I wasn’t going to do a game tonight. I was going to do Gateshead vs Hartlepool FC tomorrow and then Billingham Synthonia vs Thornaby on Friday night. But, this afternoon came around and I just really fancied a game. So, this was my choice. I’ve now been to RCA three times in the past six days! Seeming as though I’ve done this game tonight, I probably won’t do Billingham Synthonia on Friday night. But I will still do Gateshead tomorrow night. That’ll mean that after tomorrow night, Redcar Athletic vs Easington Colliery on Saturday will be my only game before Christmas. Mind, I should have two games on Boxing Day with Horden CW vs Hartlepool FC and Gateshead vs Hartlepool United. I’ll think I’ll finish 2018 on 81 games for the season and that’ll have me 10 games ahead of where I was at that point last season. And, it should leave me on a nice round figure of 150 games for 2018.
Larkin brace helps Sunderland RCA book Durham Challenge Cup quarter-final spot
Colin Larkin bagged a brace as Sunderland RCA came from behind to claim a 3-1 win over West Auckland Town in the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday night.
The win sees RCA book a spot in the quarter-finals of the Durham Challenge Cup.
On a drizzly night at Meadow Park, Adam Mitchell put West Auckland ahead in the 16th minute, but Larkin pulled RCA level six minutes into the second half.
Nathan O’Neill put RCA ahead in the 64th minute, and Larkin’s second of the evening five minutes from time ensured the hosts of their win.
It was a game of two halves in truth, with RCA dominant in the second half having been dominated in the opening 45 minutes.
Upon kick-off, it was all West Auckland.
Within the opening two minutes, Tom Price’s low ball picked out James Xydias for West Auckland, but his effort from 18 yards proved a comfortable save for Scott Pocklington.
Less than a minute later, West Auckland created another chance. Amar Purewal drove forward after a quick free-kick and his ball across goal found Arran Wearmouth. The former Blyth Spartans man was in on goal, but Pocklington saved his effort too.
A delay in play then came as Craig Hodgson received treatment.
Upon the restart, West Auckland broke the deadlock in the 16th minute. Xydias played a ball over the top to find Liam Hegarty. His cross found Mitchell whose first touch opened up room, and his second touch curled the ball into the net from 18 yards.
Shortly after taking the lead, West Auckland went close to doubling it. Chris Hunter’s straight free-kick found Wearmouth in the penalty area, and his impressive glancing header dipped narrowly over the far top corner.
Mitchell and Tom Portas both tried their luck as West Auckland continued to dominate, but neither could trouble Pocklington.
In the 37th minute, RCA mustered their first half (some would even quarter) chance. John Jury’s cross found O’Neill, but his tame header was an easy take for Shane Bland.
However, two minutes later, RCA missed a big chance. Michael Charlton’s perfectly timed run played him in on goal, but Bland made himself big and saved Charlton’s effort.
A superb challenge from RCA’s Sam Lilley prevented Purewal of a one-on-one chance just before the break.
Sunderland RCA came out for the second half looking a much-improved side.
O’Neill did well to dig out a shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 50th minute, but Bland caught.
However, less than two minutes later, RCA equalised. A rather hopeful ball across the penalty area wasn’t dealt with by Hunter, and Larkin nipped in to pinch possession before finishing well.
On the hour mark, a powerful O’Neill effort for RCA was deflected behind. The resulting corner found Larkin at the back post, but his drilled half volley was matched by Bland’s strong hand.
Kyle Davis then dragged an effort wide for RCA, and they were much better at this point than they were in the first half.
In the 64th minute, the hosts took the lead. Luke Page’s superb dinked ball played O’Neill in, and he chested the ball down well before calmly slotting home.
With 20 minutes to play, Charlton headed a difficult effort over as RCA looked to double their lead, before a few substitutions disrupted the flow of the game.
Just five minutes from time, Larkin wrapped up the win for RCA. Good play found Davis out wide, and his ball across the face of goal gave Larkin a simple finish.
The win ensures RCA of a spot in the last eight of the Durham Challenge Cup, where they could meet the likes of South Shields, Darlington or Hartlepool United.
Full-time: Sunderland RCA 3-1 West Auckland Town
Next up for me is Gateshead vs Hartlepool FC tomorrow.
Sunderland RCA: Pocklington, Jury, McNab, Hodgson (Lilley, 18′), Swansbury (c), Page (Moan, 66′), Charlton, O’Neill, Davis, Larkin, McAloon (Croft, 81′)
Unused sub: Tsapalos
West Auckland Town: Bland, Hegarty, Price, Colquhoun, Hunter, Portas (c),
Xydias (Morris, 79′), Francis, Wearmouth (Burnicle, 65′), Purewal, Mitchell
Unused subs: Cobain, Bradley, Connor
Admission: £6 adults, £4 concessions
Referee: Stephen Dial