The 2008-09 season

Sunderland RCA Senior and Junior squads for 2008/09 seated in the Ray Baines Stand

The First Team

The First Team in the 2008-9 season

2008-09 First Team results


sNL - skilltraining Northern League - Division 2
ATMC - Alan Thompson Memorial Cup
DCCC - Durham County Challenge Cup
EAMC - Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup
FAC - FA Cup
FAV - FA Vase
LC - League Cup


External link to the skilltrainingltd Northern League Divsion 2 table

Opposition Venue Competition
F - A
Saturday 19 July 2008
3:00 PM
Sunderland Nissan Home Friendly
1 - 5
Tuesday 22 July 2008
7:30 PM
South Shields Away Friendly
1 - 0
Thursday 24 July 2008
7:30 PM
Ryhope CW Home ATMC
3 - 1
Saturday 26 July 2008
3:00 PM
Ryton Away Friendly
0 - 3
Thursday 31 July 2008
7:30 PM
Jolly Potter Home Friendly
7 - 0
Saturday 02 August 2008
3:00 PM Dunston Fed Away Friendly
0 - 2
Saturday 09 August 2008
3:00 PM
Prudhoe Town Away sNL - 2
4 - 0
Saturday 16 August 2008
3:00 PM
West Allotment Celtic Away FAC
1 - 2
Saturday 23 August 2008
3:00 PM
North Shields Away sNL - 2
8 - 0
Monday 25 August 2008
1:00 PM
Horden CW Home sNL - 2
0 - 5
Saturday 30 August 2008
3:00 PM
Hebburn Town Away sNL - 2
3 - 4
Tuesday 09 September
7:30 PM
Esh Winning Home sNL - 2
1 - 1
Wednesday 17 September 2008
7:30 PM
Northallerton Away LC
2 - 4
Saturday 20 September 2008
3:00 PM
West Auckland Away FAV
4 - 2
Thursday 25 September 2008
7:30 PM
Ryton FC Home Friendly
1 - 1
Saturday 27 September 2008
2:00 PM
Jarrow FC Away DCCC
1 - 2
Saturday 04 October 2008
3:00 PM
Marske United Home FAV
1 - 2
Saturday 11 October 2008
3:00 PM
Thornaby Home sNL - 2
5 - 1
Tuesday 14 October 2008
7:30 PM
Marske United Home sNL - 2
0 - 1
Saturday 18 October 2008
3:00 PM
Guisborough Town Home sNL - 2
4 - 0
Tuesday 21 October 2008
7:30 PM
Prudhoe Town Home EAMC
2 - 1
Saturday 25 October 2008
3:00 PM
Darlington RA Away sNL - 2
0 - 1
Saturday 01 November 2008
3:00 PM
Crook Town Home sNL - 2
1 - 2
Saturday 08 November 2008
3:00 PM
Washington Away sNL - 2
2 - 1
Saturday 15 November 2008
3:00 PM
Brandon United Home sNL - 2
0 - 0
Saturday 22 November 2008
3:00 PM
Whickham Away sNL - 2
1 - 0
Wednesday 17 December 2008
7:30 PM
Norton and Stockton Away sNL - 2
3 - 0
Saturday 20 December 2008
3:00 PM
North Shields Home sNL - 2
4 - 2
Saturday 27 December 2008
3:00 PM
Horden CW Away sNL - 2
1 - 1
Saturday 03 January 2009
3:00 PM
Hebburn Town Home sNL - 2
0 - 1
Saturday 17 January 2009
3:00 PM
Prudhoe Town Home sNL - 2
1 - 0
Saturday 24 January 2009
3:00 PM
Esh Winning Away sNL - 2
3 - 1
Saturday 31 January 2009
3:00 PM
Birtley Town Home sNL - 2
3 - 1
Tuesday 17 February 2009
7:30 PM
Team Northumbria Away sNL - 2
2 - 1
Saturday 21 February 2009
3:00 PM
Thornaby Away sNL - 2
2 - 2
Saturday 28 February 2009
3:00 PM
Guisborough Town Away sNL - 2
0 - 2
Wednesday 04 March 2009
7:30 PM
Jarrow Roofing BCA Home sNL - 2
0 - 0
Saturday 07 March 2009
3:00 PM
Darlington RA Home sNL - 2
4 - 2
Tuesday 10 March 2009
7:30 PM
Thornaby Home EAMC - 3R
2 - 1
Saturday 14 March 2009
3:00 PM
Crook Town Away sNL - 2
6 - 0
Tuesday 17 March 2009
7:45 PM
Norton and Stockton Home sNL - 2
1 - 1
Saturday 21 March 2009
3:00 PM
Washington Home sNL - 2
2 - 0
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
7:30 PM
Whitehaven Away sNL - 2
3 - 5
Saturday 28 March 2009
3:00 PM
Brandon United Away sNL - 2
5 - 1
Wednesday 01 April 2009
7:30 PM
Stokesley SC Away sNL - 2
3 - 3
Saturday 04 April 2009
3:00 PM
Whickham Home sNL - 2
3 - 0
Wednesday 08 April 2009
7:30 PM
Marske United Away sNL - 2
2 - 2
Saturday 11 April 2009
3:00 PM
Jarrow Roofing BCA Away sNL - 2
4 - 0
Tuesday 14 April 2009
7:30 PM
Whitehaven Home sNL - 2
1 - 0
Saturday 18 April 2009
3:00 PM
Team Northumbria Home sNL - 2
3 - 2
Tuesday 21 April 2009
7:30 PM
Brandon United Home EAMC - SF
3 - 0
Saturday 25 April 2009
3:00 PM
Stokesley SC Home sNL - 2
2 - 1
Monday 27 April 2009
7:30 PM
Birtley Away sNL - 2
1 - 2
Wednesday 06 May 2009
7:00 PM
Horden CW Chester-le-Street EAMC - Final
1 - 2

Northern League Division 2 Table

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Horden CW (C) 38 24 8 6 92 44 48 80
2 Norton + Stockton Ancients (P) 38 24 8 6 79 36 43 80
3 Esh Winning (P) 38 23 8 7 89 59 30 77
4 Sunderland RCA 38 21 8 9 88 46 42 71
5 Marske United 38 18 8 12 63 59 4 62
6 Brandon United 38 18 7 13 85 67 18 61
7 Guisborough Town 38 18 7 13 71 53 18 61
8 Birtley Town 38 18 7 13 73 62 11 61
9 Crook Town 38 17 7 14 68 71 -3 58
10 Hebburn Town 38 15 10 13 71 83 -12 55
11 Whitehaven 38 15 8 15 57 52 5 53
12 Team Northumbria 38 13 12 13 75 66 9 51
13 Stokesley SC 38 14 7 17 63 67 -4 49
14 Whickham 38 14 7 17 55 73 -18 49
15 North Shields 38 13 6 19 53 76 -23 45
16 Jarrow Roofing 38 11 4 23 50 78 -28 37
17 Washington * 38 10 6 22 44 61 -17 33
18 Darlington Railway Athletic 38 10 2 26 45 80 -35 32
19 Prudhoe Town 38 5 11 22 47 88 -41 26
20 Thornaby 38 5 7 26 50 97 -47 22

* Three points deducted


2008-09 reports from the first team matches


Sunderland RCA 1 Sunderland Nissan 5

Pre-season friendly

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Roy Keane says there's no such thing as a friendly match. RCA would beg to differ as our generosity knew few bounds as we gifted Nissan five goals - the best goal of the game came from RCA - Rasher (Keith Graydon) hitting a screamer from nearly 30 yards into the top right corner - but that was the only consoltaion. Nobody's going to thank me for these match pictures. As for Neil's and George's comments: they are probably not repeatable here!

Nearly, but not quite!

An RCA attack

Another RCA attack

wayne Henderson wins out

Sunderland RCA 3 Ryhope CW 1

Alan Thompson Memorial Cup

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Keith Graydon (RCA captain), Lisa Thompson, Maureen Thompson, Robert Dixon (Ryhope CW captain)and Mark Thompson with the Alan Thompson Memorial Cup

Rain and a water-logged pitch had led to the postponement of this year's Alan Thompson memoriual cup match between local rivals Sunderland RCA and Ryhope Colliery Welfare. Last night's match lit up the sea fret gloom as both sides provided a competitive match with entertaining football.

Gary Shields attacks

After a goalless first half of few clear opportunities for either side, RCA took the lead early in the second period through a fine Adam McGuiness shot from the edge of the area. This goal was quickly followed by a double from new signing Paul Taylor.

The CW replied with a goal from Mark Turnbull.

This was another good work out for RCA, as new formations are tried and new players get used to each other. With three more friendlies to play - two against First Division Ryton and Dunston Fed - RCA will hope to be firing on all cylinders by the time we kick off the Northern League season on 9 Agust, away to Prudhoe.

Ryton 3 Sunderland RCA 0

Pre-season friendly

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Granted: Ryton's ground has hardly made for happy hunting for RCA of late and this is no weather for football, but this was a dispiriting performance that needs getting out of our systems ASAP. All credit though to Ryton who looked good during many parts of this match. It looks like they will more than hold their own in their first season in Division 1.

Ill-fortune saw us concede early on as the ball deflected off Wayne Henderson's shoulder to loop over stranded keeper Craig Shields, but as Ryton went 3 - 0 up with 30 minutes they dominated with slick and incisive passing and running.

Things tightened up after half-time, but there was little incisiveness in our attack. All credit to Jon Newton for some strong running, but he'll be kicking himself for not finishing off two of his chances.

Although it was good to see Paul Sammons come on for his first action of the season, we're also more than a bit concerned by early season knocks to Andy Jennings and Gary Shields, who did not play on Saturday.

Match photos

Jon Newton rounds the Ryton keeper
Jon Newton rounds the Ryton keeper, but does not find the net

Strong tackling from RCA's right back

An effective clearance

This Ryton effort hit the bar

Sunderland RCA 7 Jolly Potter FC 0

Pre-season friendly

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Jolly Potter FC, from the Wearside Combination League Premier Division were last night's guests at Meadow Park. The hosts were mean and the visitors generous as the difference in status was clear across the park and throughout the match. That said, the Jolly Potters were a great set of lads who got on with their football in a good competitive spirit with no moaning. All credit to them and best wishes for the season. There was a particularly good performance from ex-RCA Under -18, Lloyd Conlin, playing number seven in midfield.

Gary Shields opened the scoring on three minutes - it should have been earlier - and made it two on 10 minutes by converting a cross from the left. On 26 minutes Gary completed his hat trick, heading in from a left wing cross, which had followed a nice set of midfield passes. Four minutes into the second half and he scored his fourth, receiving the ball in the six-yard box, taking a few showboat steps and passing the ball into the net from virtually the goal line. By this time RCA were five - nil up, the Jolly Potter having conceded an own goal on nine minutes from a right-wing Andy Middleton cross.

Manager Neil Hixon used the match to give many players a run out. This was Paul Sammons first full start of the pre-season, playing alongside Keith Graydon in central midfield, alongside Andy Middleton and Adam McGuiness out wide. It was good to see Paul come through the match feeling good. Glenn Moan at right back always looked cool, classy and in control. Ash Davis was back from his holidays and showed off his pace and power before cramp set in. Sean Davies played well at centre half.

On seventy five minutes new signing Anth Holmes made it six - nil and three minutes later up popped Dean Goodwin to volley home powerfully to make it seven up. After injury, this was Dean's first run out and it was good to see his powerful midfield drive on show again at Meadow Park.


Dunston Fed 2 Sunderland RCA 0

Pre-season friendly

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Please click here for some photos from the match.

Another disappointing result in a Saturday friendly away to Dunston Fed, but a good work out with several positives in what was a fast and well-contested game.

The Fed were playing their eigth pre season game and looked well advanced in their preparation. Holidays and other absences meant Hicker went with a 4 4 2 formation featuring Henderson and Davies at centre back, Davis and Moan at full back, Graydon and Arkley in centre midfield with Middleton and Casson wide, and Taylor and Shields up front.

Goals from Harkin and Hedley had the Fed in front within the first twenty minutes and in truth it could have been more by half time as we struggled to get to grips with the pace and passing of the Fed front men. Nonetheless there were some signs of good control and the beginnings of some understandings between partnerships around the pitch.

The second half saw more quality play from RCA, although from the hour onwards a lot of substitutions and positional changes, from both sides, inevitably broke the flow of the game. Jon Newton missed a good chance for RCA, and Ash Davies moved forward and had several chances, and made a number of strong runs.

Youngsters Josh Watson and Lloyd Conlin impressed when they got on, as did a young triallist who showed real quality in a twenty-minute stint at full back. No names till he signs!

Prudhoe Town 0 Sunderland RCA 4

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skilltraining Northern League

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Nothing like a good win to put a spring in your step!

The Forum has been pretty lively with differing views on Saturday's 4 - 0 win over Prudhoe Town. For those of us who were at this fixture last season, when we got beat 3 - 2, with our goals coming from a penalty and a bit of good fortune, this result and the performance will be taken as a mark of just how far - and that's very far - we have come under the leadership of Neil and George. In the first half we were dominant and in the second totally dominant. Granted: Prudhoe were not good and they were down to ten men shortly into the second half, but you can only play what's in front of you. This was a very solid and encouraging performance. We look like a well-balanced team. The frustration for everyone from RCA on Saturday was that we did not score more. It's not an exaggeration to say that we could have got into double-figures.

Quite a few of the squad will be disappointed not to have been selected. That's a mark of just how difficult selection is. We have a strong squad with competition for places running high.

Prudhoe kicked off and were quickly attacking down their right, forcing RCA wing back Adam McGuiness to clear. From the Prudhoe throw in the cross was held by Craig Shields for his first touch of the match.

On eight minutes new signing and captain, Keith Graydon, aka 'Rasher', had a shot blocked following good work on the right from Paul Taylor. Two minutes later and Rasher was in action again with a free kick into the box, but the referee blew against RCA. On 14 minutes, it was the captain again, this time putting in a cross to Andy Jennings, who headed on, only for Paul Taylor's shot to go wide. A minute later Andy Jennings was through on goal, but carried the ball too far. 'Pull the trigger Andy' was the shout from the back.

In between these RCA attacks the defence had looked reasonably solid. Glenn Moan in particular, who was at the centre of the three man defence, was getting in good headed clearances and showing strong leadership and organisation.

On 25 minutes Paul Sammons slid a great ball though to Paul Taylor to run through on goal. The ball was cleared in desperation and both Paul Taylor and the Prudhoe number 5 needed treatment following the clash.

In the 29th minute Prudhoe found it too easy to attack down their left and RCA keeper Craig Shields could only parry the shot for Adam McGuiness to clear.

Ryhope CW old boy Richie Jordan, who had a very good RCA debut, very nearly opened the scoring for RCA, but his shot from the right edge of the penalty area was pushed over for a corner, which the keeper gathered.

On 37 minutes Paul Taylor beat the keeper, but also the far post with this cross shot. Minutes later, he was through on the keeper only to be brought down just outside the area by a chasing Prudhoe defender. While no one likes to see a red card, this looked like a 'rules-is-rules' moment, but the referee held up a yellow. The free kick went just wide.

At half time it was 0 - 0. RCA frustration, Prudhoe relief.

There were no changes for the away side as RCA kicked off the second half playing into the wind. On 50 minutes RCA's domination was beginning to become evident. A good shot from Keith Graydon was turned around for a corner, which Prudhoe cleared for another corner from which Paul Taylor shot over.

On 55 minutes the big man broke the deadlock. Andy Jennings ran from the left to shoot strongly across the Prudhoe keeper to score in the far corner. A text book finish.

Two minutes later Paul Taylor put in a strong run and cross from the left which was cleared for yet another RCA corner. That was Paul's last action of the match as he was replaced by Gary Shields.

On 60 minutes Prudhoe went down to ten men following a second yellow card.

RCA were becoming more and more dominant. Prudhoe could not cope with Gary Shields' powerful, fast and incisive wing play down both flanks. Dynamic or what?

On 65 minutes the second of successive corners was turned in powerfully by defender Andrew Bowes from the edge of the six yard box.

It was nearly three-nil a minute later as an Andy Jennings header found the side netting. At this point Anth Laidler came on for Paul Sammons in central midfield.

On eighty minutes great work from Gary Shields put Keith Graydon in and he looked as though he must score. Desperate defending saw the ball beak to Andy Jennings, who made no mistake.

On 90 minutes it was four-nil. Andy Jennings ran through and, as the keeper came out, unselfishly passed to Keith Graydon who scored emphatically into an empty net. Well done Rasher, after all your efforts you deserved that one.

A good, solid start with a score line that's not at all flattering. It will no doubt be a stronger test against Hebburn, but there is no question that everyone will be up for it. See you there.

West Allotment Celtic 2 Sunderland RCA 1

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The FA Cup

Saturday, 16 August 2008

A massive disappointment as we go out of the FA Cup before I have even had me holidays!

A lot of excitement as usual because it is the Cup and it was a bright and breezy day as we made the trip to Blue Flames Sports Ground to play West Allotment. A great pitch, but not a proper football ground, with wide open spaces all around, and a cricket match on view over the open fence.

Hicker made two changes to the team before he went off scouting in Europe, Shieldsy returned in place of Paul Taylor up front, and Buddy Halliday was preferred to Paul Sammons in midfield.

The game started in front of a decent enough crowd, and for the first 15 minutes was fairly untidy, as both sides tried to settle, and with little in the way of goal mouth action. Having said that, Andy Jennings had the ball in the net after 12 minutes from a good Gary Shields cross, only for it to be disallowed for what looked like offside, which might have been harsh. As the game wore on we started to find our feet a little and began to have most of the ball, knocking it about nicely in midfield, finding Shieldsy down the wings regularly, but not showing too much penetration.

West were hard working but not having much joy, with their main tactic seeming to be to try and turn the defenders with long balls and rely on their strikers pace.

After 26 minutes we took the lead, as Keith Graydon found Andy Jennings with a great ball and the big fella ran well into the box and finished smartly. Graydon's passing had started to look very dangerous and this looked like a fair reward. But disastrously we switched off and virtually from the kick off a long hopeful cross found a man unmarked on the six-yard box to head home. 1 -1, and we were sick. Both sides were livened up by the goals and the rest of the half saw half chances at either end, with defenders Glen Moan and Andy Bowes both getting up well for headers from corners.

We started the second half well and pressed hard for the first 15 minutes. A short corner from Graydon leading to panic in the box, Jennings challenged the keeper for a couple of other crosses from Richie Jordan and it looked like we were bound to get something from the game. Gradually however West Allotment started to increase in confidence, and had their purple patch around the 70 minute mark.

They pressed us hard, had a couple of efforts and then scored the winner when a speculative shot from wide left came off the bar and the centre forward bundled home the rebound from a few yards out. They then missed a great chance to settle things completely when a cross was begging to be converted. George Herd made a rash of substitutions, going for three up front as we chased the game. Graydon shot well, Bowes again went close from a corner, we pressed but couldn't find a way though, and that was that, as the ref brought things to a close, and left us to think what might have been. On another day we would have won it or got them back to our place, but we looked short of games and ran out of steam.

North Shields 0 Sunderland RCA 8

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skilltraining Northern League

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Andy Jennings

Sunderland RCA enjoyed a romp at Ralph Gardner Park as they swamped a young, but game North Shields side 8-0.

From the off RCA were always in control with our midfield trio dominant. Within the opening 10 minutes Rash Graydon hit the bar with a chip, Anth Laidler was clean into the box but couldn't get his cross in, Rash had a free kick tipped round the post, Buddy Halliday shot over the bar, and Rash hit another free kick narrowly over.

Wayne Henderson

It was no surprise then when we opened the scoring in the 22nd minutes as Gaz Shields pounced on the rebound as the Robins' keeper saved from Buddy Halliday. Within two minutes Andy Jennings added the second from a Paul Sammons cross, and when constant pressure led to a third from a Sean Davies low 20 yarder in the 28th minute, the game was effectively over.

And it was all over a few minutes later as the North Shields centre half and player manager Paul Hogg lost his rag, nutted Rash, and was promptly sent off.

Gary Shields

A good move saw Gaz get his second in the 34th minute from an Andy Jennings cross, and it was five at the break as Jennings turned well on a Wayne Henderson pass and slotted past the keeper.

Keith Graydon

The second half was understandably low key, goals from Gaz Shields, Paul Sammons and Paul Taylor, subbing for Jennings, in the 60th, 66th and 78th minutes saw us reach eight, but in truth it could have been many more, although North Shields managed to have one disallowed before the ref brought it to an end.

Andy Middleton

So two clean sheets in the league and a positive goal balance of 12; not bad, but surely Horden will prove tougher opponents on Monday?

Sunderland RCA 0 Horden CW 5

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skilltraining Northern League

Monday, 25 August 2008

It really has been a Jekyll and Hyde holiday weekend for Sunderland RCA. This was a horror story. All credit to Horden CW as they showed us how to play the game and why they are fancied to make a strong challenge for promotion this season.

The start of the match was not so bad, with RCA playing down the pitch and with a favourable strong cross wind. On two minutes Paul Sammons won a corner, which was cleared. Five minutes later and a good cross field ball from Keith Graydon put Paul Taylor through wide on the right, but his cross was cleared. On 11 minutes, Andy Rafferty, the very tall Horden keeper, fluffed a cross to concede a corner. On 18 minutes a ball out of the RCA defence to the left wing was collected brilliantly by Anth Laidler who ran through to cross strongly.

On 24 minutes Horden attacked down their left and were allowed to progress into the RCA area where the outstanding Ian Clark shot across the RCA keeper Craig Shields to make it 1 - 0.

On 31 minutes we handed Horden a further advantage when striker Paul Taylor saw a straight red for a two-footed tackle that connected painfully with a Horden player.

On 35 minutes an RCA free kick flew off the Horden wall for a corner, but this was cleared.

On 37 minutes a double save from Craig Shields stopped Horden going 2 - 0 up. Just before half time Stephen Thomas scored Horden's second after he was allowed far too much time and space in front of goal.

On 50 minutes a back pass from Steve Halliday played in the chasing Horden forward who shot wide of the inside post when a cross shot seemed the more sensible option. Horden did not have to wait long to go three up, with an excellent shot across the keeper and into the far corner by Darren Atkinson.

On 66 minutes Horden substitute Craig Hubbard made it four nil with a stunning shot from outside the area which flew past the RCA keeper. Five minutes later and Michael Ford went nap for Horden following poor defensive play.

The pain was not over for RCA as Wayne Henderson suffered an injury which meant he had to leave the field. For the last 10 minutes of the match RCA were down to nine men having already used their three substitutes. Keith Graydon moved to centre half.

In the ninetieth minute RCA were saved by the post from being knocked for six as the Horden forward was clear through.

Painful stuff, but the rude awakening we clearly needed.

Hebburn Town 4 Sunderland RCA 3

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skilltraining Northern League

Saturday, 30 August 2008

A highly disputed goal separated Hebburn and Sunderland RCA at the end of the match, but in truth this was another frustrating display by the visitors.

RCA got off to a flyer. Andy Jennings knocked a long ball down to Paul Sammons who worked hard on the right to deliver a perfect cross for Gary Shields to knock the ball past the Hebburn keeper. 1 - 0 up before a minute had gone. This gave us some confidence and we were comfortable for the first 20 minutes, with new signing Neil Moan heading goal ward on seven minutes only for the referee to pull pull up for pushing and Paul Sammons putting the ball in the back of the Hebburn net, but again the referee had blown for a push.

On 28 minutes a cross from the left saw a good challenge form Andy Jennings and the ball feel to Paul Sammons again, but his shot went wide.

By this time Hebburn had worked their way back into the match and on 33 minutes a left wing cross fell to Stephen Rutherford who shot across Craig Shields to equalise.

On 40 minutes we gave the ball away badly in midfield and Hebburn ran through. The shot on goal was parried, but then ran to a Hebburn forward who looked clearly to be in an offside position, with the linesman in a good position, but the flag did not come up. There was much protest from the RCA players and after the match they were adamant that this was a clear off-side.

After the break RCA made strong efforts to get back on terms. Strong running and a cross from Gary Shields led to a clearance for a corner. on 50 minutes Ritchie Jordan snatched at a shot to fire just wide of the inside post. On 58 minutes a strong run from Andy Middleton, who had come on for Paul Sammons, led to the ball falling to Sean Davies, who shot powerfully, but just over.

0n 65 minutes Hebburn extended their lead with a free header from a right wing corner to make it 3 - 1 to the home side. RCA's response was to use our last substitution bringing on Paul Taylor for Anth Laidler.

Determination and strong running from substitute Dean Goodwin was beginning to drive RCA forward and on 72 minutes Dean was on hand in the box to hook in from a Sean Davies cross. On 80 minutes a snap shot from rom Paul Taylor was pushed around the post.

Hopes of a come back looked to be completely dashed when Hebburn hit their fourth, with RCA's attacking leaving them too exposed at the back.

On 87 minutes Dean Goodwin popped up again to make it 4 - 3, but it was not enough.


Sunderland RCA 1 Esh Winning 1

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skilltraining Northern League

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

RCA put on a battling display, especially after going down to ten men, but Esh will think that they should have got three points from this match.

Esh Winning kicked off the match kicking up the slope and after ten minutes they had the balance of play with some strong crossing from both left and right wings keeping the RCA defence on its toes. The number 11 Michael Fort was particularly incisive. On 13 minutes though the home side nearly took the lead when Lee Owens stole the ball and ran through to chip over the keeper and shave the post. The ball came back in to Andy Jennings who headed strongly towards goal but the keeper gathered.

The RCA keeper Jon Minniss was in action two minutes later when Chris Smith curled a 25 yard Esh free kick round the wall. The on target shot was smothered by the keeper and then held.

On 25 minutes new RCA right back, Patrick Little suffered a bad injury and had to leave the field. Dave Anderson came on in his place, to make his first appearance for RCA.

On 31 minutes close skill and speed from Lee Owens led to a good cross, which was cleared for an RCA corner. Good pressure was followed by captain Keith Graydon turing the ball back in for Andy Jennings to jump and head just wide.

On 42 minutes Lee Owens was nearly through again and appealed for a handball on the blocked ball, but Esh broke quickly down their left and RCA were asleep as Craig Coates ran through and the ball broke for Nicky Martin to hit home to make it one-nil to Esh.

In the second half it was Esh who were looking the more dangerous. A cross from Craig Coates glanced the bar on 54 minutes.

On 61 minutes new boy and ex-Ryton player David Lee, who was playing left wing for RCA, equalized, shooting past the keeper from close range as the ball broke to him.

On 65 minutes, Dave Anderson was shown a straight red for a two footed tackle. Andy Jennings went into the defence.

On 67 minutes an Esh shot across the goal hit the post and rebounded back into open play, but no Esh player was near to capitalise. A minute later and RCA had a terrific chance to take the lead, an attack ending in a strong RCA shot which was deflected behind for a corner.

RCA lived dangerously for the rest of the match as Esh sought to make their numerical advantage pay. Resolute defence and brave keeping from Jon Minniss kept them at bay.

Northallerton Town 4 Sunderland RCA 2

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League Cup

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Faced with a few injuries manager Neil Hixon decided to take no chances on fitness and go with a much altered team for the League Cup tie at Northallerton. Three players made their debuts, centre forward David Tait who joined from Nissan, and youngsters Michael Chapman playing wide left and Michael Laidler playing right back.

Within a couple of minutes of the start we went behind as Northallerton took the lead with a softish looking goal from centre forward John Ryan. Northallerton stayed on top for the first 10 minutes or so as we got ourselves sorted out, with their excellent left winger giving young Laidler a particularly hard time. But things steadied as Halliday and Coghlan got a grip in the middle of the park, and our wide players, Lee Owens and Michael Chapman began to see more of the ball.

Dean Goodwin, who had taken a nasty knock very early which will leave him with a right shiner, had a good effort saved before Owens went on a mazy run and slipped the ball through to young Chappie who finished well for his first RCA goal in the 15th minute.

And things got better a few minutes later as Tait also marked his debut with a goal, and a real good one, as he turned and volleyed past the keeper from 20 yards, We were on top for the rest of the half, and went in at the interval at 2-1 up, looking good.

Northallerton changed their formation for the second half, flooding midfield to try and stop Buddy and Micky Coghlan from playing, and for a while it worked, and they got their reward with an equaliser in the 51st minute. From then for the next half hour it was a real good cup tie with chances at either end, although to be fair I think we had the best of them. Lee Owens looked good, getting onto Coghlan's long ball's from the middle, young Chapman had an excellent debut, with good hard running and good positional play, David Tait worked hard on his own up front, and will think he should have scored from a header he put straight at the keeper, and Buddy was probably man of the match with good control in the middle of the park.

Having said that Jon Minniss, who had come into the side at the last minute for the injured Craig Shields made a number of good catches from dangerous crosses, as Northallerton constantly looked for their big men up front, who always looked a threat, and their wide men got at our defenders with pace on more than one occasion.

With 20 minutes to go and the game poised Neil went for an even more attacking formation, bringing Anth Holmes and Gary Shields on for Coghlan and Chapman, both of whom had understandably tired. The changes led to a flurry of chances for RCA, before disaster struck in the 81st minute as a free kick from wide right was not dealt with. Minniss came when he maybe should have stayed, and Roberts headed Northallerton ahead, this just after Paul Sammons had come on for Michael Laidler.

We chased the game even more. Bowesy ended up playing centre forward, and right at the death Northallerton broke and made it 4-2, which did not reflect the game. Lots of positives though, good debuts from Tait and Chapman, and it is good to have Lee Owens back, good width on both sides, and good quality in the middle of the park, if we can get the formation right, but a lack of pace in the middle and at the back. Lets be optimistic for the Vase on Saturday!

West Auckland Town 2 Sunderland RCA 4

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Saturday, 20 September 2008

FA Vase

Sunderland RCA won their first FA Vase game in a long time with an excellent performance at first division West Auckland Town, a result which seems sadly to have cost West's manager Phil Owers his job soon after the final whistle. It's no secret that injuries, suspensions, postponements and the like have meant that so far this season we have not performed as we thought we could, but with manager Hixon back on the job we were confident for Saturday's game. Skipper Keith Graydon was still out injured, as were a few others, including Paddy Little who failed a late fitness test, and Paul Taylor was suspended, but we still fielded a strong looking side, and from the off dominated the game.

Andy Jennings could have scored after four minutes, and had a penalty appeal turned down after 10. Gary Shields was making a great job of his role as stand in right back, and linking well with Lee Owens who had the West defence worried every time he ran at the them, while at the back Neil Moan and Andy Bowes looked very assured, with Dava Lee comfy at left back. Neil could have scored with a header when he went forward, David Tait had an effort blocked, and Lee Owens had a couple of decent efforts. In response West Auckland were working hard and running at our defenders when they got the chance, but generally we looked comfortable, with Buddy and Sammo dominating in the middle of the park. it was a surprise therefore that it took until the 42nd minute for us to take the lead. A free kick wide right was blocked and came out again to Andy Jennings, who turned well and knocked the ball over for Lee Owens to finish.

1-0 at the break, and it should have been more. And two minutes into the second half it should have been as Lee was set free to run in on the goalie, who saved his shot with his legs - should have scored, son! The next 15 minutes however were all West Auckland, as they repeated Northallerton's tactic of flooding the middle of the park to try and keep Buddy's passing out of the game, and it worked for a while. After 55 minutes they levelled and we were rocking under good pressure from the home side, although to be fair, Jon Minniss mostly only had to catch crosses and long range efforts. West couldn't capitalise on their possession, and gradually we worked our way back on top of the game. For the last 25 minutes we pressed them very hard. Taity should have scored with a header, then the keeper made a brilliant stop from a Paul Sammons volley, before the pressure told with two goals in three minutes for David Tait from Andy Jennings assists. First the big man crossed superbly for a header, then the keeper couldn't hold his powerful shot and Taity picked up the pieces. Game over, but West got another one back to make for an exciting last five, before Jennings notched his usual goal to make the scoreline more accurately reflect the match. A great win, lets hope we can really kick on from this!

Jarrow FC 2 Sunderland RCA 1

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Durham County Challenge Cup

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Another Jekyll and Hyde performance, as the same team who won so well at Northern League First Division West Auckland last week went down to a 2-1 defeat at Wearside League outfit, Jarrow FC.

Take nothing away from Jarrow, they were a committed and hard working group of players, and a credit to their club, but nonetheless with the amount of possession we had in the game we really should have come out comfortably on top. RCA had a good start as well, with decent possession from the kick off eventually leading to a very well worked Lee Owens goal after only seven minutes. Young Michael Chapman got down the left after a good passing move orchestrated by Buddy Halliday, and delivered an excellent cross which was well finished by Lee coming in on the back post.

But a few minutes later a mistake by Dava Lee, who will have nightmares about his attempted crossfield ball, led to Jarrow equalising after good quick passing and a solid finish. 1-1 after 12 minutes.

The rest of the first half saw mostly RCA possession, with good chances for Jennings and David Tait, but with Jarrow always dangerous on the break.

The second half continued in much the same vein as the first, we had most of the ball, got plenty of crosses in, but couldn't get a finish, while Jarrow always looked to exploit the pace of their front men on the counter.

A scramble on 50 minutes saw the Jarrow bar and post struck in quick succession, while on 55 minutes Jarrow struck the bar.

Lee Owens ran at the defence constantly, without always producing good balls for the forwards, and just before the hour, Hicker took off Tait and Sammons, both of whom were struggling with knocks, with Dean Goodwin and Glen Moan replacing them. Gaz Shields moved forward to replace Tait, and the pressure continued but without end result.

A break from Jarrow was always to be feared, and sure enough on 79 minutes their quick forward Craig Armstrong got away, two defenders clashed as they tried to tackle him and he coolly drew keeper Jon Minniss and slotted home. We huffed and puffed but it was not to be, so good luck now to Jarrow in the County Cup, and for us, all eyes now on the Vase next week!


Sunderland RCA 1 Marske United 2

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FA Vase

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Visiting supporters eyes tend to light up on arrival at Meadow Park at our decent but quaint home. However the Marske United supporters visitors bus arrived today at 2.45pm with our guests stepping off with eyes to the floor, bracing themselves as the wind and rain had arrived around the same time to greet all. The contingent of approximately 50 with scarves and rattles as well, soon found warm voice though, as they all converged into the stand and proudly spread out the long banners with their team name and colours.

Home supporters were outnumbered, but optimism was high as this was a day when SRCA could possibly make the last 64 of the FA Vase for the first time ... in a long time! Many home locals were tempted to the Stadium of Light today with many more watching the same game against Arsenal from warm public houses (apparently beamed back games are not classed as live if there is a one minute delay). I wonder what this attendance would have been like if this tie was played on a Friday night or even Sunday. Even quiet in the cemetery; our past soldiers don't even want to join the attendance debate.

Winning the toss, captain Steve Halliday elected to defend the slope and more importantly the strong wind and increasing rain. Early touches were solid from the home side and the first chance was created on two minutes with a decent effort from David Tait just missing the post. In the first 10 minutes Lee Owens was fed the ball twice in quick succession and both times he created half chances, the second of which winning a corner for the home side. On a third occasion Owens again dribbled past the left midfielder and left back, but on cutting inside and beating further players the ball was stolen and Marske showed early sign of the pace in the side as the ball was moved quickly downfield, ending up with the visitors winning their first corner on 14 minutes. The knock in caused problems and hesitation in the SRCA box with keeper Shields connecting with a punch, but the ball was immediately hooked back in to cause further problems resulting in a second clearance for a further corner. Marske were now getting the impetus and controlling the game with quick decisive football and the quick forwards were causing problems for the defence. Richard Flynn making his debut for SRCA seemed well up to the task and was impressive when breaking down a couple of attacks. Halliday was quickest to react from clearances and getting the ball down he played an excellent wide ball again to the right where Owens was having a lot of joy again racing away to win a further corner. From the right a good cross was fired in which centre forward Jennings connected with, but this was a yard wide of the Marske goal.

On 28 minutes though a needless free kick was conceded by a SRCA defender just a yard from the D in a central position. A difficult one for the wall to defend, but it was still a massive surprise when Andy Swalwell hit a decent effort that went past Shields after the slightest of deflections. 1 - 0 to the visitors and a very loud celebration from most of those housed in the Ray Baines stand. The game was totally going with United now who were full of confidence and moving the ball round very quickly. Central midfielder Glen Wesson even fancied his chances when drilling a speculative effort from 25 yards, which Shields was pleased to see going wide of the target. SRCA were again finding joy down the right, but were fairly predictable and getting closed down with general ease. However disaster on 35 minutes when good play from the opponents had Owens racing back to defend and in a bad area he attempted to play an offside trap that only he knew about. The Marske left midfielder then cut behind, drilled a cross in a good area which was left by all defenders and goalkeeper, unbelievably the ball found the oncoming Derek Bradley at the backpost who not believing the chance gleefully rammed home from 2 yards. 2 - 0 and now real celebrations from all the visitors.

After 40 minutes Owens again made progress and a great cross was met by Jennings who headed upwards and over the bar. Half time approached and many of the home contingent were glad to get inside to warmer chimes. The visitors were in a very strong position and looking forward to further hospitality!

The second half kicked off with rain stopping and wind decreasing, Gary Shields replaced Paddy Little at right back for SRCA, a move that immediately gave the home side a lift as the extra pace supported the right side even further.SRCA were in general control now with Halliday in central midfield probing at all opportunities and firing a decent effort just wide. However on 58 minutes a loose ball again fell to Wesson in central midfield who cracked a thirty yard drive that crashed against the SRCA bar. Nearly all over.

Dean Goodwin replaced McLeod in the SRCA midfield and this again gave injection to the home play who were pushing forward at all opportunities. Halliday again played one-twos with forwards in an excellent move which finally resulted in him cracking a great effort just over the bar on 75 minutes. Marske made a substitution to bolster there defence, but this did not stem the tide as on 78 minutes came the goal of the game. After good home play, in a spell when we were always keeping the ball on the ground, Halliday in the centre circle hit a terrific 35 yard pass out to the right towards the corner flag. Gary Shields from full back had raced from the half way line and on reaching a ball that was just on the bye line, hit a raking cross which Andy Jennings met with a brilliant header at the front post. Right in the top corner. 2 - 1 down, but celebrations at last for the home contingent and all at SRCA were up for this now.

However with the clock running down the home side again reverted to a long ball game and whilst centre forward Jennings was winning a lot of balls in the air they were not finding on running forwards. In the 89th minute though good play again down the right flank resulted in a further cross, but this time Jennings glanced the header past the back post. Surprisingly only one minute of extra time was played and the Marske celebrations on the final whistle said it all. The away supporters gathered to applaud their heroes off the pitch, a Wembley FA Vase dream still alive at least until November. All SRCA attentions are now focused on moving up the League.

Sunderland RCA 5 Thornaby 1

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skilltraining Northern League

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Sunderland RCA got themselves back on the winning track with a 5-1 victory over Thornaby at Meadow Park. Hicker made a couple of changes to the line up, with new goalkeeper Gary Hoggeth coming in to replace Craig Shields, who's season will end soon as he has another operation to face. Good luck, Shieldsy!

Gary Shields started wide right, with Lee Owens wide left in a 4-4-2 formation, though no doubt they would switch at times during the game. Also included on the bench were debutants Chris Youldon from the under 18s, and Sparky Davison signed from the CW.

The game started on a beautiful afternoon, and after a few early exchanges RCA took the lead with our first serious attack, a great ball from Buddy putting Andy Jennings in to run at the keeper and slide it past him with minimum fuss. A few minutes of back and forth followed, as a young looking Thornaby side put themselves about, before our second good move saw Buddy put Lee Owens away to cross well where David Tait finished with a deft strike. 2-0 after 13 minutes, and looking good.

Thornaby struck back immediately and hit the post from close range, before the game settled into a bit of a scrappy pattern, with good defensive play from both sides making it hard for attackers to make their mark. This continued as the half wore on and it remained 2-0 at the break.

RCA came out looking strong for the second half. Dean Goodwin replaced Mark McLeod and the first ten minutes of the half saw RCA well on top and create and miss a series of good chances, with Andy Jennings, David Tait, Lee Owens, Gary Shields and Buddy Halliday all having good opportunities. It stayed at 2-0 though and Thornaby came back more into the game and some of us started to worry that we might pay for our profligacy. The impressive Abdullah hit the bar for Thornaby from a corner as a warning, and the bench became somewhat agitated. It looked as if it would stay 2-0 until the end, as Hicker gave young Youldon and Davison their chances for Tait and Jennings.

With five minutes left however an all action finish started as Youldon got his first Northern league goal as he advanced on the keeper and just beat his despairing effort to save. From the kick off Thornaby went straight up and made it 3-1, before with time running out first Sparky got his head to a good Shieldsy cross, and then Lee Owens produced a trademark top corner finish to give the scoreline a different gloss. 5-1 at the end and this big week of league action is underway.

Sunderland RCA 0 Marske United 1

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skilltraining Northern League

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

This was a very disappointing result on a miserable night at Meadow Park, as Marske staged a smash and grab raid to take all three points.

Despite the rain a decent crowd had turned out. RCA took the field showing a few changes from Saturday, with Andy Reay making his debut at centre half after signing from Nissan, young Michael Chapman returning to the side, wearing number two, but playing in his usual wide left position, Dean Godwin replacing the unavailable Mark McLeod in centre midfield, and Adam McGuiness and Anth Laidler taking places on the bench.

RCA started playing up the bank into the rain, but soon got into the game and had the better of the early exchanges, before Marske took the lead after ten minutes with a back post header from a corner, scored by an unmarked Stephen Cochrane. RCA were stung by this and worked hard to get back level, winning a number of corners, without reward, and knocking the ball about well in midfield. Marske were busy and effective as always, but Gary Hoggeth in the RCA goal was rarely involved. The best chance of the half fell to David Tait, who was beautifully played in by Dean Goodwin, only to push his shot past the post. 0-1 at the break.

For the second half Adsy McGuiness replaced Michael Chapman. Playing down the hill in the second half the pattern of the game was established early, with Marske defending deep and RCA having almost permanent possession of the ball, but struggling to create clear shooting openings. Andy Jennings will think he should have scored when in on the keeper after a couple of minutes, and Dean Goodwin and Buddy Halliday, took time out from dominating the midfield for both to have good shooting opportunities, but could not beat the keeper.

Marske were reduced to booting the ball clear and occasional forays, although from one they hit the bar from a very wide left position to remind RCA of their threat, but it looked as if the equaliser was only a matter of time. Anth Laidler came on for the weary Andy Reay, who had done well on his debut, and Sparky Davison replaced David Tait, who had also battled well, up front.

The half wore on, the pressure continued but the goal would not come. As the last quarter started the Marske right back in particular came to prominence, with a string of superb last ditch tackles to deny shooting opportunities to Jennings, Goodwin and Davision. By this time the game was very congested, and it was clear that Marske thought they could hang on and defy whatever we threw at them. A last turn and shot from Jennings, which the keeper saved comfortably, a final couple of corners, from one of which the ball rebounded from a convenient backside into the keeper's arms, a free kick by Lee Owens that was scrambled clear and that was that. Marske showed that when your luck is in you keep winning despite the performance and make it eight in a row, and RCA are left wondering how on earth we lost the game.

Sunderland RCA 4 Guisborough 0

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skilltraining Northern League

Saturday, 18 October 2008

At 2:40pm there was a very welcoming atmosphere inside Meadow Park, both sides warming up in sunshine conditions, a few autumn leaves dropping from the cemetery side of the ground and a rainbow appearing in the distance - after Tuesday's bad luck against Marske, was this to be our lucky omen! When the players returned to the field for actual kick off though, a very swift change, as the rain and wind picked up strongly, so it was a good coin toss to win when captain Steve Halliday opted to kick against the conditions.

After a few exchanges of the ball between the teams and the customary early challenges in the midfield area, SRCA were the first to show with good passing interchanges between Goodwin and Halliday feeding Owens on the right who was looking to fire early crosses into the area. Jennings showed his early threat forcing defensive clearances before the first corner was won in the seventh minute. The same player did get a decent goalward header in, but this went safely wide of the goal.

Guisborough were hitting longer balls into the RCA half and Anth Laidler starting today as sweeper was heading back well. However this direct play nearly had success when Gary Shields playing at right back ran back to cover the central area, but underhit a back pass which Hoggeth in goal defended well against the strong number 10 Richard Storr, a further clearance giving the Boro their first corner. Hoggeth attempted to gather the deep cross at the back post, but this was pushed out and a scrambled clearance was pushed to the right, Owens raced forward, crossed quickly and Jennings fired in another header which was safely collected under the bar by Scott Allison in goal.

On the 25th minute after good interplay from all the RCA midfield the ball was pushed to Flynn who hit a cracking long pass to Jennings, heading down he found Goodwin who played in the overlapping Shields firing in a great effort which was well saved. The game was definitely opening up now with RCA also starting to find room down the left with full back Lee and McGuinness combining well, delivering a cross to Jennings who turned, but could not get full connection on his left peg and the shot was gathered.

In the 35th minute a further Guisborough long crossfield ball from the left found the right winger Mark James who nearly got past defenders ending up winning a corner. Another dangerous cross to the back post was forced away but Halliday quickly turned defence into attack when playing in Owens on the right. Feigning and dummying to go right again this time he cut inside and hit a tremendous 20 yard effort with his left foot into the top corner: 1 - 0 to the home team and very well deserved.

Guisborough responded by pushing more men forward and Onions and Storr were working hard to find an opening, winning a couple of corners after 40 minutes. The curling corners were hit into great spots at the back post, but were met by very good defending.

Half time: 1 - 0 and the positive signs were met with strong encouragement from home supporters.

Manager Neil Hixon was forced into change at half-time with Richard Flynn (who had played a lot of the first half feeling his hamstring) being replaced by Glenn Moan. The change did not affect the organised approach of SRCA who were pushing forward quickly playing football on the ground and finding early room. However although the approach play was good with some swift one-twos it was a surprise that the ball fell in the right area to Mark Davison and he wasted no time in slotting home the second on 49 minutes. 2 - 0 and the look on some of the faces of the Guisborough defenders said enough; this was going to be a very tough second half for them.

Although possession was dominated now by SRCA the home team were struggling to find a further break through and good opportunities were wasted. After corners were squandered, Lee Owens did find a lot of room on 60 minutes and when racing into the corner of the box he opted to cross when a shot might have been the best option. Although this split the defence the on-rushing forwards could not connect and the keeper was very pleased to see this fly past the back post. However Guisborough did not throw the towel in and pushed forward well in the 65th minute hitting successive goal bound efforts which Glenn Moan threw himself at to clear. Instead of this lifting the away side, SRCA upped the ante and pushed forward to kill the game off. Moan flushed by his good defensive work moved forward for the next RCA corner and nearly was the hero when connecting well, but sending a firm header over the bar.

McGuinness who had worked well as a left wing back today supplying three half chances for Jennings, was replaced by Michael Chapman on 65 minutes. David Tait also coming on a minute later for Davison. The Management were obviously keen for more goals and if these were not inspired changes then there is no such thing as inspiration.

After 75 minutes, first a left sided cross was hit into the Guisborough box and when this was half cleared substitute Chapman hit a 20 yard left foot cracker which flew in glancing off the inside of the post. 3 - 0 and game over! Guisborough were shell-shocked and this was evident as from kick off they immediately gave the ball way and now substitute Tait found himself in the clear racing through the defence and rounding the keeper to make it 4 - 0. Well the celebrations said it all and the management team of Hixon and Herd high-fiving each other as well !

The game nearly petered out with Jennings working to the end attempting to get the goal that his efforts deserved, but again he was thwarted by the keeper with two late efforts. However in the dying stages the Guisborough left back who had a torrid afternoon against Lee Owens decided to take his own free kick. Owens took exception to this and retaliated. Straight red and not even a caution for the full back. Well Lee, might have to see where the end of that rainbow is - he will need a pot of gold to pay the fine! Full time and very positive signs that the team is taking shape of the upward direction. Let's see on Tuesday when we are at home again in the cup. Don't back against the lads on this performance, Prudhoe will certainly have some defending to do!

Sunderland RCA 2 Prudhoe Town 1

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Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Our very last Cup competition of the season and supporters were looking forward hopefully to progressing in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial tonight. On a very cold night, it was also pleasing to get a crowd of above 60 and a decent atmosphere when many locals could have stopped at home to watch Champions League football, but nothing beats live Northern League football, does it.

Michael Ford who was signed on the day from Horden CW was immediately pitched into the fray by SRCA manager Neil Hixon, selected in central midfield, whilst Chris Youldon who has stepped up from our youth team made his starting debut. After 10 weeks off, it was also pleasing to see stalwart Wayne Henderson return to the starting line up in central defence.

Prudhoe won the toss and from the kick off quickly won possession off RCA and showed their intentions. The ball was moved around quickly as they looked to get forward with RCA pushing the ball out to safety on three occasions. A young Prudhoe team were very lively and a very good move on eight minutes saw central midfielder Mark Hewitson hit a long-range effort a few yards wide of the RCA goal. Against the general flow of the game RCA won the first corner in the tenth minute, but a good cross was wasted after a foul on a Prudhoe defender. From that free kick the ball moved back up the field and only some good defending prevented Prudhoe creating their first chance. On Prudhoe winning their first corner though on 15 minute the ball was not fully cleared and forward Mark McKewan tried a speculative effort that travelled well wide.

After 20 minutes RCA were finding their rhythm as the midfielders were bringing wide men Lee Owens and Michael Chapman into the game on the flanks. Owens was cutting in well and creating a lot of space which Tait was starting to exploit. On 25 minutes with his back to goal and marked tightly Owens knocked a speculative overhead kick ball, which was nearly met by on rushing forwards but cleared for a corner. A good cross again was wasted as it ran out of play for a goal kick. After good work down the left ending with a cross fired across the six yard box, Chris Youldon raced in at the back post, but could not fully connect and the ball glanced past the back post.

Ford and Youldon in midfield were getting more in the game and on 30 minutes the latter split the whole defence with a piercing ball that found centre forward Tait, but he fired a decent effort over the bar. RCA were taking control now with Owens winning consecutive free kicks, but the home team were not making use of good crosses, centre half Andy Reay though nearly stung the opposition, coming closest as he leapt like a salmon, but over bar. The game reached half time with a final free kick won by Prudhoe, but 30 yards from goal central defender Ryan Monaghan hit well over the bar.

Half time: 0 - 0

Prudhoe started the second half as lively as they did the first with McAnespire, Armstrong and Hewitson combining to bring in centre forward Liam Bell who was unlucky when trying to dribble round the last defender. It was the visitors who were the more likely now and forward Ben Haddock was also starting to show his lot, combining again with Bell and a long effort was drilled at goal which Shields dived well to save. On 60 minutes Henderson who had done well on his return to action was replaced by Anth Laidler at the back and minutes later Mark Davison replaced Chris Youldon up front. The shape of the team was more direct in a 4 - 3 - 3 formation and RCA started to ask all the questions now with Davison and Owens finding more space and causing the Prudhoe defence all kinds of problems.

After 70 minutes with the game moving with the home side, top scorer Andrew Jennings also entered the arena as a replacement for wide man Chapman. This was the final impetus as RCA dominated play and it seemed clearly a matter of time, but the forwards were thwarted by some excellent Prudhoe defending. On 74 minutes though the inevitable arrived, but from an unlikely source as full back David Lee was played in on the overlap and beating the last defender, rounded the keeper and finishing with aplomb firing into the net.

One way traffic now and Davison who was looking positive in every attacking movement then got in after some good work by Jennings and Owens gave him space to fire a good shot in to make it 2 - 0 in the eightieth minute. All involved at RCA might of thought that was it, but injuries to Tait and Lee meant that the home side had to complete the last eight minutes plus injury time with nine men. Prudhoe now realising that they had more space, pushed forward winning consecutive corners then free kicks. It definitely wasn't wrapped up. In the 87th minute the game really came to life again when number 10 Haddock played a one-two, then drilled a 22 yard screamer inside the right hand post, past the diving Shields. Stunned silence from the home support. In extra time RCA would only have nine men! Prudhoe threw bodies forward with RCA all back to defend, counter attacking by hitting the ball wide to Lee Owens to keep. Very exciting till the end when Prudhoe's final gamble was broken down by Moan and Laidler. RCA raced away with the ball which was retained in the top right hand corner until final whistle. Job done, still in the pond and through to the next round draw and no minnows left!

Darlington RA 1 Sunderland RCA 0

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skilltraining Northern League

Saturday, 25 October 2008

A very disappointing result at Darlington RA, which completely took the gloss off Sunderland's stuffing of the mags a couple of hours earlier. It was a blustery afternoon on a bumpy pitch, which made it difficult to play good football, or even to get the ball down and pass it, but we had most of the play throughout the game before RA popped up with a winner in the last minute, which Gary Hoggeth will be very upset that he failed to hold.

Adam McGuiness started for RCA wide left, with Anth Laidler at left back and Sparky Davison partnering Andy Jennings up front. The pattern of the game was set early on, with RCA having most of the ball but failing to make many inroads into a determined Darlington defence. Paul Sammons was his usual tigerish self in midfield for the home team, and chances were few and far between.

Sparky got his head to a couple of good Lee Owens crosses, but the keeper was equal too it, and we had a couple of decent corners, but otherwise not a lot to report.

Early in the second half Andy Jennings was surprised by a ball that came back to him and put a good chance wide of the post, and Adsy hit a good free kick over the top.

The ball continued to bounce around in midfield as both sides struggled to put a foot on the ball, and as the half wore on Darlo started to look dangerous from occasional breakaways. Glen Moan came into the fray for Anth laidler, and late on young Chris Youldon got another 10 minutes in his football education as a replacement for Sparky.

The game looked certain to end goalless until with 30 second of added time left a fairly innocous shot went through Hoggy's hands into the top of the net. Disaster! The ref blew for time almost immediately. A good chance to move up the table gone, a very bad day at the office, but still no need to panic, let's learn and move on.


Sunderland RCA 1 Crook Town 2

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skilltraining Northern League

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Another disappointing result for RCA in what must have been an interesting game for neutrals to watch. Heavy rain over night put the match in some doubt but, although it cut up quite a bit and players were slipping and sliding down by the grandstand, overall it allowed for a good game of football.

RCA started with Steve Jones making his debut at right back and Michael Ford making his league debut in midfield, and looking to make up for last week's major slip up at Darlington RA.

Crook were playing up the bank in the first half and started brightly with some good possession football before RCA got hold of the ball and with our first real attack Lee Owens saw a fierce shot pushed over by the keeper. The pattern of the first half was set, with Crook looking neat and tidy when they had the ball, and RCA having good chances with direct play. Michael Ford came close after nine minutes, Lee Owens hit a good shot wide after 14 and Ford again might have capitalised on a flick on in the box after 24 minutes. All the while Crook continued to probe carefully when in possession.

The Crook keeper had a lucky escape when he completely missed the ball as he rushed to the edge of his area and a defender hacked clear, and Andy Jennings had the ball taken at his feet by the keeper on the half hour. As the half wore on we began to think we might rue missed chances and on the 40th minute Crook took the lead with a tremendous strike from Michael Coad from the edge of the box.

HT 0 - 1.

The second half opened in a very competitive atmosphere and built up to be a real feisty exchange. There was good pressure from both sides and a lot of firm tackles and hefty exchanges in midfield. Hicker brought on Dean Goodwin and Gaz Shields for Sparky Davison and Michael Ford and the game really began to open up. The Crook keeper went walkabout again on the hour, and this time Lee Owens finished coolly to bring us level. Chances came from a flurry of corners, but within five minutes Crook were back in the lead as Mark Johnson seized on a cross to slide the ball home.

Young Chapman got into the game as sub for Adam McGuinness and looked sharp, and chances were made, but the equaliser wouldn't come and Crook played out time to take the points.

By no means a bad display by RCA, but things are definitely not running our way at present. Just got to keep playing!

Washington 1 Sunderland RCA 2

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skilltraining Northern League

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Don't infer from the score line that this was a close game. If RCA had not won it would have been a travesty, such was their domination, but as with previous matches the ratio of effort, possession chances to goals scored for RCA leaves everyone involved with the club thinking that the gods are not smiling on us.

RCA played a 3 - 5 - 2, with a back three of Steve Jones, Wayne Henderson and Andy Reay, Glenn Moan was sweeping in front of the back three, David Lee and Gary Shields were wing backs, Steve Halliday and Anth Laidler were in the middle and Andy Jennings and Mark Davidson led the front line. With Lee Owens beginning his three match suspension and injuries elsewhere in the squad, the bench was depleted, with assistant manager Glen McCartney joining Dean Goodwin, Michael Chapman and Michael Ford.

The game started with both sides testing each other out. On five minutes, David Lee took a free kick wide on the left level with the 18 yard line, which was cleared for a corner. On ten minutes a very good diagonal ball found the Washington number eight who cut in and shot only for Wayne Henderson to clear.

In midfield, manager Neil Hixon seemed to have got his selection and tactics right with Anth Laidler battling away, Glenn Moan looking assured and comfortable on the ball and captain Steve Halliday probing.

On 16 minutes a Glenn Moan shot from 20 yards was tipped over by the keeper for an RCA corner which he subsequently punched clear.

Five minutes later, RCA must have thought that their ill-fortune of previous weeks was continuing. Following a Washington free lick from their right, which was not cleared, the ball fell to the Washington number nine, who shaped to curl the ball into the the opposite corner: a shot he then executed perfectly. RCA will feel that they should have closed this opportunity down.

On 27 minutes Washington nearly scored a second when their forward was one on one with keeper Gary Hoggeth, who did well to kick clear.

The rest of the first half saw good periods of pressure from RCA. On 34 minutes, a shot from Steve Halliday rolled agonizingly wide. Overall, though, RCA needed more composure and movement in the box to make their pressure pay off.

Does anyone know what was in the RCA lads' half time drink? Because I want some! RCA attacked, attacked and then attacked again. Andy Jennings turned and shot, but just past the post. A Gary Shields free kick from near the corner flag was headed down for Andy Jennings to challenge the keeper. A Steve Halliday shot was turned away. Then Andy Jennings was in again, with his looping header coming back off the bar with the keeper nowhere.

On 59 minutes it seemed that the RCA pressure was going to finally pay off as Gary Shields stepped up to take a penalty. He drove the ball accurately to the left corner of the goal, but the keeper got down to push the ball round the post for a corner. The pressure ended with Andy Reay blasting over.

On 74 minutes, RCA's more than well deserved equalizer finally came. A free kick from the RCA left was gathered by Mark Davison, who hammered the ball home from 12 yards.

Nine minutes later Mark was on target again, this time following a cross from the right, which was skillfully headed on by Andy Jennings for Davison to head home from close range.

On 86 minutes a very good knock from Glenn Moan was headed goal ward by Andy Jennings and looked destined from the bottom left corner only for the washington keeper to save well.

On 89 minutes it seemed that skipper Steve Halliday, who had an excellent game, had done all the hard work only to shoot over.

Onwards and upwards!

Sunderland RCA 0 Brandon United 0

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skilltraining Northern League

Saturday, 15 November 2008

RCA began the match kicking up the slope and with the same formation - 3 - 5 - 2 - as the previous match against Washington. One change of personnel was forced on the management team, with Andy Jennings taking a place on the bench as he recovered from a nasty bug. Captain Steve Halliday moved up front to partner Mark Davison and Adam McGuinness came in for the position behind the front two.

One thing is very clear from this match: Brandon are not the rather sorry side of last season. This match finished 0 - 0, but it could have been 4 - 3 to either side and Brandon's young, fit, committed and slick passing players will perhaps count themselves the unluckiest as they missed a penalty and hit the woodwork twice.

Brandon shaded the early exchanges and 16 minutes had gone before Steve Halliday was nearly in against the Brandon keeper only for the combined efforts of two Brandon defenders, one of whom injured himself in the process, to clear the ball.

On 21 minutes it was RCA physio Darren Handy's turn to come on to the pitch as Glenn Moan required treatment. Brandon did not make the most of a series of free kicks which they won in midfield, but on 30 minutes one led to a corner, which RCA cleared. This was the occasion for more concerted RCA efforts. On 31 minutes, David Lee just kept the ball in to cross for mark davidson to fire a shot from 18 yards which the keeper covered. On 33 minutes Adam McGuinness kept the ball in play and passed it to Gary Shields whose first time cross was for a header by Mark Davison, which the keeper did well to save. Two minutes later though and it looked as though RCA would be going behind as the referee awarded a penalty to Brandon. The Brandon number 10, Paul Dixon, fired low and strongly to keeper Gary Hoggeth's right. Happily, Gary went the right way and made a good save, but the penalty taker will find fault with himself for putting it too close to the keeper.

On 43 minutes RCA forward Mark Davison was presented with another good heading opportunity when Gary Shields skillfully created space to fire in a cross from the right which Mark headed towards goal, but again the keeper was well-placed. At half time Andy Jennings replaced Adam McGuinness. Gary Shields continued his hard work down the right, but on 66 minutes it was a lucky escape for the home side as a Brandon cross shot came back off the post to be claimed by keeper Gary Hoggeth.

From the break, there was another text book Gary Shields right wing cross, which mark Davison headed just wide. Five minutes later and Brandon had the ball in the back of the RCA net, but were pulled up for off-side.

On 73 minutes Gary Shields' frustration continued as his cross came back off the Brandon bar. This was followed by three successive corners for RCA, but we could not make the pressure tell. Brandon dominated the last ten minutes of play and again had a shot come back off the post for the rebound to go wide. While RCA will continue to rue their goals to chances and effort ratio, credit should go to Brandon, whose youth policy, Dutch connection and tie up with Durham University seem to be paying dividends.

Whickham 0 Sunderland RCA 1

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skilltraining Northern League

22 November 2008

Sunderland RCA gained a well-deserved win at the Glebe Ground against Whickham FC on the wintriest day of the season so far. RCA, with there now familiar 3 - 5 - 2 formation and wearing a third strip to avoid clashing with Whickham's stripes, kicked off facing the low sun and keeper Gary Hoggeth needed his peaked cap to see the approaching play.

On ten minutes good work from Andy Jennings from a throw in led to an RCA corner, which Gary Shields played short to captain Steve Halliday who played it back, but the cross was cleared. The RCA captain was back in action again two minutes later when a shot was tipped over by the keeper for another corner. There was consistent pressure from RCA.

On 15 minutes Andy Jennings, who was doing a lot of good defensive tracking back, drove powerfully, but wide. RCA won corners and fee kicks, but could not convert their dominance to clear cut chances. On 38 minutes great running led to a cross from right wing back Gary Shields which was headed clear for a corner, but David Lee hit it just too long. On 44 minutes a cross from Andy Jennings created a chance for fellow centre forward Mark Davison, who headed just wide.

Soon after the re-start RCA got a bit of a fright with Whickham through on goal and only a last ditch clearance averting real danger. After this, though, RCA dominated play, but again without creating clear cut chances until the hour when it seemed that the pressure must pay off with an Andy Jennings 'goal' ruled out for offside and a driving shot from David Lee tipped round the post for a fantastic save by the Whickham keeper. At this point manager Neil Hixon made a tactical switch, bringing on Adam McGuinness for Andy Jennings, which added new pace to the left side of the RCA attack. RCA scored minutes later. A Steve Jones cross from the left was headed back across goal for David Lee to break the deadlock.

On eighty minutes fresh legs were added to the central midfield battle with Michael Lawson coming on for skipper Steve Halliday. On 85 minutes good work from Mark Davison it seemed that RCA must score, but somehow Adam McGuinness's return ball was cleared. On 87 minutes the entire Whickham bench was on up on its feet claiming an equaliser when Gary Hoggeth gathered the ball on the line. Much shouting and abusing of the officials did them no good and the match ended with a well-deserved three points for the visitors.


Norton and Stockton Ancients 0 Sunderland RCA 3

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skilltraining Northern League

17 December 2008

Sunderland RCA finally got our season back underway after nearly a month out through bad weather with what looked likely to be a very tough trip to League leaders Norton on Wednesday night. And it looked a lot tougher when a rash of late cry offs saw Hicker left with a depleted force at his disposal. Gary Hoggeth took his place in goal, but the absence of Henderson and Reay through illness meant dispensing with our more usual wing back formation and going with a flat back four, with Anth Laidler deputising alongside Steve Jones in the middle and Gary Anderson, welcome back Gaz, and Dava Lee as full backs. In midfield young Michael Lawson came into the centre to partner Buddy as Glenn Moan was in hospital getting his snout fixed, with Gaz Shield and Adam McGuinness wide, and Andy Jennings and Sparky Davison were our usual twin strikers. Lee Owens was baby sitting, don't ask why. The bench was very short, with only Chris Youldon and Jon Minniss as genuine alternatives, so we couldn't afford any knocks.

Norton were obviously confident and started well, competing hard all over the pitch, but the first half hour was fairly even, Norton had pressure without much in the way of shots on goal. Gaz Shields was getting a lot of room to run down the right, and Michael Lawson started well, looking calm in possession and passing well.

After 14 minutes a Norton lob bounced off the top of the bar, and Hoggy had a lucky escape when he fumbled a ball on the edge of the box, but Andy and Sparky were proving a handful for their centre backs whenever we got it forward.

On the half hour Norton had a little spell of pressure leading to a couple of corners and a harsh booking for Buddy. The corners showed we had trouble with a bit of lack of height at the back, but we coped well with the use of tight marking and solid competing. We now came more into the game and began to enjoy some situations out wide for Shieldsy and Adsy. Adam should have done better when well placed in the box and failing to find a man, but a couple of minutes later he made amends in some style, running onto a knockdown in the box and blasting an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net. 1-0. From now to the break we looked confident and went in one goal to the good, after a well contested half.

The second half started with Norton throwing everything at us and for a while it was like the Alamo with Laids and Jonesy having to work their socks off under constant pressure in the air and Dava Lee and Gary Anderson also making a string of excellent tackles. But we seemed like we couldn't get the ball far enough up the pitch and had Norton had a bit more finesse about their play we must have been in trouble. We still looked sharp on the break though, with Sparky missing the best chance of the game when he pushed an Adam McGuinness cross past the post. And just after the hour we proved just how sharp with a candidate for goal of the season.

The ball was worked swiftly forward through three or four passes and reached Sparky about 25 yards out, from where he looked up and smashed a great shot past the Norton keeper, who could only dive in despair. 2-0.

Norton still pushed hard and had a couple of half chances, but you could tell they knew the game was up and we started to look good working the ball wide and forward. Buddy Halliday had led by example throughout, supporting his defenders and using the ball well when he got the opportunity and he again started the move that brought Sparky Davison his second, another corking drive, and tied the game up nicely with ten minutes to go. A fantastic performance from everybody, great team spirit and will to win, leadership by example from Buddy, everybody supporting each other and working their socks off. 3-0 and job well done!

Sunderland RCA 4 North Shields 2

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skilltraining Northern League

20 December 2008

This was a real battle on a very poor pitch with North Shields unrecognisable from the team we played early in the season.

Manger, Neil Hixon made a couple of changes with Andy Reay resuming at the back and young Anthony Ashman making his debut alongside him as Gary Anderson dropped out with injury and Wayne Henderson was only on the bench. We reverted to a wing back formation with Anth Laidler going back into the middle of the park, as Adam McGuinness was also missing due to family illness.

The game was delayed for a minute or two for a presentation to SunderlandvRCA's Graham Defty to mark his fifty years in the game. League chairman Mike Amos did the honours, and the event was marked with warm applause from the crowd and both teams.

The sides kicked off and it was clear it was going to be a physical contest with football hard to play on the sticky surface that broke up from the start. North Shields were very combative and RCA stood up to it, and the Ref was fully involved. No surprise therefore when Shields took the lead after quarter of an hour through Ian Dugdale, up supporting his attack. RCA hit back immediately with young Ashman causing a few problems with his good quality long throws and within three minutes we were level as Sparky Davison forced home the ball at the far pst from a free kick. But Shields continued to harry and came again to lead from a corner as Brian Smith won a header at the back post, which Gary Hoggeth saved well, only for Smith to seize on the rebound and score. 2-1 to North Shields at the break.

RCA came out with a determined manner for the second period, playing up the bank and keeping the ball well. Dava Lee got the equaliser, scoring direct from a free kick out wide, despite the linesman trying to disallow it for offside. Sparky then put our noses in front for the first time with an absolutely superb header from an Andy Jennings cross, which beat the keeper on his line, and Andy Reay got forward to head home in text book style with another good effort to give us a two goal cushion. Shields didn't give up, pressed hard and had a goal marked off, but we held firm and took the points again. Five games unbeaten now, let's keep going!

Horden CW 1 Sunderland RCA 1

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skilltraining Northern League

27 December 2008

'It was a good result. I would have settled for a point before the game. - Manager, Neil Hixon

'This keeps our run going - undefeated in six games.' - Chairman, Owen Haley

Sunderland RCA earned a well-deserved draw with Horden CW at Welfare Park.

On a gloomy December day, RCA lined up with their now customary 3-5-2. Horden were quick to show and had good midfield possession without really troubling RCA keeper Gary Hoggeth, although they used dead balls effectively. At the other end, RCA mounted some good attacks.

On ten minutes a good move down the left ended with Mark Davidson taking a good cross shot, which the Horden keeper did well to dive to his left to save. Fifteen minutes later a good corner from the left was spilled by the keeper, but eventually Horden cleared their lines. On 35 minutes an RCA free kick led to the ball being cleared for a left wing corner, but this was cleared by Horden. With half time a minute away the referee seemed to miss a blatant handball by Horden and then awarded a dubious free kick to Horden on the edge of the RCA penalty area. The ball was pushed left and the resulting well taken shot was parried by Gary Hoggeth, but Horden followed up to force the ball home.

Horden threatened early in the second half, winning a corner from the kick off, which was only half cleared and Gary Hoggeth had to gather the following cross.

On 52 minutes RCA were unlucky not to equalise when the ball broke to Andy Jennings whose early taken shot came back off the cross bar with the keeper well beaten. A minute later and Horden were threatening again with a strong shot causing Gary Hoggeth to dive to his left, parry and gather the ball at the second attempt. On 60 minutes Andy Jennings had the ball near the Horden corner flag. Harried by two Horden defenders there was the usual cry of 'He's going no where!', but he was. Very skilful footwork beat the two defenders and Andy ran into the box squaring the ball across the six yard box. Unfortunately the final touch was just missing.

Four minutes later, more skillful work from Any Jennings led to a left wing corner. On 68 minutes RCA finally got the equaliser their play deserved. Micky Lawson, who had come on as substitute for Andy Reay three minutes earlier, threaded the ball through for the on-rushing Mark Davidson, whose powerful run beat two defenders. Running through the centre, Sparky fired powerfully past the Horden keeper.

On 73 minutes it looked as though RCA might take the lead as a throw in on the right led to a powerfully hit shot, but straight at the keeper. Horden exerted sustained pressure in the last ten minutes of the match and came closest when they headed against the cross bar from a right wing cross on the 86th minute.


Sunderland RCA 0 Hebburn Town 1

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skilltraining Northern League

3 January 2009

A very disappointing result as RCA missed the chance to consolidate on our recent good form when we entertained Hebburn Town at Meadow Park for our first game of the year. Neil named an unchanged side against a Hebburn Town sitting around us in the league table, but with a mixed record of decent results and poor defeats. The four points gained in previous two games against top three sides away from home meant we went into this fixture confident of making more progress.

We started brightly enough, playing down the slope, with half chances coming from long balls into the box for Andy, who would have scored with any kind of touch, and a good cross for Dava Lee which he couldn't quite control.

Hebburn looked workmanlike and confident and took the lead on 22 minutes when a corner came back off the post and was slotted home by Myers, 1-0 to Hebburn. Nothing to worry about there surely, we had come back twice against North Shields hadn't we? But this time the belief just wasn't there as Hebburn looked the better side for the rest of the half, and had the ball in the net again, before a linesman's flag meant it was ruled out for a push on Hoggy.

0-1 at the break.

Early in the second half came the turning point of the match, as a certain penalty for handball was refused. From then on we looked like a tired side. Hicker used all his subs, but it made little difference; we lacked punch or composure and might have played all night without scoring. So, Hebburn do the unlikely double over us, much like Prudhoe last season. Not good, but still not halfway in the season, keep the faith.

Sunderland RCA 1 Prudhoe Town 0

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skilltraining Northern League

17 January 2009

RCA had two new faces on show for the game at home to Prudhoe, and another two on the bench, as manager Hixon prepared for the hectic spell of games to come by boosting his squad. Making a welcome return to the club was last year's captain, Scott Richards in midfield, and making a club debut was Wyn Fremlin on the right wing. Dave Henderson, joining from Tow Law was on the bench alongside Sean Joseph who has come to us from Northallerton.

There was a familiar face or two in the stand, but no doubt more of that later!

Missing from the previous game was Andy Jennings who is away, while Anth Laidler had to make do with a seat on the bench this time. RCA lined up in their familiar 3-5-2 formation, with Gary Shields moving from front to back to partner Mark Davison up front. Prudhoe came in to the game boosted by ceditable draws in their last two fixtures and made a decent start, and could have gone ahead within a minute or two as a ball broke in the box, but was scrambled clear.

The game settled into a steady pattern of midfield scrimmaging with Prudhoe, playing down the bank working hard to frustrate Buddy and Scott in midfield, but already the combination of Scott's running power and Buddy's steadiness on the ball looked very promising as a partnership. There were a few chances at either end: Wyn Fremlin made a number of good runs and his added width looked to balance the side well, but Prudhoe also created a chance or two.

Adam McGuiness made an excellent long break and created a shooting chance for himself, Richards fired just over, a good tackle stopped Sparky, and we made it to half time with honours even, but RCA were looking forward to playing down the bank in the second half.

The second half started with RCA camped in the Prudhoe half of the field and making good positions without creating many clear chances. Prudhoe continued to work hard in denying us clean possession, but the impression grew that it was only a matter of time until we made the breakthrough and one goal would lead to more. But time got on and it wouldn't come. Sparky had chances, the keeper made a great one handed save from one of the. Hicker took off Fremlin who had done well on his debut, and Adsy McGuinness, and gave debuts to Sean (Taz) Joseph and David Henderson and the pressure increased and increased. Taz, looking a quality left winger, put over a number of good crosses from the by-line, which were cleared or scrambled away, and Dave Henderson was very busy on the right.

It looked as if it would never come until in the 87th minute Andy Reay, by now playing as an auxiliary centre forward, claimed a header was over the line from another Sean Joseph cross, while Sparky seized on the keeper's half clearance and powered a header into the roof of the net for his 11th goal of the season. Relief all round, but hard lines on a very spirited and hard working Prudhoe team who never resorted to kicking people. This valuable three points lifts us into the top half of the table. Tally ho!

Esh Winning 1 Sunderland RCA 3

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skilltraining Northern League

24 January 2009

It was a sunny day but a heavy pitch which looked sure to cut up badly as Sunderland RCA took the field for their vital game at table toppers Esh Winning on Saturday. Hicker has been busy in the transfer market ready for the second half of the season and some new faces were on display. Scott Richards returned to the club and took his place in midfield alongside Buddy, Steve Stewart, signed from Chester-le-Street, started wide right, and Sean Joseph (Taz) made his full debut on the left wing, while Adam McGuinness took up his occasional role up front alongside Sparky Davison as we went with a 4-4-2 formation, with Lee, Reay, Henderson and Jones across the back in front of Hoggy. Wyn Fremlin dropped to the bench, as did Gaz Shields, and they were joined by Paul Wardle (Delta), who also returns from Chester. Dave Henderson and Anth Laidler completed the subs, while Glenn Moan, David Tait, Liam Gill and Gary Anderson failed to make the 16, to their clear disappointment.

The game started with RCA playing up the bank, and we should have taken the lead after only two minutes as Taz was brought down and Buddy's free kick reached an unmarked Wayne Henderson in the box who put his header wide. The new width given to us by Taz and Steve Stewart was immediately apparent as the game settled down into an open, attractive contest, but one in which RCA clearly had the upper hand. Another good run and cross from Taz was forced away with Sparky closing in, for the first of a number of corners which always looked dangerous although the Esh keeper was obviously in good form.

A good burst from Adsy after 20 minutes was wasted when he shot weakly and Taz continued to cause a lot of trouble with direct running and good crossing. Hoggy had to be alert as Esh also pushed forward, and nearly dropped one into his own net after 23 minutes before recovering well. A couple of minutes later he tipped a fine shot over, but by and large it was RCA asking the questions with Adsy again denied by a double save from the keeper after great work by Stewart set him free, a Taz corner leading to a goal being disallowed for a push on the keeper, and then as the half wore down a bad miss by Scott Richards after a good turn in the box, followed by a shot over from Taz after great work and a mazy dribble from Buddy Halliday.

As the half ended goalless some of us were worried that we had seen the best of our play and that RCA would pay for failing to take their chances. A 2-0 scoreline at half time would have fairly reflected the play.

The second half started in similar vein to the first however, with Scott Richards and Steve Stewart becoming more prominent as the game wore on. Early in the half Gaz Shields came on for Adam McGuinness and his understanding with Stewart was immediately obvious as we broke with speed on a number of occasions. Sparky and Stewy were both guilty of blazing over early on in the half and then the keeper and a defender combined to get in a couple of blocks when it seemed Richards must score. Esh continued to look dangerous on the break, but overall RCA were dominating without reward, including as a great move was finished by Sparky sliding in, only for the linesman to flag for offside. The deadlock was finally broken in the 73rd minute as Stewart showed great pace to burst past his man, feed Shieldsy, and the little man showed great composure to slide the cross in for Sparky who made no mistake from close range.

Justice at last. But now Esh were stung into action and enjoyed their best spell of the game, pushing us back and enjoying a couple of good chances, and probably should have equalised. Dave Henderson came on for Taz, who had a great first half but who had tired as the game wore on after several weeks out, and the partnership of Stewart and Shields continued to look dangerous on the right. And so it proved as again the swift surge from Stewart led to a Gaz cross and Sparky firing home. 2-0.

Esh pressed hard, and Delta came on for Sparky to shore up the back as we went one up front to protect our lead. At the death the Esh skipper fired home to give them a little hope, but deep into injury time Steve Stewart finished them off with a calm finish from another Gaz Shields cross. Three assists from Gaz in his half hour appearance in a performance of real quality which bodes well for the rest of the season.

Sunderland RCA 3 Birtley Town 1

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skilltraining Northern League

31 January 2009

A cracking win for RCA against a committed and hard working Birtley team who belied the unfounded rumours of their demise to put up a good performance. A diabolical pitch to play on, and a couple of enforced changes as Scott Richards was absent and Sean Joseph failed a late fitness test. Ever-reliable replacements in Anth Laidler in midfield and Gary Shields out wide meant we again fielded a strong looking side, in front of a decent crowd in bitterly cold conditions. And the game started lively as Birtley had a good near post effort in the second minute followed by a strong drive past the post in the fifth.

RCA started to get to grips with things, playing down the bank, and created a couple of good chances of their own with Gaz Shields doing well down the left to cross dangerously, and Sparky Davison looking to be in the same good form as of late and putting the defence under pressure. Steve Stewart made a couple of sttrong runs, but it was Birtley who took the lead after 24 minutes as a mix up between Gary Hoggeth in goal and Wayne Henderson let Hepplewhite in to give the visitors the lead with a soft goal. Hicker was not happy! And a few minutes later things took another turn for the worse as Dava Lee clattered into a concrete post and was forced off with a nasty looking knee, cut and swelling rapidly. Wyn Fremlin came on with Adsy McGuinness moving to left back and Gaz Shields moving up front to allow Wyn to assume a position wide right, with Stewy moving over to the left.

It was Stewy who got us back into the game, running well into the box and being brought down for a stonewall penalty. Sparky stepped up and confidently put us level after 39 minutes. A few minutes later, as your reporter was starting his half time duties, Sparky got his second running through strongly and hitting a strong shot from an anagle past the keeper to bring us in at half time in front.

HT 2-1.

The second half was a different story to the first. RCA ramped up the pace of the game, and dominated proceedings right from the off. Wyn Fremlin and Steve Stewart looked to run wide at every opportunity and stretched the defence constantly with excellent breaks, and helped by the good movement of Davison and Shields. Buddy and Anth had the centre well policed. Wyn saw a shot turned onto the post by the keeper, Shieldsy managed to miss an open goal twice in the same move, and Sparky had at least half a dozen good efforts. Birtley will be disappointed with their second half show playing downhill, and when Gaz Shields made it 3-1 with an excellent headed finish after good work from Stewart and Davison it looked all over. But Birtley roused themselves in the last 10 and had probably their best spell of the game. Glenn Moan and Paul Wardle came on to bolster the defence and had to work hard as the visitors suddenly looked dangerous, culminating in Hoggy making a tremendous save after 82 minutes, which kept the margin intact. Overall though a good show, up to sixth, and we get the chance to do it again on Wednesday, Birtley's problem pitch permitting.


Team Northumbria 1 Sunderland RCA 2

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skilltraining Northern League

17 February 2009

RCA Chairman Owen Haley observed that it was like watching Brazil as RCA ran out in their yellow and blue change strip for this reversed, evening fixture against Team Northumbria. For some early parts of the match, the remark did not seem, relatively, out of place, but at the end of the match it was the away side that had got out of jail and the hosts were justifiably frustrated.

After five minutes it was the consistently lively Team Northumbria who were through on goal with appeals for a penalty for holding dismissed by the referee. RCA were soon back in it with winger Steven Stewart crossing dangerously from the right. On nine minutes, Andy Jennings gathered the ball and evaded tackles, but his diagonal ball to the left wing was just too strong.

On 12 minutes, RCA pressure told, receiving the ball on the left wing Adam McGuinness made a good run and crossed strongly and accurately for Andy Jennings to collect unmarked in the centre of the penalty area. Lashing the ball home he gave the keeper no chance. Good stuff and a real early boost for Andy and the team.

Team Northumbria came back strongly from the kick off and shortly after had a corner which was only partially cleared, but North could only blast over the bar. RCA continued their good pressure - on 20 minutes the North keeper had to palm the ball away - but this was not a one-sided match: North broke strongly and with speed on many occasions and got into dangerous positions, but without delivering the killer final ball. The match got to half time at one - nil and RCA were worried that the lead was so slim - it should have been more both by chances and the perceived need for a cushion.

Two minutes after the re-start it looked as through RCA would rue missed chances in the first half as North very nearly equalized as the ball came back of the post from a strong cross shot.

Five minutes later and it looked as through skipper Steve Halliday must score as he broke the off-side trap to run through on goal. It looked as though he had the option to pass to Adsy, but shot only for a North defender to get back in time to deflect the ball behind for a corner.

RCA were looking ring rusty against a fit and lively Team Northumbria who won a disputed penalty on 57 minutes, which led to Paul Wardle being booked for his protests. Gary Hoggeth saved well parrying the ball after diving to his right, but North were quicker to the follow up and netted.

On 61 minutes, Scott Richards won a free kick 28 yards out. Manager Neil Hixon took the opportunity to bring off Wayne Henderson and put Glenn Moan into the fray in a like for like swap. From the free kick Scott Richards chipped the ball in, but it was just too high for Andy Jennings and when the ball broke out a Richards volley went wide.

Soon after Wyn Fremlin came on for Adam McGuinness (68) and Gary Shields for Mark Davison (76) as the RCA management tried to counter the liveliness and speed of North who were playing their wide pitch well.

RCA were increasingly harassed by North as the match went on and at this stage I would have settled for a point on the balance of threat - not that that's what we need as we try to make up ground. Not that we were without chances or hope. On 80 minutes RCA floated a free kick into the box which the North keeper missed and the header came back off the post. Five minutes later and a strong break from North down their right led to a strong cross-come-shot across the goal line.

Bit then our luck changed! Well into added time the referee blew for a penalty which I could not see from my position, but which drew great protests, ending in at least one red card, from Team Northumbria. Up steps AJ and blasts it into the roof of the net!

The push goes on! Come on you reds!

Thornaby 2 Sunderland RCA 2

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skilltraining Northern League

21 February 2009

Not a disaster at Thornaby as RCA battled well with a swirling wind and rough pitch to finish level with the bottom club. RCA will feel we should have won the game, and had plenty of chances in the second half to do so, but Thornaby worked hard, were well marshalled at the back by ex-Boro stalwart Nicky Mohan and will feel grateful for their point, not that it does them much good. Hicker made a couple of changes at the back with Andy Reay returning after suspension and Paul Wardle getting the nod to partner him. The game kicked off with Thornaby having the advantage of the breeze and for half an hour they made good use of it and were the better side. RCA were struggling to get going with passes going astray and the front two of Davison and Jennings not being able to hold it up. It was no great surprise therefore when Thornaby took the lead after 27 minutes with a simple enough strike from Morton.

The goal woke RCA up and we pressed from then to the break. Two or three decent chances were spurned before right on the stroke of half time Andy Jennings notched after good work by Davison and Stewart.

1-1 at HT.

The second half started in completely different mode with RCA totally on top. Jennings had a goal harshly disallowed for offside on 50 minutes, but the pressure was continuous and finally Adam McGuinness struck home from a narrow angle after 59 minutes. It looked like game over as we continued to push forward. Five minutes later however, during a rare Thornaby attack, Andy Reay was harshly adjudged to have pushed former RCA player Dean Fox in the box, and Foxy made no mistake from the spot: 2-2 with 25 minutes to go, certain to be more goals?

There should have been, as virtually every RCA midfielder and striker had chances to score. AJ hit the bar, Sparky headed over when he should have scored and in one ten second spell the keeper made two good saves before the ball went narrowly wide, and AJ had another disallowed for offside. But it was not to be and we have to settle for a point. Unbeaten in five though and need to keep going. A setback, but not the end of the world.

Guisborough 2 Sunderland RCA 0

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skilltraining Northern League

28 February 2009

Hicker started with Paul 'Delta ' Wardle at centre half today, playing alongside Glenn Moan who was recalled to the side. Dava Lee was missing through illness so Adam McGuiness played left back and a fit again Sean 'Taz' Joseph took his place wide left. Andy Reay, Wayne Henderson, Anth Laidler, Gary Shields and Wyn Fremlin took their places on the bench.

The Guisborough pitch was in very reasonable condition after a light rolling pre-game and the match started in very fair conditions, although with a few spots of rain. Both sides started quite brightly and within the first few minutes both keepers had to look lively against threatening attacks. The game soon settled into a pattern with RCA probably having the bulk of the ball, but with Guisborough showing good control in midfield and getting forward well when they got the chance. Taz seemed to have the regular beating of his man on the left though, and from one good attack Mark Davison rattled the post with a firm header.

Scotty Richards was getting forward regularly and hit a good shot over the bar, before making a great break into the box, again getting onto the end of a Taz cross and looping a shot again over the bar, when he had a lot more time than he thought. Andy Jennings also had opportunities, but could not force the ball home, particularly from one desperate scramble. At the other end the lads were having to stay alert, and after 30 minutes Delta went into the referee's book for a shirt pull, when it looked to many like half a dozen of one and six of the other. But worse was to follow in the 43rd minute when again the ref reached for his pocket as Delta went in on the edge of the box. Two fouls, two bookings and off! It looked very harsh indeed.

HT 0-0, and Hicker had a problem. To be fair draws are not much better than defeats to us in the present circumstances so it was understandable that he chose not to replace the missing defender from those on the bench, and instead went with three at the back, hoping to take the lead before making the change. And the pattern of the second half was much as the first despite the numerical disadvantage. We pressed, Guisborough looked dangerous when they could and chances came at both ends.

The Boro centre forward, Dave Onions is always a handful and you could tell he fancied his chances of leading his side to victory now. After the hour Guisborough took the lead with a well-worked goal which saw them exploit the gaps as one of their midfielders made it into the box and finished well. Hicker still kept pressing, brought Wyn Fremlin and Gary Shields on to refresh the attack, and we continued to press. But it wasn't until Guisborough made it two after 75 minutes, with what looked like a bit of a spawny goal as the ball spun in off the post, before we made some real chances again. As always happens we now had four or five good efforts, a great shot from Wyn Fremlin well saved by the keeper the pick of them, in the last 15 minutes, but it wasn't to be. A 2-0 defeat against a very decent young Guisborough side was no disgrace, but a real blow all the same.


Sunderland RCA 0 Jarrow Roofing BCA 0

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skilltraining Northern League

4 March 2009

A good atmosphere tonight with a decent crowd gathered in the main stand for this match against neighbours Jarrow Roofing. The game was spiced up in that quite a few of the players on show had played for both clubs in recent years, with Jarrow having Keith (Rasher) Graydon and Dean Goodwin in their starting eleven, both players involved with SRCA at the start of the season.

Jarrow won the toss and opted to defend the slope. Immediately from the RCA kick off it was clear that all in sundry were in for a very competitive night. The referee had whistle to mouth consistently and exchanged words with a Jarrow forward on three minutes after a late challenge on Glenn Moan just inside the RCA half. Strong challenges were swapped throughout the midfield before RCA had their first surge into the box, with Stewart playing Halliday in from the right and although in a position to shoot the player attempted to switch inside, the defender reading the move, making a good intercepting challenge. Soon after Stewart was in again down the right and this time he was more direct cutting into the box then drilling an excellent 20 yard drive across the keeper who parried out; the ball nearly fell to Jennings who following up, but was beaten to it when a hasty defensive clearance was made for a corner. Jarrow's feathers were ruffled now and they conceded three successive corners, one great cross finding Jennings who headed firmly goalwards but this ricocheted off the head of a defender with the keeper beaten. Jarrow dusted themselves down though and now winning more of the ball, showed their first attacking intent after 12 minutes, moving the ball well up the left through Graydon, finding Tate, but the ball was wasted with a speculative effort hit high over the bar. RCA responded winning the ball again in midfield through Moan. Halliday played the ball to Stewart and moving forward quickly he hit a great effort from 25 yards which cleared the bar by inches. Only minutes later Shields got played in down the right and in a good position with the keeper to beat he hit a shot which the keeper easily dealt with. More corners were then wasted by RCA with poor delivery.

Jarrow were generally playing counter attack football and moved the ball well when breaking away on the right with Goodwin breaking clear and his run winning the visitors their first corner on 25 minutes. However after moving more players into the RCA box Jarrow were nearly caught on the counter, when McGuiness received the headed clearance on the left playing a great ball down the line to left winger Joseph who raced clear but pulled his shot a couple of yards wide of the post. On 30 minutes Halliday was booked for RCA and moments later Jarrow's Graydon, in what seemed a more serious tackle, only received a reprimand from the referee. SRCA upped the tempo with Joseph on the right causing major problems, but there was little end product, his best cross being headed over the bar by Jennings. Jarrow however responded with their best chance on 40 minutes when a five man move was completed with a great goal bound effort well saved by Hoggeth in goal. Half-time arrived 0 - 0 and well appreciated by the crowd who applauded the fighting spirit of both teams.

The second half opened like the first as neither side were prepared to give up territory and again it was RCA who had the first attack ending up with a saved shot hit by Joseph and a further corner that was well defended. As the game was becoming even more physical in midfield Hixon made a change in bringing on Scott Richards for Shields on 55 minutes. He immediately made his presence felt and after winning successive challenges was unlucky in playing through an excellent through ball which travelled through to the keeper. The next ten minutes brought most of the action from the referee and the game lost momentum with needless fouls from both sides. After bookings for two Jarrow players, Scott Richards also received a caution on 70 mins. Moments later RCA hit a ball into the box which was handled, however penalty appeals were turned down with a free kick been awarded right on the 18 yard line. Scott Richards drilled this into the wall. On 74 minutes Davidson came on for Jennings and the extra pace immediately livened up the RCA attack and again a flurry of corners were won. The Jarrow keeper was floundering at times and grateful for his defenders assistance in scrambling balls clear. To make matters worse Jarrow were reduced to ten men on 80 minutes, when a defender received his second caution for another dangerous tackle.

The last ten minutes were as lively as the rest of the game with chances end-to-end. Jarrow nearly stole the lead on 82 minutes when the right winger ended a good move by racing into the box and a cross shot eluded the home keeper and glanced off the bar to be cleared. Then the best chance of the game came to RCA on 85 minutes when Stewart raced away up the right, hassled by the last defender, the linesman was flagging for a foul close to the penalty area, but Stewart was given the advantage by the referee and he managed to cross the ball into the area where Joseph racing in and an open goal available, hit the ball with ferocity over the bar. The home supporters, arms already in air, were gobsmacked. Jarrow then ran the clock down and the referee blew. A 0 - 0 game that was very entertaining, but a severe setback to SRCA's promotion hopes. We need Saurday's home game to arrive quickly to get back to winning ways.

Sunderland RCA 4 Darlington RA 2

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skilltraining Northern League

7 March 2009

A very modest attendance today - live FA Cup football on the box and SAFC at home - meant the crowd only numbered about 50 at kick off, very disappointing given that RCA are still in with a promotion chance. Darlington lined up eagerly, having Paul Sammons in the centre of the park (with us last season and winner of our Player of the Season award). RCA captain Halliday won the toss and elected to defend both the slope and one of the strongest winds felt at Meadow Park this season.

Darlington RA kicked off and immediately showed their intentions getting the ball into the RCA box quickly and defenders Jones, Reay and Wardle had to make aerial challenges in getting the ball away and eventually into touch. The approach clearly unnerved the home defence and in the fourth minute the quickest breakthrough made by a visiting side this season came when a long throw was launched into the box by the left back, deceiving the central defenders, was then half cleared to the right side of the penalty spot where number six Michael Carter, with a lot of space, drilled just inside the right hand post. A fantastic start for RA who raced back to the half way line, whilst enquiries were made between the RCA players. No relenting though as RA quickly won the ball again hitting direct balls straight into the box and winning corners in quick succession one of which was headed firmly away by Reay. After ten minutes RCA began to get more of the ball, Stewart making good ground up the right after exchanging passes with Halliday and this resulted in their first effort which was hit wide. RA responded again though, this time the RA right full back hitting a decent long-range effort which was well saved by Hoggeth.

After 20 minutes RCA were winning a lot more possession in particular up the left where Joseph won a free kick outside the box near the by-line. The cross hit in actually beat the keeper, but was then scrambled clear. RA responded on 25 minutes hitting a long ball which again deceived the home defenders and the centre forward raced onto meeting the on rushing keeper, but lifted his effort over the bar. A real awakening and the SRCA management shouted their instructions, the home side lifting the tempo and winning their first corners of the game. RA were struggling to clear their lines now as it was all one way traffic and it was no surprise when the equaliser came on 30 minutes. After good passing between Moan, Halliday and Davison the ball eventually arrived to Richards just outside the box and he drilled an excellent 20 yard effort in off the bar, bouncing over the line, with Halliday following up still pushing in the net again just in case their was any confusion. 1 - 1 and much more like it from RCA.

Darlington RA were completely on the back foot now defending frantically on both wings. Then on 38 minutes the best move of the game again down the right when Stewart played one-twos with Halliday who turned and played the ball into the right side of the box to the feet of Joseph who turned quickly and impressively before curling the ball with his left foot into the top left hand corner. Great goal, 2-1 and RCA in ascendancy. RA were struggling now as the attacking play was unrelenting as RCA won successive free kicks and more corners. However their desperation turned to joy as half time approached, a long clearance found Sammons in midfield who passed the ball to the left finding number 11, Lyons who played a neat one-two and in a great move finished off with aplomb lifting the ball over Hoggeth. 2 -2, then the half time whistle blown - home supporters gob smacked, but it was time to catch your breath again.

Although the wind strength reduced when SRCA kicked off the second half, it was clearly going to be a tough time for RA and a corner was won immediately by RCA on 46 minutes, which was scrambled away. Joseph was asking many questions of the left full back who was left for dead before a great cross was hit into the box finding the onrushing Stewart who possibly should have done better, but headed over with the keeper to beat. For the next ten minutes the ball was kept in the Darlington half, but all moves broke down when reaching the penalty box. McGuinness was hitting good free kicks in, whilst corner after corner was won, Wardle heading over from the best chance.

However the breakthrough was inevitable and Halliday after linking with Stewart on the right, got what his efforts deserved on 75 minutes, breaking into the box and after sidestepping the defender, he hit an early effort which took the slightest of deflections, beating the keeper at his near post. RA responded by winning their first corner soon after, having to adjust their game plan now that they were a goal behind. More space was being found all over the pitch by RCA and Stewart in particular was causing many problems down the right creating further half chances for both Halliday and Davison. Jennings was then brought into the fray on 78 minutes as a substitute for midfielder Moan, as manager Hixon declared his intentions. It was generally one-way traffic from then on. Jennings had three great opportunities in the last ten minutes bringing out a good save from the keeper in a one-on-one situation. It was Davison who benefited most though when following up on one of Jennings efforts to turn the ball into an empty net. 4 - 2 and game over! Lee was brought on for Joseph as RCA controlled the game until the end. A first win in four games hopefully gets us back on track and surely more goals will come in the eagerly awaited cup match at home against Thornaby this Tuesday. Could this be the year when we make history and bring home a Northern League trophy for the first time in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup?

Sunderland RCA 2 Thornaby 1

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Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup - Third Round

10 March 2009

Arriving at the business end of the season now, the management made a number of team changes for tonight's cup game in readiness for a hectic run in, which could see 15 games played in the remaining eight weeks. Wayne Henderson returned to defence, Anth Laidler in midfield, Andy Jennings back starting as centre forward alongside Liam Gill, promoted up from our U21 side to make his debut for SRCA in the Northern League. Manager Neil Hixon also called up forward Lee Andrews (top scorer for our Under 18 youth side) for the first time - he who won a place on the bench, a clear indication that the overall SRCA club development project is progressing upwards.

SRCA kicked off with the slope advantage, but it was Thornaby who were the more lively in the opening exchanges winning more possession and quickly aiming to attack up the flanks. The ball was moved quickly in each half but forwards at both ends were flagged offside which slowed down the game momentum. After ten minutes the home sides first main attack came with Moan playing in Gill who showed excellent touches down the left before turning into the box and finding Laidler; he crossed the ball first time and Jennings racing into volley from eight yards, sliced the ball well wide of the target. Thornaby upped their game and after a period of keeping the ball with some excellent play involving centre forward Fox and left winger Gell, the ball was played to the feet of central midfielder Mohamed Abdullah who from a good 25 yards hit a great curling effort which had keeper Hoggeth racing back to cover. He was relieved that it just cleared the bar. Joseph on the left flank for RCA was now getting into the game a lot more and on two occasions he got past his marker, both times crosses found the head of Jennings who first time was pulled up for a foul on the keeper, but the second bringing a great goal line clearance from the full back who cleared well to concede a corner. RCA were winning many free kicks at this stage of the game the best of which was hit direct from 30 yards by Lee which brought a good save from Pisani in the Thornaby goal.

Thornaby were proving more than capable and again took the match to RCA with number 10, Elstrom Die and Gell again causing many problems when linking with Fox and they were certainly working the home keeper, who had to come out twice in a few minutes to collect very good crosses, hit right on the spot. Jones at right back had to make a number of last-ditch challenges, whilst Wardle and Henderson were having their work cut out in central defence. However their attacking play enabled the home side to counter attack quickly and in the 35th minute, against the run of play RCA took the lead. After the ball was won in midfield it was hit quickly to the feet of Gill who intelligently hit a high ball quickly out to the right wing where in a race between Shields and the left back, it was the attacker who controlled the ball brilliantly enabling him to move into the box, racing on with only the keeper to beat he despatched the ball into the far corner. 1 - 0 to RCA and the cup-tie was really brought to life now as the supporters clapped their appreciation. The game really opened up with Thornaby again taking the game to the opposition, but their final ball was letting down great approach play. If the first goal was harsh on the visitors the second was a real sickner for them when Jennings was played in tight on the left touch line and racing from 40 yards he beat the full back and cut right into the penalty box before racing towards the byeline and with the angle against him he hit a great drive into the opposite corner of the net. 2 - 0 and RCA looking like semi finalists already as the referee blew for half time.

The second half was as entertaining as the first with Thornaby showing quickly that they were still going to go for the tie. In the early stages they pushed more players forward creating many half chances. However the best effort actually came from their right full back, captain Richie Farrell, who hit a cracking effort from distance, which Hoggeth saved well. The direct approach was certainly unsettling the RCA defence who whilst solid in the first half were now mistiming clearances and Thornaby were winning more free kicks and corners. RCA made their first substitution on 60 minutes with Lee Andrews making his debut coming on as a straight swap for Gill.

At the back RCA were still unsettled and on 65 minutes after a period of quiet the game really came to life when a long ball into the home box was headed upwards into the air at high distance. When the ball came down a further clearance was sliced goal wards. When the ball was pushed out again to the edge of the box, No 6. Abdullah hit a great first time volley from 20 yards into the bottom corner of the net. 2 - 1 and game back on.

After a further substitution for RCA on 70 minutes, McGuinness coming on for Joseph, the home side raised the game and again were gaining possession in the opposition half. Jennings and Andrews were working hard trying to get a further goal, but the Thornaby defence stood firm. On 80 minutes though a good move did find the breach and McGuinness played an excellent cross into the centre which Andrews just headed wide, only to be pulled back for a very tight offside. As the clock ran down Thornaby did win a couple of free kicks, one approximately 25 yards from goal, Fox racing in to hit a fierce shot, fortunately for RCA hitting the centre of the wall. The referee blew a few minutes later and after a good entertaining game, it was RCA through to a guaranteed home semi-final tie against Birtley or Brandon. The season is replicating last year when we made a late promotion push, ending up fourth and runners up in the same Cup. If we can go one better in league and cup this year it will be good times indeed!

Crook Town 0 Sunderland RCA 6

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skilltraining Northern League

14 March 2009

A strong, blustery wind blowing down the pitch greeted us at Crook on Saturday, and the alternative attraction of Sunderland v Wigan on the pirate satellite in the clubhouse sounded good to a few of the locals as we prepared to meet Crook in a vital NL game. Hicker made a few changes from the midweek match, with Adsy preferred at left back to Dava Lee, who was on the bench, and Delta and Andy Reay reunited in central defence. Gaz Shields started wide right with Steve Stewart wide left, and AJ and Sparky were up front. The game started with us having the advantage of the wind, but for fifteen or more minutes the home side were in the ascendancy knocking the ball about well, while we struggled to get a rhythm. But we started to gradually get a hold on the game and took the lead in the 18th minute as a free kick floated to the back post and Gaz Shields soared to bounce a hopeful header past a flat-footed keeper, 1-0 and a great start, though Hicker wanted to know if it had just hit him on the back of the head. The goal altered the game completely, as we were lifted and all of a sudden Crook looked flat.

The keeper made a good save from Sparky from an AJ head on, our back four looked untroubled by the Crook forwards, and Scott and Buddy were in charge in midfield. In 25 minutes a super Steve Stewart run and cross was laid back for Scott to strike the post with AJ following up to fire home, 2-0. Better was to follow in the 28th minute when AJ took a quick throw in, Buddy ran onto it perfectly, made the box and dropped the cross on Sparky's head, 3-0 and happy days! Crook got a bit upset at this point and started to try and rattle us, but to no avail. Stewy should have made it four when he ran into the box with only the keeper to beat, only for the keeper to make a good save, and we cruised into the interval, looking very, very comfortable.

No doubt Crook got a good talking to at half time, and to be fair they came out with the wind at their backs and put us under a lot of pressure for ten or fifteen minutes. Hicker took off Adsy to bring on Dava with his better defensive qualities, and did the same to bring Glenn Moan into the action in place of Shieldsy. But we picked up the pace, and Glenn in particular found himself doing at least as much attacking as defending. We made more chances, but the fourth goal didn't come until the 77th minute when Stewy was brought down as he charged into the box. Sparky stepped up and hammered home the penalty, 4-0. Crook were goosed now, their heads dropped, and we were in complete control. In the 83rd minute Buddy, having got his goalscoring fancy back last week, strolled into the box and finished like a veteran striker, and in the 87th minute Sparky finished the rout with a well taken goal for an excellent hat trick. 6-0 away from home at one of the most famous old clubs in the country, well done all round. A great performance, and this season isn't over yet!

Sunderland RCA 1 Norton and Stockton Ancients 1

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skilltraining Northern League

17 March 2009

Surely a Meadow Park record tonight, a visiting supporter (dressed with the Guinness St Patrick's Day top hat) waiting for the turnstile to open at 6.00 PM tonight. He had travelled by public bus from Norton for tonight's eagerly awaited promotion crunch match and was unperturbed that the game kick off was going to be 7:45. Conditions were near perfect as kick off approached and an above average crowd looked on with expectation from the stand. Manager Neil Hixon had to make enforced changes from the Saturday squad that had won convincingly at Crook Town 6-0 (our best ever win at their Millfield home) with both centre backs unavailable. Wardle, failing a fitness test and being replaced by Henderson, whilst Moan took the shirt of Reay, who was also unavailable.

RCA won the toss and defended the slope and Norton were first out of the traps, quickly gaining ground in the RCA half. Winning an early free kick in a dangerous area on the right side of the penalty box, Moan headed away well before Norton were pulled up for an infringement. The visitors were very positive in the early stages moving the ball around swiftly and they nearly opened the scoring after ten minutes when some great interplay allowed number eight, Alan Cossavella, space and he cracked a terrific effort from 20 yards against the RCA cross bar. The home team, that had started slowly in comparison, were brought to life and getting the ball down, they started to get right winger Shields into the game and he created a couple of half chances, Stewart getting on the end of a cross field pass, but drilling an effort well wide of the target. For the next period RCA central midfielders Halliday and Richards were finding little room from their opposite markers.

The sides were tending to hit longer balls, avoiding the midfield area, but playing very intricate passing moves in the final third thus minimising any risk and reducing counter attack opportunities. Both teams were firing good long crosses into the box, McGuinness in particular for RCA finding Jennings and Davison who were well challenged when trying to head towards the target. Both sides won a couple of corners each before the game really came to life in the last five minutes of the half. Stewart hit a great corner that Jennings headed goalward, but was cleared for a further corner. Richards then hit a terrific corner from the opposite side that missed all in the six yard area. End-to-end though as Norton replied winning corners themselves and again they nearly broke the deadlock with crosses hit in identical spots, which Hoggeth in goal dealt with very well. However the best chance of the game fell right on half time when Halliday was played through the centre and he raced into the right side of the penalty box hitting a 20 yard effort diagonally which Briggs in goal for Norton, did well in pushing away for the final corner of the half.

0 - 0 though at half time and a decent game for all and sundry.

It was the home side who really pushed forward in the second half and in the 50th minute McGuinness played in a great 30 yard pass to the chest of Jennings, who flicked the ball over the defender and spun round leaving himself with the keeper to beat, but he hit his effort past the post and into the side netting from ten yards. Norton responded winning further corners which were again gathered well by Hoggeth who was looking very assured in goal. After the hour mark it was RCA who were looking the more likely and Stewart broke away twice before being brought down when breaching the visitors midfield. The referee Terry Phillips had kept good control of the game and had long conversations with the fouling culprits. Manager Hixon then made a decisive change when taking off Shields on the right flank moving Stewart to that area and bringing on Joseph down the left on 70 minutes.

Minutes later RCA showed greater desire and after an attack down the right the ball was switched to the left, where Joseph raced into the box beating the left back who brought the attacker down; an obvious penalty and the referee had no hesitation blowing the whistle. Davison stepped up and calmly slotted home. 1 - 0 to RCA and loud cheers from the home supporters! However Norton pushed on immediately and successive throw-ins were conceded after good challenges by Stewart and Jones near the half way line. A moment's lapse in concentration allowed the left winger to make ground and he hit a great cross to the far post where Joseph racing back, headed out but right at the spot where centre forward Michael Dunwell was waiting and he despatched a terrific volley straight into the bottom corner of the net. 1 - 1.

The last ten minutes were very open and RCA pushed on knowing a point would not really help the promotion challenge and Halliday, Richards and Jennings all had half chances. Norton responded again and the centre forward also had a great chance when put through, but that was wasted. With time running out McGuinness again launched a long cross into the box, Davison beat the keeper in the aerial challenge, but the ball went over the bar before the referee blew to conclude the game.

Sunderland RCA 2 Washington 0

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skilltraining Northern League

21 March 2009

Manager Neil Hixon faced selection problems for the second time in a week with three central defenders unavailable for today's match against Washington. Wardle and Reay, who missed the match against Norton, were out again and they were joined by Wayne Henderson who failed an early fitness test. Glenn Moan kept his place at the back and his brother Neil was drafted in to make his first start in a few months, alongside him. David Lee replaced Adam McGuinness at left back and Anth Laidler was brought into central midfield for Scott Richards. Manager Hixon again had no hesitation in looking to the Youth squads to boost numbers and Liam Gill from our Under 21 side was added to the squad again, whilst defender Marc Moon was called in for the first time from SRCA U18s

Washington won the toss and although defending the slope they quickly showed attacking intent and took the game to RCA. The approach appeared to surprise the home team who had to defend well in the early stages. In fact, ten minutes had passed before RCA made their first approach into the opposition box with Davison finding Shields on the right who hit an excellent cross to the back post from which Stewart got an effort on goal and won a corner. However the visitors were unruffled and again were running the ball to make progress, with former RCA winger Andy Middleton moving well, dribbling forward from the half way line only to see moves break down at the edge of the box. A couple of free kicks won in decent positions were generally wasted with poor delivery. After 25 minutes some very good midfield play allowed Halliday to play in Jennings who after beating the offside trap found the referee blowing for an infringement against a Washington player when he could have allowed the advantage.

Washington controlled the next period of play with their number 11 picking up the ball after a good move, but on breaking into the box he pulled his effort across the face of the goal. RCA upped the ante though and after their best period it was no surprise when the breakthrough was made and what an excellent goal it was. After a couple of passes were made in central midfield the ball was played to Davison in the centre circle and he hit a great through ball to the advancing Jennings who, moving towards goal, played a brilliant reverse sweeping pass to Stewart who had ran behind him. Stewart, disguising to hit with his left foot to get both defender and goalkeeper changing direction, moved the ball to his right side to hit a cracking 25 yarder which the keeper could do nothing with. 1 - 0! Much more like it now and before celebrations had quietened RCA were in again when Stewart moving down the left got near the corner flag, but on losing the ball, the defender then bounced it back to him allowing only a couple of yards of space and the winger took advantage, hitting a great early ball with his left foot into the six yard area where Jennings had raced to the front post glancing the finest of headers which hit the inside of the back post and nestled in the net. 2 - 0 and looking good! All the home side now with Jennings having the ball in the net again from a corner yet again the referee unbelievably disallowed for pushing by Stewart who if anything was being held by the defender and at least eight yards away from Jennings who was totally in the clear when rising high in the air, but this was disallowed. Two further chances came RCA's way and in a near replication of the first goal, Stewart crossed in and in the same spot Jennings headed the ball, but this time it went a foot wide of the back post. Shields got in down the right moments after, hitting a great cross in to Davison who headed just over the bar. Great chances gone begging, but definitely looking more like it from RCA.

Whilst it was backs to the wall for Washington in the last 15 minutes of the half they certainly shrugged it off quickly and started the second half at a very fast pace. All RCA defenders were brought into action and the Moan brothers were doing well in central defence with clearing headers on successive occasions. Washington central midfielder Jamie Elrington began to move the ball quickly forward receiving balls back to feet quickly from no 12 Ray Oshin. On a couple of occasions the same player broke into the box, but weak attempts were fired at goal. Although a couple of corners and free kicks were conceded by the home side Hoggeth in goal was very commanding and grabbing well in the air on all occasions. After another Washington attack was broken down after an interception by full back Jones, Halliday and Laidler linked to get the ball forward, but Shields and Davison could not break down a resolute Washington line. However for all their endeavour Washington began to run out of ideas and good play was not rewarded with a final good finish. SRCA brought on Michael Coghlan as a replacement for Davison on 80 minutes to bolster the midfield, Sean Joseph came on for Steven Stewart and Marc Moon was brought on to make his debut a few minutes later replacing Shields. The clock ran down with Hoggeth called into action in the 90th minute, collecting a decent long range effort. Final score: 2 - 0 and another 3 points collected. SRCA are certainly on course to beat last year's effort of gathering 70 points. While we are certainly promotion chance outsiders we are by no means out of the race yet!

Whitehaven Amateurs 5 Sunderland RCA 3

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skilltraining Northern League

24 March 2009

Supporters, players and committee gathered at 3.30pm on Tuesday showing enthusiasm for the historic midweek journey to Whitehaven. No spare capacity on the buses, so Will Frater keen RCA supporter and season ticket holder had good foresight in turning down the offer of a possible lift and making his own way on the train (maybe he knew something we did not. The early departure caused disruption to the manager's squad plans as a couple of players could not get out of work on time. A squad of 16 travelled, including Liam Gill from the U21 team with Marc Moon and Anthony Ashman from our U18s.

Neil Hixon had plenty of time to consider his options and without three main central defenders again, decided to hand the team sheet in showing four changes from Saturday's line up. Steve Jones was swapped to central defence, Gary Shields moving to right back from midfield and Glenn Moan moving to central midfield. Adam McGuiness reverted to left back with Sean Joseph in front of him on the left side. Whitehaven kicked off appearing to sense the squad changes and attacked at a ferocious pace. Winning possession immediately down the left the ball was crossed to where McGuinness cleared for a throw in, level with the edge of the box. The ball was quickly knocked back to the left wing to David Dustin where the attacker beat the offside trap, knocked the ball to the back post where Robert Fowler for Whitehaven raced in to easily slot home. SRCA one down after two minutes. Definitely unsettling and there was no relenting in the early stages. Losing possession again the home side were clearly up for it and moving the ball again quickly down the left they won a free kick, then consecutive throw ins. After some neat passing the ball arrived to the feet of David Dunstin and he pushed forward with plenty of defenders in front of him. Moving down the wing on an inside left position he beat the first defender before cutting inside. Showing real skill now he beat another defender moving into centre and when a pass looked the best option he hit a terrific 25 yarder, which flew in along the wet surface past Hoggeth's right hand giving him no chance. 2 - 0 down and barely six minutes on the clock. SRCA clearly in for a long night. The pattern of play did not change much in the first 20 minutes as RCA could not settle down and Whitehaven were not changing their game plan of hitting the ball from anywhere in their own half to the pacey wing forwards. However when the visitors did settle down it was much more like it.

Joseph on the left began beating his markers on every occasion, but was pulled down (not with malicious fouls but clumsy challenges). Stewart out wide started to play very well down the right. One direction now with RCA winning corners and free kicks consistently. Davison and Jennings were dominating in the air from crosses, Glenn Moan and Anth Laidler were winning second balls in midfield …surely a goal was on its way. When Joseph was pulled down again on the left, time for the referee to have words with the culprit. No. Whitehaven broke away down the left again full back Shields did commit a bad foul first one and booked. Good times indeed!

However no stopping our forward momentum. A goal had to come and it did. Winning a corner again the home defenders made three blocks before the ball landed at the feet of Davison who did well in keeping the ball down and fired through a massive cluster of players into the net. 1 - 2 and back in it at last. Full steam ahead and Whitehaven definitely backs to the wall. Wave after wave of attacks before the key moment of the game on 43 minutes. The ball played down the right to Stewart who beat his man before moving the ball to Davison in the box. Taking the ball down on his chest he turned onto his left foot hitting a decent effort that the keeper palmed out to the feet of Laidler who gleefully hit home. 2 - 2 and real celebrations! No, a linesman has seen an infringement and unbelievably it's offside. Whitehaven taking advantage of the chaos moved the ball quickly down the left which number 9 Craig Robson sprinted on to. Running close to the bye line and into the box he hit a tremendous shot into the bottom corner of the net. Great goal and louder celebrations than before. The referee blew for half-time and SRCA players and supporters were shell shocked. 3 - 1 down was very hard to take.

The second half kicked off with Hixon making a tactical change for RCA switching Jones back to right back, Glenn Moan back to central defence and Mick Coghlan coming into the centre of midfield. If RCA were lively in the latter part of the second half then they really upped the ante know and Whitehaven set their stall out to defend the lead. The good surface suited RCA's style and some slick passing and movement even had coach George Herd applauding from the sidelines. Both wingers were getting used, but unfortunately the forwards could not get close enough on goal to make the efforts count. But after the hour a fantastic swift move involving seven players, Jones moving the ball quickly to Stewart, switching inwards finding Moan, then Coghlan, Laidler involved before the ball was switched to the left where Joseph racing forward hit a fantastic cross into the box where Jennings racing in at the penalty spot position rifled a header into the roof of the net: Goal of the Month and possibly a contender for Goal of the Season. Even the Whitehaven supporters applauded. 3 - 2 to the home side and game on. Real one way traffic now and RCA piled bodies forward in search of the equaliser.

Whitehaven were on the ropes and defending numerous corners. However it was only a matter of time and after 75 minutes RCA drew level again ... No! A cross was fired into the box and Jennings spotting the keeper off his line headed firmly from distance, the keeper racing back grabbed the ball which looked well over the line, he spun to push the ball back onto the goal-line as he landed and at this point, RCA celebrated, the referee looked at his linesman …again…. No …Linesman unbelievably did not flag for the goal. The match reporter who was one yard from the linesman's position was shell shocked……and still is. However no feeling sorry for ourselves as the attacking play continued and got its just rewards minutes later. Another corner was won on the right and Joseph hit in a great curler to the back post where McGuinness got up well to head home. 3 - 3 and real celebrations now, better than all previous! Only one winner now surely? No! Whitehaven were re-ignited and they now threw men forward quickly. In one of their few attacks of the half they also won a corner on the right and when this was hit to the front post Karl McGrady met with a firm header that flew into the net. 4 - 3 to the home side…..and you can imagine the scene. Minutes left and RCA again chasing an equaliser were caught again on the break and the home side won another corner on the right. Hit in to the same area, this time it was met with a half volley by Kevin Law. 5 - 3. What can you say! For the neutral a great game. For RCA a real dent to our promotion hopes. Life's tough!

Brandon United 1 Sunderland RCA 5

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skilltraining Northern League

28 March 2009

A cold and windy day on top of the hill at Brandon, for what promised to be a real tough game against the current form team in the division.

After Tuesday night's defeat at Whitehaven, Hicker made a few changes with Andy Reay returning at centre half, Steve Jones reverting to right back, Mark McLeod returning from university and gaining a midfield spot in the continuing absence of Scott Richards, and Buddy coming back into the side as captain. Glenn Moan, Gaz Shields and Anth Laidler had to be content with a spot on the bench, alongside Micky Coghlan, and young striker Liam Gill.

We had the advantage of the strong wind in the first half, and it looked like we would need to make full use of it. We started brightly, pushing hard and pressing the young Brandon keeper, whose kicking was not able to handle the wind at all. Brandon looked sharp on the occasional break with leading scorer Dixon, Foley Shekoni and Billy Greulich Smith all looking dangerous for our hosts. The pressure told in the 18th minute however as Sean - Taz - Joseph scored direct from a free kick which the keeper could only parry into the roof of the net. The pattern of the half was set now, with Brandon hoping to hold out until it was their turn to enjoy the breeze and RCA pushing hard, having a succession of corners and hoping to build a good lead.

Brandon held until the 35th minute when Steve Stewart got his head to a corner which had bounced at least twice - Brandon were not happy with the defending, or the keeper - and made it 2-0 from a yard out. And three minutes later it was 3-0 as Sparky Davison drove a powerful shot off all parts of the woodwork as the keeper was left helpless. It should have been four a few minutes on, when AJ had yet another goal disallowed for a dubious off side, at least the tenth this season.

3-0 at HT.

Would it be enough? It certainly seemed so as the second half opened with RCA much better into the wind than Brandon had been, looking confident, holding the ball well and using both wingers to great effect to carry the ball forward. Andy should have increased the lead with a couple of good chances in the first five minutes of the half, created by good passing and crosses, before Shekoni showed Brandon could still trouble us as he netted only for it to be ruled out, rightly, for an earlier infringement. And on 64 minutes that was it, as AJ made amends for his earlier misses, cracking home a fierce shot after his header had come back off the post and Steve Stewart, who was excellent all day, put the resulting cross back into the danger zone.

After 74 minutes Brandon got a penalty which Hoggy could have saved with his cap as a poor effort barely reached his goal line, then in 81 minutes Sparky got his second, and probably the goal of the game, as he screamed home a super volley from 15 yards. A late Billy Greulich Smith goal - what a cracking name - gave Brandon a little consolation, but the 5-1 final scoreline was no more than we deserved for a super performance, particularly in the second half into the wind, when our control, passing and movement was a joy to watch. The season is still alive!


Stokesley SC 3 Sunderland RCA 3

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skilltraining Northern League

1 April 2009

Another funny old night on our travels in North Yorkshire, as RCA took their goal scoring in our last four away games to an astonishing 17; astonishing because we have won only two of those games! Hicker had to make a couple of changes again as the problems of mid-week cropped up. Glenn Moan came into right back for the missing Steve Jones, and Paul Wardle returned after injury to replace Andy Reay, also unavailable. Neil Moan and Adsy McGuiness made up the back four, with the rest of the team unchanged.

The game kicked off in perfect conditions and RCA were immediately all over Stokesley with both wingers seeing the ball early and chances being created from the off. So it came as something of a surprise when Stokesley won a free kick on half way in the eleventh minute, about as far forward as they had been in the game so far, knocked it into the box for an unmarked forward to head home. We appealed for offside but in vain, 1 - 0. We pushed forward again, won a couple of corners from which Andy headed over, then in the 14th minute they wandered down our end again and made it 2 - 0 from their second attack. They looked nearly as surprised as we were.

Was this going to be Whitehaven again? We were shocked and Stokesley were lifted, and had their best spell of the game with decent possession in midfield. But we re-asserted, pushed on and started to dominate again around the half hour. A series of chances and corners were created, Adsy had a great shot from distance saved, Andy, who looked very lively, fired just wide and just over, the keeper pushed a couple round for corners, which came to nothing, both wingers had the beating of their men all day, until in the 30th minute AJ forced another save, the corner came over and the big fella made no mistake with the header, 2 - 1 and game on. The next quarter was all us but we could not force the equaliser, 2 - 1 at the break, a travesty in terms of the balance of play and chances, but no good moaning, a lot still to do.

The second half started as the first had ended and it looked impossible for Stokesley to hold out for long. After 54 minutes the chance came as Stewy played AJ in. He took it wide as the keeper came out and slotted past for a cool strike and his second of the game, 2 - 2. At this point, completely on top and 35 minutes to play, RCA looked certain to take the points, until two minutes later, and with their first attack of the half, Stokesley regained the lead as their striker ran onto a long ball, took the central defenders on for pace, and lifted the ball past Hoggy as he came out. A very good finish, but the scoreline was unbelievable! 3 - 2 and the locals jubilant. Stokesley then set up camp on the edge of their box, although to be fair, the quick lad up front always looked to get onto any chance to run at us and lift the siege and was a good outlet for his team. He probably thought he was going to get a hat trick. We battered away, but the fluency had gone a little now, although the chances still came every couple of minutes. Andy hit the post when he looked certain to score, Taz blasted wide from a good opportunity, and Sparky likewise from a good cross to the near post, but Stokesley stayed calm and battled away. It got a bit fractious in midfield with even Buddy squaring up to people as they tried to niggle and slow it down at every opportunity.

Hicker introduced Micky Coghlan into midfield and sacrificed a winger by withdrawing Stewy. Not everyone on the RCA line agreed with this move, but the manager was proved right and me wrong again as Micky saved the point in the last minute with a brilliant goal, picking up in midfield, exchanging passes as he ran into the box, beating his man and pushing past the keeper, a finish of a player of the highest class, and a sign of what he could bring to the team if he seizes his opportunities. A fantastic goal to end the game, a six goal thriller, but points dropped against a side not as good as the Crook or Brandon teams we have murdered on our travels recently. It's a funny game! Still alive!

Sunderland RCA 3 Whickham 0

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skilltraining Northern League

4 April 2009

A very dry hard pitch, mixed with a blustery wind meant that conditions were far from ideal at Meadow Park for today's must win game against Whickham. Having lost the toss RCA kicked off with wind and slope advantage, winning an immediate free kick on the half way line, centre half Wardle fired into the box and Jennings put the defence under early pressure winning a corner. Shields crossed in an excellent delivery, which found Henderson who was unlucky when heading just over the bar.

A very bright start by RCA continued with attacks down both flanks with Shields creating half chances for Jennings and Davison before Joseph on the left also found room coming in at the back post; he beat the full back but screwed his shot wide of the when a cross shot may have been the best option. Whickham were looking nervous in the early exchanges moving the ball long at all opportunities. However after 15 minutes they did get the ball down well through captain Cavanagh who played in his right-winger resulting in a first corner win which was well gathered by Hoggeth. RCA then began to increase the pace. Halliday and McLeod in central midfield, playing some good football, were finding the forwards quickly and after 25 minutes RCA won three successive corners. Shields was delivering well, but each time the central defenders made good headed clearances. After the third corner the ball was half cleared to the edge of the box and when launched back in, Davison rose well but headed over from eight yards.

The strong wind was making it difficult for the visitors to make any headway whilst RCA players found the ball running away from forwards, meaning the Whickham goalkeeper was being overworked in taking goal kicks, but not having to make any real saves. A scrappy period was livened when Jones intercepted one of Whickham's few attacks and when the ball was hit long from a wide position Halliday brought the ball down well and played in Joseph inside the penalty area who spun to fire in a good early shot which the keeper was relieved to see travel wide. There was frantic defending by the visitors in the final period before half-time, but RCA could not find a way through and when the referee blew to conclude the half the Whickham defenders shouted encouragement to one another for a defending job well executed, whilst RCA forwards looked on at what might have been. 0 - 0 at half time and RCA with it all to do.

The second half kicked off with Whickham pushing forward more but it was RCA who created the first attack when McGuinness won the ball on the left and switching it to midfield play was switched to the right where Shields ran free and, after getting behind the defence, he raced into the box but over hit his cross which cleared all and ran out of play.

RCA were upping the pace now and on 60 minutes a real chance was created when, after good midfield play between McLeod and Halliday, a through ball split the defence and Jennings beating the offside trap raced on. When pulling the trigger at the edge of the box he was fouled by a last ditch challenge. The referee immediately blew for the free kick then raced to his linesman for a long discussion. On return no card and a free kick only, right on the edge of the box.

Davison hit the resulting free kick with great venom past the wall, the keeper saved spectacularly and did well to keep out at all, but the ball rebounded to McLeod who following in poked home. 1 - 0 and the breakthrough at last.

The visitors were rattled now and minutes later things got a lot better for RCA when a great ball up the left found Joseph who raced past the covering right back and on breaking into the box drilled a terrific 20 yard cross shot past the keeper and just inside the far post. Real celebrations now by the home supporters with Whickham hit with a double whammy!

Whickham really pushed forward now with one long ball nearly deceiving Hoggeth and then their good play nearly resulted in a goal on 75 minutes. After a free kick was won 25 yards out Cavanagh hit a brilliant effort round the wall and Hoggeth was relieved when it hit the outside of the post. Coghlan was introduced by the RCA management as a replacement for Joseph on 80 minutes. The home side pushed forward now and Jennings was on the end of two successive crosses from the left diving to head one that was saved and one just wide. On 85 minutes this good attacking play ensured the game was sown up. After Shields won a free kick on the right McLeod hit a great cross into the box, which fell to the feet of Davison who fired home, to get the rewards that his efforts had fully deserved. 3 - 0 and game over. The referee blew a few minutes later to conclude a match that RCA easily deserved to win and another three points on the board. The promotion challenge is still not all over!

Marske United 2 Sunderland RCA 2

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skilltraining Northern League

8 April 2009

This was another of those games which we needed to win, should have won, but didn't.

RCA came under a lot of pressure from a lively Norton in the first ten minutes of this match, but on our first attack we won a corner and scored from it. Sean Joseph swung it and Scott Richards was on hand to tap it in at the near post. That goal was a real tonic for we were then on top. Andy Jennings hit the post on thirty minutes and Mark Davison hit over from a good position. We went in 1 - 0 up at half time.

Four minutes after the beak Norton equalized. RCA cleared the ball from a corner, but the Marske number 10 hit a good shot from distance. RCA took the lead again when Andy Jennings headed in from a free kick. On 83 minutes Marske equalized again. A long ball was hit up field and unfortunately Delta missed his back header and the Marske centre forward ran through to lob the ball over the advancing keeper.

Jarrow Roofing 0 Sunderland RCA 4

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skilltraining Northern League

11 April 2009

Sunderland RCA took the field knowing that nothing less than victory could keep us in the hunt for a promotion place and that goals scored could be important. RCA keeper Gary Hoggeth was returning to his old club and Jarrow had two ex-RCA men in their side, Matty Hysen playing number nine up front and Dean Goodwin in central midfield.

Both sides made a lively start. On two minutes Gary Hoggeth released Sean - Taz - Joseph down the RCA left. Taz hit a very good ball to Andy Jennings, whose shot was blocked. The game was even-stevens with both sides attacking, although RCA were not pleased by the number of times they were giving the ball away. On 11 minutes Adam McGuinness, who has taken to the left back position very well, hit a great ball to Scott Richards who crossed to Andy Jennings, who hit a good shot.

On 17 minutes it looked as though the Roofers would take the lead. Gary Hoggeth came out of his area and lost the ball to Matty Hysen whose shot went over the cross bar for a let off for RCA.

On 30 minutes the RCA keeper was shouting for the ball again, but was always second favourite as he came out of the penalty area, this time bringing down a Jarrow player, who needed treatment, and getting a yellow card for his trouble. The free kick was hit hard and low and was gathered by Gary who hit a long ball down field which was quickly latched onto by Northern League Division 2 leading scorer Mark Davison who lashed it past the keeper to give RCA the lead - a bit of a sickner for the hosts.

Towards the end of the first half it was clear that Taz was struggling with an injury and Steven Stewart warmed up. After Andy Jennings was through on goal, but placed his shot across the keeper and wide of his post, he was called on to swap with Sean to cover the left hand side and see out the half.

In the second half Steven Stewart came on as a replacement for Sean Joseph. Immediately opening scorer Mark Davison was looking lively with a strong shot from the outside the area going past the post. On 50 minutes a good move down the right saw Gary Shields' cross cleared for a corner. Three minutes later Andy Jennings saw his header cleared off the line as he beat the keeper. Jarrow were attacking too and their pressure led to a long range shot clearing the crossbar. On 58 minutes there was another strong run from Mark Davison, who should perhaps have tried to play Andy Jennings in. Two minutes later AJ hit the bar with a header. It only took another two minutes for RCA to deservedly increase their lead, with the old Chester pairing doing the business: Gary Shields crossed from the right and Steven Stewart shot across the keeper. Three minutes later and Steven Stewart was in again placing his shot out of the Jarrow keeper's reach into the right corner.

On 65 minutes manager Neil Hixon took Gary Shields off and put Michael Coghlan on in central midfield with Mark McLeod moving to the right. On 72 minutes Glenn Moan came on for Paul Wardle, who had twisted his knee. (He should be OK for Tuesday.)

On 86 minutes Andy Jennings got his just rewards when running through and outpacing the Roofers' defence he hit the ball strongly past the keeper to make it 4 - 0 to RCA.

A job well done, but it was not long after people had gathered in the club house that the news came through that Horden had won 1 - 0 with a goal in the last minute. That's football!

Sunderland RCA 1 Whitehaven Amateurs 0

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skilltraining Northern League

14 April 2009

A miserable dark night night at Meadow Park as the incoming fog shrouded the ground in a Faustian gloom, only partly pierced by the flickering floodlights. RCA had Jon Minniss returning to the fold in place of the injured Gary Hoggeth in goal, and with Scott Richards and Steve Halliday as the preferred pairing in midfield.

The game started brightly with RCA playing up the slope, and chances were created almost immediately with Andy Jennings in the thick of the goal mouth action as he was to be all night. Our visit to Whitehaven a few weeks ago was an eight goal thriller and it had all the makings in the first ten tonight of being the same; Whitehaven were prepared to run down the bank whenever they could and looked quick up front, but with Gary Shields in particular looking sharp out wide the RCA strikeforce were seeing plenty of the ball in good positions. AJ had his usual one disallowed after 10 minutes for offside, knocked a great chance past the post with his head, turned superbly to fire straight at the keeper, Shieldsy missed a great chance at the back post when he delayed and Mark Davison was running well onto wide balls to look dangerous all night. Scott Richards had a couple of efforts and it was no surprise therefore when we finally took the lead after 35 minutes with a simple back post header from Andy Jennings from a raking free kick out wide left. The pattern continued the same, but no more goals followed and at the break it was 1- 0, with the slope to use in the second half, and surely more goals to come.

As often however, it was not that simple, as Whitehaven came out strong for the start of the second half and for 15 minutes were the better side, although without creating many real chances. RCA gradually got back on top, the game settled into a one of relentless pressure on the Cumbrian goal, and how it stayed 1- 0 is a mystery. Sparky hit the bar with a header, AJ fired across the face of the goal, not once but twice, Delta blasted a shot in from the edge of the box, chances came at about one minute intervals with all involved, the keeper made some good saves and rode his luck as well and the ball would not cross the line. This gave Whitehaven heart as the game went into the last ten and they had a couple of good breaks, although even so AJ could have had a hat trick in injury time as chances continued to be spurned with gay abandon. The whistle went on another win, the ref told a moaning Whitehaven player they were lucky it hadn't finished 8 - 0, and the chase goes on. Still alive!

Sunderland RCA 3 Team Northumbria 2

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skilltraining Northern League

18 April 2009

A tough game was in prospect at Meadow Park as the much-improved Team Northumbria came to visit Meadow Park.

Hoggy was still out so Jon Minniss continued in goal. Andy Reay came in to replace the injured Wayne Henderson, but otherwise it was the same team as we attempted to keep our good run going and our promotion hopes alive. It was a decent day and the game started brightly with both sides moving the ball quickly as RCA faced up the slope for the first period.

A colour clash meant RCA were playing in a quite revolting combination of kit with claret and blue tops, black shorts and red socks; it looked even worse than it sounds!

The Team North right winger was immediately lively and looking to take on Adsy at every opportunity, but the first decent chance fell to Buddy whose shot was saved by the keeper after good team work had put him in on the edge of the box. But after fifteen minutes it was Team North who took the lead when a long ball wide into the box was met by their striker, who hooked over Jon Minniss has he charged out. Maybe a little misjudgement from the keeper, but a well-taken goal. Jon didn't let it upset him and for the rest of the game his handling was impeccable. But RCA were rattled by the goal and got themselves agitated, whinging about decisions and allowing Team North to dictate the pace of play. After 21 minutes it could have got worse as the visitors hooked another good opportunity over the bar. RCA finally began to settle and Andy Jennings headed wide from a good cross, and a period of pressure lead to a handball shout in the box, which only the ref didn't see. But Team North had another good chance just on the break and still lead at the interval, 1-0.

Hicker had obviously had words because RCA meant business on the restart and within a minute were level as AJ turned and finished smartly. We continued on top and after 55 minutes it looked like the game had decisively turned our way as Mark Davison converted a clear penalty, 2 - 1 to RCA. A few minutes later Sparky should have put the game away when AJ created a great chance for him, but the keeper blocked. Team North, to their credit, battled away and always looked dangerous as the game swung from end to end. A quite beautiful move from RCA deserved a goal as half a dozen players were involved in a passing move down the right that ended with Gary Shields crossing from the goal line and the keeper saving from AJ. Andy also had a couple of decent half chances getting onto long balls and then after 70 minutes the game was levelled as an Andy Reay challenge in the box led to a TN penalty, which was crisply converted to make it 2 - 2.

Was this going to be the end of the road for the RCA promotion chase? No, because a couple of minutes later up pops Gary Shields to coolly finish a good move and we are back in front, 3 - 2. Hicker made a couple of subs as the game wound down, Team North looked like they had used their last efforts and the game was closed out, 3 - 2 and just, just, still alive!

Sunderland RCA 3 Brandon United 0

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Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup - Semi Final

21 April 2009

It was semi final time again at Meadow Park tonight for the second successive year, in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup. A bit like public buses you wait 27 years for one then two come in quick succession. There was a good atmosphere beforehand, with a lively contingent of visiting Brandon supporters helping set the stage. In fact approaching kick off time there were over 130 in attendance; not massive by any means, but enough to give a proper feel of what non-league football is all about. There were team selection problems for the SRCA management, with midfielders Stewart and Halliday unavailable, together with central defender Reay. Neil Hixon though, as with other matches this season, had no hesitation in making benefit of the club's good youth policy by adding Liam Gill and Lee Andrews to the squad from the U21 and U18 set ups.

In winning the toss, RCA captain Wardle surprisingly elected to take the half with slope advantage but only marginal wind at the home sides backs. Clearly the intention was to get at the visitors early and RCA were quickly on the attack and within minutes Andy Jennings did have the ball in the net, but the referee pulled the forward up for reversing into a Brandon defender. However the momentum had started and Brandon defenders were being tested early. After Jennings was fouled a couple of yards outside the penalty area, Davison stepped up to hit a ferocious direct free kick at the target which Brandon keeper Robert Joyce palmed firmly and confidently away for a corner. RCA were being very direct in the early stages with free kicks and corners won and half chances headed wide by both central forwards. However after the first quarter Brandon started to show good momentum with right full back Liam Bramley winning possession and linking well with Matty Hornsby, then Paul Dixon to make headway into the RCA box. At times the visiting side's football was a joy to watch with many successive passes as the visitors aimed to control the midfield area. Whilst enjoying the bulk of possession however the final pass was not finding forwards and RCA broke away twice to make direct attacks on the Brandon goal. Richards and Shields both created half chances, which were scrambled clear for corners. From one of the corners centre half Wardle could have done better when rising in the box unmarked he met the ball well but headed at least a yard over the bar. McGuiness also got on the end of another but glanced the ball wide.

Brandon captain Heslop was doing a very good job in playing a defensive midfield role resulting again in controlled possession by the Brandon side, who were keeping to their game plan of swift movement and passing, with the full backs on both flanks pressing more. Good opportunities in attack were wasted when any advancing forwards did not meet crosses fired in. Jones and Henderson at the back for RCA had to work overtime with some excellent defending. However the visitors had to re-organise when wide player Ian Pritchard had to be replaced having twisted his knee. After the substitution Brandon had to re-organise and after the half hour RCA increased momentum and winning possession at will a lot of crosses were fired into the box. On 35 minutes the breakthrough came when a corner on the right was fired into the front post where Jennings challenged well and although getting the slightest of touches a Brandon defender turned the ball into the net. 1 - 0 and RCA on their way! Not a great goal but massive relief now for home supporters who cheered loudly. Much more like it now and SRCA were pressing at all opportunities. Only minutes to go before half time and Brandon were defending admirably, however when good play freed Jennings in the box he held the ball well, turned out to the left and after sidestepping one defender he went wide again, feigned to shoot, wrong footing all and sundry, including the crowd, he pulled the ball back for his strike partner Davison who put the ball into the empty net, one of his easiest chances of the season. 2 - 0 and very hard on Brandon right on half time.

It was time now for RCA to reshape in the interval with Wardle unable to continue after pulling his hamstring and Glenn Moan eagerly entering the fray. Brandon really attacked now and wave after wave of attacks were met with a resilient home guard. Possibly the key moment of the game came on 60 minutes when two good chances were made for their forwards Fothergill and Dixon and the stop of the match by Hoggeth in the RCA goal when he saved at point blank range, forcing the ball away from six yards. A totally different game could gave been on offer if a breakthrough could have been made, but Brandon would live to regret the wasted chances. On 70 minutes Jennings, who was having an exceptional game, caused problems up front and racing with the ball he moved towards goal and again beating defenders with great ball control, he got into the box and at the point of pulling the trigger a last ditch challenge brought the forward down. Immediately the referee blew the whistle for the penalty. Davison stepped up with confidence and fired into the corner. 3 - 0 and Brandon definitely with it all to do. Hixon made further changes replacing Joseph with Coghlan and then Shields with Laidler, as RCA attempted to close the game down. Brandon to their credit went right until the end and if any player deserved something from the game it was their right back, Bramley, who worked and overlapped until the end crossing in twice from wide right only to see one chance hit over the bar from close range and one deceiving all in the box.

The referee finally blew and celebrations from the both sets of supporters who applauded what was a very competitive match and a proper advert for Northern League football. Another season drawing to a close and it is most likely that the final league placing will be fourth for RCA - the same as last, but our equal best position in 20 years.

Also as losing finalists in this same competition last year can we go one better and finally win some Northern League silverware? The final is at Chester-le-Street Wednesday, 6 May, kick off 7:00 PM. Let's hope supporters get behind the team like tonight. It's very good times and some great football at Meadow Park. Let's all savour the moment! The match reporter most certainly is; it might be time for a new role - this job was made for me!

Sunderland RCA 2 Stokesley 1

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skilltraining Northern League

25 April 2009

It was the last throw of the dice today at Meadow Park, as RCA fought to keep their slim promotion hopes alive, against a Stokelsey team that dented them considerably when they held us to a 3 - 3 draw at their place a couple of weeks ago. It was a strong RCA team that took the field, with Mick Coghlan in midfield for the delayed Scott Richards.

RCA started like a house on fire down the bank and had three good chances in the first few minutes as Steve Jones pushed forward and joined the attack and had a shot pushed wide for a corner, from which the keeper made a point blank save from a Mark Davison volley and Andy Jennings headed over the bar. Things settled and Stokesley got a foothold in the game, playing the ball about nicely and causing a few problems.

The game became a bit scrappy as the half wore on, with Stokesley holding the ball well when they could and RCA looking dangerous when they got the ball forward. AJ headed over and was beaten by the keeper to a long ball, Taz curled one past the post, before Gary Shields, who looked very lively, dropped one onto Andy's head for him to give us the lead on 39 minutes. That looked like being the half time, but with a minute left of the half Stokelsey broke for Dale Mendhum to bring them level, 1 - 1 at HT.

Stokesley fancied their chances playing down the bank in the second half and started strongly, but RCA play better football up the bank than down it nowadays and had a couple of good chances themselves. Sparky put a header past the post and a shot into the side netting, but Stokesley had a great chance to take the lead which Hoggy saved. Then up popped Steve Jones, having one of his most adventurous games to side foot home from eight yards and put us back in front, 2 - 1 on 62 minutes. Stokesley huffed and puffed, Taz hit the bar, but the game looked over and so it proved as we wound down the clock to win the game as needed, only to find Horden had tonked Crook, and that was that for another year.

2009-04-27 - Birtley Town 2 Sunderland RCA 1

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skilltraining Northern League

27 April 2009

With Horden securing their promotion and settling the race for the promotion places, manager Neil Hixon made changes of personnel and formation for this last league of the 2008/09 campaign against The Hoops on a damp evening at Birtley Sports Complex. Steven Stewart, Liam Gill and Mark Davidson were up front in a 4-3-3 formation, with Anth Laidler, Michael Coghlan and Scott Richards in the middle and Adam McGuinness, Wayne Henderson, Glenn Moan and Steve Jones at the back. Gary Hoggeth was the between the sticks.

Birtley kicked off but it was RCA who made the sharpest start as Scott Richards won the ball straight away. On four minutes Steven Stewart put a cross into Liam Gill but his header towards goal was from an offside position. Birtley too were looking sharp and when Adam McGuinness gave the ball away they made a good break, but the cross in was wasted. RCA replied with good work from Stewart on the left who put in a good cross for Mark Davidson to challenge, to his pain unfortunately. Two minutes later and Davidson put in good work again releasing a ball for Liam Gill to chase down the right. He held possession well, brining in Steve Jones whose first time cross was too close to the keeper.

On 13 minutes there was a great move from Birtley, using both sides of the pitch. It ended in a shot from the right which was pushed behind by Gary Hoggeth for a corner, from which a free header went past the post. This was a sign of Birtley's capability and intent and on 17 minutes the break through came when the tricky and pacey Birtley number 11 Kris Hughes broke through in the centre and ran through to shoot strongly. Keeper Hoggeth parried the shot but its pace took it over the keeper and it spun into the net.

From the kick off RCA were straight back in it with a corner, but the referee blew for a foul on the keeper. On 27 minutes more pressure from RCA ended with a Steve Jones cross, which Mark Davidson headed wide.

On 32 minutes the locals were far from happy when a late kick from Steven Stewart downed a Birtley player who needed treatment. The referee showed a yellow card.

On 44 minutes RCA got themselves back in the game when a good cross from full back Jones found Stewart at a narrow angle at the far post and he slotted neatly past the keeper to make it all square at half time.

RCA started the second half in determined mood. On 48 minutes another good ball from Michael Coghlan - a player who can consistently see and execute good passes and play one touch football - nearly had Steven Stewart in on goal, but a defender nipped in to deflect the ball for a corner. A minute later and Coghlan was repeating the play with a ball into the left corner for Stewart to cross.

On 55 minutes manager Hixon made a tactical switch, bringing off Glenn Moan, bringing Steve Halliday on, switching Anth Laidler to central defence and deploying a 4-4-1-1 with Gill moving to the right wing and Coghlan playing just behind Davidson at the front.

RCA continued with good possession and pressure, but it was not all the away side. On 65 minutes a very good cross from Birtley's first half scorer Kris Hughes led to a last ditch clearance from Steve Jones in the six yard box.

On 68 minutes Liam Gill came off, replaced by Andy Jennings, with Coghlan dropping back into a conventional 4-4-2. AJ's height came in to good use on 71 minutes when he headed on a long ball from Gary Hoggeth to Steven Stewart who shot across goal.

The match turned on the 75th minute. Scott Richards lost the ball in the middle and Birtley broke strongly down their right with the player moving into shoot on the urging of the Birtley bench. Keeper Hoggeth parried the powerful shot, but the ball broke to the middle of the 18-yard line and a Birtley player shot strongly into the net. After that RCA were a spent force. Ten minutes later and it looked certain that Birtley would make it three as they were through again, but shot weakly and wide.

This was a curate's egg of a performance from RCA and after Saturday's let down on the promotion campaign some flatness was to be expected. Fair play to Birtley though - they played well and deserved the points here. RCA will need to be sharper against Horden in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup Final.


Horden 2 Sunderland RCA 1

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Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup Final

6 May 2009

It was the last game of the season tonight for Sunderland RCA, against Division 2 Champions Horden in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup Final. History was to be made as both sides had never won a Northern League Cup so the record books were to be updated for one of the clubs. As kick off approached there was a very healthy attendance at Chester-le-Street and all looked on in anticipation when Horden won the toss, electing to defend the slope with a strong wind in their faces.

RCA were quickly on the attack with centre forward Jennings quickly making his presence felt. Two early corners were won after some good play by Joseph down the left and one of the crosses was met by Jennings which James Winter in goal partially saved and was grateful for his fullback to scramble away the rebound. The wind was clearly proving to be an advantage and Horden were defending strongly with Mark Nicholson and Matty Taylor at the back making headed clearances to prevent RCA forwards Davison and Shields breaking away. Horden then hit back with their first main attack when after a midfield battle for possession the ball fell to left back Ian Clark who played a long pass upfield which cut the RCA defence in two leaving an opening for forward Craig Hubbard to run onto. Although 30 yards from goal he quickly noticed the RCA keeper Minnis racing out to cover the danger, he hit the ball first time up high over the keeper's head and the ball bounced once straight into the net. 1 - 0 to Horden and the RCA supporters were shellshocked. This lifted the Horden side who looked to push forward again with centre forward Chris I'Anson causing problems in the air for RCA defenders Wardle and Reay. The referee was allowing a lot of physical challenges to go unpunished and this disrupted the pattern of play for the next period. RCA regained composure and after 25 minutes a great move down the left involving midfielder Richards, Joseph and left back McGuinness resulted in a great long cross to Jennings just in front of the penalty spot. The forward met it perfectly and bulleted a header that look destined for the bottom corner, only to be met by a terrific flying save from Winter in goal.

Halliday and Richards started to control the passing in the midfield area and RCA pushed more bodies forward in search of the equaliser. Again early balls were played into the box and Jennings again was denied on the half hour when the keeper saved well again with the rebound falling to RCA full back Jones who hit a decent effort, again saved. Buoyant now, RCA were looking to attack at every opportunity and were winning many free kicks. Richards was fouled 35 yards out and Davison stepped up to hit a good effort but this was well clear of the Horden bar. The final few minutes were fast and furious and corners were won at both ends and a goal could have been scored by either side but resilient goal-line clearances were made. The referee blew and the Horden lads had their tails up looking forward to having the wind at their backs in the second half whilst RCA players were scratching heads, not believing that they had registered a goal having controlled most of the game.

The second half kicked off and followed a similar pattern to the first but now it was Horden quickly moving the ball forward and RCA defenders now having to deal with an awkward wind. But just like the opposition in the first, RCA now made use of their first proper attack and although Horden defenders half dealt with the situation the bal l fell to McGuinness and from a good distance he hit a cross shot and although not catching it sweetly the slice deceived the keeper and the ball found the bottom right corner of the net. Just the lift RCA needed and loud cheers from supporters. 1 - 1 and game back on. The game closed up now with space being at a premium and it was Horden who nearly made a breakthrough when a shot from the halfway line had Minnis chasing back to goal and he done exceptionally well to get a touch on to the ball which also glanced off the top of the bar. Stewart who brought extra pace into the RCA midfield replaced Joseph and this lifted the team for a short period. In general though no clear chances were being created and the game look destined for extra time with supporters appearing to get further refreshments in readiness.

Out of nothing though with normal time up, the ball broke lose in central midfield and travelling through to McGuinness he appeared to get control but was dispossessed by I'Anson who raced clear and clipped the ball coolly over the advancing Minnis. 2 - 1 and no time left to recover for RCA. McGuinness who was possibly in the running for the MoM award was punished for his one mistake of the night. The referee blew, Horden the victors, well done to them for a league and cup double in their centenary year. Deja vu for RCA an exact repeat of last year's league finish of fourth and losing finalists. Well stiff upper lip needed, but the club is till moving forward and RCA will grow stronger together. After lean times in the last 20 years the club has had two fantastic seasons. Neil Hixon's men have gathered 70 then 71 points, so if we keep on progressing at that rate one day we will go up. Roll on next season the supporters can't wait!


2008-09 First Team statistics

Club news

Sunderland RCA The Barnes

Back row, left to right: Ian Ferguson (Hon Sec), Gary Carr, Jonathon Winlow, Paul Hartley, Ross Hughes, Michael Curtis,
Chris Errington, Willie Crew, Philip Hall, Ray Hartley (Manager)
Front row, left to right: Matty Stevens, Alan Surtees, Martin Metcalfe, Gary Tyzack, Mark Robinson
Missing from photo: Scott Butler, Joe Clark, Paul Cooke, Jonathon Dimmock, Liam Dunn, Andrew Gilbert,
Mark McLeod, Martin Mowbray, Andrew Place and Anthony Teasdale.

Sunderland RCA The Barnes FC play in the Sunderland Sunday League.

Ian 'Fergie' Ferguson, Hon Secretary Sunderland RCA The Barnes FC introduces the 2008-09 season

The season kicks off on 17 August

11 August 2008

RCA's Sunday team start the new season with a home fixture against Silksworth Paragon on Sunday 17th August and are looking forward to the coming season competing in the Premier League of the Solex Manufacturing Sunderland Sunday League. They will also be representing RCA in the All England FA Sunday Cup and the Durham FA Sunday Cup, as well as the league's
cup competitions.

The team have also changed their base camp (boozer) back to their spiritual home at The Barnes, after a brief (but nevertheless enjoyable) year at The Wavendon and will be known as Sunderland RCA The Barnes FC for the coming season.

As usual we are very much appreciative of the help and assistance given by RCA's many officials and hope to reward them with a successful campaign.

Match reports will be posted on this site on a regular basis for everyone's information as well as a squad photo and player profiles, which will appear shortly.

If anyone wants to watch any footy on Sunday mornings all support will be welcome and fixtures (+ venues) will also be posted on this site.

Hope to see you along for the games.

Ian 'Fergie' Ferguson
Hon Secretary Sunderland RCA The Barnes FC


Sunderland RCA The Barnes match reports for 2008-09

RCA The Barnes 4 St Johns Chapel 1

Durham FA Avec Sunday Cup

31 August 2008

RCA The Barnes finally got their season of and running with a comfortable 4-1 victory over St Johns Chapel, in the Durham FA Avec Sunday Cup Preliminary Round tie.

RCA started strongly kicking down the slope and were rwarded for their dominance after 15 minutes when Willie Crew headed home after good work down the left from Teasdale and Surtees. St Johns then had a spell of possesion which brought about a couple of half chances and a strong appeal for a penalty when RCA keeper Errington went down at a forward's feet.

RCA then picked up the pace and should have added to their score but for some wastefull finishing and a couple of decent saves from the St Johns keeper, but eventually their pressure paid off with industrious midfielder Martin Metcalfe adding a second goal on 35 minutes.

HT 2 - 0

The second half started in similar vein and Metcalfe added a third goal for RCA on 55 minutes to effectively kill the tie, and enable manager Hartley to bring on his three subs.

St. Johns got a consolation goal on 80 minutes when a fiercely struck free kick took a slight deflection to leave keeper Errington stranded, but substitute Ross Hughes struck home from 10 yards minutes later to seal a thoroughly hard working victory and progrees to round 2.

Outstanding displays from Metcalfe, RCA's Phil Hall and Anthony Teasdale auger well for the coming weeks.

Humbledon & Plains Farm GI FC 3 RCA The Barnes 2

Sunderland Sunday League

Humbledon & Plains Farm GI FC 3 RCA The Barnes 2

14 September 2008

RCA The Barnes suffered an undeserved defeat by 3 goals to 2, at the hands of current league champions Humbledon & Plains Farm. The game, played in perfect conditions thankfully, was a closely fought contest with the first half being fairly even apart from one good save from RCA's stand in keeper Lee 'Zico' Austin. The only other chances were half chances which both defences coped with comfotably, until slack play in midfield by RCA resulted in the ball being played out to the Humbledon & Plains forward Gary Shields (an RCA player on Saturdays) who played a perfect ball across the face of goal to present Rob McClean with a free header to give the home side a 1-0 lead. The timing of the goal could not have been worse as half time was blown for straight away.

Worse was to follow within minutes of the restart as a defensive header was deflected to Rob McClean who mishit his attempted volley, which completely fooled the keeper and bobbled into the corner of the net to make it 2-0 to Humbledon & Plains.

RCA heads refused to be bowed though and they got back into the game with a tremendous 25 yard strike from Mark McLeod, which lifted the spirits. Better was to follow as Philip Hall threaded a ball through the inside left channel for Willie Crew to hold off a defender and round the keeper to make it 2-2.

The game was there for the taking now, but it was Humbledon & Plains who came up with the killer third goal with 15 mins left when Joe Holbourn challenged RCA defender Michael Curtis at the far post and both players got to the ball with headers, but the ball then richoched off Holbourn's shoulder and looped over a stranded keeper.

RCA then pressurised the Humbledon & Plains defence for the remaining time but could not get what would have been a deserved equaliser, despite creating a couple of half chances.

All in all a decent contest, which on another day could have been more positive, but congratulations to both sets of players for a sporting match.

Washington Arms FC 0 RCA The Barnes 3

Sunderland Sunday League

28 September 2008

RCA The Barnes went through to the Third Preliminary Round of the Durham FA Avec Sunday Cup with a comfortable (eventually) 3-0 victory over Durham Sunday League Premier Division Washington Arms at Glebe Welfare ground Washington.

RCA started slowly for the first 10 minutes and then got their passing game going. They should have gone in at half time with the tie won, but wastefull finishing combined with some good goalkeeping kept the score to 1-0 courtesy of a Willie Crew strike after 35 minutes.

RCA then completely dominated the game in the second half without ever producing the effective passing of the first, but still should have put the tie to bed with good chances being wasted by both Willie Crew and Paul Hartley, before substitute Andy Gilbert converted, benefiting from Matin Metcalfe's cut back and a goalkeeping error in the 85th minute. Willie Crew sealed a comprehensive victory in the last minute converting a Ross Hughes cross to give the final scoreline a touch of reality.

Redhouse WMC FC 1 RCA The Barnes 6

Sunderland Sunday League

5 October 2008

An understrength (due to Great North Run) RCA The Barnes comfortably got their League season off and running with a 6-1 defeat over Redhouse WMC.

RCA were missing several key players due to their involvement in the Great North Run and had to draft in the ever dependable veteran Joe Clark - 47 years young) at centre half. The first half was fairly scrappy, but RCA turned the game their way with two goals in the final 5 minutes of the half through Andy Gilbert and Willie Crew.

The result was virtually decided within ten minutes of the second half when further goals from Anthony Teasdale and Willie Crew saw RCA 4-0 up. Credit to Redhouse who didn't let their heads drop, but were unable to stem the tide as RCA grew in confidence with Mark McLeod running the show from midfield and he was rewarded for his outstanding performance when he finished of a fine passing move with a cool finish from six yards. Willie Crew then completed his hat trick and maybe should have added to that, before Redhouse were rewarded for their endevours with a late consolation from Steve Jones, to leave a final scoreline of 6-1 to RCA.

RCA The Barnes 2 Grangetown Florists 1

Total Sport Challenge Trophy - First Round

Sunday, 12 October 2008

RCA The Barnes progressed to the Second Round of the Total Sport Challenge Trophy with a hard earned 2-1 victory against their previously undefeated 'derby' rivals Grangetown Florists.

The first half produced few chances for either side in what was a typically physical match up, with neither side willing to concede ground, RCA Northern League player, Lee Owens had the first chance for Grangetown, but put his effort wide of the post after a cut back from Peter Benson. Then Anthony Teasdale had a good effort well saved after being released by Willie Crew.

After 40 minutes however the deadlock was broken when RCA were awarded a free kick on the left hand corner of the Grangetown box and when the ball was delivered into the six yard box Paul Hartley got the final touch to give RCA the lead. As so often happen though, in tight matches, once a team score the other side always seem to strike back immediately, and this game was no exception, when just about straight from the kick off Grangetown's right back Keith Churchill surged forward well into the RCA half before releasing to the left wing and continued his run into the penalty area to receive the return ball and easily slot home to give a half time score of 1-1.

The second half saw half chances for both sides without ever producing a clear cut chance untill Willie Crew produced a clinical finish after receiving the ball with his back to goal in the inside left position. He turned the defender and sent a curling shot into the net via the far post to regain the lead for RCA.

Grangetown pressed for an equaliser and left gaps at the back which Anthony Teasdale should have exploited to put the tie to bed after being released again by Crew, but RCA comfortably held out to secure the win, which in the end they just about deserved, and now look forward to the visit of Liverpool Lee Jones F.C. next Sunday (19 October) for the first round tie in the FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup, at Meadow Park - 2:00 PM KO.

RCA The Barnes 4 Liverpool Lee Jones 0

FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup - First Round

Sunday 19 October 2008

RCA The Barnes stormed through to the Second Round of the National Sunday FA Cup with a resounding 4-0 victory over the previously unbeaten Liverpool outfit Lee Jones FC.

RCA started the match on the front foot, pressurised from the first minute and were rewarded for their positive start when Martin Metcalfe crossed into a crowded box where Gary Tyzack found space for a powerful header into the bottom left hand corner to give RCA a fifth minute lead. RCA continued in much the same vein with Paul Hartley and Matty Stevens bossing the midfield and creating good chances which were spurned by profligate finishing.

After 30 minutes Matty Stevens chased down a hopeful ball to the left edge of the goal line and sent a curling cross towards goal, which the goalkeeper and his defender conspired to make a mess of, resulting in the defender putting into his own goal to give RCA a 2-0 lead. RCA should have increased this lead before half time, but a couple of decent saves from Lee Jones's keeper kept the score to 2-0.

Lee Jones started the second half with the slope and the wind in their favour and RCA were expecting a tough time of it, but the next goal was going to be the important one and it was RCA who killed the tie when good work down the right hand side from Alan Surtees and Gary Tyzack released Willie Crew through the inside right channel; he then side stepped a defender and cooly slotted home to give RCA a 3-0 lead after 50 minutes.

Lee Jones then applied the first real presure on the home defence, but with Philly Hall and Micky Curtis both standing firm it came to nought, before the best move of the game, which started when RCA worked their way out of their right back corner flag position with quick incisive passing from Surtees and Tyzack. This resulted in Paul Hartley cleverly releasing Wille Crew through on goal and he easily rounded the keeper to slot home - 4-0 to RCA.

Lee Jones then had two players dismissed over the same incident, when their keeper brought down RCA's Martin Metcalfe, who had knocked the ball past him and was through on goal for what would have been RCA's fifth and was correctly shown the red card. A further player showed dissent at this decision and was given his second yellow.

RCA then played out the last 15 minutes avoiding any possible injuries and now look forward to the second round draw and next week's Durham County Sunday Cup match against South Moor Sports in Stanley.

South Moor 1 RCA The Barnes 3

Durham FA Sunday Cup

Sunday 26 October 2008

RCA The Barnes progressed to the first round proper of the Durham FA Sunday Cup with a scrappy 3-1 victory over South Moor Sports, at a windswept Stanley.

RCA were always in control of the match, without ever reaching the standards of the last few weeks and on a small, bobbly pitch with a strong wind, were made to struggle. Chances were missed in a disjointed first half before Martin Metcalfe pounced on a misplaced pass from a South Moor defender to drill a superb shot into the bottom left hand corner to give RCA a 1-0 half time lead.

Kicking with the wind in the second half, RCA effectively killed the tie within five minutes as Willie Crew continued his scoring form by slotting home goals two and three, to take his tally to 12 from only seven games). The match then became a bit edgy with South Moor putting in some iffy tackles and the referee not doing much about them. Ray Hartley the manager then decided to just get the game done with and used his three allowed substitutes to give Crew, Teasdale and skipper Curtis a rest and see out the remaining time. South Moor applied some pressure and were rewarded for their endeavours with a last minute penalty to give the scoreline 3-1 to RCA.

RCA now travel to Hartlepool WHTOSOB for a First Round Proper tie on Sunday, 9 November.

RCA The Barnes 2 Myers FC 0

Sunderland Sunday League

Sunday 2 November 2008

RCA The Barnes overcame Myers FC 2-0 in their third league fixture in a closely fought match at Meadow Park.

Kicking up the slope in the first half, RCA found Myers small nippy forwards a handful for the first 20 minutes and Myers probably should have capitalised, but for some resolute defending and good goalkeeping. RCA then slightly changed formation and started to create chances themselves with Mark Robinson hitting the crossbar and Willie Crew just failing to connect with another good cross from Mark Robinson, who was beginning to cause Myers problems down the left flank.

The best chance for RCA to take the lead was when Willie Crew got free in the inside right channel to force a good blocked save from Myers keeper Ryan Graham with the ball rebounding to an unmarked Andy Gilbert six yards out, but he headed over the bar when it looked easier to score and the half finished 0-0.

The second half saw Myers open strongly again with a good chance falling their way after 50 minutes. But from then on it was RCA who took control and with both wide men, Martin Metcalfe and Mark Robinson finding acres of space they began creating chances, but could not quite finish them off due to good defending and especially some excellent goalkeeping from Ryan Graham in the Myers goal. Eventually though, as the game entered the final ten minutes, RCA made the breakthrough when Martin Metcalfe broke into the box and avoided two desperate challenges only to be felled by the third, resulting in a penalty, which skipper Michael Curtis duly despatched to give RCA the lead.

The game then went end to end until in the final minute Myers were awarded a corner, from which they thought they had equalised when they claimed the ball had crossed the line prior to goalkeeper Chris Errington gathering. While they appealed in vain to the referee Errington released substitute Gary Tyzack down the right wing and he squared to the waiting Willie Crew in the box who slotted home to give a final score of 2-0 to RCA The Barnes, which over the ninety minutes they just about deserved, but credit to a spirited and commited Myers outfit which resuted in an entertaining game.

RCA The Barnes 5 Harlepool WHTDSOB 1

Durham FA Avec Sunday Cup

9 November 2008

RCA The Barnes ensured a place in the Second Round Proper of the Durham FA Avec Sunday Cup - and exemption from the First Round Proper for next season - with a comfortable 5-1 victory over Harlepool WHTDSOB at Greyfields.

Kicking against a strong blustery wind, on a surprisingly good pitch given the overnight rain, RCA opened strongly and established a 2-0 lead after 15 minutes with Willie Crew continuing his recent good form with both goals. Complacency then set in and RCA became negligent with their passing and presented Hartlepool with some decent chances, which thankfully they did not capitalise on initially. The inevitable happened after 35 minutes when Hartlepool took advantage of slack play to reduce the deficit to give a half time score of 2-1 to RCA.

Hartlepool then had a great opportunity to equalise, but Chris Errington in the RCA goal kept them at bay. RCA then got their game back in some sort of shape. Paul Hartley struck a third goal, turning the defence and placing a curling left foot shot into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area in the inside right position. RCA then put on two subs to rest Teasdale and Metcalfe. Within another five minutes Willie Crew completed his hat trick when Errington released a long kick downfield that Andrew Gilbert contested. The ball ran for Willie to round the keeper to make it 4-1. Gilbert was then replaced by recent signing Gary McDonald who struck home number five five minutes before the end, to give a final scoreline of 5-1.

RCA now look forward to their difficult second round tie in the FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup against a strong Dawdon CW outfit at Seaham Red Star's ground next Sunday, the 16 November, with a 1.00 PM KO. Any support would be greatly appreciated. Ten free entry tickets are available on a first come basis and will be available from Colin Wilson next Saturday at RCA's home game against Brandon.

Dawdon CW FC 1 Sunderland RCA The Barnes FC 2

FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup

16 November 2008 at Seaham Red Star

RCA The Barnes progressed into the last 32 of the National Sunday FA Cup competition with a hard fought and battling 2-1 victory over a very strong Dawdon CW team at Seaham Red Star's ground on Sunday.

The match took place in almost perfect conditions on an excellent playing surface. RCA started strongly keeping possession early on and gaining confidence. As the half progressed Dawdon began to gain more control and kept the ball whilst not creating any definite openings until RCA keeper Chris Errington had to save smartly from a long range effort. RCA central defenders Curtis and Hall were in excellent form and consistently snuffed out any half chances created by Dawdon, whilst being ably supported by full backs Surtees and Hughes.

After 30 minutes RCA started to get a bit more ball and a good move started down the right flank by Surtees was carried on by Willie Crew who passed the ball across the area to the far corner were Andy Gilbert laid it off for the late arriving Martin Metcalfe to control and strike a perfect low shot into the keeper's right hand corner giving him no chance of saving. 1-0 to RCA.

The rest of the first half ran its course with neither side being able to create any more worthwhile chances, to give a ht score of 1-0 to RCA.

Dawdon started the second half on the front foot and pressurised RCA from the off with the midfield of Metcalfe, Hartley, Teasdale and young Mark Robinson having to put in double shifts to compete with the increasingly dominant Dawdon. Chris Errington then produced another top drawer save after an hour, tipping over a powerfull close range header and again Curtis and Hall had to be at their best to keep the sprightly Dawdon forwards at bay. RCA were now restricted to playing on the break and with Robinson now pushed up front after the substitution of an injured Gilbert by Gary Tyzack, they kept Dawdon's back line on their toes whilst having the odd half chance. However with the increasing pressure the RCA defence were for once found wanting on 83 minutes when a long diagonal ball from right back cleared the right hand side of the RCA back line and Chapman took the ball down expertly on his chest to rifle in from 15 yards: an excellent goal.

RCA then sent on Matty Stevens for Teasdale. The home crowd were expecting Dawdon to carry on and no doubt get a winner, but that was forgetting the indomitable spirit of this young, committed RCA outfit who never know when to quit. On 87 minutes they broke through the inside right channel and top scorer Willie Crew advanced on goal only for the Dawdon keeper to make a good block. However the ball rebounded out to 25 yards from goal in a central position and 16 year old Mark Robinson became the match winner when he picked his spot and stroked the ball home into the top left hand corner of the net despite the efforts of Dawdon's last in line defender.

Silksworth Paragon 4 RCA The Barnes 1

Sunderland Sunday League

Sunday 23 November 2008

Sunday Secretary Ian Ferguson gives his take on defeat.

Blooming heck, I go away for a weekend and what happens? It all goes pear-shaped.

According to my independent reports, RCA got their noses bloodied by a much more committed and determined Siksworth Paragon on Sunday. RCA apparently forgot that their game is based around hard work and helping each other out, something which was sadly lacking on ths occasion.

Paragon made great efforts to get the match played and were rewarded with an emphatic victory, scoring after half an hour and then crucially increasing the score to 2-0 at half time with a penalty after 43 minutes.

RCA then came out slightly better after half time and clawed their way back into the match when Anthony Teasdale scored after 55 minutes, but RCA then sloppily conceded from a corner five minutes later. To make matters worse Phily Hall had to leave the field with a recurrence of his knee injury after 75 minutes - surgery awaiting in December and we hope he will be back fit by early new year - and with RCA committed to attack they conceded again after 85 minutes to make the final score 4-1 to Silksworth.

Time for a reality check, me thinks, before more difficult games coming up.

RCA The Barnes 0 Heywood Irish Centre 4

FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup - Third Round

Sunday 14 December 2008

RCA's run in the F.A. Carlsberg Sunday Cup came to an end with a dissappointing home defeat to Heywood Irish Centre (Huddersfield) by four goals to nil.

The pitch was passed playable by match referee Neil Sharp, but the surface was very wet and would no doubt cause problems for both sides. It was RCA who started the brighter with a Willie Crew header being cleared off the line after five mins and a couple of half chances which were comfotably dealt with by Heywood keeper Ashe. Heywood then began to get a grip and their midfield were winning all the important battles and releasing their extremely fast forwards. After a couple of scares, when centre forward Ashley Flynn latched on to quickly released passes only to be denied by resolute defending and goalkeeping, it was no real surprise when he was again released early to control and round home keeper Errington to slot home for the opener after 20 minutes. His partner in crime, Darren Hennighan, was put through not long after, but was forced wide by Errington and put his effort into the side netting.

It was becoming clear that RCA needed to get to half time only one goal down, so as to re-organise for the second half kicking with the slope, but their hopes were dashed after 35 minutes when, after clearing a corner, Heywood were given the ball back and a cross from the left eluded a static RCA defence and keeper to allow Adam Bell to head in from virtually on the line.

2-0 to Heywood at half time and they probably deserved if the truth be known.

RCA come out determinedly in the second half and pressurised for prolonged periods, but without ever producing the quality needed to breach a resolute Heywood back line. An unfortunate slip by home keeper Errington, whose feet just went from underneath him as he came out to collect a simple through ball under no pressure, presented Darren Hennighan with the simple task of walking the ball into the net and effectively kill the tie after 75 minutes.

RCA stuck to their task until the end but conceded a fourth when Ashley Flynn was again released through the inside right channel to finish with aplomb. Things went totally pear shaped when RCA's Phil Hall was shown an inexplicable red card near the end for something said to the referee.

Never mind though, in the end the best team won and we wish Heywood all the best for the further rounds in the competition, thank them for a sporting contest and hope they enjoyed our hospitality.

Bring it on for next year!!

Houghton Glendale SCFC 1 RCA The Barnes 0

Durham Avec County Sunday Cup - Second Round

Sunday 21 December 2008

1-0 down at half time, but controlled most of second half without much penetration and could not find a deserved equaliser.

RCA The Barnes 2 Silksworth Paragon 0

Sunderland Sunday League

Sunday 4 January 2009

RCA The Barnes got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory in a close fought encounter with Silksworth Paragon.

The match got the go-ahead from referee Gary Hargraves after long deliberation regarding the safety of the players on a half frosted surface, a decision which proved to be correct and credit must be given to both sets of players for producing such a good game on a suspect surface.

Silksworth Paragon started the brighter and kept the ball and control for the first 10 minutes, without ever troubling the RCA defence. RCA came on stronger as the half progressed and following fine interpassing in midfield Andy Place was released through the inside left channel. He drew the keeper and then unselfishly squared for Willie Crew to slot home easily after 20 minutes to give RCA the lead.

RCA continued to press down the slope and a fine cross from the left by Ross Hughes evaded the Paragon centre half. Willie Crew brought the ball down expertly on his chest and volleyed home left footed from 10 yards to extend the RCA lead to 2-0 after 35 minutes.

Defending against the slope in the second half RCA started brightly in a similar vein to Paragon in the first half and had a couple of half chances to kill the game off, but having failed to do so, Paragon then gained more and more control as the half progressed and created a number of opportunities, which were thwarted by some excellent goalkeeping from Chris Errington, ably assisted by resoloute defending from Alan Surtees and man of the match, 16 year old Liam Dunn, who took to playing left side of a back three like a duck to water.

As the final whistle approached it was becoming apparent that it was not going to be Paragon's day and RCA held out to record a welcome victory and get their season back on track after a dissappointing December.

Redhouse CIU FC 1 RCA The Barnes 2

Sunderland Sunday League

Sunday 11 January 2009

RCA The Barnes had to make changes for their game against League leaders Redhouse CIU. With both Anthony Teasdale and Mark Robinson injured, manager Ray Hartley drafted in Ross Hughes and Matty Stevens into his midfield five and retained a back three of Surtees, Curtis and young Dunn with Crew and Place up front.

The game started with Redhouse on the front foot from the off with RCA struggling to get a hold of the ball and Stephen Lewis in Redhouse's midfield running the show. It was no surprise when his free kick was easily headed back across goal for Redhouse's centre half to tap home from close range to give them a 20th minute lead. This seemed to shake off the lethargy that RCA seemed to be carrying and slowly they came more into the game, despite having to re-organise when Alan Surtees had to come off shortly afterwards with a groin strain and Gary Tyzack coming on to go to right back in a re-shaped formation that saw Paul Hartley move to left back in a flat back four.

Mark McLeod started to see more of the ball in midfield and when Willie Crew was fed a through ball in the inside right channel, he held off strong Redhouse challenges to fire across the keeper into the far left corner to equalise for RCA after 35 minutes.

H-T: 1-1

RCA then had to defend against the strong wind in the second half and worked their socks off against a strong Redhouse offensive with keeper Chris Errington again showing why he is probably regarded as the best in the division with a string of fine saves. RCA where still a threat on the break and from one such when the ball broke to Martin 'Marni' Metcalfe, 25 yards out in a central position, he bought a ticket and rifled in an unstoppable shot to put RCA 2-1 ahead after 65 minutes.

Redhouse reacted by throwing on more offensive subs and pressed for an equaliser, but RCA defenders amnd keeper held firm. Indeed,they should have wrapped it all up when Andy Place fired over the bar when he should have done better and then Willie Crew broke free with only the keeper to beat, but was indicisive and allowed the keeper and a defender to block him out. As the final whistle was approaching Redhouse had one more chance from a free kick 25 yards out that was perfectly hit only for Chris Errington to fling himself to his right and palm away to keep the 2-1 lead intact and record an excellent victory for RCA.

2009-04-05 - RCA The Barnes 0 Humbledon and Plains Farm WMC 6

Sunderland Sunday League

Sunday 5 April 2009

RCA The Barnes crashed to a heavy defeat against a very strong Plains Farm by six goals to nil.

RCA were hit by withdrawals from the spine of their side when keeper Errington reported with a broken rib, centre half was Phil Hall missing at Wembley, midfield playmaker McLeod suffering a groin problem from Saturday's RCA game against Whickam and centre forward Andy Place going down with flu. Plains Farm had a full strength squad to call on, bar a goalkeeper, and fielded RCA centre half Paul Wardle between the sticks (to be honest they could have put a cardboard cutout there given the total lack of efforts on goal he had to field) and also included Wayne Henderson, Michael Coghlan and Gary Shields in their starting eleven.

RCA never got started and Plains Farm dominated from the off. They were quickly into their stride against a pitifull RCA who found themselves very quickly 4-0 down at half time with strikes from Anthony Holmes (2), Gary Shields (1) and David Anderson (1).

The second half was a cakewalk for Plains Farm and to be honest they could have scored at will if they had wanted to, but contented themselves to two further strikes, both from MOM Michael Coghlan, to give a final score of 6-0 to Plains Farm.

All in all, a very dissappointing effort from RCA, which showed up our lack of depth and quality within the squad, a position that will need addressing for next season.

Still a quarter final on Sunday, 12 April against Colonel Prior at Ryhope CW to come though and here's hoping that our performance then is stepped up by at least 100%.

2009-04-07 - RCA The Barnes 1 Hastings Athletic 7

Sunderland Sunday League

Tuesday 7 April 2009

RCA The Barnes' season continued its depressingly familiar downward spiral as they were completely humiliated by a slick Hastings outfit by sevn goals to one.

Without regular keeper Errington (busted ribs), Willie Crew (work) and resting Phil Hall and Mark McLeod ahead of their cup tie on Sunday coming, the players charged with representing the club fell way way short of acceptable standards. Stand in keeper Austin was left exposed time and time again as the overworked defence were left open on a regular basis by a midfield quartet of Hartley, Tyzack, Stevens and Metcalfe, who was the only one of the four who came out with any credit as he tried to do the other three's running for them. The front two of Place and Gilbert were totally ineffective (not surprising given the paucity of decent ball) whilst centre half and skipper Curtis had some excuse given this was his fifth game in six days. Of the other defenders both Alan Surtees and Liam Dunn performed manfully against wave after wave of Hastings attacks with no protection whatsoever from those in front of them.

Goals were scored on a regular basis throughout the 90 mins and only Martin Metcalfe's headed effort from McLeod's (on as a sub with 25 to go) free kick gave some relief.

All in all a pathetic effort which needs addressing or the whole season could fall away into complete humiliation.

Apologies for the negative aspect of this report, but this is the harsh reality of the situation and players and officials need to grasp the nettle and do something about it, quickly.

Hopefully we will be much much improved on Sunday coming in our last chance for honours against Colonel Prior at Ryhope CW, so if feel like risking it please come along and support, what we all hope will be a better performance.

RCA The Barnes 6 Redhouse WMC 0

Sunderland Sunday League

Sunday 22 March 2009

RCA Barnes ran out comfortable 6-0 victors in their game against bottom club Redhouse WMC. Redhouse won the toss and elected to take advantage of a strong wind by kicking down the slope taking a grip on the match early on with RCA being unable to get their passing game going. However Redhouse failed to capitalise and RCA duly got their game together taking the lead on 25 minutes when Gary Tyzack broke down the right flank and drilled a shot-cum-cross from near the goal line which evaded the keeper. A defender then completely miskicked his attempted clearance - twice - and sliced into his own net. A second goal was not long in coming as Willie Crew got into the box and was clumsily brought down for a penalty, which was duly despatched by skipper Curtis.

H-T 2 - 0

The second half was completely dominated by RCA and they went on to score another four goals, all netted by the in-form Andrew Place - two good headers, an opportunist close range effort and a clean strike across the keeper) - to bring his tally to nine in the last four games.

The result means that RCA have secured their place in the Premier Division for next year with ten games still to play to go. We can look forward to the rest of the season and hopefully some Cup success. It also means we can now start building up our squad for next season and can offer a tremendous club set up, A1 facilities and the continued, appreciated, backing of the mother club & their oficials, to any new players who would like to join or continued improvement, not to mention our involvement in both County and National Cup competitions.

RCA The Barnes 6 Washington 'F' Pit 1

Kitchen Magic Cup First Round

Sunday 22 February 2009

RCA comfortably came through this tie against First Division opponents Washington 'F' Pit. Fielding a weakened team due to various circumstances and having to play right back Alan Surtees in goal - he volunteered and had an excellent match - RCA took a 2-0 lead into half time after kicking against a strong wind and up the slope, goals coming from the strike pairing of Willie Crew and Andy Place.

The second half took on the same pattern as the first with RCA extending their lead to 4-0 with further strikes by the said deadly duo, before Washington's spirited performance saw them pull a goal back after 70 minutes.

RCA then replied with a further two goals, again from the terrible twins, to give a final scoreline of 6-1, with both leading goalscorers, 23 goals now, Willie Crew and Andy Place grabbing a hat-trick each.

RCA Barnes 3 Grangetown Florists 6

Sunderland Sunday League

Thursday 26 February 2009

RCA suffered a heavy, if somewhat flattering, defeat at the hands of the in form Florists side who look to be heading for a possible championship winning season. Florists led early on through Lee Owens, whose cross took a wicked deflection and looped over keeper Errington's head only for Anthony Teasdale to bring RCA level minutes later, getting on the end of a deep cross to volley home at the far post. Florists again took the lead when a long throw into the box was not dealt with by the RCA defense allowing Lee Owens to stab home from close range. However RCA clawed their way back when Willie Crew was released in the inside left channel to shhot home across the keeper into the far corner.

H-T 2-2

The second half started with RCA on the offensive and oly smart keeping from Florists' keeper stopped them falling behind, but a double wammy was soon to follow when Lee Owens was released through the inside right channel and, despite being a good two yards offside, was allowed to go on by the referee to round the keeper and fire home to complete his hat trick. Worse was to follow when the ball broke free in the box two minutes later and Florist centre forward Gareth Hill fired home to make it 4 - 2 to the aways side. Hill then found space to fire home a fifth and despite Gary McDonalds third for RCA, Gareth Hill completed his hat trick near the end with a far post header.

RCA Barnes 1 Redhouse CIU 2

Sunderland Sunday League

Sunday 1 March 2009

RCA were forced to field a weakened team, with veteran Paul Cooke having to make his first start at centre half and only one sub available. Despite this RCA started brightly, going in at half time with a 1-0 lead courtesy of a Willie Crew strike after 25 mins.

The second half saw Redhouse kicking down the slope and exerting pressure without ever looking as if they would break RCA down, with the outstanding Phil Hall, playing just in front of a back three, not allowing anything to get to their nippy forwards. However Phil, just returned fron major knee surgery, suffered a dead leg with 15 minutes remaining and had to come off. This led to major re-organisation, which disrupted RCA for a while. Redhouse took advantage to score twice in a minute to take the lead 2-1. RCA tried in vain to respond, but just did not have the manpower or luck to grab what would have been a deserved equaliser.

Colonel Prior 1 RCA Barnes 1

Sunderland Sunday League

Thursday 5 March 2009

Nothing much to report on this 1-1 draw, but to say if ever the cliché 'a game of 2 halves' was applicable it concerned this encounter. Colonel Prior completely ran the first half and went in 1-0 up through a Steven Rocester strike after 25 minutes. However the second half was completely dominated by RCA and after Andy Place wasted a one-on-one, substiutue Phil Hall headed the equaliser five minutes from time to give both sides a deserved share of the points.

Catholic Club 2 RCA Barnes 3

Kitchen Magic Cup - Second Round

Sunday 8 March 2009

Played on a horrible pitch at Hillview with a howling gale blowing from end to end RCA progressed to the Third Round of the Kitchen Magic Cup courtesy of three first half goals, kicking with the wind and slope, scored by Andy Place (2) and RCA's oustanding young defender Liam Dunn with a long range strike - his first of what we hope will be many. Catholic Club had equalised earlier but half time saw RCA with a 3-1 lead.

The second half was always going to be backs against the wall and thus it proved, but with skipper Curtis and young Dunn, ably assisted by Alan Surtees at the back and a battling display all the way from the forwards, RCA hung on for a 3 - 2 victory, with the only goal of the second half coming when a long range shot, after a corner had been cleared, took a wicked deflection off the pitch and reared up to decieve keeper Errington.

2009-03-12 - RCA Barnes 3 SRM Hylton Castle 1

Sunderland Sunday League

Thursday 12 March 2009

RCA came out on top 3-1 in a very competitive match with first half strike from Martin Metcalfe, cancelled out with a deflected, headed OG from home skipper Curtis and further first half goals from a superb Ross Hughes free kick and a close range strike from Andy Place.

Kicking up the slope in the second half and against a blustery wind, RCA could have increased their lead several times but for competent keeping from SRM's keeper Brown. However SRM did have chances of their own and Alan Surtees produced two goal line clearances to enable RCA to secure a 3-1 victory.

SRM Hylton Castle 4 RCA The Barnes 3 (AET)

Total Sport Challenge Trophy: Second Round

Sunday 15 March 2009

RCA The Barnes exited the Total Sport Challenge Trophy when having to field an under strength side due to a 'birthday weekend' and a 'christening', at the hands of SRM Hylton Castle, whom RCA had beaten the previous Thursday night.

RCA started as if they had never played together and found themselves deservedly 2-0 down after 20 minutes, the result of first an uncharacteristic defensive error from Liam Dunn and then woeful defending against a quick counter attack.

RCA then seemed to be shaken out of their complacency and after a tremendous first time strike by the in form Andy Place dragged them back into the tie they equalised when the same player stooped to head home a corner after 35 minutes.

HT: 2-2

The second half failed to produce much decent football, other than a competent save from Brown in the SRM goal from, again, Place, but shambolic defending again from the RCA defence from a corner resulted in the ball being toe poked home from eight yards, and an uphill battle resulted.

Throwing caution to the wind RCA pressed for an equaliser and were rewarded somewhat fortuitously when an SRM defender unluckily deflected a Ross Hughes low cross into his own net after 88 minutes.

RCA should then have won the tie when Andrew Gilbert escaped down the left wing and squared to Anthony Teasdale at the near post, but with nobody near him and the keeper stranded he failed to bring the ball under control and the chance was gone.

FT: 3-3

Extra time commenced with RCA the more likely side, but as is their way they again failed to cut out a hopeful long ball over the top and man of the match Barry Cook just beat keeper Errington to the ball to lob it goal wards, the two of them then colliding as Alan Surtees was in the process of hooking the ball from the line. A penalty was probably the correct decision given the collision, but the ref then compounded the decision by dismissing keeper Errington for 'preventing a goalscoring opportunity', when in fact the goal was very nearly scored (a booking would surely have sufficed and SRM players were of the same opinion). Alan Surtees took over in goal, but Barry Cook confidently despatched it to give SRM a 4-3 extra time HT lead.

The second period of extra time still saw RCA on top but the lack of the extra man proved too much despite one or two decent opportunities which were again wasted due to lack of ball control, so the game went to SRM 4-3, and good luck to them in the quarter final.

Disappointing given our best chance for silverware is in the cups, so we just have The Kitchen Magic Cup to focus on with an away draw to Colonel Prior coming up shortly.

Grangetown Florists 3 RCA The Barnes 1

Sunderland Sunday League

Thursday 26 March 2009

Grangetown Florists strengthened their championship challenge with a 3-1 victory over RCA Barnes on a blustery night.

Kicking with the wind and down the slope in the first half RCA were more than a match for their opponents and should have taken the lead on at least one occasion when in form striker Andy Place beat the offside trap, but then dragged his shot wide of the left hand post from inside the box. As so often happens RCA were made to pay just a minute before half time when a strong run down the right resulted in a deep cross that split RCA's two centre halves and was despatched by the head of Peter Benson.

H-T 0-1 to Florists

RCA were then caught completely cold from the restart as a long crossfield ball from wide left found Lee Owens in acres of space in the inside left channel (where were the RCA left side defence? Asleep, me thinks!) Owens duly smashed an unstoppable shot across the keeper and into the left corner of the net. Uphill for RCA now, but credit they kept going and created a couple of half chances, but the game then turned against them again when a ball into the near post, from Florists left was met by a Florist forward, a RCA defender and the RCA keeper, all arriving at the same time, resulting in the ball going over the goal line, goal kick or corner was the only debate, but the referee decided a penalty was the decision, much to the amazement of both sides, and Florists duly scored.

RCA replied almost immediately when good work down the left wing from Willie Crew sent over a deep cross. Andy Place rose at the far post to float a header into the angle to make it 3-1 to Florists and still time to make a game of it. Florists decided to defend their lead and Willie Crew should have added a second for RCA minutes before time when Andy Gilberts shot was blocked by the keeper, but Willie headed over from directly in front of goal and only five yards out - hey ho, what might have been.

Florists saw out the remaining five minutes and now appear to be on course for their first championship since the heady days of the late eighties when they were the team to beat. And the best of luck to them.

RCA The Barnes 3 Roker FC 1

Sunderland Sunday League

Sunday 29 March 2009

On a perfect morning for football RCA Barnes took on promoted Roker for the first time. The visitors started like a house on fire, taking the leadafter only two minutes with a cracking volley from Chapman. They continued to play good controlled football, passing, moving and keeping the ball, but ultimately not really penetrating or creating chances. They were also playing a dangerous offside game and were undone when Willie Crew was released in the inside left channel; he went on to beat the keeper comfortably to draw RCA level after 25 minutes. The game was now more even, with half chances at both ends, but Roker should have regained the lead just before half time when a midfielder broke into the box unchallenged to meet a free kick on the volley, but saw his effort strike the cross bar and cleared.

H-T 1-1

The second half continued in much the same vein untill Andy Place dispossessed a Roker defender in his own half and released Marni Metcalfe who cooly slotted home after 60 minutes. This seamed to deflate Roker's spirits and they were completely undone ten minutes later when Gary Tyzack ran strongly onto a through ball and was clumsily brought down from behind for a penalty, which the ever reliable skipper Curtis put away with aplomb. 3-1 to RCA now and Roker were visibly rocking. RCA then had numerous opportunities to add to their score as they totally dominated the final 15 minutes. But they settled for a 3-1 victory in the end and now look forward to getting as many points on the board as they can to try to secure a top 4 or 5 finish and there is still a cup quarter final to come against Colonel Prior at Ryhope CW on Sunday 12 April - some local support would be very much appreciated!

SRM Hylton Castle 2 RCA The Barnes 3

Sunderland Sunday League

Thursday 2 April 2009

RCA The Barnes completed a league double over SRM Hylton Castle with a 3-2 victory at the Billy Hardy Centre, Castletown.

RCA started slowly again and found themselves behind after 15 minutes when SRM scored a very unsportsmanlike goal after RCA keeper had kept out an effort that was followed up by a SRM forward resulting in both of them and an RCA defender ending up in a heap on the goal line, the ball having been hooked clear by the said defender. As the ball was half cleared the SRM forward then impeded keeper Errington from getting to his feet by deliberately kneeling on him, resulting in the keeper being injured and despite Errington lying on the ground, obviously in some pain, SRM proceded to regain possession and shoot home from 30 yards. The referee had followed the ball out and had apparently not seen the blatant impedement and so had to award the goal - not particularly sportsmanlike behaviour from SRM, but RCA had to accept it and carry on.

This incident only served to galvanise RCA and they then dominated the remainder of the half, having numerous half-decent opportunities to equalise, but could not quite find the killer ball.

H-T 1 - 0 to SRM

RCA came out of blocks at the start of the second half and equalised more or less from the kick off when Andy Place received the ball on the edge of the box to the right of goal, dropped a shoulder, lost his man and rifled a shot across the keeper into the far left corner: game on. Minutes later the same player found himself free in a similar position and repeated the dose with a similar finish, only this time high into the same corner. RCA were now well on top with playmaker McLeod dictating things from the centre of midfield and it was he who played a perfect ball down the inside right channel in the 70th minute to release leading scorer Willie Crew, who again shot across the keeper into the far left corner, a great finish from a great ball.

RCA then made three quickfire substitutions with Phill Hall (still not back to full fitness and needing to be treated gently), Mark McLeod (played on Tuesday night for RCA firsts) and Gary Tyzack making way for Martin Mowbray (just back in the fold after season long knee problems), Matty Stevens and the manager's youngest son Chris Hartley.

SRM, needing points for premiership survival, pushed on, but without really troubling the RCA defence, superbly marshalled by skipper Curtis alongside the ever dependable Surtees and the find of the season in young Liam Dunn - what a player he is going to be. However in the deepening gloom a speculative half hit shot from the edge of the box somehow found its way through and caught out everybody, including the keeper, who either could not see in the darkness or thought it was going wide, but it crept into the net to give a nervous last two mins, but RCA held out to record another fine comeback victory and keep themselves on course for their best league finish since the mid-90s.


Date Opposition Competition KO Ground F - A
Sunday, 31 August St John's Chapel FC Durham FA Sunday Cup Preliminary Round
10:30 AM
4 - 1
Sunday, 14 September Humbledon and Plains Farm FC League
10:30 AM
Murton CW 2 - 3
Sunday, 28 September Washington Arms Durham FA Sunday Cup Second Preliminary Round
Away 3 - 0
Sunday, 5 October Redhouse WMC League
10:30 AM
Downhill Complex 6 - 1
Sunday, 12 October Grangetown Florists FC Total Sport Challenge Cup - first round
10:30 AM
Meadow Park 2 - 1
Sunday, 19 October Liverpool Lee Jones FC The FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup
2.00 PM
Meadow Park 4 - 0
Sunday, 26 October South Moor Sports Durham Avec County Sunday Cup: Third Preliminary Round
10:30 AM
South Moor Sports 3 - 1
Sunday, 2 November Myers FC League
10:30 AM
Meadow Park 2 - 0
Sunday, 9 November Hartlepool WHTDSOB Durham FA Sunday Cup First Round Proper
10:30 AM
Grayfields Playing Fields, Hartlepool 5 - 1
Sunday, 16 November Dawdon CW The FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup
1:00 PM
Seaham Red Star 2 - 1
Sunday, 23 November Silksworth Paragon FC League
10:30 AM
Silksworth Welfare Park 1 - 4

Sunday, 14 December

Heywood Irish Centre FC (Huddersfield) The FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup - Third Round
1:00 PM
Meadow Park 0 - 4
Sunday, 21 December Houghton Glendale SCFC Durham Avec County Sunday Cup : Second Round
10:30 PM
Houghton Complex 0 - 1
Sunday, 4 January Silksworth Paragon League
10:30 AM
Meadow Park 2 - 0
Sunday, 11 January Redhouse CIU FC League
10:30 AM
Downhill Complex 2 - 1
Sunday, 1 February Silksworth Golden Fleece League
10:30 AM
Meadow Park 2 - 2
Sunday, 22 February Washington F Pit Kitchen Magic Cup - R1
10:30 AM
Meadow Park 6 - 1
Thursday, 26 February Grangetown Florists League
7:00 PM
Meadow Park 3 - 6
Sunday, 1 March Redhouse CIU FC League
10:30 AM
Meadow Park 1 - 2
Thursday, 5 March Colonel Prior League
7:00 PM
Away 1 - 1
Sunday, 8 March Catholic Club Kitchen Magic Cup - R2
10:30 AM
Hillview 3 - 2
Thursday, 12 March SRM Hylton Castle League
7:00 PM
Meadow Park 3 - 1
Sunday, 15 March SRM Hylton Castle Total Sport Challenge Trophy Second Round
10:30 AM
Billy Hardy Centre, Castletown 3 - 4
Sunday, 22 March Redhouse WMC League
10:30 AM
Meadow Park 6 - 0
Thursday, 26 March Grangetown Florists League
7:00 PM
Meadow Park - away fixture being played at Meadow Park 1 - 3
Sunday, 29 March Roker League
10:30 AM
Meadow Park 3 - 1
Thursday, 2 April SRM Hylton Castle League
6:30 PM
Billy Hardy Complex, Castletown 3 - 2
Sunday, 5 April Humbledon and Plains Farm League
10:30 AM
Meadow Park 0 - 6
Tuesday. 7 April Hastings Athletic League
7:00 PM
Meadow Park 1 - 7
Sunday, 12 April Colonel Prior Kitchen Magic Cup Quarter Final
10:30 AM
Ryhope CW 1 - 2
Sunday, 19 April Golden Fleece League
10:30 AM
Siksworth CW 0 - 2
Thursday, 23 April Colonel Prior League
7:00 PM
Ryhope CW 1 - 1
Sunday, 26 April Hastings Athletic League
10:30 AM
Barnes Park extension, Tay Road, Thorney Close 2 - 4
Tuesday, 28 April Myers League
6:15 PM
Billy Hardy Complex, Castletown 2 - 4
Sunday, 3 May Roker League
10:30 AM
Thompson Park, Southwick 2 - 1

Under 18s

Under 18s


Under 18s 2008-09 match reports

York City 5 Sunderland RCA 0

FA Youth Cup

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

A coach party of 50 plus four cars travelled to York City on Tuesday for the eagerly awaited FA Youth Cup Tie. As 28 players had declared themselves fully fit and available, the management team most definitely had selection problems, albeit good ones!

Training preparation in the last few weeks had been good, but three consecutive U18 games had been called off for SRCA. In fact only one competitive game - four weeks ago - had been played. York have a youth squad of full time apprentices and had beaten Mansfield and Scunthorpe in the last week.

It was the intention for all players to gather experience of what its like to play at a professional stadium and all enjoyed the pre-match build up standing on the pitch at Kit Kat Crescent. The changing rooms however could not accommodate 32 bodies and I had to make one of my hardest decisions to date, trimming the squad down just to fit in the changing room.

The SRCA team selection was finally:

1 Ryan Graham, 2 Marc Moon, 3 Luke Wilson, 4 Alan Tench, 5 Liam Dunn, 6 Chris Bailey, 7 Chris Youldon, 8 Jordan Hardy, 9 Luke Page, 10 Nat Crinson, 11 Mark Robinson

Substitutes used were Anthony Gamble (30 minutess for 5), Jordan Robson (60 minutes for 10) and Michael Jacob (75 minutes for 8).

The York City side was:

1 Josh Leader, 2 Michael Duckworth, 3 Callum Brown, 4 Sam Burns, 5 Luke Woodall, 6 Dean Lysles, 7 Joe Knowlson, 8 Michael Emerson, 9 Nathan Parker, 10 Adam Boyse, 11 Nick Thompson

Substitutes used were Ryan Qualter, Kingsley Weatherall and Adam Shorfield.

After kick off it was clear that the main threat to the SRCA goal was going to be that of number 10 Adam Boyes. At 17 years of age having already made his first team debut for York, the lad has already been linked with Manchester United and is due to have a trial with Middlesbrough. In the early stages our defenders Tench and Dunn coped well with the fast running forwards, but York opened with excellent movement all over the pitch.

After an opening against 15 minutes of intense York pressure RCA began to get forward and both Page and Youldon were involved in winning corners with two half chances fired at goal. However York were breaking with intense pace from their own box and after 22 minutes it was no surprise when Parker fired in from inside the box.

After 30 minutes there was real hurt for RCA when attempting to attack. A ball seemed to be handled by a York midfielder who hit the ball forward to Boyes who in a flick and turn Dennis Bergkamp would have been proud of, raced into the box and meeting the oncoming keeper … well the inevitable penalty.

We were gutted and Ryan Graham is still, as he felt there was no contact. Boyes stepped up and gleefully slotted home to make it 2 - 0 to York.

There was no time to feel sorry for ourselves as Liam Dunn pulled up with a calf injury and had to be replaced by Gamble.
However as the defence was re-shuffled Boyes again found room to get a second on 42 minutes and to be honest this was an exceptional finish. 0 - 3 and half time.

Second half, I can only say how proud the management team were to see the whole team fight until the final whistle. York were most definitely faster in most areas and were very well drilled in all set pieces. However the SRCA players were not overwhelmed and actually had two goal bound efforts cleared from the York goal-line. Gamble was doing very well at the back, whilst Bailey and Hardy battled hard in the middle of the park. Moon was showing how he enjoys playing at this level, whilst Wilson and Robinson appeared to get stronger in the second half. York are a very strong youth side and finished the game off clinically via Joe Knowlson on 70 minutes and Luke Woodhall on 84. A 5 - 0 reversal but well worth the visit and we will see which of our youth players look back on this life experience.

I will be keeping an eye on the progress of Adam Boyes and what he is sold for in the future!

Sunderland RCA Under 18s player Lee Andrews gives an insight on the York City match from the bench

Some good individual performances from the likes of Ryan Graham, who picked up the Man of the Match Award, and Alan Tench. I think maybe the occasion got to a few people and nerves crept in, but saying that it was some people's first experience of playing at a ground like York City's. It was a decent set up there and also a pretty decent crowd for an under 18s match - 130 was the actual attendance.

There was some good craic going on and people will learn a lot from the experience not just about themselves but about the team, as Owen said on the touchline it is a learning curve for him and the staff and not just the players.

Compared to them we train twice a week and they train around five days a week and are a settled team that have had more time to gel. The effort was there last night but they were more sharper in certain areas due to plenty of game time, we haven't had a game for four weeks so that was understandable.

Overall it was a good effort and a decent performance against a well organised York City side.

Newcastle East End 2 Sunderland RCA 6

Under 18s - League Cup

Saturday, 15 November 2008

After the East End had beaten us 2-1 at Meadow Park in the Lady Eden Cup last week changes were made as SRCA looked for their first ever away win against the strong Newcastle outfit. The stakes were a little higher this week as a semi final spot in the League Cup was up for grabs.

Sweeper Alan Tench was moved from his customary sweeper role into centre midfield, while Luke Page was pushed up front so that his physical presence might unsettle the home side. Well the RCA boys showed their intentions from the off and were out of the traps quickly closing down the opposition in all areas with fast flowing football that set the style for the day. After winning a succession of corners and free kicks it was no surprise on 15 minutes when the ball was crossed, cleared to just outside the box when Alan Tench stuck the ball sweetly which the keeper got fingertips to but could not stop. 1 - 0: Tench's first for the club ... and what a smile.

East End now knew they were in for a real match and having raised their game they equalised on 25 minutes, a ball down the left crossed in and despatched in style from 10 yards. However this did not slow down the RCA impetus and the domination continued when Luke Page cut in down the right, raced in to the box and fired a cross-cum-shot, which the covering defender could do nothing about. 2-1. Again no sitting back as the lads hunted the ball down and then came the goal of the season so far. Every RCA player seemed to be involved before Chris Bailey and Tench exchanged passes to Page; the ball was hit out to the left and Mark Robinson whipped the cross from the left to the far side where Page who had raced in volleyed from 15 yards, the ball rocketing off the underside of the bar, over the line before bouncing upwards to still bulge the net. Well the celebrations said it all. 3 - 1 to RCA. The game was nearly all over when Lee Andrews right on half time, closed defenders down then raced to close the keeper down, winning the ball then spinning to shoot towards the goal, but the ball went agonisingly into the side netting.

No team talk at half time was necessary and the away side lined up ready to kick off with the East End lads looking on, still shell-shocked. The second half was little different to the first: no sitting back and at them again. Lee Andrews in an identical situation to the one before half time chased the ball down, stopped the keeper's clearance and spun with aplomb despatching the ball to make it 4-1 on 55 minutes. No way back for the East End now and definitely game over. The back four of Dunn, Ashman, Jacobs and Gamble were strong, feeding the wide midfielders, Robinson and Nicholson, with plenty of the ball. Tench and captain Bailey then raised the bar further with quality central midfield interplay and good moves were finished off twice by Bailey on 75 and 80 minutes, registering his first goals for the club. 6 - 1.

Although East End registered a late consolation to make the final score 6 - 2, nothing could spoil our day: an outstanding performance. All the players would have scored 8.5 from 10, all men of the match, but captain Chris Bailey edged it. A league cup semi-final to look forward to, but I can tell you now this first ever win at East End is definitely one to remember.

Looks like Walker Central or Gateshead Redheugh away in the semi but on today's performance,they are in for what should be a terrific cup tie.


1 Ryan Graham
2 Anthony Gamble
3 Liam Dunn
4 Mick Jacob
5 Anthony Ashman
6 Alan Tench
7 Mick Nicholson
8 Chris Bailey
9 Luke Page
10 Lee Andrews
11 Mark Robinson
12 Damien Knight - 80 mins for 10
13 Marc Moon - 70 mins for 7
14 Matty Reynolds - 85 mins for 11
15 Billy Hedgley
16 Graeme Pickering

Sunderland RCA 2 Walker Central 1

Under 18s - County Cup

20 November 2008

Well for SRCA's very young side to play both of the undefeated teams from the North Division in the same week was always going to be a tough ask. Buoyed by Saturday's win at Newcastle East End though it was a case of rolling up the sleeves again for tonight's County Cup tie against Walker Central. Only one change was made to the Saturday eleven, Marc Moon coming in at right back for Anthony Gamble who was switched to the centre of defence for Michael Jacob who was unavailable.

Walker won the toss and elected to play against the slope with a reasonable wind in their faces. SRCA kicked off with optimism, but were quickly closed down as the visitors seemed unperturbed about the conditions and were looking to get forward quickly and make their clear physical and height difference count. After winning a couple of throw-ins and then a free kick it was disaster from RCA's point of view in the third minute when great skill from right winger Adrian Watson saw him beat a couple of defenders, cut into the box and fire an early shot which deceived keeper Ryan Graham, the ball bouncing out to centre forward Dean Wear who drilled home from 10 yards. 1 - 0 to the visitors and a real awakening for RCA.

Walker were full of confidence and the home side were flustered in the first 20 minutes, struggling to get their passing game going. Hurried clearances were the norm. However after 25 minutes Robinson, Tench and Bailey were getting more on the ball, looking to release Page and Andrews up front with early balls. The confidence and shape were now improving and a couple of half chances were scrambled clear by the Walker defence who were not showing the same composure as in the early stages. Both RCA fullbacks were also pushing forward, then on 30 minutes right back Moon was confident enough to break forward hitting a speculative 35 yard effort which was half cleared out to Tench on the right. He wasted no time hoisting the ball back in to the edge of the box which Page flicked on, the ball landing at the feet of Andrews who cleverly shifted feet to hit across the goal and into the bottom corner of thenet. 1 -1 and much more like it from the home side.

Moments after Nicholson in the RCA midfield split the defence with a great through ball for Page who with the keeper to beat was pulled up for offside.

Walker rallied again but Ashman, Gamble and Dunn were very comfortable at the back, with very strong headed clearances. Half time approached with the game swinging the way of the home side, but no one could predict which way this one was going to go.

The second half started in the same vein as the first, Walker out of the traps quickly again and hoping to take advantage of the stronger wind. However the back four for RCA were looking much more assured and goalkeeper Graham dealt easily with long-range efforts. After a substitution change on 65 minutes with Jordan Hardy replacing Nicholson the game was beginning to edge the way of the home side. Walker were playing longer balls and RCA were getting a lot more possession. A great midfield move pushed the ball out to right full back Moon who hit a great ball up the right wing. Page, running to meet the ball, feigned to go inside but flicked the ball on in the same direction. Leaving the full back for dead he raced on. However instead of going for goal, he hit a raking pass across the box, which the last defender got a last ditch clearance to with Andrews pressing hard.

The Walker defence was split twice in the next five minutes both chances falling to Andrews. In the one-on-one with the keeper situations hesitation allowed the keeper to gather when a sidestep looked on the cards. The second a more difficult chance the forward hit early and the keeper Mark Dawson pulled off the save of the match.

However RCA dominance paid off in the 82 minute when Robinson and Page interplayed feeding Andrews again who had an effort cleared before the ball fell to him again on the six yard box. He flicked towards goal and the goalkeeper and defender raced back but could not stop the goal. 2 - 1 to RCA.

The game petered out now with RCA keeping possession and winning successive free kicks. The referee then blew to conclude the game, a very good win which will see the team fighting on three cup fronts when ties recommence in January.

A very good week so far with a game in the Eye Infirmary Cup against Witton Park this Saturday. Let's see(!) what happens next.


1 Ryan Graham
2 Marc Moon
3 Liam Dunn
4 Anthony Gamble
5 Anthony Ashman
6 Alan Tench
7 Mick Nicholson
8 Chris Bailey
9 Luke Page
10 Lee Andrews
11 Mark Robinson
12 Jordan Hardy - 65 for 7
13 Chris Hartley
14 Matty Reynolds
15 Damien Knight
16 Graeme Pickering - GK
17 Rhys Tench

Sunderland RCA 5 Witton Park 0

Under 18s - Eye Infirmary Cup

22 November 2008

As it was SRCA's third game in a week management decided to make use of the strong squad and the side was picked with the following changes. Graeme Pickering was selected in goal to make his full starting debut, Michael Jacob was chosen in central midfield, Damien Knight brought into the fray in right midfield and Matthew Reynolds was also selected up front.

RCA kicked off and took the game straight to Witton who could not hold the ball at all in the opening minutes. After a couple of rushed clearances it was no surprise at all when after good midfield play the ball was pushed wide right after passes were exchanged between Andrews, Bailey and Knight, this created space for Reynolds who on meeting the ball that was delivered next to the penalty spot calmly slotted home to make it 1 - 0 after four minutes. Well if that was a good start it got quickly better on 10 minutes when in almost identical style the ball was wide right again, played in quickly with precision and Reynolds was there just outside the six yard box to slot in with ease 2 - 0.

Well, great start, but the ease of the goals quickly brought about complacency and the next fifteen minutes brought a sloppiness from the young RCA side that had not been witnessed in recent weeks. The midfield stopped playing simple football and it was against the run of play when Michael Jacob, out of nothing, hit a shot which eluded the keeper to make it 3-0. His first goal of the season but after his early touches, many of which were wayward, he must still be wondering how he managed to do what he did.

Well if it is or is not going to be your day in football the next ten-minute spell really proved it. The game was held up with both Jacob and Tench going down with injuries after a spell when Witton were getting more in the game and creating good half chances through the central forwards. On 35 minutes sweeper Tench could not continue with his hamstring so Jacob swapped places with him and sub Chris Hartley came into central midfield. Moments later after only a couple of touches of the ball Hartley found space on the left side ran forward and hit the ball with his right foot from 25 yards, curling straight into the top right hand corner. 4 - 0 and Hartley's first goal for the club. Who could believe it

Half time - lets settle it all down. Not likely! Captain Chris Bailey is also injured and has to be replaced with Mick Nicholson coming into centre midfield. A strange day indeed and it was no surprise after a succession of corners that Damien Knight converted with a header on 70 minutes: 5 - 0 and definitely game over.

Witton Park won a penalty on 80 minutes, which unfortunately for them, number 10 Fairweather, who had been the away side's main threat, pulled wide. Pickering on his debut was going to get the clean sheet that his performance and the strong defence deserved.

Not the U18s best performance of the season but the fifth win in the last six games, four of which have been cup games.

Need some League points now and it's a big away derby match at Ryhope CW this Saturday. They, like us, have also reached the last four of the League Cup and a good match is expected.


1 Graeme Pickering
2 Marc Moon
3 Liam Dunn
4 Alan Tench
5 Anthony Gamble
6 Mick Jacob
7 Damien Knight
8 Chris Bailey
9 Luke Page
10 Mathew Reynolds
11 Luke Page
12 Chris Hartley - 35 minutes for 4
13 Mick Nicholson - 45 minutes for 8
14 Rhys Tench - 75 minutes for 6
15 Anthony Ashman
16 Mark Robinson
17 Ryan Graham (GK)
18 Billy Hedgley (GK)

Ryhope CW 1 Sunderland RCA 2

Under 18s - League

29 November 2008

The eagerly awaited local youth derby was in doubt early morning, but with a 1:30 PM kick off the strong sunshine had time to melt the surface frost and the referee Des Coulson passed the pitch fit without hesitation. Sunderland RCA buoyed by three successive cup victories were up for what was their first league fixture since 11 October. With both teams through to the semi-finals of the League Cup and a chance of a dream final against each other, all players were keen to show their mettle.

The game kicked off in lively fashion and it was no holds barred from either side. There were competitive tackles in all areas with both sides allowing little freedom to play football. Strong challenges resulted in physio attention for both teams with SRCA central defender Gamble suffering slight concussion from a well-won aerial challenge. Michael Charlton also received treatment for the home side and had to be replaced on 25 minutes.

In fact it wasn't until after 25 minutes that the home side found sufficient room up the left wing to create a half chance which keeper Ryan Graham kept out well at the near post to concede a corner. After the half hour though it was the visitors who were making clear progress and Robinson on the left side of midfield was supplying RCA's forwards Reynolds and Andrews with a lot of the ball. However due to the pitch having a crisp covering in areas the ball was generally running away to safety. On 30 minutes SRCA right full back Marc Moon overlapped and beat a couple of RCW players, but after all his hard work he cut into the box and lost his footing with only the keeper to beat. RCA ended the half the strongest winning successive corners, but both sides were lacking final penetration. HT: 0 - 0.

The second half commenced with RCA showing more rhythm, central midfielders Page and Bailey getting more passes and playing in wide men on both sides. Robinson from the left fired in two excellent crosses, which flew past on-running RCA forwards. Moon on the right also was creating opportunities, but again there was no end product. On 65 minutes though the breakthrough came when Page from inside the opposition half hit a free kick quickly out to the right and after a couple of attempts Moon fired in again and the onrushing defender could only deflect the ball into the net. After all the good play a goal was unexpected in this way but the celebrations by the RCA players showed they did not care how. Being ahead was what mattered. 1 - 0. The next ten minutes it was generally one way traffic with SRCA playing good football. After some good play Reynolds was put through the middle for RCA, racing on against the keeper he got his shot in, which went wide, but after colliding with the keeper the referee also gave a free kick. Could have been game over, but no and SRCA also wasted the free kick, which was hit over the bar.

However no further breakthrough meant that RCW lifted their game and quick passes from the back to middle found the centre forward who raced on to hit a powerful shot past the keeper. 1 -1 and game back on. However it was RCW who sat back again and it was no surprise when on 78 minutes page found Moon on the right who hit a searching 40 yard ball over the central defenders finding Lee Andrews who at the second attempt fired past the keeper from six yards. 2 - 1 to the visitors and real celebrations now.

In the last five minutes RCW threw everything forward, hitting the bar in the dying minutes - the rebound was pushed wide. However RCA chased the clock down holding the ball until the final minutes. Three points collected away from home, but it meant a lot more!


Ryan Graham
Marc Moon
Liam Dunn
Anthony Ashman
Anthony Gamble
Jordan Hardy
Luke Page
Chris Bailey (capt)
Lee Andrews
Mathew Reynolds
Mark Robinson

Subs used

Damien Knight 70 mins for 10


Graeme Pickering (gk)
Billy Hedgeley (gk)
Mick Nicholson
Greg Bradley
Rhys Tench
Mick Jacob

Blackhall CW 1 Sunderland RCA 5

Under 18s - League

Saturday 19 December 2008

Owen Haley reports on another win for the RCA Under 18s.

The only bad blemish on our season to date was when the Youth side faced Blackhall at home in October. Winning a game 5 - 1 with 25 minutes to go we then proceeded to lose the game 7 - 5. Today's team talk was therefore a simple one!

Earlier in the day I agreed with Neil Hixon to allow Anthony Ashman to step up and make his debut for the first team. Unfortunately I could not convince Mark Robinson to see the Season out with our Youth side and he has decided to give Senior football a go with Bishop Auckland (he made his Northern League debut on Saturday as well). Late withdrawals through illness from Chris Bailey and Jordan Hardy meant the squad was massively depleted and only 13 players travelled for today's game. Chris Hartley was picked in midfield to make his starting debut.

As expected the game was lively from the off and the first quarter saw action in both penalty areas whilst there were crisp tackles exchanged in all areas. The referee was controlling the game well, but RCA were very unlucky when a penalty was awarded against them in the 20th minute. The centre forward drilled the penalty hard down the middle, Ryan Graham saved but the rebound fell at the same player's feet and he fired home at the second attempt. RCA upped the pace now with Mick Nicholson and Luke Page starting to control the midfield. It was no surprise when, after a good move on 30 minutes, Mick Nicholson received the ball just outside the box and he split the defence finding Lee Andrews who made no mistake firing the ball into the bottom corner. 1 - 1.

RCA were definitely in the ascendancy now and on 35 minutes had the ball in the net again when Andrews followed in a shot which the keeper could not hold, the ball falling to Matty Reynolds who slotted home. However the referee disallowed what appeared to be a legitimate goal. Half time 1 - 1.

The team had to be re-shuffled early in the second half when central defender Gamble left the pitch through injury. Damien Knight entered the fray in right midfield with Michael Jacob moved to central defence. Although the football played by RCA was not to the standard of the first half, a lot of space was being found by the forwards. Andrews became provider with great passes to split the defence, setting up Reynolds on 60 minutes and then for Knight on 70, to make the score 3 - 1. Andrews again got in the box on 80 minutes to finish the game off with a well-taken goal - his ninth of the season. Billy Hedgely was then thrown on up front (normally a goalkeeper) and he finished off another great move on 85 minutes turning on a sixpence to fire in from six yards. 5 - 1 to the lads and setting us all up for a good Christmas. Keep it quiet but that's five straight wins and seven from our last eight.

I have told the lads that they have got to work hard and take good memories from their Youth League games and so far they are doing so. Still playing on four cup fronts, with a League semi final coming up in 2009 and in the last eight of the County Cup. Roll on the new year and lets see how close we can get.

Sunderland RCA 4 Witton Park 1

Under 18s League

21 February 2009

The SRCA youth side were desperately looking forward to playing football today, given that it was only the side's second competitive football match of 2009 and the first in four weeks. Although three members of the squad were on DFA county duty the management stuck with the policy of playing the scheduled fixture instead of postponing, unlike some other teams in the League appear to do when lads are called up for representative duty.

The squad is lucky in that when goalkeeper Ryan Graham has been selected for County duty, there are still two quality keepers available in Graeme Pickering and Billy Hedgley. The management made a bold decision in agreeing that both would each get a half in today's league fixture and it was Graeme who started between the sticks at kick off. It was also very pleasing to have Mark Robinson on the bench - back in the fold after playing first team matches with Bishop Auckland in the First Division of the Northern League - with us again in the week of his 17th birthday. Mark is chomping at the bit to play senior football so the temporary spell away from Meadow Park will have helped his football education. Who knows it might not be too far off the chance to play first team football with SRCA … in the first division!

In the opening exchanges both teams were intent on attack. Lee Andrew hitting RCA's best effort just wide with his left foot, from the edge of the 18 yard box. Chances were created at both ends, both keepers making terrific saves with RCA's Pickering racing out and saving a strong shot destined for the net. SRCA got the breakthrough though on 35 minutes when Luke Page, receiving the ball just inside the box, calmly slotted the ball out of the keeper's reach into the bottom corner of the net to give the home side a 1- 0 lead. The breakthrough lifted the whole team and was followed with a wave of home attacks, midfielder Chris Bailey rounding off a great move, but crashing a great effort against the bar. A very competitive game was being handled well by referee Gary Cole who kept the game going at fast pace.

At half time Billy Hedgley took over the goalie's berth and Mark Robinson came off the bench replacing Chris Bailey, who was injured, on the left side of midfield. The second half continued like the first with Witton Park going close via Dale Bennett. However the goal of the game came on 60 minutes with SRCA centre midfielder Mick Nicholson spotting the keeper off his line hit a tremendous 30 yard shot over his head. RCA increased the lead via Jordan Hardy on 65 minutes before Witton Park immediately pulled a goal back after excellent counter attacking play saw a move finished off by Ben Ord. Game on again with both sides still continuing to attack. Marc Moon playing at sweeper was outstanding at central defence for SRCA heading clear on all occasions when threats arrived.

However the final substitution appeared to reignite the team when Rhys Tench came on at left back replacing Hardy on 70 minutes. Liam Dunn was pushed up from his regular position at left back to left midfield and immediately linked up with the forwards to create a chance for himself which brought a great save from the keeper. However the same player having already showed his attacking intent was not to be beaten when he got in the box again and fired home to get his first ever goal for SRCA on 80 minutes. 4 - 1 and game over.

The win created a new club youth record of seven straight wins - in all competitions - and sets us up well for the eagerly awaited home County Cup quarter final tie against Gateshead Leam Rangers on 27 February. A real test ahead but our young lads at SRCA have sneaked up to second in the League and are proving to be a match for anyone on their day.

Team 1 Graeme Pickering, 2 Michael Jacob 3 Liam Dunn 4 Marc Moon 5 Anth Gamble 6 Mick Nicholson 7 Luke Page 8 Chris Bailey 9 Lee Andrews 10 Jordon Hardy 11 Damien Knight

Subs used Billy Hedgley 45, Mark Robinson 45, Rhys Tench 70. Unused: Matty Reynolds, Greg Bradley

Certainly gong to be management selection problems when the county lads return!

Finally, did you know that the youth side have used 26 different players in 14 games this season. After not scoring in their first two matches of the season the team went on to score 43 goals in their next 10 games. The really impressive bit is that 16 different players have scored in that run showing goals are spread out and football is not a team, but a squad game!

Sunderland RCA 2 Gateshead Leam Rangers 1 (AET)

Under 18s County Cup

28 February 2009

A good crowd on Saturday for SRCA U18s most important fixture to date and all at the club were prepared for a very hard test against high flying and formidable opposition in Gateshead Leam Rangers. Although the squad was boosted with the return of goalkeeper Ryan Graham and central defender Anthony Ashman back from County duty, bad pre-match news was received when midfield club captain Chris Bailey was made unavailable due to a serious work injury the previous day. However SRCA were lifted by the team captain's presence in the dug out after release from hospital on the Saturday morning. Alan Tench took up the vacant place in midfield instead of his normal position at sweeper.

Ashman took the captain's armband and it was Gateshead who won the toss electing to defend against the slope and medium breeze. After kick off, both sides moved the ball around swiftly attempting to gain ground, but the main threat was from long throws towards both penalty boxes. SRCA conceded the first corners and Leam Rangers immediately showed their hand, placing very tall defenders at the back post and attacking in tandem with excellent crosses hit right on the spot. SRCA were conceding height in all areas, but the lads were up to the test and defending well. As the game started to settle the home side were getting more possession with Robinson getting a lot of the ball and Andrews troubling the defenders with his pace and hitting a good effort just wide of the goal after 20 minutes.

The game then really came to life after the half hour when an excellent RCA through ball from midfield split the defence and in a 50-50 race to the ball between Gateshead keeper Ryan Docherty and Lee Andrews, it was the forward who reached the ball first to lift it up and into the top corner of the net from eight yards to score his tenth goal of the season. In a game that was clearly going to be tight, the jubilation from players and the home supporters said it all. However from the kick off Gateshead upped their momentum, winning a corner after a forward barged the ball out of the hand of keeper Graham. The visitors equalising when the cross was headed against the bar and the rebound found number eleven, Adam Thompson, following in to fire off the underside of the bar. After this frenzy the game settled down again as both teams packed the midfield area with SRCA's Page, Hardy and Tench more than holding their own.

In the second half both teams were proving to be well organised and few chances were being created.

Gateshead were still proving dangerous at set pieces while SRCA were attempting to keep the ball down to avoid losing position in aerial challenges. The management had to make an enforced change on 85 minutes when Jordan Hardy had to leave the field (one of the joys of youth football - the midfielder having to leave early to get to work for his part time job. Not joking, but the lad also was to face a work disciplinary today for turning up last week with dirty arms. The management told him to get to work quick and wear a hat and long sleeves if he couldn't find time for the shower. Then the moment of the second half on 90 minutes when substitute Damien Knight from the right played in Lee Andrews on the left, with the keeper and defender in the six yard box, he cracked a shot which the keeper forced out to the same spot; he hit it again from eight yards this time and a lot firmer, past the keeper and the defender spread-eagled in attempting to stop, wedged the ball between his body and the goal-line, the home players celebrated, the ball cleared out for a throw, the ref, right up with play, waved his hands saying no goal and then blew the final whistle. 1 - 1 and extra time to be played. A real dogfight this one, with no-one predicting the outcome.

However SRCA kept their heads and on 98 minutes won a free-kick just inside Leam Rangers half which was crossed in to the front post with aplomb by Mick Nicholson and Knight met it with a firm header into the net giving the keeper no chance. Well, real joy now and the goal really gave SRCA a much needed lift.

The second half of extra time was not for the purists. Gateshead pushing forward, but SRCA refusing to bow down. The back four of Gamble, Dunn, Moon and Ashman (who was battered and bruised) were standing up to everything. Then on 105 minutes the best chance of the game came when Andrews played in Knight on the right racing through from inside our half he only had the keeper to beat, but on attempting to round him pushed the ball too far. The lads kept possession and then unfortunately a great game was spoilt. With RCA keeping possession, a Gateshead defender took exception and threw a haymaker onto Mark Robinson, splitting his eye. Well, uproar now and even more when the ref felt it necessary to send the culprit defender and Robbo from the field. I wish we had video evidence of this one because we have been massively hard done by here. As a team we have not had a booking in our last eight games and only two all season. We are a proper footballing side and will be absolutely gutted to lose a very good player at this stage of the season. Could be going to DFA about the sending off.

The final whistle was blown 2 - 1 to RCA - that's eight straight wins - and we are now in the U18 county cup semi-final draw for the first time. We should be celebrating, but are all subdued.

Team 1 Ryan Graham 2 Anthony Gamble 3 Liam Dunn 4 Marc Moon 5 Anthony Ashman 6 Mick Nicholson 7 Luke Page 8 Alan Tench 9 Lee Andrews 10 Jordon Hardy 11 Mark Robinson
Subs used Damien Knight 88 minutes

Bottom of the league this time last year, the club has moved forward. Now in the next two months can the U18s turn a good season into a great one?

Sunderland RCA 1 Chester le Street 1

Under 18s County Youth League

Saturday 14 March 2009

Well before today, only four league games left to play for SRCA youths and to stand any chance of winning the league the opposition, Chester-le-Street, had to be beaten. A very big ask, given that the visitors had not dropped a single point to date during 2008/09. However SRCA were buoyant on the back of eight straight wins and were definitely looking forward to the test.

With a decent crowd in attendance, SRCA won the toss and elected to defend the conditions with a very strong March wind in their faces. Chester-le-Street were quickly on the attack and the two central attackers, 9 and 10, were very lively; RCA central defenders Moon and Ashman had to make good challenges to control the early threat. Chester won the first corners, but they were well dealt with as RCA stood resolute. However it was difficult for the home attack to make any headway until the 20th minute when Andrews (who had made his first team debut during the week) hit a decent effort, which was a yard wide of the target. Minutes later though there was a goal on the counter when the central Chester midfielder played a through ball into the box and number 10, Joe Hughes, whilst looking in an offside position, flicked the ball over keeper Graham who had raced out, making it 1 - 0 to the visitors.

The midfield area was packed now with RCA reverting to five across the park to slow down the Chester momentum who were looking to get a second as the wind was proving to be a massive advantage. However they were restricted to long range efforts including a couple of direct free kicks well dealt with by Graham. However up front Robinson and Andrews were causing problems with their pace and RCA won corners as half time approached. Chester coped well with the threat having aerial advantage in many positions but were still relieved when the whistle blew, as RCA were unlucky not to register a goal.

RCA players remained on the pitch at half time eagerly awaiting the restart and Chester players, when leaving the changing rooms, knew they were in a real match. The home supporters were not to be disappointed as RCA quickly went for it, winning corners immediately. Then in the 50th minute a real surge on goal when Page, Jordan and Hardy, had half chances before the ball was cleared high to the edge of the box where supporting midfielder Bailey attacked the ball. Heading it perfectly from 18 yards and with the keeper beaten it crashed against the bar. Chester were doing all the defending now, particularly with Ashman's long throws which were causing major problems and winning RCA consecutive corners. The last was well crossed in by Robinson, but Ashman headed wide when finding space in the box. The pressure eventually paid off in the 75th minute when another corner was won on the right and when it was crossed in it was only half cleared to the edge of the box. Page hit it first time and Ashman redirected the shot into the bottom corner of the net. Real celebrations now as RCA drew level 1 - 1.

The game was fast and frantic now as the home side pushed forward at all times, needing a winner to keep possible title chances alive. However no breakthrough came and it was heart-in-mouths in the last minute when Chester-le Street in their best chance of the second half raced through, three on to one, only to waste the opportunity when the centre forward shot from distance instead of playing his attacking partner in. The full time whistle was blown and title aspirations look very unlikely now in that SRCA must win their last three matches whilst hoping Chester lose three of their last five - very unlikely indeed because they are an exceptional side. The record run of eight successive wins has been halted but as least our young lads are unbeaten since October. Definitely good times as this time last year we were bottom of the league. Three cups left to go for with two semi-finals coming up very soon. If the lads can keep the effort and commitment up together with a bit of luck who knows we might reach a final. Still a great season whatever happens and we are still the only team to have beaten North League leaders, Walker Central, and the first to take a point off the South League champions elect!

Ryhope CW 1 Sunderland RCA 3

Durham County Cup Youth Semi Final - Under 18s

Saturday 28 March 2009

History was made today with the first ever meeting of two clubs with home grounds based in Ryhope (less than a mile apart) competing in a Durham County Cup Semi Final tie. Whilst the players themselves were eagerly looking forward to the match, local supporters arrived in numbers as the kick off approached and were not put off by the cold, wind and dampness that prevailed. SRCA had a clean bill of health other than for Graeme Pickering one of the club's three goalkeepers being unavailable. Ironic that generally having three keepers for most games, that the only defeat in the last 12 was back in October in a game that we did not have a keeper. The management had some big decisions to make in team selection still with a good squad of seventeen available for the tie.

At kick off the wind was very strong and with RCW winning the toss and electing to defend the conditions, SRCA had to make use of the advantage and get something from the first half. Luke Page who has played most of his games in the centre of midfield played up front whilst left sider Mark Robinson was asked to play higher up the field. In the first ten minutes the play was congested in the midfield area with RCW closing down quickly and clearly showing strong determination in the tackle. However SRCA were making use of the strong wind at their backs and began winning throw-ins inside the RCW half and Anthony Ashman was throwing well into the penalty area. A couple of corners were won, but scrambled away as the home side defended well. As the game progressed RCA in having more possession were drawing many fouls for minor infringements. RCA midfielder Chris Bailey needed prolonged treatment after a rash tackle on him after 20 minutes. However the next challenge by Callum Charlton from RCW on Alan Tench was a very bad one. The referee had a long look and on going to his pocket produced yellow. Debatable, but RCA were not ruffled. The decisions pushed the team forward invigorated and after a further throw was won on the left a breakthrough was made. Launched into the box Luke Page won possession on the penalty spot his first effort with his left foot was blocked and when the rebound fell to him again he hit it immediately with his right and it flew in along the wet surface to make it one-nil to the away side. The large contingent of home supporters were silenced, whilst the RCA players were in high spirits now.

Ten minutes later things got better for RCA when a corner was won down the left side again. Mark Robinson hit a sweet curler into the box where sweeper Marc Moon rose unchallenged and planted a header right in the top corner of the net to make it 2 - 0 to the visitors. RCW responded by pushing more players forward and Ryan Graham had to be on his toes to keep out to long-range efforts. However the back four of Gamble, Moon, Ashman and Dunn were proving very capable. Andrews and Page worked hard up font closing the space down whilst wide midfielders Robinson on the left and Hardy on the right tightened up the midfield. The referee blew for half-time RCA worthy leaders in 2 - 0, but the game was not over by a long way as a severe test, with the wind unrelenting, was ahead of us. The main concern at half time was that treatment was needed for the knocks that central midfielders Tench and Bailey had taken. Although both had treatment it was decided to withdraw Bailey. Damien Knight was brought into the fray up front with Luke Page moved back to centre midfield.

The second half kicked off with the changes not affecting the general play and RCA still showing composure in all areas. RCW though were giving it their all and also making use of long throws which resulted in winning corner advantage. On 60 minutes though, they nearly made the breakthrough when Trewick created a chance for a RCW forward to break into the box and after beating a defender he hit the ball immediately across keeper Graham who pushed it away for a corner. However the RCA tactics of moving the ball quickly wide paid off and on 65 minutes when the ball was switched forward to Damien Knight on the right who running from the half way line out-sprinted the defence and from all of 30 yards spotted the advancing keeper and lifted the ball spectacularly over his head, the ball landing right in the bottom right corner of the net: 3 - 0.

RCW really had to push forward now and it was backs to the wall as RCA defenders were working overtime pushing the ball out for throw-ins and corners. Very resolute, but the pressure eventually paid off when a free kick was won down the right on 75 minutes. From all of 30 yards Greener ran in to hit a strong left foot curler over the wall and right into the top corner giving the keeper no chance. The home supporters celebrated whilst the RCW players raced back to kick off, buoyed by the breakthrough. Backs to the wall stuff for the next five minutes for RCA! RCW began leaving gaps at the back. The wide forwards Robinson and Knight both had chances for RCA with the former beating the full back on the left wing and racing into the box firing wide. Lee Andrews who had worked tirelessly up front then hit an excellent effort from 30 yards, which the home keeper dealt with well. The game was shut down with RCW going until the end. Actually eight additional minutes played not that the reporter was counting, before the referee blew and the tie won 3- 1 by RCA. A County Cup final for the first time in the club's history! Good banter in the home team's clubhouse after the game when both committees and management discussing the progression of some of the tadpoles into the larger senior football pond of Wearside League or Northern League football. A few of the lads playing today definitely have good futures in the game.

Sunderland RCA 5 Willington 2

Eye Infirmary Cup

6 April 2009

Welcome showers before kick off and very little wind, meant conditions were ideal for tonight's cup tie against Willington, with a semi final place at stake. Facing three games in six days, the management made good use of the squad and four changes were made from the last match. Billy Hedgley got his chance in goal, Mick Jacob brought in at right back, Damien Knight on the right side of midfield, with Matty Reynonds up front for his first game since his minor operation. Difficult decisions indeed given that from the last ten games, nine had been won by SRCA with one draw.

If the team changes were going to affect the good run it certainly didn't show and RCA started at a phenomenal pace. Kicking off with the slope advantage, possession was retained as the ball was passed between midfielders with captain Chris Bailey exchanging passes with Luke Page in the centre before feeding Lee Andrews up front. He held well before rolling the ball back to Page who, 25 yards from goal, took one touch then hit a curled drive over the outstretched keeper and into the top corner. 1 - 0. The players were jubilant, a large crowd applauded and the Willington defenders were shell-shocked. All one way traffic in the first ten and the passing and movement was better than it has been all season: not like watching Brazil; this was better! A further seven man move even had sweeper Marc Moon piling forward and he hit a tremendous drive which finished wide. Every home player seemed to be getting in on the act and Page and Bailey in the centre were running the show. Willington could not get hold of the ball at all and after 20 minutes the next breakthrough. Page again taking the pass he beat two men, before slicing the defence in two freeing Reynolds, who racing on to beat the keeper in attempting to lob, sliced the ball, but this totally confused the keeper leaving the forward to follow up and fire home 2 -0.

Willington had not settled and were moving the ball long in attempting to get some respite. Although they did win a couple of corners and a free kick they were finding little room in the RCA end with Tench and Jacobs at the back, not only winning balls, but starting attacking moves at the same time. The amount of home possession though was frightening and no surprise when a further breakthrough was made. Page was again involved when getting the ball and on 35 minutes. If the first goal was top drawer this one also took some beating. Page receiving from Bailey, hit a great ball out to the left, Robinson raced on beating his man then cutting into the box took out another defender, switching the ball left to right foot he hit a 22 yarder straight into the bottom corner. 3 - 0 and great celebrations. Robbo's first of the season and was he pleased! The visitors needed half time, but there was still no relenting. Ball played from the back again with Dunn and Moon involved, Tench moved it out to the right and this time Damien Knight fired in a terrific cross to the back post, Robinson right in the mood now, raced in to hit a terrific volley which Howarth, in goal, tipped onto the bar, but who was waiting for the rebound?

Matty Reynolds again, thank you very much. He despatched the ball for his tenth of the season. 4 - 0 and easily our best 45 minutes of the season to date.

Not wanting half time, but the referee blew the whistle.

The opposition and current league leaders now knew what they were up against and tightened up in all areas. Clearly they were not going to throw the towel in and responding to the challenge they upped the ante and pulled a goal back for their efforts. Although their passing and movement was excellent the goal came from sloppy defensive play when the ball played into the box caused hesitancy between Moon and goalkeeper Hedgley, allowing Josh Clark to intercept and fire into the corner on 50 minutes. Both teams clearly set the stall out to attack resulting in some excellent, fast-paced football, well appreciated by the crowd. Chances were created from both sides before RCA increased their lead on 70 minutes. A free kick on the halfway line was hit long to the right side of the box where Liam Dunn climbed high to head over all the defence into space and Lee Andrews reacted first to half volley in from 8 yards. 5 - 1 and surely game over. Well fair play to Willington they came back again and after a good passing period the ball was crossed in from the left where Evan Graham ran in between defence and goalkeeper to plant a firm header over the advancing keeper. 5 - 2 and what a cracking game and the quality of the football was commented on by referee Bob Robson at the end of the match.

On Saturday SRCA play Willington again in the league and all will be looking forward to the game involving teams with similar attacking styles playing the game of football in the proper way. A great advert for the Saturday County League. A further league match against our neighbours RCW on Wednesday and the question is can SRCA keep the unbeaten run going? Good that the team has reached the County Final and now a further two semis, in the League and Eye

Infirmary cups, but the most important thing is the progress that our youth side is making and in the style they are aiming to play the game. The future is good and a lot of club scouts are starting to take notice!

Sunderland RCA 2 Ryhope CW 1

Under 18s League

8 April 2009

With the first team at Marske there was a subdued atmosphere at Meadow Park for a local derby with the crowd mainly consisting of support for the visitors. Given the hectic week of games the SRCA management made good use of the strong squad and Graeme Pickering was picked to play in goal whilst Greg Bradley was selected up front for his first start in a couple of months.

RCW won the toss and opted to kick with the slope advantage and a reasonable wind at their backs. A brave decision and one that suited their intentions as they were quickly in the SRCA goal area and half chances were created for both central forwards, Greener and Rogerson. Chris Trewick in central midfield for RCW was dictating the early play and created openings that could have been made better use of but whilst in good possession, players were choosing to shoot from distance and Pickering in goal gathered with confidence. SRCA responded winning a couple of corners, but in the first half hour little headway could be made. It was no surprise that RCW took the lead on 35 minutes, but after previous good play it came from the direct route. An RCW defender threw the ball Rory Delap-style into the box, where it hit Mick Nicholson on the arm and although there was not full intention the referee wasted no time in pointing to the spot. Rogerson stepped up and drilled low into the corner giving the keeper little chance. 1 - 0 to the visitors. SRCA had one further chance, which was delivered onto the head of Damien Knight, but he headed wide. The game closed up thereafter until half time with little room being found by either side.

The second half commenced with SRCA upping the ante, but RCW were proving to be a tough nut to crack and capable when counter attacking. However the endeavour paid off after 70 minutes when after successive corners a ball was not fully cleared in the box and it fell to Greg Bradley who hit home the equaliser. Shortly after, RCA management made further changes with Tench, Reynolds and Andrews being introduced for Nicholson, Bradley and Knight. The momentum was increased and resulted in the best period of play for RCA, but no clear-cut chances were created. However with a draw looking very likely a long clearance from the right on 82 minutes arrived just inside the box where Robinson running in from the left chased past the last defender and gleefully struck into the net. Loud celebrations from the home players having grounded out another win which means at least a top three finish and a chance of runners up spot if results can be gathered against Willington. The unbeaten run now stretches to 12 games.

Sunderland RCA 2 Willington 2

Under 18s League

11 April 2009

The opposition knew what to expect at Meadow Park today and made a number of changes from the starting line up that had turned out in the cup match the previous Monday. SRCA made a couple of changes from the previous two games with Ryan Graham returning in goal and Anthony Gamble back in the back four.

The visitors were clearly up for it and if Monday's start by SRCA was impressive Willington's was equally as good, attacking from the off. After good midfield play between Richard Suddes and Lewis Brown in midfield, a great ball was played over the head of SRCA's central defenders and centre forward Barry Thompson raced onto it, despatching the ball over the head of advancing Graham in goal. 1 - 0 to Willington and only six minutes played. If this was a wake-up call for RCA it was ignored as moments after a ball was played in from the right wing and again missed by SRCA defenders; it fell to the feet of Thompson who in a great position hammered the ball over the bar from only eight yards. The home side could not settle down in the first half hour, but did create a good chance from a corner, which Luke Page headed over. A strong penalty claim was also turned down when a Willington defender, who did not make any contact with the ball, challenged Knight, racing into the box. The increased pressure paid off though; on 40 minutes with Alan Tench instrumental in playing one-twos down the right before delivering a great ball to Knight in the box, who raced on and made no mistake hitting the ball right into the corner of the net. SRCA were very alive know and right on half time they beat the offside trap and with Knight in again with the keeper to beat the referee blew for half time.

SRCA commenced the second half like they finished the first with Lee Andrews hitting a good tester for the keeper and left back Liam Dunn also getting into the box after a terrific solo run with the final effort drilled over the bar. However Willington dusted themselves down and after winning a corner they took the lead after 60 minutes. The corner hit in well from the right had keeper Graham coming off his line however after a challenge the ball spilt free and number eight, Evan Graham wasted no time in dispatching the ball home. 2 - 1 to Willington. The visitors then invited pressure on themselves opting to play one up front and it was generally one-way traffic after that. Nicholson, Reynolds and Bradley were brought on in quick succession to mix things up as Willington were closing all the doors just in front of goal. Robinson on the left was beating his markers at will, but there was no final finish by the SRCA attackers. However when a long ball was played through the middle on 88 minutes, Mathew Reynolds ran onto it and in a race with the keeper he got to the ball first and from 25 yards and a very tight angle hit it high over the keeper's head, bouncing once and then hitting the roof of the net. Big celebrations as the SRCA lads were ecstatic in hitting the equaliser and getting their rewards for the long period of domination. Final whistle 2 - 2 and the unbeaten run continues. It's a long break now after the quick rush of games, with no fixtures for two weeks. Not a good time to have a break but big games to look forward to with two semis, a County Cup Final and one league game left against Willington with the runners up spot still possible.

Gateshead Redheugh 3 Sunderland RCA 2

Under 18s League Cup Semi Final

Wednesday 29 April 2009

It was a very long and lively night in the centre of Gateshead for tonight's League Cup Semi. The game scheduled to kick off at 6:30 finally kicked off at 6:45, the delay being caused by the request of an assistant referee that all supporters stand at least five yards away from the byeline. Could have been all sorted if the adjacent pitch with a perimeter barrier was used.

The opening 20 minutes were dominated by Redheugh who, adapting better to the conditions, were very direct and they were well worth the lead scored by Bragnell who followed up after a shot was pushed out by Graham in goal. RCA were struggling to play their normal football, but half chances were created for Reynolds and Knight who both hit efforts wide of the target. However improvements were showing and it was no surprise when the equaliser arrived when Reynolds hit home after a great through ball by Andrews. However immediately from the kick off the home side put four passes together before a ball pierced the RCA back four and Bloomfield ran on to hit a great shot from 22 yards. To make matters worse for RCA right before half time a corner kick was conceded on the left and when this was hit to the back post an unmarked Bragnell volleyed home from 6 yards. RCA 3 - 1 down and with it all to do.

Redheugh decided to adjust their game plan to defend only after the break and this enabled RCA to dominate from the off. Wave after wave of attack, but no end product until 70 minutes. Moon fed Page down the right who raced into the box hitting a good effort which the keeper pushed out to the onrushing Knight who hit home to reduce the deficit. All one way traffic and the home side were defending as if their lives depended on it. Numerous stoppages were now the call, the referee and his assistants meeting every few minutes to discuss the bad light, objects found on the pitch and other problems. However RCA were not going to surrender their unbeaten run lightly and on 80 minutes Ashman threw a long throw special into the box, defenders and attackers missed the ball and although the keeper appeared to touch when the ball went into the net, no goal was the call. Minutes later Moon hit a 25 yard screamer against the bar the ball falling agonisingly short of Knight following up. Free kick after free kick was conceded by the home side and on 85 minutes a terrific effort was hit on goal by RCA's Page and this was handled by a defender what looked like just inside the penalty area. The referee blew then again exchanged words with his assistant, on return though, a free kick was awarded right on the edge of the box. The drilled effort blocked again. Ashman was then sent off for a second bookable offence for disputing the previous decision.

The referee blew as Gateshead booked their place in the League Cup Final. If an equaliser had happened the game would have gone straight to penalties as there was no light now available to view. A controversial game, but fair play to the endeavour of the home side for going until the end. Unfortunately RCA's unbeaten 14 game run, started in November, is now over. Time to dust ourselves down for a very big Semi Final away to Chester-le-Street on Saturday.

Willington 1 Sunderland RCA 3

Under 18s League

25 April 2009

The league runners up spot was at stake today with Willington needing a draw to secure second position, whilst RCA had to ensure victory to overtake them. Both teams were well up for it, with Willington edging possession in the first quarter of an hour and looking very dangerous from set pieces. Pickering in goal for RCA had to be alert and saved well in a one-on-one with the Willington number 10.

RCA began to get into their stride after 20 minutes with Andrews breaking into the box and after getting past the keeper he shot into the side netting from a very acute angle. Minutes later Ashman fired in a free kick towards goal for RCA and Tench did very well in reaching the ball just inside the six-yard box, but hit his shot against the bar. However the good period of dominance was disturbed when Willington gained advantage from a corner on 25 minutes, the centre half heading home well to make it 1 - 0 to the home side. RCA upped the ante and really went at the home side and it was no surprise when Luke Page fired home a great volley from 25 yards to make it 1 - 1. Minutes later Ashman threw one of his specials into the box, Page flicked on into the six-yard box where Andrews, with his back to goal back, heeled the ball into the net. Massive celebrations and much more like it from RCA who held the 2 - 1 advantage at half time.

Willington pushed all out in the second half, looking to secure that important point, but RCA were not flustered and when the defence was breached Pickering was looking very assured in goal to deny the home side. RCA were looking more confident as the game wore on with Dunn at left back starting to get forward and support the attack. After 60 minutes RCA made possession and pressure count, winning successive corners one of which was delivered well to the back post by Robinson, where Tench headed back towards goal and this was met by Knight who put the ball past the keeper heading in from three yards. 3 - 1 to RCA and it was looking like runners up spot in the bag.

A few players' heads dropped in the Willington side and RCA had further great chances to extend the league both falling to Knight who hit over the bar in a one to one with the keeper. The same player should easily have done better when put through on 80 minutes when with the keeper to beat he shot weakly and this was smothered easily. RCA controlled the ball for the remainder of the game until the referee blew the final whistle. Celebrations from RCA and runners up spot achieved. After collecting only one point from the first three league games of the season the team has gone on to be undefeated in the next nine league matches. The undefeated run now stretches to 14 matches, which also includes 12 wins. Good times and good progress by RCA Youths with two semi finals and the County Cup final soon upon them!

Chester-le-Street 3 Sunderland RCA 2

Under 18 Eye Infirmary Cup Semi Final

Saturday 2 May 2009

Well the busy schedule caught up with the U18 squad and only 13 players were available for today's Eye Infirmary Cup Semi Final against League Champions Chester-le-Street.

In a very tight first half it was possibly RCA who shaded possession with both forward lines very alive and some excellent attacking football on offer.

Chester-le-Street took the lead through a cool finish by Aiston after 25 mins.

After 35 minutes RCA were pushing to equalise, but then one of the bizarre incidents of the season occurred. After a stoppage through a player injury the referee awarded a bounce ball on the edge of the Chester-le-Street box. Lee Andrews standing opposite a Chester-le-Street defender must have thought his opponent was going to challenge and instead of passing to the keeper overhit the ball which flew straight into the back of the net. The referee awarded the goal and immediately booked Andrews. 1 - 1 and real confusion. From the kick off RCA allowed Aiston to walk through from centre circle to goal to restore the balance and common sense to the game. 2 - 1 to Chester at half time.

The second half continued at a fast pace and on 65 minutes it was Aiston again who finished off a great five man move to despatch the ball well from just inside the RCA box. RCA upped the ante and had plenty of opportunities before Andrews scored the goal of the game on 80 minutes. Chester shut up shop and it was they that booked their place in the Final.

Two semis lost by RCA in a week and only the big one left the County Cup Final on Tuesday 5 May. A nostalgic date in that being the famous SAFC 1973 FA Cup win. Let's hope it's our night!

New Hartley 1 Sunderland RCA 3

Under 18 Durham County Youth Cup Final

Tuesday 5 May 2009

All the photos

Well the final game of the season for Sunderland RCA Under 18s and a very big one in the Durham Youth Cup Final. The whole squad (19 in total that has been utilised for the last few months) were available for selection and the management had the toughest decision of the season to make with only 16 allowed to make the team sheet and then picking the starting eleven. Whatever lay ahead all squad members were congratulated on what has been a great squad effort and an excellent season in finishing County South League runners up. No one will forget that 14 game unbeaten run, starting early November and lasting until the last week of April. The record will take some beating! Behind us now though and one final push tonight with the major prize of the County Youth Cup up for grabs.

The Harton and Westoe arena was idyllic other than for an increasing breeze, which RCA captain Chris Bailey on winning the toss elected to defend. However it was RCA who opened with attacking intentions and clearly they were up for what was going to be a tough encounter. The early exchanges saw commitment in all areas as both teams looked to stamp authority. On eight minutes some great passing between Bailey and Page in the centre allowed space for Tench wide right who played an excellent ball up the line to Page again. He showed great acceleration racing into the box and deceiving the left back in feigning a cross with his right foot he turned inside and hit a great shot with his left into the far corner past the despairing New Hartley goalkeeper Zak Douglas. 1 - 0 to RCA with less than 10 minutes played. What a fantastic start.

New Hartley were most definitely unsettled now and RCA top scorer Andrews, when played in by his forward partner Robinson, could have made it two when put clear after quarter of an hour, however he lifted the ball over the bar with only the keeper to beat. New Hartley weathered the storm and started to apply good pressure with their central midfielder Chris Moffet influencing some good forward movement. After winning successive corners the Hartley central defender Joe Berry headed strongly towards goal and Pickering in goal for RCA was relieved to see this clear the bar. After the half hour New Hartley were really making progress and utilising the strong breeze at their backs. RCA were defending strongly though and it was a real surprise when there seemed little on, when New Hartley number 10 Alex Mathieson hit a real screamer from 30 yards which flew into the top corner of the net giving the keeper no chance. 1 - 1 and game on. New Hartley upped the ante and Pickering had to make an excellent stop from centre forward Jamie Heathcote minutes later . However RCA showed no signs of dejection and took the game again back to New Hartley and Robinson and Andrews created half chances again which kept the New Hartley keeper on his toes. The referee blew for half time with RCA after defending strong wind conditions still having a spring in their stride as they left the field.

RCA went straight at New Hartley after the second half kicked off and New Hartley were tested at the back conceding throw ins in quick succession. Ashman who had proved a threat to Hartley many times in the first half, then threw one of his specials right into the 6 yard box and the flight of the ball deceived the keeper who finger tipped the ball before a covering defender headed into the goal right on the line. Unspectacular, but 2-1 to RCA and real wind in the sails. New Hartley pushed again, but the RCA back four of Dunn, Moon, Ashman and Gamble were very resilient and they were eliminating danger very quickly. After 60 minutes RCA were making the most of counter attack opportunities and after some good play down the right Tench hit an excellent effort from 16 yards just over the bar. Jordan Hardy was providing good midfield cover to the RCA defence allowing Page and Bailey more chances to move forward. The game could have been sown up when Andrews was freed and the keeper pulled off an excellent save from him on 75 minutes. New Hartley gave a final push in the latter stages, but it was RCA who counter attacked down the right, Tench freeing Robinson down the right who raced into the box and although challenged he hit a great effort across the keeper to make it 3- 1 and game over on 85 minutes.

Reynolds and Knight came on to replace Andrews and Robinson on 86 minutes. The clock was run down and the referee blew. Joy from the RCA players as they gathered to congratulate one another. The first ever County Cup win that the club has had at any level and just rewards for some great efforts during 2008/09. Good prospects on show, six of the squad being eligible for next year's Youth side whilst a few of the older lads will be joining the first team camp for next season . A good base is in place for the SRCA project.



CC - County Cup
EIC - Eye Infirmary Cup
FAYC - FA Youth Cup
LEHC - Lady Eden Hospitals Cup
L - League
LC - League Cup


Opposition Fixture F - A Result Scorers
Saturday 16 August
Chester-le-Street L 0 - 3 Lose  
Tuesday 09 September
York City FAYC 0 - 5 Lose  
Saturday 20 September
Lumley L 3 - 3 Draw Andrews, Crinson, Hardy (pen)
Wednesday 24 September
Blackhall L 5 - 7 Lose Andrews, Bradley, Crinson, Moon, Reynolds
Saturday 27 September
Lumley LC 5 - 1 Win Andrews, Crinson, Knight, Reynolds, Wilson
Saturday 11 October
Witton Park L 2 - 0 Win Moon, Reynolds
Saturday 25 October
Newcastle East End LEHC 1 - 2 Lose Nicholson
Saturday 15 November
Newcastle East End LC 6 - 2 Win Andrews, Bailey (2), Page (2) , Tench
Thursday 20 November
Walker Central CC 2 - 1 Win Andrews (2)
Saturday 22 November
Witton Park EIC 5 - 0 Win Hartley, Jacob, Knight, Reynolds (2)
Saturday 29 November
Ryhope CW L 2 - 1 Win Andrews, Moon
Friday 19 December 08
Blackhall L 5 - 1 Win Andrews (2), Hegdley, Knight, Reynolds
Saturday 10 January
Lumley L 3 - 2 Win Moon, Reynolds (2)
Saturday 21 February
Witton Park L 4 - 1 Win Dunn, Hardy, Nicholson, Page
Saturday 28 February
Gateshead LR CC 2 - 1 aet Win Andrews, Knight
Saturday 14 March
Chester le Street L 1 - 1 Draw Ashman
Saturday 28 March
Ryhope CW CC 3 - 1 Win Knight, Moon, Page
Monday 6 April
Willington EIC 5 - 2 Win Andrews, Page, Reynolds (2), Robinson
Wednesday 8 April
Ryhope CW L 2 - 1 Win Bradley, Robinson
Saturday 11 April
Willington L 2 - 2 Draw Knight, Reynolds
Saturday 25 April
Willington L 3 - 1 Win Andrews, Knight, Page
Wednesday 29 April
Gateshead Redheugh LC - SF 2 - 3 Lose Reynolds, Knight
Saturday 2 May
Chester-le-Street EIC 2 - 3 Lose Andrews (2)
Tuesday 05 May
New Hartley CC - Final 3 - 1 Win Page, OG, Robinson