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Sunderland RCA 5 Ashington AFC 1

Submitted by Rob Jones on Thursday, 9 January 2020
Wednesday, 8 January 2020
Northern League 1

Mark Davison's sublime free-kick flies into the net.

More photos from the match are here.

Connor Lamb's match report is here.

'A Life of Pie', the Northern League Blog is here.

At the third time of asking, the previous two called off due to bad weather, Sunderland RCA welcomed Ashington to Sunderland LGV Park for this Ebac Northern Legue Div. I fixture.

RCA were unbeaten in their last four matches while Ashington had won only one of their last four. However matches between these two sides have always been very competitive so an entertaining night was in prospect.

With no new injury worries the RCA management team were able to name an unchanged side for the third game in a row.

The teams lined up as follows:

SRCA:  Dean, Allen, McNab, Preston, Swansbury ©, Best, Elliott, O’Neill, Davison, K Davis Lawson. Subs: C Davis, Ezard, Leonard, Hennis, Moan.

Ashington: McHugh, Gibson, Gaffney, Edwards, Coppen, Bramley, Luke, Ross, Johnston, Brannen, Slater. Subs: Robson, Williamson, Kalthubber, Biwer, Scott.

The match kicked off with RCA kicking up the slope and they were quickly on the attack, Preston intercepting a wayward pass and playing the ball to Best on the right, he whipped in a cross which was met by Lawson but his flicked shot went wide of the target.

RCA should have opened the scoring in the 8th minute when a cross from the left by Davison was allowed to drift to the far post where K Davis had time to control the ball but his side footed effort was well saved at the foot of the post by McHugh.

Ashington looked to get on the front foot and a long ball forward by Coppen fell to Johnston and the striker tried his luck from 25 yards out but Dean made a comfortable save.

That was as good as it got for Ashington as RCA poured forward penning Ashington deep into their half. With 15 minutes gone RCA mounted a concerted attack on the opposition's goal with cross after cross being cleared by a stoic Ashington defence, when the final shot came in from Elliott it was parried away by McHugh and cleared by Gaffney. It was all frantic stuff with little composure.

RCA's next attack saw Best pick out the run of Davison on the left, he whipped in a cross which evaded Lawson, Davis and the Ashington defence before being hooked clear by Gaffney.

A good run down the right by Davis was abrubtly stopped when he was fouled as he cut inside, Elliott took the kick and Edwards headed the ball out for a corner under pressure from O’Neill, the corner was driven in by Elliott and punched off the head of Davison by McHugh.

A goal looked well overdue and when O’Neill picked up the ball from a Lawson throw In, his cross was met by the head of Davison it looked like the deadlock had been broken but the ball drifted beyond the far post.

For the first 30 minutes this match was played almost entirely in the Ashington half of the pitch with the hosts piling on the pressure and the Visitors defence blocking everything thrown at them.

However, Ashington had a sting in their tail and totally against the run of play took the lead, Gaffney, winning the ball in his own box hooked the ball forward where it was picked up by Brannen, he cut inside and into the box, he looked to have overrun the ball but managed to check back, taking out two defenders, before slotting the ball past Dean and into the net.

A shocked RCA side looked to pick up the pieces again and came closest to an equaliser when Best rode two challenges before sending the ball into the path of Davis but the RCA striker’s shot was blocked by Coppen at the expense of a corner.

Ashington maintained their lead with some solid defending up to the half time whistle.

What was said at half time certainly had an effect on the RCA players, within a minute of the restart Best found Elliott on the right he whipped in a low cross which was spilled by McHugh, and Lawson pounced lifting the ball over the prone keeper and into the net to equalise.

Ashington responded with a quick break, Bramley sending the ball forward to Luke who hit a first time effort straight at Dean.

Ashington’s defence which had been so organized in the first half suddenly caved in, a long ball from Dean was picked up by Lawson on the right, his cross was picked up by Davison on the left wing and his cross into the box was glanced into the net by Elliott.

RCA were on the rampage now and when Davison was dragged back on the edge of the box a freekick was awarded. Davison elected to take it firing the ball over the wall and into the top corner of the net giving McHugh no chance.

It wasn’t long before it was 4-1 when a through ball from McNab somehow managed to by-pass everyone and found its way to O’Neill who took the ball in his stride before slotting it past the helpless McHugh and into the far corner of the goal.

Still they weren’t finished, Lawson intercepted a loose ball out of defence and played the ball into space for K Davis to run onto, his low cross into the box somehow evaded both McHugh and Bramley and left Davison with the easiest of chances, sliding in to finish from a yard out and make it 5-1.

Both sides made changes as the tempo of the game diminished.

In the 75th minute a reckless challenge by RCA captain Swansbury on Robson left the Referee with little option but to deliver a red card.

Unfortunately, Robson was carried off with a knee problem and as Ashington had already used their allotted 3 substitutes it meant that both sides were reduced to ten men.

Ashington produced the next meaningful attack when another long range effort from Luke went straight down the throat of Dean.

With ten minutes left Lawson, who had been impressive all night, picked up a pass from Best and played the ball out to Leonard he burst forward into the box before firing wildly over the bar when a better option might have been to square the ball to Davison who was free on the penalty spot.

The game was almost at walking pace now as RCA kept possession and tried to see the game out.

A late flurry saw Leonard cross the ball into the far post but Davison skewed his shot wide and the final chance fell to Ashington when Coppen played the ball forward to substitute Kalthubber but he fired straight at Dean.

This was a game dominated by RCA, their second half blitz of 5 goals in 15 minutes was as good as it gets at any level of football.

The team cannot do any more to win back supporters as I am sure that everyone in the crowd to watch this match witnessed a very entertaining match.

A fantastic team performance was marred by the dismissal of Swansbury at a time when the game was won and also the injuries to Robson (Ashington) and Preston (RCA) we wish them both a speedy recovery.

Next up is Thornaby at home on Saturday, 11th January 2020 kick off 3.00pm.