-0.
Penrith were still dangerous on the break and should have equalised in the 55 minute when a long ball forward by Davidson was picked up by Story on the right he had time to square the ball into the box for Errington but Forster, raced back and managed to clear the ball before it reached the Penrith winger.
RCA increased their lead in the 64 minute when Hope won the ball in midfield, it fell to Fairley who slipped the ball between two defenders to
T Best and he coolly chipped the ball onto the head of O’Neill who powered his head back across Miller and into the net.
It didn’t take long to make it 3 – 0 when three minutes later Fairley again manufactured a defence splitting pass to Davis on the overlap and his low driven cross was slid home by Callen.
Penrith tried to respond but in doing so were leaving massive gaps at the back and when Dean threw the ball out to Davis he spotted that Leonard was unmarked and sent a 45 yard pass onto the chest of the ex-Sunderland AFC youngster and, in acres of space he was able to take aim and curl it round Miller into the corner of the net.
The home team then introduced 17 year old Tom Bell for his debut and he was quickly in the action winning a crunching 50-50 and setting the RCA attack away again.
With seven minutes to go Penrith mustered a good opportunity to reduce the deficit when Story made another mazy run into the heart of the RCA defence before passing the ball to Law who scooped his shot over the bar from a good position.
Callen had a shot blocked and Watts fired wide as RCA finished the game once again penning Penrith back into their own half.
The game finished 4-0 but it could have been a lot more as Penrith wilted under the constant pressure asserted by RCA’s attacking play.
Next up for RCA is Billingham Town on Saturday, 3 October 2020. Kick-off 3.00pm