Sunderland RCA 2-0 West Auckland Town
West Auckland suffered their third away defeat in the league this season as Jamie Cobain’s own goal and Mark Davison’s curling solo effort saw RCA secure a 2-0 victory at Meadow Park.
In freezing conditions, Martin Swales’ side opened the scoring on 18 minutes when Jordan Lavery’s left-footed shot from a tight angle was diverted in by Cobain to give RCA a narrow first-half lead.
Within ten minutes of the restart, West were undone by a stunning strike from Davison as it looped over Shane Bland to condemn Gary Forrest’s side to their first away defeat in the league since losing to Newcastle Benfield by the same score line at the beginning of December.
The result sees West drop into eighth with 36 points from 23 matches played.
This was the fourth encounter between the two teams this season with RCA winning the reverse league fixture at the Wanted Stadium as well as the Durham Challenge Cup meeting with West’s only victory coming in the FA Vase Fourth Round courtesy of a stoppage time winner in extra-time from Lewis Dodds.
Before kick-off, there was an immaculately observed minutes silence for North Shields and Whitley Bay legend Robbie Livermore who sadly passed away on Thursday.
After a cautious opening ten minutes, RCA presented the first opportunity of the game on the 12- minute mark when Davison’s diagonal ball found skipper Greg Swansbury though the experienced defender could only watch his header parried to safety by Bland.
West responded almost immediately with a chance of their own as Adam Mitchell’s extravagant through ball found fellow forward Adam Burnicle with the latter slicing his effort just wide of the target.
Three minutes later, RCA punished West for their missed opportunity to take the lead as Lavery broke clear down the right-hand side, hit a left-footed shot from a tight angle in which it ricocheted in off Cobain who knew very little before it was too late.
Despite trailing, West remained calm in search for an equaliser and created another golden chance through Mitchell, who’s in-swinging delivery was met by David Dowson though he could only divert his first-time effort over the bar from just a few yards out.
On 32 minutes, Denver Morris made a bursting run into the 18-yard box before finding some space to direct Burnicle’s cross goal bound only to see his header well gathered by the veteran Scott Pocklington, who seemed determined to keep a clean sheet against a side he’s all too familiar with.
After the interval, West continued their pursuit of grabbing the next goal and found themselves with a splendid opportunity five minutes into the second-half when Burnicle broke through the RCA backline and delivered a right-footed shot towards the near post with Pocklington once again coming to the hosts rescue.
On 55 minutes, RCA struck a vital blow on Forrest’s side as they doubled their lead in spectacular fashion as Davison unleashed a remarkable curling effort from the edge of the area in which it looped over Bland into the far corner to send West into an uphill battle for the remainder of the contest.
As chances became restricted, RCA remained in control of the tie as the time began to run out and with just a few minutes remaining, it got worse for West when Mitchell was shown a straight red card for an off the ball incident as Swales’ side held on to inflict a league double over Auckland.
Next up for West is a home tie on Saturday against Newton Aycliffe, who they scored seven against last time the sides met back in September (15:00).
Sunderland RCA – Pocklington, Howard, Lavery, Preston, Swansbury (c), Hodgson, K. Davis (Page, 75), Moan, Davison, O’Neill, McAloon
Subs not used – C. Davis, Croft, Lilley, Larkin
Goals – Cobain o.g (18), Davison (55)
West Auckland – Bland, Morris, Price, Cobain, Hunter, Colquhoun, Mitchell (S/O, 89), Snaith (c) (Francis, 46), Dowson, Purewal, Burnicle (Heaney, 65)
Subs not used – Dodds, Hegarty, Coulson
Referee – Christopher Keightley
Attendance – 92
Report by Harry Crowe