Sunderland RCA v Dunston UTS

Report by Billy Montague

Saturday 18th August 2018

Ebac Northern League – First Division


Dunston UTS travelled to Meadow Park in Ryhope for another tough away fixture in the Ebac Northern League First Division. Their daunting start to the season had produced four excellent results so far but today’s game posed another stern test. At the end of last season, RCA were arguably the outstanding team in the League when their late form produced a top-four finish. Slight injuries to Liam Brooks and Michael Hall forced UTS manager Chris Swailes to include them among his substitutes in an otherwise unchanged sixteen. Scott Heslop started up front. 


Sunderland RCA: Pocklington, Lilley, McNab, Hodgson, Preston, Elliott D, Davis C, Page, Davison, Larkin (O’Niell), Moan (Davis J). Subs not used: Umbo, McGuinness, Kokoska.


Dunston UTS: Dryden, Marrs, Halliday, Stafford, Grant-Soulsby, Capewell, Thear, Pearson, Fitzpatrick, Heslop (Brooks), Elliott J (Nellis). Subs not used: Elliott C, Hall, Haley.


On an impressive playing surface, Dunston started the game heading up the slope with the stiff breeze in their faces. They siezed the initiative from the off and mounted some promising attacks early on. When the home side did get going, right-back Sam Lilley sent in a high cross which was confidently dealt with by Karl Dryden.


On 8 minutes Dunston attacked on the right and a dangerous cross from Liam Marrs put pressure on RCA keeper Scott Pocklington. RCA went close to taking the lead in the 11th minute when a loose ball fell to Colin Larkin who sent in a powerful shot that clipped the angle before going over. This let-off spurred Dunston on and they took control with firstly a run and cross by Liam Thear and then another by Dan Halliday causing panic in the home defence with the ball being scrambled for corners.


From the second flag-kick, Scott Heslop headed just over the bar on 18 minutes. RCA produced two efforts from Dylan Elliott and Mark Davison either side of the 20 minute mark but both were well off target. In the 25th minute Mark Fitzpatrick released Scott Heslop but a last ditch tackle by Ross Preston diverted his effort past the post. From the corner Jake Stafford went close but the deadlock was almost broken on 32 minutes after Liam Thear was fouled a couple of yards outside the box.


Liam Marrs clipped the free-kick towards the top corner but Pocklington tipped the ball over with the referee awarding a goal-kick. RCA went close at the other end in the 36th minute when a long, wind-assisted free-kick was headed back across the area by Ross Preston to be met by the ever-dangerous Colin Larkin but he could only head across Karl Dryden and narrowly past the post. Dunston made a telling attack in the 38th minute as Liam Thear made a great turn to lose his man before slotting a superb through ball into the run of Scott Heslop who ran on to shoot past the oncoming Pocklington into the net.

0 – 1.


Karl Dryden preserved the lead when he pulled off a great save to deny Colin Larkin whose clever attempt travelled between a sea of legs and was heading towards the bottom corner.


Half-Time Score:  Sunderland RCA  0   Dunston UTS  1


Dunston had the wind at their backs when the second-half started but as with RCA before the break they had a tendancy to over-hit their forward passes. Ex-Morpeth Town centre-forward Mark Davison made a break on 48 minutes but his cross was well dealt with by Karl Dryden. Two minutes later Scott Heslop made a strong run at the RCA defence and was crudely bundled to the ground right on the corner of the box. Jack Elliott took the free-kick but the ball was scrambled to safety in the six-yard box before Mark Fitzpatrick could force home.


Play was confined to midfield until Clayton Davis made a break on the right for RCA but his cross was headed well over by Mark Davison on 58 minutes. Good work in the centre of midfield by Jake Stafford and Michael Pearson ensured that RCA were finding it difficult to dominate. On 64 minutes a lucky rebound fell to Dylan Elliott and he was able to release Colin Larkin to make a penetrating run towards the right corner-flag. He managed to get in a brilliant cross which Mark Davison met to head powerfully home the equalising goal against the run of play. 1 – 1.  


RCA’s confidence was lifted by the goal and they went close again four minutes later when Dylan Elliott forced a good save from Karl Dryden and Liam Marrs headed the loose ball away for a corner. A huge error from the match officials gifted RCA the lead on 74 minutes when Mark Davison received a pass when two or three yards offside. The assistant referee completely missed the decision and Davison was allowed to advance before slotting the ball across goal where Dominic Moan was able to slide home from close range. 2 – 1. Dunston were incensed by the (non)-decision and set about rectifying the injustice by forcing the play at the other end.


In the 80th minute Liam Thear wriggled free in the box and sent in a shot which was blocked and half-cleared by the RCA defence. The ball fell to Liam Marrs who fizzed in a low shot which was heading into the bottom corner before Scott Pocklington dived to parry away. The ball fell nicely to substitute Jordan Nellis who hammered home for a deserved equaliser. 2 – 2.


On 82 minutes Dunston almost scored again when Mark Fitzpatrick made a great run on the right before sending over an excellent cross to the far post where Liam Brooks connected to send narrowly wide. Dunston pressed further but when Liam Marrs sent over a lofted cross in the 85th minute, Pocklington grasped the ball under pressure from Michael Pearson and Mark Fitzpatrick. Despite having possession of the ball, the big keeper kicked out at Pearson, giving the referee no alternative but to award a penalty-kick. Pocklington was only cautioned but his rash behaviour allowed Jake Stafford to step up to slam home the resulting spot-kick. 2 – 3.


RCA attempted to get back on terms in the last few minutes but some determined tackling and good defensive play kept the ball well away from the Dunston goal.


Full-Time Score:  Sunderland RCA  2   Dunston UTS  3


Dunston’s Man of the Match: Jake Stafford – Jake just edged the award for his coolness from the penalty spot when he grabbed the winner. There were several other candidates  - the whole team gave their all as they have in every game so far this season. Even when decisions went against them, they battled back and showed great team-spirit.  



Dunston man of the match - Jake Stafford