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Sunderland RCA 4 Billingham Town 3

Submitted by Rob Jones on Sunday, 24 October 2021
Saturday, 23 October 2021
Northern League 1

Matty Weirs scored his first goal for RCA.

More photos from the match are here.

The visitors to Sunderland LGV Park today were Billingham Town, who having lost to West Allotment Celtic last time out, would be looking to bounce back from that result and put pressure on an RCA team who lost to high flying Ashington during the week.

With Swansbury, Johnson, Allen and Lennox all out with long term injuries and the unavailability of Carr and A Croft the management team’s selection problems continued.

Billingham Town were forced to make a late change to their line-up when Snaith pulled up injured during the warm up and was replaced by Sutton.

The teams lined up as follows:

Sunderland RCA: Ball, Burlace, Hawkins ©, Jakab, Allen, Coghlan, Hennis, Weirs, Davison, Annang-Colquhoun, Richardson: Subs: Watts,  Hunter, J Croft, Lawrence, Marrs.

Billingham Town: Norton, Ann, Sutton, Boyle ©, Beeden, Verity, Gooch, Rennison, Close, Harrison, Lavan. Subs: Earl, Bancroft, Heeley, Frazer.

RCA had the advantage of the slope in the first half but it was the visitors who created the first chance when Cann made ground up the right before playing the ball to Close but his cross into the box was easily dealt with by Errington.

Within a minute RCA had their first chance when Burlace played the ball to Weirs and his cross was met by the head of Davison but Norton was on hand to save.

Two minutes later and the home team almost opened the scoring when a Coghlan corner was only partially palmed away by Norton and the ball fell to Hennis but he headed well over the bar.

In the 10 minute they did open the scoring when Coghlan released Richardson on the left, the winger dribbled his way into the box before firing in a shot which Norton could only parry into the path of Annang-Colquhoun who slid the ball home from close range.

The Town response was immediate as they took the ball up field and Lavan was fouled by Annang-Colquhoun, the freekick was floated into the box where, the unmarked, Harrison rose and with a free header inside the six yard box made no mistake to level the scores.

As the game progressed it became very competitive in midfield and a lot of poor challenges resulted in number of free-kicks being given by the referee.

In the 18 minute Coghlan took a quick free kick to Burlace who whipped in a cross which was met by Davison but he couldn’t direct his glancing header on target.

Davison almost got on the score sheet minutes later when good interplay between Weirs and Richardson saw the ball eventually moved across the edge of the box to Davison who turned his marker before firing in a low grass-cutter which smashed off the base of the post.

RCA took the lead a minute later when a good through ball by Coghlan split the Town defence and was met by Weirs who calmly placed the ball beyond Norton and into the net for his first goal for the club.

A spectacular 25 yarder five minutes later made it 3-1, a through ball from Jakab found Weirs; he slipped the ball to Coghlan who laid it into the path of Hennis who struck the ball delightfully into the net despite Norton getting a touch on it.

The home team looked to take control of the game but the visitors had other ideas, Rennison and Cann combined to set Harrison up with an opportunity inside the six yard area, with only the keeper to beat his first time volley was magnificently saved by Ball.

With time running out in the first half Lavan forced the RCA keeper into another good save low down to his left.

As with a number of games this season RCA started the second half poorly and almost conceded once again in the opening minutes of the half when Harrison broke into the box and only a desperate block by Jakab prevented the Town striker from scoring.

This should have been a wake-up call instead of which RCA went into defensive mode deep inside their own half, inviting the Town forwards to attack.

The visitors duly obliged and in the 66 minute were awarded a penalty when Ball in attempting to push the ball away brought down a Town player. Close stepped up and fired into the net.

Both teams then made substitutions and the game took some time to take off again.

When it did it was Town who looked likely to score with Boyle, in a more advanced role, curling in a delightful shot which ball was pleased to see drift over the bar.

Within minutes Norton, the “Town” keeper saw Ball off his line and sent in a dipping shot from all of 75 yards which hit the top of the crossbar and luckily for RCA was collected by Ball.

It was all Billingham Town at the moment and only another good save by Ball from a shot by Lavan prevented the equaliser.

The first attack of any note by RCA came in the 80 minute when Richardson picked up a long ball out of defence by Burlace, ran past two defenders before moving inside the penalty area, he then decided to hit the ball toward the near post where Norton was able to block and the ball was cleared up field.

Town’s persistence down the left paid off in the 85 minute when Lavan, again afforded space, was able to cross into the box and Boyle was in the perfect position to powerfully head home.

RCA had a good chance to take back the lead when a good break down the right saw substitute Hunter cross the ball to the far post where Davison was unable to direct his header on target.

With time running out RCA produced the winner when a simple through ball from Hawkins was picked up by Davison who sprinted clear of the visitors defence before sliding the ball under the advancing Norton.

This was another Jekyll and Hyde performance from RCA, very good going forward but sometimes very naïve at the back. Both Town wingers were given way too much time to get crosses into the box, another, more ruthless team, would have punished us severely.

Next up is another home game against Redcar Athletic on Tuesday, 26 October 2021.