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Sunderland RCA 1 Billingham Town 2

Submitted by Rob Jones on Thursday, 6 February 2020
Wednesday, 5 February 2020
Northern League 1

Ryan Leonard opens the scoring for RCA.

More photos from the match are here.

Connor Lamb's match report is here.

RCA welcomed Billingham Town to Sunderland LGV Park for this EBAC Northern League Division 1 fixture.

There were also welcome returns to the team for Swansbury after his suspension and McNab and K Davis from injury. However this was offset once again by the injuries to Moan, Hodgson and Croft and the unavailability of C Davis.

The RCA Management were forced into further changes to the side and brought in Jack Leonard for his home debut.

The teams lined up as follows:

SRCA: Dean, Dorward, McNab, Allen, Swansbury ©, Lawson, R Leonard, Hennis, Davison, Slack,J Leonard. Subs: Elliott, Ezard, O’Neill, K Davis, Green.

Billingham Town: Young, Moore ©, Dixon, Connor, Frazer, Flounders, Beddow, Keeney, Lavan, Dickinson, Hogan. Subs: Joynes, Hudson, Wilson, Morrison, McDonald.

The game kicked off with RCA kick toward the Cemetery end and it was they who had the first effort of the night in opening minute when a good ball forward from Hennis split the Billingham defence and R Leonard latched onto the ball but fired wide of the far post.

Billingham then picked up the pace of the game, a freekick on the left was whipped in but the headed clearance from McNab fell to Keeney who shot wide.

A minute later and Hogan broke on the left before crossing to the far post were McNab deflected the ball onto his own crossbar.

Billingham continued to press down the slope and almost took the lead from a Hogan corner which was met by Keeney but he again shot wide of the target.

The visitors next chance came when a long ball forward was collected by Lavan, he turned quickly but Dean was alert to the danger and picked the ball of the attackers foot.

With 15 minutes gone a good spell of pressure from RCA resulted in a great chance when Slack held off his marker before crossing into the far post where J Leonard hit the ball first time but it took a deflection and went out for a corner.

RCA’s next attack saw Slack creating space down the right before cutting the ball back to Hennis but his shot went wildly wide.

The home team took the lead in the 29th minute when Lawson played the ball forward to J Leonard, he in turn played a ball beyond the Billingham defence for R Leonard to run onto and he calmly slotted the ball past Young and into the net.

The next 15 minutes was unproductive for both teams with neither team creating much as the match got bogged down in the middle of the park.

RCA created the next opening when R Leonard burst down the right and his cross was blocked for a corner, the corner, taken by Lawson was met by Davison but there was little pace in it and Young saved comfortably

In the final minute of the half RCA almost succumbed to a speculative effort by Connor whose wickedly dipping effort flew narrowly over the bar.

Billingham started well in the second half going on the attack from the off, a break down the left saw Dickinson take the ball round Dean before crossing to the far post but Lavan was unable to connect with the cross and the ball sailed out for a goal kick.

RCA, having repelled the opening salvo from Billingham, started to create attacking movement of their own resulting in a series of corners. A quickly taken short corner almost caught the visitors out when Dorward played the ball to Lawson, his cross into the box fell invitingly to Swansbury but he stabbed the ball just wide of the upright.

In their next attack they should really have doubled their lead when R Leonard picked up a ball from Dean, cut inside his marker before playing the ball to Davison inside the penalty area, his shot was parried by Young and fell to J Leonard who, with an empty net to aim at sliced his effort well wide.

RCA were made to pay for these missed chances as Billingham equalised within two minutes. A break down the right wing produced a cross which the RCA defence did not clear properly and the ball fell to Beddow who from 12 yards out smashed the ball into the net.

This gave the visitors the impetus they needed and they went in search of a second goal.

After a good move down the left by Hogan he played the ball to Dickinson and he picked out Frazer with a lovely cross but his header went just wide.

RCA were finding it difficult to come to terms with this resurgence of the visitors and when Hogan again broke down the left it looked certain that Lavan would score from the cross but his effort went narrowly wide of the upright.

The introduction of Elliott and O’Neill stemmed the tide for a while and the home team created a good chance when Elliott picked out Dorward, his cross was met by Davison but Young managed to block the shot and the ball went out of play,

A minute later and O’Neill went close with an effort after some good work by McNab on the left.

In the 83rd minute a shot from R Leonard was saved by Young under the challenge of O’Neill the keeper lost the ball and it looked to cross the line for a corner, however the referee, unsure as to what had happened gave a freekick.

The ball was quickly switched to the opposite end of the pitch where Beddow picked up the ball 25 yard out before squaring it to Hogan who drilled a low shot into the bottom corner of the net.

It could have been even worse for RCA in the 88th minute when Dickinson picked up a through ball but his shot was blocked wide by Allen.

After three outstanding efforts against Newton Aycliffe, West Auckland Town and Shildon, the RCA young guns seemed to, understandably, run out of steam.

Take nothing away from Billingham because, on the night, they produced a sterling second half effort to clinch their victory.

Next up is League leaders Stockton Town at home on Saturday, 8 February 2020, kick off 3.00pm.