Stephen Callen celebrates after scoring RCA's winning goal.
Please click here for match photos by Simon Mears.
After the emotionally charged match on Saturday there was a different feel about the replay as both teams realised that there had to be a result here tonight, bragging rights apart there was the matter of progressing in the FA Cup competition. RCA’s management team made one change to the line up with Mark Davison returning to replace Michael Charlton, they also made a change to their formation.
The opening minutes of the game were very tentative as both teams tried to settle into there respective game plans. The visitors were the first to have a chance as Callen latched onto a ball from Hodgson, dribbled past two defenders before stabbing the ball towards goal where Winter managed to get a hand to it and the ball was eventually scrambled clear for a corner. Davison headed the resulting corner wide of the post. The Welfare responded quickly and a ball from Trewick was picked up by Rae who sent in a low drive which brought a good save from Dean in the RCA goal.
Davison was proving to be a thorn in the side of the Welfare’s defence as he was constantly closing them down. Winning the ball in the 20th minute he sent a perfectly weighted cross to the far post where O’Neill fired is a shot but Winter had positioned himself well to make the save look more comfortable than it was. Three minutes later and RCA almost took the lead when a rasping shot from Hodgson hit the bar and rebounded to O’Neill but he couldn’t generate enough power in his header to trouble Winter.
The Welfare were unlucky not to open the scoring in the 25th minute when they were awarded a free kick on the right. Proctor whipped in a vicious cross which Rae glanced just wide of the upright.
On the half hour RCA rode their luck a little when they allowed J Weirs time a space to cross into the box, the ball evaded everyone before hitting the post and going out for a goal kick. As the game entered the final ten minutes of the half RCA started to get on top. A glorious free kick by Elliott was met unopposed by Swansbury, but once again Winter was somehow able to get hand to the ball and palm it away for a corner. Three minutes later and Davis was able to get past his marker and send in a low cross which ricocheted off Lay to O’Niell who instinctively hooked the ball towards goal where Winter pulled off an amazing reflex save. All to no avail as the flag was up for offside.
On the stroke of half time Wallace won the ball in the RCA half, broke past the last defender and from just inside the box hit a low shot which Dean saved low to his right.
The home team had the first chance of the second half when Rae slipped the ball through to Bird on the left hand side of the penalty area but the winger sent his shot high and wide from a promising position. Allen played the ball to Davis two minutes later and his cross was met by Davison who send in a ferocious shot which was once again saved superbly by Winter.
In the 50th minute a free kick into the box was headed away to the edge of the box by Riding where Elliott met the ball on the volley and the ball thundered off the bar. Did Winter get a touch on it? I wouldn’t bet against it. The referee thought not and awarded a goal kick. As in the first half RCA looked to be getting on top, and when they broke after Proctor had headed over the bar from a Bird corner the ball was played to O’Neill who crossed to the far post, Callen headed back across the RCW goal and Winter clawed it away only as far as Elliott who fired over the bar. The deadlock was eventually broken in the 58th minute when Hodgson sent a pass forward to Callen, the RCA striker cleverly controlled the ball past the RCW defender before curling a delightful shot round the outstretched hand of Winter.
The home manager’s response was to throw on fresh legs making a double substitution.
RCA should have put the game to bed in the 70 minute when Callen again slipped his defender, his shot was parried away by Winter to Davison whose shot was blocked and fell to Callen again,but he scuffed his shot wide. The Home team picked up the pace as RCA seemed to wilt very quickly. A free kick on the edge of the box was cleverly taken by Proctor to Ellis, his shot was blocked by Preston and the ball went back to Proctor who clipped the ball into the box where Rae acrobatically hooked the ball over the bar. Two minutes later and Rae received a pass from Lay, spun and shot past Dean, but McNab was on hand to clear off the line.
The pressure was mounting on the RCA defence and was made worse when Preston had to go off injured to be replaced by Moan and RCA reshuffled their defence to accommodate. Within a minute of the departure of Preston, RCW were awarded a corner which was swung into the box and met powerfully by Lay but, luckily for RCA McNab was able to head the ball over the bar.
In the 84th minute RCW grabbed a lifeline when J Weirs broke forward and, with the RCA defence treading water, delivered a terrific pass to Trewick who headed home from close range. Two minutes later and RCW were given the chance to win the tie when Hodgson was adjudged to have fouled Rae. The normally reliable Ellis stepped up but smashed the kick high and wide of the right hand post.
With time running out and the game looking to be going to extra time RCA made their final substitutions and in the 92nd minute a long ball forward was missed by J Weir and callen picked up the loose ball before cutting inside the box and smashing the ball past the helpless Winter to make it 2 – 1 and book RCA a place in the next round.
Next up for RCA is Whickham on Saturday, kick off 3:00pm Sunderland LGV Park.