Match winner Stephen Callen in action during the first half of the match.
For more photos from the match please click here.
The weather gods shone for a while on “Sunderland LGV Park” and the efforts of the ground staff over the last couple of days was rewarded with a match.
RCA, without a League win since beating Thornaby on 3rd September, were without the services of both Swansbury and C Davis who are suspended, while, Hodgson, Allen, Charlton, and Davison were all unavailable through injury. The Management team made wholesale changes to the side beaten by Spennymoor in mid-week.
It was therefore a much changed team who faced bottom of the league Northallerton Town, in came Ramshaw for his debut alongside Lawson and Hennis while Dorward moved to right back.
The teams lined up as follows:
SRCA: Dean, Dorward, McNab, Preston ©, Lilley, Hennis, Ramshaw, Lawson, Callen, O’Neill, Leonard. Subs: Elliott, Ezard, Moan, Green, Croft.
Northallerton Town: Dawson, Hillerby, Hudson, Cheeseman, Jones ©, Pattison, Smith, Shepperd, Lowes, Murphy, Martin. Subs: Walker, Short, Howe, Coulson.
The visitors kicked off with the advantage of the slope and a biting wind at their backs, it was the home team who had the first real attempt on goal when Preston played the ball out to Leonard who raced forward before sending a low cross into the box, Hudson intercepted the ball before it reached Callen, slicing the ball out of play for a corner.
A quickly taken throw in on the right caught RCA napping as the ball was played to Martin, he cut inside before firing in a low cross cum shot which Dean did well to save.
Minutes later and a surging Callen run was stopped when Jones upended the striker at the expense of a freekick which McNab curled wide of the visitors goal.
RCA almost opened the scoring after quarter of an hour when Lawson played a neat ball to Callen, he, in turn, played a superb ball over the top of the Northallerton defence and into the path of Leonard who burst into the box before firing in a vicious shot which Dawson saved brilliantly, the rebound fell to Ramshaw who blasted the ball straight at Jones and the ball was blocked for a corner.
Northallerton responded with a slick move which saw Cheeseman play the ball out to Martin, he played the ball to Smith on the edge of the box but he sliced his shot well wide of the target.
The home team started to apply a lot more pressure on their visitors and only a fantastic save from Dawson prevented Callen from opening the scoring in the 20th minute.
Two minutes later and a good run by O’Neill saw him outpace his marker before crossing to the far post where Callen tried a bicycle kick, connected but sent the ball well over the bar.
After this period of pressure Northallerton pushed forward once more, a wicked cross into the box was headed clear by Preston but the ball was picked up by Pattison who sent the ball forward to Martin, he cut inside before curling in a delightful shot which beat Dean but bounced wide of the far upright.
RCA regained the initiative after this chance with Lawson and Hennis taking control of midfield, a great ball by Hennis to pick out Callen on the right saw the RCA striker whip in a cross which was met with a flying header by Leonard but he could only glance his header wide of the target.
Then Lawson picked up the ball on the halfway line before sending it forward to O’Neill who burst into the box before hitting a tremendous driven shot which was blocked by Jones and picked up by Dawson.
Callen was the next to try his luck when he headed a Leonard cross wide of the post. In the final minute of the half Ramshaw slipped past his marker before squaring the ball to Callen who fired in a low shot which took a deflection and flew over the bar.
The threatened rain/sleet greeted the players at the start of the second half.
RCA quickly took control of the game with Leonard and Callen again combining to create a chance with Callen unable to direct Leonards cross on target.
With the sleet getting worse RCA were mounting attack after attack with Northallerton unable to get out of their own half, a Callen run to the bye-line was unopposed and when he cut the ball back to O’Neill he looked certain to score but sidefooted his shot over the bar from eight yards out.
Within minute RCA had won a corner when Ramshaw was tackled by Hudson on the bye-line, Lawson took the kick sending in a great cross which Callen met but could only head over the bar.
Another good tackle in midfield by Hennis saw him win the ball and play it to Lawson, he flicked the ball forward to O’Neill who tried his luck from some 35 yards out but Dawson was able to collect easily.
Ramshaw and Leonard were finding space down the flanks and causing problems for Northallerton’s defence. In the 63rd minute a good run by Ramshaw forced another corner, this time Lawson clipped the ball into the box and it fell to Ramshaw who blazed in a shot which Dawson somehow managed to tip over the bar.
RCA eventually got the breakthrough their play deserved when, after a spell of pressure, they were awarded a corner, Lawson again took the kick sending it into the box and although it was partially cleared when the ball came back into the box Callen was on hand to hook the ball over his shoulder and into the net.
The visitors responded with their first attack of the second half, Smith breaking down the right before laying the ball inside to Murphy who shot straight at Dean.
Two minutes later and Dean was called upon to make another save this time Martin fired in a cross which was headed away by Lilley, the ball fell to Lowes on the edge of the box but his low shot was stopped one-handed by Dean who collected the ball at the second attempt.
Another surging run by Callen ended with him in a heap on the edge of the area, after a lengthy delay while he received treatment he eventually limped out of the game and was replaced by Moan.
Late in the game substitute Moan was played in by Lawson and he turned smartly before unleashing a terrific shot which Dawson managed to tip onto the underside of the bar and the ball was hooked clear.
This was a game of missed chances and injuries which has been the story of our season so far. We had six or seven major chances today and probably scored the hardest one of the lot. On the plus side we kept a clean sheet and looked reasonably solid in midfield..
On the injury front things got a whole lot worse when it was revealed that Callen will be missing for 4 – 5 weeks with ankle ligament damage. We wish him a speedy recovery.