You are here

0191 510 1100
0191 567 2774
Queen Alexandra Road, Grangetown, Sunderland SR2 9PF

Carlisle City 1 Sunderland RCA 1

Submitted by Rob Jones on Sunday, 31 July 2022
Saturday, 30 July 2022
Northern League 1

We began our 2022-23 season with a 150 mile round trip to newly promoted Carlisle City. They play their home games at the ex Celtic Nation ground which has been re-named The Three Rivers, Health & Safety Consultancy Stadium, a bit of a mouthful but the stadium and pitch were in excellent condition.

As with all new seasons there was an air of expectancy amongst the crowd with both sets of supporters looking to see how the new recruits would perform in a real game after some lack lustre pre-season friendlies.

The RCA team has been dogged by injuries during the pre-season and in the week before the season started both Jordan Lavery and Ellis Tait have suffered knee injuries which will keep them out of the team for long periods of the season.

The teams lined up as follows:

Carlisle City: Townsley, Kelly, Bradbury, Bowman, Kirkup, Holt, Irving, Simpson ©, Williamson, Seggie, Kerr. Subs: Atkinson, Studholme, Hartley, Longcake, Shiel.

Sunderland RCA: Marrs, Nelson, Charlton ©, Allen, Jakab, Lawrence, Richardson, Richards, Davison, Johnson, Charmey. Subs: Annang-Colquhoun, Bell, Ene, Moan, Patton.

The game started at the same time as the rain and as expected the hosts took the initiative from the start with a number of quick raids down the left, a forward ball from Bradbury picked out Kerr and his run was halted abruptly when Nelson's strong challenge resulted in a free kick, the cross from the kick was easily collected by Marrs.

The game continued in this vein for the opening 10 minutes with Carlisle dictating the forward play while RCA defended well and tried to counter attack.

Another good run by Kerr was spotted by Simpson who played the ball into his path but the City wingers cross was too close to Marrs who collected ahead of the on rushing Williamson.

Marrs then played a long ball forward which fell between Davison and Johnson and although the ball was flicked on Townsley was able to pluck the ball off the toe of Johnson.

With 14 minutes on the clock “City” were awarded a freekick deep in their own half, the ball was pumped forward toward the RCA box by Townsley and the ball fell invitingly to Williamson 25 yards out and he struck a tremendous volley beyond the reach of Marrs and into the top corner of the net.

RCA almost struck back immediately when Nelson played an inch perfect ball through to Richardson who whipped in a terrific cross which was met by Charmey but his first time volley smashed against the bar and went out for a goal kick.

Back came “City” forcing a number of corners, the third of which was crossed into the box and in the goalmouth scramble that followed the ball was cleared to the right where Irving’s cross was headed against the post and out for a goal kick.

A minute later and Charlton broke down the left before crossing the ball to the far post where Richardson looked certain to score but his header was magnificently saved by Townsley palming it over the bar for a corner which Charlton took and Davison headed over the bar.

The blood and thunder of the opening 20 minutes was replaced by 10 minutes of decent football with both teams playing the ball about without creating much in the way of goalmouth action.

Charlton was instrumental in RCA's next real forward play, picking the ball up on the halfway line from Richards he took the ball forward before crossing to the back post where Johnson controlled the ball before squaring the ball to Charmey whose effort was blocked and Charlton following up could only direct the ball inches wide of the post.

RCA were making their presence felt towards the end of the half a long ball forward from Jakab was flicked on by Johnson to Richardson who burst past his marker but his cross into the box was hoofed clear by Kirkup.

Within a minute RCA had another chance when Davison headed a Lawrence cross into the path of Johnson but, under pressure he scuffed his shot wide.

The home team responded to this with a quick break down the right, Seggie cutting inside before firing in a shot which flew well wide of the upright.

Two minutes later and “City” should have made it 2 - 0 when Seggie again found space on the edge of the RCA penalty area before firing in a low shot which struck the inside of the post and rebounded to Williamson who fired wide of an empty target.

Carlisle City started the second half on the offensive putting pressure on the RCA defence and forcing a free kick on the edge of the box; Simpson stepped up and fired his shot into the wall.

“City” continued to press and a good run by Simpson on the right saw his cross sliced clear by Allen for a corner. Simpson swung the ball into the box where Bowman got his head to the ball but could only direct it over the bar, picking up a knock to the head in the process.

The game became very niggly with a number of fouls being committed by both teams and little fluid football.

Having weathered the early onslaught RCA started to find their feet and a free kick from Nelson was collected at the far post by Johnson who laid the ball into the path of Charlton who hit a low drive which went narrowly wide.  

The hosts replied with a Bradbury cross field ball to Irving who dribbled his way to the edge of the box before drilling his shot wide.

Bradbury was getting a lot of the ball in this period of the game and was causing problems for RCA with his excellent distribution of the ball; a cross in from the left by Bradbury was met by Williamson who blazed the ball over the bar.

RCA almost equalised a minute later when they were awarded a free kick on the left, Charlton took the kick which was somehow missed by all the tall players in the box and fell to the diminutive figure of Richardson at the back post, he hit a tremendous volley goalward and produced an outstanding block by Townsley at the expense of a corner.

Both teams made substitutions at this point and the introduction of Moan was almost immediately effective as he won the ball in midfield before sending it out to Johnson, he in turn cut the ball back to Richardson who curled his shot well wide.

The visitors started to exert a lot more pressure on the home defence and they were forced to defend deep but in Townsley they had a keeper who just didn’t want to be beaten.

When RCA did breach the home defence they were being constantly flagged offside.

With 20 minutes remaining another Bradbury cross from the left was met by Simpson but he couldn’t direct his effort on target.

RCA continued to press forward and the home players started to use time-wasting tactics.

A lovely dribble by Ene saw him burst into the box and despite being fouled managed to slip the ball to Nelson whose cross was met by Davison but easily saved by Townsley.

With the game drifting into injury time a ball forward by Moan picked out Johnson who pulled the ball back into the path of the onrushing Patton who smashed the ball into the net giving Townsley no chance.

Having had most of the possession in the final 15 minutes RCA decided to go on the defensive for the remaining minutes of the game and almost paid the price when Bradbury played the ball forward to substitute Atkinson who struck a terrific drive which was destined for the far corner of the goal but Marrs produced a stunning one handed save to deflect the ball away for a corner.

It’s always difficult playing newly promoted teams at the beginning of the season especially away from home and this game showed why. Carlisle City played for 70 minutes as if this was a cup final constantly putting RCA under pressure, and defending like their lives depended on it.

To their credit RCA kept plugging away, defended well when they had to, had little chance with a superbly taken goal, while in attack they had chances late on to have won the match. In my opinion, the substitutions changed the game forcing us to attack more.